Pros and Cons of Trucking With Pets

There are few careers that allow you to keep your pet by your side every day. Trucking is one such career at many pet-friendly motor carriers across the nation. There are many benefits to hitting the road with your furry friend. However, there are also some things you should consider before trucking with pets.

Here are the pros and cons of truck driving with a cat or dog on board:


A Companion On The Road

The most obvious and typically the most significant benefit of trucking with a pet is that you have a companion on the road. Truck driving is often a solitary career, and it can get lonely at times. Having a furry friend by your side can make this easier.

More Opportunities for Exercise

Truckers spend most of their day behind the wheel, which means they are typically sitting down. This can lead to the potential for weight gain and other health issues due to a lack of exercise. If you have a dog on board, you’ll need to stop regularly to walk them. This encourages you to get moving regularly and can have a positive effect on your health.

Potential Security Benefits

Certain breeds of dogs can bark to alert you if someone is near your truck and can provide security benefits. Of course, this likely won’t work as well with a very small dog, and cats aren’t known for guarding abilities, so this benefit will depend on the type of pet you have.


May Not Be Best For All Pets

Some pets won’t be a good fit for the trucking lifestyle. They may be too big, prefer space to run around during the day, or have health issues that make it harder for them to be on the road. Be sure to take your companion to the vet before you hit the road to see if they are medically ready to be a trucking pet. In addition, think about your pet’s personality and needs to determine if they’ll enjoy being on the road with you.

Potential Messes And Clutter

If you have a cat on board, you’ll need a litter box for them. Dogs will need to be taken out regularly and could have accidents on the truck. In addition, both dogs and cats can shed and leave hair around your cab. You’ll need to have extra cleaning supplies on board, and should be prepared to accept a bit more mess than you might have trucking on your own.

Need For Extra Preparation

Before you hit the road with your pet, you’ll need to prepare. Trucking with a pet requires more supplies than trucking alone, and you’ll also need to plan for potential emergencies. Trip planning can also become more complicated since you’ll need to not only stop for fuel and your required breaks but also to let your pet out (if you have a dog).

Becoming a Trucker

If you’re looking for a career that lets you bring your furry best friend along every day, consider earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL). At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), we can help you get started in as little as four weeks. Our job placement assistance team can help you find positions that meet your needs, including finding motor carriers that allow pets on board.

To learn more about how to start trucking with your pets, contact us today.

How Much Does Trucking Terminal Location Matter?

Over-the-road (OTR) trucking takes drivers across the country. Unlike other types of jobs, you won’t report to the same location every morning. There will likely be times when you wake up in a different state each day. However, the motor carrier you work for will typically have one or more trucking terminals. If you’re looking for a driving job, it’s important to understand the impact of your distance from the nearest terminal on your life as a trucker. This can help you make an informed decision.

What Is a Trucking Terminal?

Before we can discuss how the location of your company’s trucking terminal(s) affects you, we need to define what a terminal is. This is a location where a motor carrier has offices, maintenance shops, and other facilities for their essential business functions. Many terminals also have amenities for the company’s drivers.

How Often Do Truckers Visit A Terminal?

Different motor carriers have different policies for where drivers can leave their trucks during home time. In many cases, truckers are able to park their vehicles at their residence (if there is space to do so safely) or nearby (with permission from a local business or property owner). In these cases, you wouldn’t necessarily need to park at your closest terminal unless it was nearby and convenient. In other circumstances, companies may require that trucks be left at the closest terminal for home time.

If you aren’t required to leave your truck at a terminal during any home time, you’ll likely need to stop at a company terminal for required maintenance or repairs. There may be other options for where to stop depending on the company, especially if there is urgent maintenance.

All in all, how often you stop at a terminal can vary significantly depending on your company’s policies and your own preferences.

Do You Need To Choose a Company With a Terminal Near You?

There are multiple benefits to choosing a motor carrier with a terminal near your hometown, although this is not a requirement.

Some benefits include:

  • Indicates Freight In The Area: When you request home time, your motor carrier will try to find a load that brings you back to the area. If the terminal is near your home, this is a good indication that they have regular freight in the area.
  • Makes Parking For Home Time Easier: While you don’t have to park your truck at the terminal for home time, this is often easier and safer than trying to find suitable parking on your own. Many residential areas don’t have space for a semi-truck, and even if you have permission to park in a business’s lot, it may not always be the safest or easiest option.
  • Allows You To Get Repairs During Home Time: If you need repairs or maintenance and live near a terminal, you can drop your vehicle off and head home while you wait. Otherwise, you may need to stay in an area away from home while you wait.

Why Do Some Truckers Work For Companies Without Nearby Terminals?

Although many truckers prefer working for motor carriers with terminals nearby, others choose to work with companies without terminals in their area. One reason for this may be if a driver lives in a rural area. Another could be if a driver finds a company that matches all their preferences otherwise, but which doesn’t have a terminal nearby. As long as a company is hiring drivers based in your area, you can apply for a job even if there isn’t a terminal near you. Just be sure to weigh the pros and cons first.

Earn Your CDL

If you’re interested in starting your trucking career, HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) can help you get started. You can earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in as little as four weeks with our program and we offer job placement assistance.

To learn more about our CDL training in Tucson, contact us today.

Finding Your Trucking Niche

Trucking has the potential to be a great opportunity for many individuals. After earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and getting some experience, you have multiple options to tailor your career to your preferences. When you are first getting started, it’s worth thinking about what your long-term goals are so you can work toward finding your trucking niche and building a rewarding career.

Here are some tips for finding out what type of trucking is best for you:

1. Realize You’ll Probably Start with OTR

Although there are multiple options in trucking for different route lengths and specialty freight, most drivers start with an over-the-road (OTR) job. This means you’ll spend a few weeks at a time on the road and complete hauls to any combination of regions within the contiguous United States.

Most entry-level trucking jobs will also be dry van hauls, meaning you will transport material in a standard tractor-trailer that doesn’t require refrigeration or transport liquids. Some entry-level jobs are available for refrigerated trucks (reefers), but this often depends on the region and the specific company.

Many truckers prefer to stay within this niche of the trucking industry for the duration of their careers, as it offers excellent pay and benefits. Additionally, this is the type of driving that is most consistent with the idea of the “trucking lifestyle” and the freedom of the open road. However, other truckers may prefer to transition to a different type of driving later on. If you believe this will be the case for you, still try to approach your time OTR with an open mind. Take note of what you like and don’t like, as this can help you refine your career options later. Focus on building your skills and staying accident-free while you build your experience.

2. Think About The Type of Driving You Like

As you spend more time behind the wheel, you’ll get a feel for what kinds of driving you like, and which you prefer to avoid. For example, you may find that driving at night with fewer cars on the road and less competition for parking is comfortable for you. In this case, a reefer job or a less-than-truckload (LTL) position may be a good fit, since night driving is more common. Otherwise, you may prefer to stay with dry van OTR or a local job that drives during the day, so you can either make your own daily schedule or have a set schedule that minimizes night driving. You can also think about how you handle city driving, which is typically more common in local and regional jobs.

3. Determine Your Home Time Preferences

Home time considerations are usually a major factor in the length of route a driver prefers. For example, if you want to be home every night, a local job can allow you to do this. OTR jobs, on the other hand, involve staying on the road for a few weeks at once. Regional jobs are somewhere in the middle. Specific home time policies vary based on the company, but these general guidelines can help you determine which type of trucking is most aligned with your home time goals. Keep in mind, however, that OTR jobs typically pay more, so you’ll want to consider both pay and home time when making a decision on where to work.

Earn Your CDL

At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), we can help you earn your commercial license in as little as four weeks, and offer job placement assistance. Whether you’re interested in a dry van job or transitioning into a more specialized form of trucking down the line, getting your CDL is the first step to a rewarding driving career.

Contact us today to learn more about our CDL training program in Tucson, AZ.

Understanding Per-Mile Pay In Trucking

Trucking is a great career option with high earning potential. Drivers can earn more than $72,000 per year.* The process for calculating how much truck drivers earn is different than it is in other industries. While some regional and local driving jobs pay per hour or a salary, most long-haul jobs pay per mile. If you’re interested in a trucking career, it’s important to understand how per-mile pay works.

Benefits of Per-Mile Pay

With per-mile pay, how much you earn is based on your performance. While there are sometimes factors out of your control that affect how far you can travel, over time, the best truckers are able to learn skills like trip planning to help them get more miles. For highly motivated individuals, this can make trucking an attractive career option because you can work harder to earn more. Many companies also have bonuses for drivers that are able to meet certain mileage goals, further increasing your earning potential.

Potential Challenges

In cases of heavy traffic, bad weather, or other delays, it can be harder to hit your mileage goals. It’s important to be aware of this and to plan strategies to manage your stress when this occurs. For some types of delays, like if you are waiting to be unloaded at a receiver, your motor carrier may offer supplemental pay. Be sure you know and understand your company’s pay structure for these circumstances.

Types of Per-Mile Pay

There are a few different ways trucking companies may calculate the miles you get paid for.

Some of the most common include:

Practical Mileage

When you input your starting location and address into your electronic logging device (ELD) or a GPS, it calculates the number of miles between them based on the most efficient path. Motor carriers that pay practical mileage pay based on the number of miles in this calculation. Of course, you may not necessarily drive this exact route. In fact, as you get used to driving, you’ll likely find more efficient ways to avoid areas with heavy traffic or where you may have difficulty parking to rest. However, you’ll still get paid based on the miles in the calculated path.

Household Goods/Zip Code Miles

Household Goods (HHG) miles, also known as zip code miles, calculate the distance between the post office zip code in the city you start in and the post office zip code of the destination.

Hub Mileage/Actual Miles

Hub mileage, also called actual miles, means your motor carrier pays you based on the actual mileage change on your odometer. It means you get paid for all the miles you drive. This can be beneficial since you get paid for any changes in the route due to traffic conditions or any stops you have to make.

Sliding Scales

Some companies with short-haul routes will use a sliding scale to give drivers with shorter routes a chance to earn more competitive pay. In this case, the company will split the routes into different categories and pay a greater cents per mile (CPM) rate for distances under a certain number of miles.

Get Your Trucking Career Started

If you’re interested in a career in trucking, HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) can help you get started. We offer high-quality training and job placement assistance. With our programs, you can get on the road and earning in as little as four weeks.

To learn more about our CDL training, contact us today.

*Professional truck drivers earn a mean annual wage of $48,310 ( The top 10% of truck drivers make more than $72,730 per year according to 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Manual vs Automatic Trucking

For years, semi-trucks with manual transmissions were the standard, but advances in technology have led to a new generation of automatic trucks. Many trucker drivers prefer the simplicity and ease of an automatic rig, while others continue to enjoy the control they get by driving a vehicle with a manual transmission. 

Manual Transmission in Semi-Trucks

A manual transmission in semi-trucks is a gearbox system where the driver uses a clutch and gear shift to change speeds, slow down, and control the vehicle. This transmission system allows truckers to choose different gear ratios to drive the rig. Lower gear ratios provide more torque but less speed, while higher ratios are the opposite. 

Automatic Transmission in Semi-Trucks

An automatic transmission in semi-trucks differs from that of a car. It is a manual transmission system that uses automation through computers, actuators, and sensors to tell the vehicle when to shift. 

What’s the Difference?

Trucking companies are moving to automatic transmissions for various reasons, including ease of driving and fuel economy. However, one of the main draws of manual semi-trucks is vehicle control.

Ease of Driving

Driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission is simpler than using a manual, and semi-trucks are no exception. An automatic model can adapt to slight changes in speed and keep the truck running smoothly, while manuals require the driver to constantly shift gears as their driving speed varies. 

Fuel Economy

One of the greatest expenses in the trucking industry is fuel costs. While seasoned manual truckers have experience driving to save fuel, in general, semi-trucks with an automatic transmission tend to have better fuel efficiency compared to those with manual transmissions. The simplified system allows the engine to operate at a more efficient rate, leading to better use of fuel and improved mileage.

Vehicle Control

One of the advantages of a manual semi-truck is that drivers are more in control of their vehicles. Manually shifting helps your rig gain momentum faster, and this transmission also handles better in winter weather conditions. Being in control of shifting your truck also helps keep truckers awake during long hauls or night driving.

Removing the Automatic Restriction

If you take your commercial driver’s license (CDL) skills test in a vehicle with an automatic transmission, you will have an automatic restriction on your license. This means you can’t drive a commercial vehicle with a manual transmission. Even though many fleets are switching to automatic, it can still limit your career options, so it’s helpful to remove this restriction. 

Ready to Get Started?

If you want to take the first step toward a career in trucking, start by attending HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school). We can prepare you for local, regional, or over-the-road trucking routes, and we have opportunities for solo and team drivers. Along with education, we help our students find resources to finance truck driving school and assist with job placement. We use manual semi-trucks for training, so you won’t have an automatic restriction on your license. 

Contact us today to learn more about our CDL training program.

Questions to Ask Potential Trucking Employers

Truck drivers have many factors to consider when deciding which trucking company to work for. Before you hop in the cab, you should ensure that the company meets your expectations. Although job interviews typically involve answering questions about yourself, it is also a great time to ask your future employer about their institution. Asking your interviewer questions shows your interest in the job while confirming that the company is a good fit for you.

Ask your recruiter these five questions before you commit to a position:

1. What is Your Home Time Policy?

Being away from your family for days or weeks while you’re on a route is one of the most difficult parts of being a trucker, so home time policies are a necessary consideration when choosing an employer. Although asking about when you’re not going to work may not be a good question for other professions, the unique lifestyle of a truck driver makes it a worthy one. Each company has a different way of offering home time and vacation, so you should confirm that you understand the details.

2. How Much Do You Pay?

Salary is another important consideration. Trucking companies have different pay models, typically pay-per-mile for long-haul driving. Some companies also offer layover pay, which occurs when a driver is delayed by a shipper or receiver for one or more days. Asking questions about how the company handles raises, bonuses, and paid time off will help you better understand the compensation they offer.

3. What Are the Benefits?

Benefits are closely linked to pay, so you can’t consider one without the other. Insurance can be expensive when you buy it yourself, especially if you support a family. Luckily, many companies offer a combination of medical, dental, vision, and short-term disability coverage. New hires are not always eligible for those perks immediately, however. You will need to confirm the company you are interviewing for offers a benefits package that fulfills your needs. 

4. What Kind of Freight Do You Haul?

You may also have an interest in the operational details of the company. Knowing what type of equipment you will use and what freight you will haul determines whether or not you’ll be comfortable on the road. The equipment’s quality is also an indication of how a company treats its drivers. Additionally, the type of freight impacts how much manual labor you do every day. For example, you will not have to unload the cargo yourself if you haul no-touch freight.

5. What Are the Safety Standards?

Along with being comfortable on the road, safety is another major factor. As a trucker, feeling safe and taken care of on the road will give you peace of mind and help you enjoy your work. Successful trucking companies with strong driver retention prioritize safety, so be sure your interviewer clearly outlines the safety standards. 

Choose the Right Truck Driving School

Before you line up interviews with potential trucking companies, you must first earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL). Our team at HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) provides our drivers with a solid foundation for their careers through our exceptional training program. Our school gives you the skills you need to be successful on the open road.

Contact us today to find out how soon you can start earning your CDL.


What Does Space Management Mean?

One of the theory instruction topics that trucking school programs must cover under the latest entry-level driver training (ELDT) guidelines is space management, as well as the related concept of speed management. Both of these are essential for staying safe on the road, so it’s important that you fully understand them.

Simply put, space management is the act of ensuring you have proper space around your vehicle if you need to react to a change in conditions, especially as it relates to following distance. Speed management, similarly, is the act of ensuring your speed will allow you to react in time.

What is the Proper Following Distance for a Semi-Truck?

In normal conditions, there should be at least seven to eight seconds between your semi-truck and the vehicle in front of you. This means that when the back of that vehicle passes a given spot, it should take the front of your vehicle seven to eight seconds to reach that same spot.

If there is inclement weather or other unfavorable conditions, the space between your vehicle and the one in front of you should increase to 14 to 16 seconds.

What About the Space Behind You?

In addition to considering the space in front of the vehicle, you should be aware of the space behind you. Unfortunately, you have limited control over what other vehicles do, and it’s not uncommon for passenger vehicles to closely follow (tailgate) semi-trucks. This can happen for a variety of reasons, and many passenger vehicles do not realize how unsafe this behavior is. If another vehicle is tailgating you, maintain a safe speed, increase the distance in front of you if possible to make room for them to pass, and don’t brake or move suddenly.

Why is Maintaining a Safe Following Distance Important?

All drivers have a responsibility to themselves and to one another to drive safely. For commercial drivers, this is even more essential because of the increased time on the road and the increased size of commercial vehicles. A semi-truck is significantly larger than the standard passenger vehicle and has the capacity to do more damage. Accidents involving semi-trucks are more likely to be severe, and failing to drive safely has serious consequences.

At highway speeds (approximately 65 miles per hour), it takes a semi-truck 200 yards, or the length of two football fields, to come to a stop safely. This is far longer than the average passenger vehicle, and this is another reason why understanding space management is so essential. You need to be confident in your ability to stop your vehicle if conditions change, and you can’t do this if you are following another vehicle too closely.

How Does Speed Management Relate to Space Management?

The faster your vehicle is going, the greater the distance your vehicle will need to travel before it can safely stop. As a result, it’s important to maintain a safe speed. When in doubt, it’s better to go slower and take more time than to drive too fast. This is especially true if the conditions are unfavorable for any reason, such as during inclement weather.

Earn Your CDL in Tucson

If you are interested in a career in trucking, HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) can help you get on the road and earning in as little as four weeks. We meet the new ELDT requirements and cover all required topics, including speed and space management.

To learn more about our commercial driver’s license (CDL) training, contact us today.

3 Tips for Trucking at Night

Safety is essential for anyone on the road, but commercial drivers need to be even more aware due to the larger size of their vehicles and the greater amount of time they spend on the road. One of the situations which you’ll need to know how to safely navigate as a professional driver is trucking at night.

Here are some tips for safe night driving:

1. Be Mindful of Fatigue

Many people understand just how dangerous driving while tired is. Fatigue reduces your ability to react quickly to changes in road conditions, and it only takes a moment for you to miss something crucial.

While you may see “tricks” online that are meant to help you stay alert if you’re driving while fatigued, the truth is that the only true solution is sleep. Even a short nap can be enough to boost your energy. In the long term, make sure you are getting enough sleep.

If you aren’t sure whether you are too tired to drive safely, it’s better to be cautious and take a break to rest up.

2. Slow Down

Speeding in a semi-truck is dangerous under any circumstances. At night, when visibility is low, it is even more so. Be mindful of your speed and when in doubt, slow down. It’s better to take a little longer to get to your destination than to rush and cause an accident.

3. Avoid Vision Impairment

Bright lights can interfere with your vision at night, and this can lead to an accident. To minimize this, reduce your dashboard lights and avoid looking directly at oncoming traffic or into any lights near the road. It should go without saying, but you also need to stay off your phone. Distracted driving is dangerous at any time of day, and at night the light of the phone screen can also impair your vision, making the situation even worse.

Additionally, make sure you keep your eyeglasses prescription up to date if you use these. As part of your required Department of Transportation (DOT) physical, the doctor will check your vision and make sure you are able to safely drive at night. If you need any follow-up appointments for vision care, be sure to keep up with these.

How Often Do Truckers Drive at Night?

The amount of night driving you’ll need to do varies. For example, if you’re a solo over-the-road (OTR) trucker, you have more control over when you drive as long as you are on time for deliveries. If you drive less-than-truckload (LTL) between terminals, on the other hand, you will often be scheduled to travel at night. No matter what path you take in your career, chances are you’ll need to drive at night at least some of the time, so it’s important to be prepared.

Earn Your CDL in Tucson

At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), we can help you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in as little as four weeks. We cover a variety of topics you’ll need to know as a trucker, including how to stay safe when driving at night.

To learn more about our truck driver training program, contact us today.

Appliances for Cooking in a Semi-Truck

Preparing your own food is one of the best ways to save money and eat healthier as a truck driver. Although there are some unique challenges involved in cooking in a semi-truck, there are definitely ways to get creative and make a variety of meals in your truck. Having small appliances on board is one way to make this easier.

Here are some appliances truckers can benefit from having on board:

1. Mini-Fridge or Cooler

This is a must-have for storing food on your truck. Without one, your options are fairly limited. A small mini-fridge or cooler can fit in most cabs without using up too much of your valuable space. Consider choosing an option with a freezer, as this allows you to keep food for longer without needing to restock.

2. Microwave

A microwave allows you to heat up food quickly and easily. You can prepare meals ahead of time during your home time and use your microwave to heat it up. Truck stops may have microwaves available, but having one in your truck is more convenient and saves you time.

3. Portable Stove, Skillet, or Hot Plate

These appliances allow you to cook more versatile meals compared to what you can heat up in a microwave. For example, you can fry eggs for yourself in your morning or cook up a simple stir fry. Each of these options has different benefits, so do some research to determine which best matches your needs.

4. Blender

If you like to start your morning with a smoothie, a blender would make a great addition to your semi-truck. You can keep pre-portioned fruit in your freezer and whip up breakfast quickly. Homemade smoothies have less sugar and additives than most brands you can buy, so this is an added bonus.

5. Slow Cooker

Slow cookers allow you to prepare your dinner in the morning and allow it to cook throughout the day while you drive. It’s important to make sure this setup is secure to avoid making a mess and creating a hazard if your slow cooker falls over on the road.

How to Choose Appliances for Your Truck

The interior of a semi-truck is a relatively small space, so it’s important to choose what you take with you carefully. You won’t necessarily need every possible kitchen appliance, and likely wouldn’t have room for all of them. It’s best to start out with the essentials on your first few hauls, then add more items based on your preferences.

For example, if you don’t particularly enjoy smoothies, you may not need a blender. On the other hand, if you notice that you’re buying pre-made smoothies or juices often while on the road, it may be a worthwhile addition to your truck.

Become a Trucker

Are you interested in a career as a truck driver? HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) can help you get started. You can earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in as little as four weeks with our program.

To learn more about starting your trucking career, contact us today.

Tips for CDL Test Prep

In order to earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL), you will need to pass a written exam as well as a skills test. Preparing to take the CDL test can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

Here are some tips for preparing to take the CDL exam

1. Attend Truck Driving School

The number one tip for preparing for your CDL test is to attend a professional truck driving school. While you can study on your own, being part of a CDL program gives you more support. You’ll have access to highly-skilled instructors and can ask questions if there is any material you don’t fully understand.

Additionally, many motor carriers prefer to hire truck driving school graduates.

2. Read the CDL Manual

The CDL manual contains all of the information you will need to know for the written exam as well as helpful information about the structure of the skills test. Although you’ll be going over this material in class, it’s helpful to read it on your own as well and to use it for studying. Reading the manual before your classes can help you pinpoint the areas that you find most challenging and you can prepare questions ahead of time.

3. Practice Pre-Trip Inspections

Pre-trip inspections are often one of the most daunting parts of the CDL test for students. This is because you will need to memorize a variety of semi-truck parts and be able to point them out while you check them. To help get it down, practice performing a pre-trip and make flashcards to help you out while you’re learning the parts. Actually going through the steps helps you commit them to memory faster than just reading about them.

4. Ask for Help

If there is anything that you aren’t sure about, ask one of your instructors for help. This may be a difficult section on the written test or a particular maneuver you can’t seem to get down while driving. You may be able to schedule time to practice a bit more or the instructor could have a tip that has helped other students in the past. You can also ask your fellow students or form a study group to keep each other motivated.

5. Relax

Many students feel nervous taking exams, even if they know the material. Before each of the CDL tests, take a deep breath and relax. Remember that even if things don’t go as planned, this is just the beginning of your trucking career, not its sole defining moment. If you fail the CDL written test or skills test, you will have the opportunity to try again. This can help take some of the pressure off you and may improve your performance.

Learn More About Our CDL Program

HDS truck driving school can get you on the road and earning in as little as four weeks. We can help you prepare for the CDL test and offer job placement assistance to support you in starting your new career.

To learn more about earning your CDL in Tucson, contact us today.

CDL Disqualifications to Know

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) allows you to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Some offenses can disqualify you from holding a CDL for a certain length of time. Before you start your trucking career, it’s important to be aware of these CDL disqualifications.

Lifetime Disqualification

Anyone who uses a CMV to commit a felony involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance will be disqualified for life from holding a CDL. There is no possibility of reinstatement.

Major CDL Disqualification

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) outlines several major offenses that result in longer lengths of disqualification.

For these offenses, the disqualification will last one year for the first offense. If you were transporting hazardous materials (hazmat) in a CMV at the time, it would last three years. After a second offense, it is a lifetime disqualification with the possibility of reinstatement after 10 years. If there is a third offense after a reinstatement, the CDL cannot be reinstated.

These are:

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Commercial drivers have a legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04. The limit for non-commercial vehicles varies in different states. In Arizona, impairment is assumed if BC is over 0.08, although someone can get a DUI with a lower BAC if there is evidence they are “impaired to the slightest degree.” Controlled substances can also result in DUI charges. The disqualification applies whether the DUI occurs while operating a CMV or while driving a personal vehicle.

Refusal to Test During a DUI Stop

If you refuse a BAC test during a DUI stop, you will face a CDL suspension. There may be additional legal consequences depending on the state where the stop occurs.

Leaving the Scene

You are legally obligated to remain at the scene of an accident, whether you were at fault or not, until you have provided all necessary information to law enforcement officers. If you fail to do so, you will face a CDL suspension as well as other possible legal consequences.

Using a CMV for a Felony

Using a CMV to commit a felony results in the disqualification period described above. This applies for felonies that do not involve the manufacture, distribution, or dispensation of a controlled substance. In those cases, as mentioned previously, there will be a lifetime disqualification with no possibility of reinstatement.

Driving with a Disqualified CDL

If you drive with a disqualified commercial license, it will extend your suspension.

Causing a Fatality

You will be temporarily disqualified from holding a CDL if you cause a fatality through the negligent operation of a CMV. Depending on the circumstances, there may be other civil and legal penalties as well.

Shorter-Term CDL Disqualifications

Traffic Violations and Railroad Crossings

Any of the following will result in a disqualification of 60 days if you get two convictions in a three-year period, or 120 days for third and subsequent violations in that timeframe:

  • Excessive speeding (any speed 15 mph or more over the speed limit)
  • Reckless driving (defined by state or local law)
  • Erratic or improper lane changes
  • Following too closely behind the vehicle ahead of you
  • Any violation of state or local traffic control laws
  • Driving a CMV without a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) or CDL, or without having proof of licensure
  • Driving a CMV without the correct class of CLP/CDL, or without the proper endorsements
  • Texting while driving a CMV

The following will result in a 60-day disqualification for the first offense, a 120-day disqualification for the second, and a one-year disqualification for the third onward:

  • Failing to slow down and check railroad tracks, when stopping isn’t required
  • Failing to stop when tracks are not clear, when stopping isn’t always required
  • Failing to stop at railroad crossings where stopping is always required
  • Failing to leave space to drive through the crossing without stopping
  • Failing to obey a law enforcement officer or traffic control device at a railroad crossing
  • Failing to negotiate a railroad crossing because of insufficient clearance

Out-of-Service Violations

If your vehicle is placed out of service, you may not operate it until the issue is resolved. If you do so anyway, you will face a fine as well as a disqualification. For the first offense, this can last from 180 days up to one year, or up to two years if you were hauling hazmat. A second conviction lasts 2-5 years for non-hazmat and 3-5 years for hazmat. For third and subsequent convictions with a ten-year period, the disqualification will last 3-5 years for both hazmat and non-hazmat.

Understand CDL Requirements Before Earning Your License

It’s important to fully understand possible disqualifications and requirements before you earn your CDL. At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), we give our students the information and tools they need to succeed.

To learn more about our CDL training programs, contact us today.

All About the New ELDT Requirements

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets requirements for the training of entry-level drivers. This means anyone who is getting their Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL) for the first time, upgrading from a Class B to a Class A, or earning certain endorsements for the first time. Their requirements include completing a training program that includes a combination of theory and behind-the-wheel instruction.

The FMCSA’s entry-level driver training (ELDT) requirements were updated on February 7, 2022. If you are planning to get your CDL, it’s important to choose a program that meets these requirements. Our programs at HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) meet all the new ELDT requirements.

What Has Changed?

To understand what effect the ELDT changes have on CDL instruction, it’s helpful to consider how these requirements are different from previous regulations.

Here are some of the changes with the new ELDT requirements:

  • Previously, any institution that met CDL training requirements within a given state could provide entry-level instruction. Now, only those that are on the FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry (TPR) can do so. Schools must meet all the new requirements and apply to join the TPR.
  • The new requirements standardize topics for instruction.
  • CDL schools, rather than the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as was the case previously, will now administer the CDL written test and will need to report student scores to the FMCSA.

Theory Instruction Requirements

There are no minimum hours for CDL training, but the training must cover all of the FMCSA’s required topics.

For theory training, providers must also use assessments to determine whether trainees are proficient in these topics and students must earn an 80% or higher on these assessments.

The topics for CDL theory training are broken up into five categories, each of which include sub-topics. 

The categories are:

  • Basic Operation: This includes topics such as basic vehicle control, backing and docking, and pre-trip and post-trip inspections.
  • Safe Operating Procedures: Trainees must understand space management, speed management, night operation, and other topics related to safely operating commercial vehicles.
  • Advanced Operating Practices: This category includes hazard perception, emergencies (skid control/recovery, jackknifing, and others), and railroad-highway grade crossings.
  • Vehicle Systems and Reporting Malfunctions: Trainees must understand how to identify and diagnose vehicle malfunctions, as well as information regarding roadside inspections and maintenance.
  • Non-Driving Activities: CDL training programs must cover topics about non-driving activities. These include how to handle and document cargo, trip planning, medical requirements, and drug/alcohol testing.

Behind-the-Wheel Training Requirements

Like for theory requirements, there is no minimum for the hours spent on behind-the-wheel training. Instructors must document the clock hours of training.

Behind-the-wheel training must cover the following topics in a range setting:

  • Pre-trip, en route, and post-trip vehicle inspections
  • Straight line backing
  • Alley dock backing (45 and 90 degrees)
  • Off-set backing
  • Blind side parallel parking
  • Sight side parallel parking
  • Coupling and uncoupling

Additionally, the program must cover the following topics on a public road:

  • Vehicle controls (e.g. lane changes, turning, entry and exit onto highways)
  • Transmission/shifting
  • Signaling/communication
  • Visual search
  • Space and speed management
  • Safe driver behavior
  • Hours of service (HOS) regulations
  • Hazard perception
  • Railroad crossings
  • Nighttime driving
  • Extreme conditions
  • Jackknifing, skid control/recovery, and other emergencies

For topics that cannot be simulated on the road (such as emergencies), instructors must engage in a two-way conversation with their students about what to do in these situations.

Earn Your CDL

If you are interested in becoming a truck driver, the first step is earning your CDL with a program that meets ELDT requirements. At HDS truck driving school, we can get you on the road to a rewarding new career.

Contact us today to learn more about our CDL training program.