Avoiding the CDL Automatic Restriction

If your commercial driver’s license (CDL) has any restrictions, these will limit the types of vehicles you can drive. The CDL automatic restriction, also known as the E restriction, will prevent you from driving any commercial vehicle with a manual transmission. This can reduce the number of job opportunities available to you after graduation.

Reasons for an E Restriction

Someone will have the E restriction placed on their CDL if they complete the skills test in a vehicle with an automatic transmission. The Department of Transportation (DOT) defines an automatic transmission as any transmission that does not operate “fully on the gear shift and clutch principle.”

Unlike the air brakes restriction, there is no written test section you need to pass to remove the CDL automatic restriction. It is based solely on the skills test.

How to Avoid the CDL Automatic Restriction

Avoiding the E restriction is fairly simple. All you need to do is make sure you take your CDL skills test in a vehicle with a manual transmission. To do this, you should ask the representatives at any trucking schools you are considering whether they use manual or automatic semi-trucks.

At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), we use vehicles with manual transmissions so our students do not have to worry about the E restriction.

Why Being Able to Drive Manual Semi-Trucks is Important

The automatic restriction can be challenging to work around because many motor carriers use trucks with manual transmissions. These have been around for longer and many old-school truckers prefer manual vehicles since it allows them to have more control over the truck. Manual semi-trucks are also less expensive for carriers.

A Shift to Automatic Semi-Trucks?

You may see that many trucking companies have started to make the shift to automatic semi-trucks. These vehicles are easier to drive and as time has progressed since their invention, the cost has decreased somewhat. As a result, there is a possibility that your future employer will have an automatic or partially automatic fleet.

That being said, when it comes to adding endorsements and avoiding restrictions, it’s better to keep your options open. Even if you never need to drive one of those vehicles during your trucking career, you will have more jobs available to you.

Avoiding the automatic restriction means you won’t be in a position where you can’t get a job you really want because it requires driving a manual truck. Conversely, having learned how to operate a manual transmission won’t negatively affect your ability to drive an automatic semi-truck.

Earn Your CDL With No E Restriction

At HDS truck driving school, we give you the tools you need to succeed in your trucking career. We help you minimize the restrictions on your class A CDL.

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

Weigh Station 101

Commercial drivers need to follow regulations at state and federal levels to help keep themselves and others on the road safe. One of these rules is a weight limit for trucks. This helps prevent damage to roadways which can make them less safe over time. In order to ensure compliance, commercial vehicles need to stop at weigh stations, which some truckers call “chicken coops.” 

If you’ve ever seen the green signs for these along a highway and wondered what they are for or if you’re a rookie truck driver and want to make sure you’re staying compliant, this article outlines weigh station basics.

Which Vehicles Need to Stop at Weigh Stations?

Each state has different requirements for which vehicles must stop at weigh stations. You should know the laws for any states you are traveling through on your haul. As a general rule, most states require commercial vehicles that have a gross weight of over 10,000 pounds to stop at every open weigh station on their route.

Some motor carriers use a bypass service for their trucks. If your vehicle is equipped with this, you may not need to stop at every station.

What To Do When You Stop

After pulling off the highway to enter a weigh station, follow all posted signage or instructions from officials. Some scales require you to come to a complete stop, whereas others work while your truck is moving at a slow speed.

The scale will verify whether your truck is under the maximum weight. Federally, this is 80,000 pounds, although some states do have a lower gross weight limit. In addition to checking the total weight, the scale will determine how much weight is on each axle.

If your truck is within the weight limits, you will be able to continue on your way.

If not, the officials will have you pull through so they can get paperwork from you and determine the solution for the issue. At this point, they can also choose to perform a DOT inspection. Depending on the level of the inspection, they can check your truck, your paperwork, and/or your electronic logging device (ELD).

What Happens If Your Truck is Overweight

If your truck is over the weight limit for one of its axles, you may be able to shift the load and/or axles to fix the issue. There will typically be a fine and points against your Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) score, but you may be able to continue on your way after paying this and adjusting the axle weight appropriately.

If your truck is over the gross weight limit, you will get a citation, fine, and points against your CSA score. Depending on the state and how much you were over, there are a few different ways to resolve the issue. You/your motor carrier may need to purchase an overweight permit or a relief driver may need to come take the excess weight.

How to Avoid an Overweight Citation

To avoid the fines and other penalties associated with being over the weight limit for commercial vehicles, weigh your truck after loading. There are scales at many truck stops and you can locate these using a trip planning phone application or trucker’s atlas. Then, you can adjust your axles or go back to the shipper for reloading if the gross weight is an issue. If you do need to go back, be sure to let your dispatcher know.

You should also be careful to avoid roads with lower weight limits. Again, a trip planning app, trucker’s atlas, or trucker-specific GPS can help you with this.

Get Your Trucking Career Started

If you are interested in earning your CDL and learning more about the trucking industry, our program can help you get started. You can earn your license in as little as four weeks.

To learn more about HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), contact us today.

Mountain Driving Tips for Truckers

As an over-the-road (OTR) trucker, you’ll encounter a wide range of different driving conditions and terrains. This includes mountain driving. Although your first few mountain routes on your own can be challenging, taking it slow and following the tips in this article can help make it easier.

Some things to keep in mind when driving a truck through the mountains:

Before the Drive

1. Check Your Brakes

You need to perform a pre-trip inspection every day before you start driving. This should always be thorough and you need to fix any issues right away. If you know you are going to be driving through mountains, double-check your brakes and make sure you know they are working properly.

If there is a brake check area before the mountain road, pull off and check your brakes again.

2. Prepare for the Weather

Mountains may have different weather conditions than lower altitudes. Check the forecast and be prepared. If there is going to be snow or ice, make sure to chain your tires.

If the weather makes it impossible to drive safely, wait it out. It’s better to take a little longer to reach your destination than to put yourself and others at risk. Be sure to communicate any changes in your plan with your dispatcher, but don’t let anyone push you to drive in unsafe conditions.

3. Fuel Up

There are not likely to be many gas stations in the mountains, so fuel up before you start your route. Having a full tank ensures you aren’t in a position where you run out of fuel in an emergency.

During the Drive

1. Slow Down

This is a good tip in general for if you are driving through difficult terrain or if the road conditions are not ideal. There’s a saying that you can drive down a mountain too slowly hundreds of times, but you can only drive too fast once.

You can put your hazards on and allow others to pass you, but don’t be too focused on how fast others are going. A semi-truck is significantly larger than passenger vehicles and simply can’t travel at the same speed on mountainous roads. Even if other tractor-trailers are going faster, it may be because they are not loaded.

2. Downshift Before the Descent

You will typically need to descend the mountain in a lower gear than you used to climb it. The exact gear will depend on the weight of your vehicle, the grade of the descent, and other factors. In any case, you should downshift before you begin to go down the mountain. Shifting in the middle of the descent can overheat your brakes.

3. Use Your Engine Brakes

Relying on your service brakes to maintain your speed during a descent can overheat them, and may cause a problem if you need to stop suddenly. Instead, you should use the right gear so you can maintain a safe speed using your engine brakes (Jake brakes). However, you should not rely on your Jake brakes if there is poor traction due to icy or wet roads.

Newer automatic trucks have a “descent mode” option that engages the Jake brakes to keep your truck at a safe speed.

Keep in mind you will often still need to use the service brakes to maintain your speed, but do so sparingly and carefully.

Prepare For Your Trucking Career

At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), our skilled instructors will help you prepare for your career as a trucker. We can get you on the road and earning in as little as four weeks.

To learn more about our commercial driver’s license program, contact us today.

Getting a Trucking Job with No Experience

After earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL), you’re probably eager to start your trucking career. There is a high demand for over-the-road (OTR) drivers and this can make it easier to find a trucking job with no experience beyond school. That being said, it’s still helpful to know what to expect and how you can start your career as quickly as possible.

Some tips for finding and succeeding in your first trucking job:

1. Take Advantage of Job Placement Assistance

Attending a truck driving school with a job placement assistance program is arguably the easiest way to find your first job after earning your CDL. At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), our team helps place students with motor carriers who are hiring new drivers. Many of our students have offers before they graduate.

Working with a job placement assistance team takes the pressure off you. You won’t need to search for companies that are hiring CDL drivers with no experience. Instead, a member of our team will match you with jobs that fit your preferences.

2. Start With OTR

Whether you are starting your career with the help of a job placement assistance team or not, you should be aware that you will probably drive OTR first. These routes take truckers across the country and are the most impacted by the driver shortage.

In most cases, drivers will start with a year of OTR driving to gain experience, even if they wish to switch to a regional or local job later on.

One reason for this is that regional and local jobs often involved more complex driving such as backing into multiple loading docks a day, frequent city driving, and night driving. An OTR job may involve all of these situations, but they are more spread out, which gives you a chance to practice your driving skills.

Additionally, OTR jobs typically pay more and may offer tuition reimbursement to help you cover the cost of school.

3. Focus on Safety

During your first year on the road, focus on safe driving. Be patient with yourself as you are learning new skills and make sure you do things correctly rather than rushing through them. Don’t speed, don’t drive distracted, and ask questions if you need help.

Making an effort to focus on safety during your first year helps you build experience that will be valuable throughout your career. These actions should become habits over time and you’ll be protecting yourself and others on the road.

This also builds a strong record of safe driving, which is valuable for advancing your career. Whether you plan to stay in your current position or move to a different carrier, a commitment to safety can help you get ahead in the trucking industry.

The Benefits of Attending Trucking School

Graduating from a CDL school program is helpful for getting your first trucking job, and these benefits go beyond job placement assistance. Most carriers prefer truck driving school graduates compared to those who are self-taught. CDL school also gives you the opportunity to learn from skilled drivers with real-world experience.

Get Your CDL and Start Your Career

If you are ready to become a commercial driver, HDS truck driving school can help. We offer day, evening, and weekend classes. You can get on the road and start earning in as little as four weeks.

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

A Brief Overview of Trucking History

Semi-trucks keep the US economy moving and are responsible for transporting 71.8% of our nation’s freight. The trucking industry has evolved over the decades and larger shifts have influenced this evolution. In turn, truck driving has played a role in many historical events.

Here is a brief overview of trucking history:

Late 1800s and Early 1900s – The First Semi-Trucks

In 1898, Alexander Winton built the first semi-truck. Winton was a Scottish immigrant and the owner of the Winton Motor Carriage Company in Cleveland. His company sold automobiles, which were called “horseless carriages” at the time. Customers sometimes lived far away from Cleveland, so Winton had to find a way to get their vehicles to them without causing damage or adding mileage.

To solve this problem, he created an early version of a flatbed semi-truck. The horseless carriage would be on a platform and attached to another vehicle in the front. In 1899, Winton sold his first semi-truck.

In 1914, Detroit blacksmith August Charles Fruehauf took semi-trucks to the next level. He used his vehicles for hauling lumber and started the Fruehauf Trailer Company in 1918. The semi-trailer design allowed trucks to haul more types of freight, but railroads were still the dominant method of shipping at the time.

1910s – World War I

During the same time when Fruehauf was manufacturing his first semi-trailers, World War I was raging in Europe. The United States sent semi-trucks overseas and the military used these vehicles for a variety of operations. The war brought about significant improvements in tractor-trailer design, such as air-filled (pneumatic) tires instead of the rough all-rubber tires that were common prior to this time.

1930s – ATA, Motor Carrier Act, and Reefers

By the start of the 1930s, there were over 300,000 semi-trucks in operation in the United States.

In 1933, two organizations (the American Highway Freight Association and the Federation Trucks Associations of America) combined to create the American Trucking Associations (ATA). This organization is still around today and advocates for the interests of the trucking industry.

The Motor Carrier Act of 1935 introduced the first trucking regulations. These included weight limits and caps on hours of service.

Near the end of the decade in 1938, Minnesota trucking executive Harry Werner lost a shipment of chicken due to a truck breakdown. At this time, companies shipped agricultural products with ice and any issues or delays could result in the entire load spoiling. This event prompted Werner to invent the refrigerated truck, more commonly known today as a reefer.

1940s – World War II and Post-War Boom

As was the case during World War I, semi-trucks played a role in World War II. By 1942, there were 125,000 truckers enlisted in all branches, transporting materials for the war effort.

After the war, many Americans had more wealth than ever before and were spending it on luxury goods. Since these items needed to travel across the country, trucking continued to expand. Advancements in the diesel engine and the creation of new roads both helped spur this growth. This is also when the first truck stops began to pop up around the nation.

1950s – 1960s – Highway Construction and the DOT

In 1956, President Eisenhower signed the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act. This began the creation of a nationwide system of highways. As a result, semi-trucks could travel more efficiently.

With the creation of highways, there was a need for oversight in the trucking industry. The Department of Transportation (DOT) was created in 1967.

1970s – 1980s Trucking in Popular Culture

During the 70s and 80s, trucking became more prominent in popular culture. Movies such as Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and Convoy (1978) came out, as well as songs including Alabama’s “Roll On 18-Wheeler” and Eddie Rabbit’s “Driving My Life Away.”

Trucking Today

Truck driving continues to adapt to the times. During the COVID-19 pandemic, truckers continued to deliver freight and keep our nation moving forward. New technology has made semi-trucks more comfortable and safer than ever before and there continues to be a steady demand for new truckers to enter the industry.

Become a Trucker

If you are interested in becoming a professional driver, HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) can help you get started. With our program, you can earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and find a rewarding trucking job.

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

Tips for Trucking With Pets

Trucking is one of the few careers where you can take your furry friends with you on the job. There are many pet-friendly motor carriers that you can work with if this is something you are interested in. While sharing your semi-truck with your dog or cat is a bit of an adjustment at first, it can make life on the open road more enjoyable to have a companion by your side.

Here are some tips for trucking with pets:

1. Know the Rules For Your Company

More and more trucking companies are allowing their drivers to bring pets on the road, but most do have some requirements. There is usually a weight limit. 25 pounds is common, but some companies do allow larger animals. In some cases, there are also breed restrictions. Be sure to read the policy carefully to determine whether dogs and cats are both allowed and whether or not your pet fits all of the guidelines.

Additionally, it is common for motor carriers to require a pet deposit. The amount will vary depending on the company. In many cases, it may be possible to have the deposit deducted from your paychecks in installments to make the cost more manageable.

2. See Your Vet

Before trucking with your pet, take them to see your veterinarian. Make sure they are up to date with their vaccinations and keep a record of their vaccine history with you. If you ever need to drop them off for daycare while on your haul, you will generally need this.

You should let your veterinarian know that you are planning to take your pet on the road with you. They can perform a full exam and make sure they are in good health and ready for the journey. If there is any reason they would not recommend taking your pet with you, they will let you know and you can adjust accordingly.

3. Pack Supplies (& Bring Extra)

There may be some pet stores with semi-truck parking along your route, but these can be difficult to find. Getting pet essentials at truck stops may also be challenging. You don’t want to get caught without anything your pet needs, so make sure you stock up. Keep a little extra of the essentials just in case.

You should pack:

  • Food and water bowls
  • Fresh water (bring enough for yourself as well as your pet)
  • Your pet’s preferred food
  • Toys
  • ID tags (bring more than one in case of any issues)
  • Leashes, collars, and harnesses
  • Doggy bags, or a travel-friendly litter box if you are bringing a cat
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Blankets
  • A comfy bed
  • A crate, if needed
  • Paperwork including vaccination records and registration

4. Let Your Pet Out of the Truck Frequently

Giving your companion some time to get their energy out and take a bathroom break is important. Be sure to take regular stops when traveling with your pet. This can help you get out of the truck and stay active as well.

If you have a cat, this may be less relevant. However, you can always try getting a cat harness and seeing if they enjoy taking a look around at rest stops. It’s a good idea to try this at home first to make sure they like it. Some cats may prefer to stay in the cab.

5. Enjoy the Benefits of Trucking With Your Pet

Many truck drivers find that bringing a cat or dog on the road can help them avoid feeling lonely. If your pet is physically healthy enough and well-suited to a trucking lifestyle, it can be a great way to spend more time together compared to leaving them at home.

The benefits extend beyond your emotional wellbeing. Truckers with pets are often healthier because they get more physical activity during rest stops. Additionally, there is evidence that truckers with pets on board tend to drive more safely.

Want to Start a Trucking Career?

If you are looking for a job where you can bring your dog or cat with you every day, not to mention enjoy great benefits and competitive pay, trucking may be for you! HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) can help you get started.

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

Common Truck Driver Interview Questions

After you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL), there are a variety of job opportunities available to you within the trucking industry. This career can be very rewarding, and truckers can earn more than $69,000 a year. * 

Our job placement assistance team can help you prepare and can find motor carriers that are hiring new CDL graduates. It’s a good idea to be prepared for the most common truck driver interview questions, as well as understanding how the trucking interview process is different from other industries.

The Basic Requirements for a Trucking Job

The trucking industry is regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In order to get a driving job, you will need to meet the basic requirements set by these agencies. This is true no matter which carrier you choose to work for. 

Any company you apply to is required to check your motor vehicle record (MVR) and you should be prepared to explain any accidents or traffic violations. You should also expect a full background check and need to pass a drug test before you can begin safety-sensitive duties, i.e. driving.

It is important that you do not lie at any point during this process. If there is something on your record that is less than ideal, it’s better to be honest and explain how you have learned from it.

The Interview Process

How to Dress

Trucking interviews often have a more casual dress code than is the case for other industries. You will likely feel a bit overdressed in full professional attire, but you should still make an effort to make a good first impression. Business casual is usually a safe bet.

Questions to Expect

Each interview is a little different, but many of the same topics are covered. Although not every truck driver interview question listed here will come up, it’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

Some questions to prepare to answer during your interview include:

  • How would you handle/how have you handled an accident?

Emphasize your focus on safety and staying calm, while being honest about any accidents that have occurred in the past.

  • What would you do if you were running late for a delivery?

Discuss how you would effectively communicate any delays and again emphasize your commitment to safety, even when unexpected factors affect your route.

  • What do you know about FMCSA regulations that apply to truck drivers?

You will be expected to understand and follow hours of service (HOS) limits, pre-trip inspection requirements, and other regulations.

  • Why are you interested in this position?

This is a common question for almost any type of job interview, and it helps the interviewer determine whether you are committed to a trucking career.

  • What are your strengths as a truck driver?

Again, this type of question is likely to show up in any type of job interview, so be prepared to explain what you offer to your potential employer.

Questions to Ask

At the end of your interview, the last question is usually whether you have any questions to ask the interviewer.

Here are some questions you can ask during your driver interview:

  • What sorts of routes/hauls are most common for your drivers?

  • Are there opportunities to advance and if so, what are these?

  • What is your home time policy?

  • How are miles calculated (dispatched miles, practical mileage, household good miles, etc.) and what is the pay per mile?

  • What benefits are available?

Driving Test

Many trucking jobs will require you to complete a road test prior to hiring. If this is the case, be sure to do a thorough pre-trip inspection. This is an opportunity to show that will follow all necessary regulations. Throughout the road test, your best to calm your nerves and focus on driving safely.

Prepare For Your Trucking Career

If you love the open road and want to earn high pay as a trucker, HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) can help you get started. Many of our students even have job offers prior to graduation.

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

*Professional truck drivers earn a mean annual wage of $48,710. The top 10% of truck drivers make more than $69,000 per year according to the 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Tips for Trucking with a Family

Truck drivers can make over $69,000 a year* and it only takes a few weeks to earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and get started. The high earning potential brings many individuals to the trucking industry, including those with families. Over-the-road (OTR) driving is as much a lifestyle as it is a career, and it will affect your loved ones’ lives as well as your own. With some effort on both ends, trucking with a family is definitely possible, and it can be a great way to earn a stable living doing essential and in-demand work.

Here are some tips:

1. Use Technology to Stay in Touch

With modern technology, it’s easier than ever to stay in contact with your family even if you are far away from home. Try to call at least once a day and video chat a few times a week. This helps you stay up to date with what is going on in everyone’s lives. You can also text during breaks and send photos of interesting truck stops or roadside attractions. Just make sure you don’t text while driving!

2. Involve Your Family in Trip Planning

When you’re planning your route, get your family involved. Let them help you pick out stops and give them a timeline of where you’re going to be at different points of your trip. This gives you something to talk about when you check in since they will know what area you are in. Even if plans change and you don’t follow the route exactly, this can help your family feel like they are a part of your daily life on the road.

3. Take Advantage of Home Time

After spending time on the road, you will want to have some time to relax. While it is important to take the time you need for yourself, you should also make sure you are taking advantage of the time you have with your family. Prioritize the most important events, but also be realistic about when you will and won’t be able to get home. It’s better to surprise your family by being home earlier than you expected or making it to one more event than planned as opposed to missing out on something you said you’d be there for.

4. Consider Taking a Family Member on the Road

Many trucking companies give you the opportunity to bring a passenger on a haul. Consider taking one of your loved ones out on the road for a short trip so they can see what your day-to-day life is like. If you are interested in bringing your child, make sure to check the age requirements for doing so. You should plan ahead and pick a short and relatively easy haul when possible.

5. Discuss Your Goals

It’s important to be on the same page as your partner when it comes to what is best for your family. In many cases, drivers do one year OTR and then transition into a regional or local job that can get them home more frequently. A CDL can open many doors for you, and not all of them require you to spend weeks on the road. However, if you do prefer long-haul, make sure your family is on board with this decision.

Start Your Career with HDS

HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) can help you earn your CDL in as little as four weeks. Our job placement assistance team can help you find companies hiring new drivers and will look for openings that match your needs and goals.

To learn more about joining the trucking industry, contact us today.

*Professional truck drivers earn a mean annual wage of $48,710. The top 10% of truck drivers make more than $69,000 per year according to the 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Tips for Safe Trucking

A semi-truck is significantly larger than the typical car or truck and operating one requires care and skill. Safe trucking helps protect you, your freight, and everyone else on the road. Our commercial driver’s license (CDL) program will prepare you to hit the road with a strong foundation. From there, it’s up to you to keep safety in mind at all times.

Here are some tips for safe truck driving:

Perform a Thorough Pre-Trip Inspection

Trucking safety starts before you even hit the road. During your pre-trip inspection, you should thoroughly check your vehicle for issues. If there is anything wrong, make a note and get it fixed to avoid a potential breakdown or another safety issue. You must complete this inspection each day before you start driving in order to stay compliant with federal regulations.

Be a Defensive Driver

Defensive driving involves being constantly aware of changing road conditions so you can respond quickly to any potential hazards. You should be scanning the road to see what is going on 15 seconds ahead of you as well as staying alert to the area immediately in front of your truck. As you drive, you should anticipate possible dangers and make decisions to reduce the risk of an accident. Defensive driving also includes maintaining a safe following distance and checking your blind spots regularly.

Maintain a Safe Speed

Speeding is potentially dangerous in any vehicle, but it can be especially hazardous in a tractor-trailer. Because of its weight, a semi-truck takes longer to come to a stop than a passenger vehicle. Going too fast increases your risk of getting into an accident and can also lead to worse injuries and property damage if an accident occurs. Keep in mind that you may need to go slower than the posted speed limit depending on road conditions, weather, and other factors. When in doubt, it’s better to slow down and take a bit more time than to get inpatient and drive dangerously.

Don’t Drive Distracted

Distractions take your attention off the road and reduce your ability to drive defensively. Never text while driving or do anything else that takes your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel. You may be tempted to try to eat lunch or do other tasks while driving to save time, but it’s not worth the risk.

Stay Calm and Be Patient

Trying to rush anything or getting frustrated can be dangerous when you’re handling such a large vehicle. If you’re starting to feel stressed, it can be helpful to take a few deep breaths and refocus on the task at hand. Remember that it’s better to take a little longer to get something done in order to stay safe.

Truck Driver Training in Tucson

At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), we provide high-quality CDL training. Our skilled instructors will help you learn the basics of safe trucking and our job placement assistance team can help you find openings that match your goals and desires.

To learn more about our truck driving school, contact us today.

Choices You’ll Make During Your Trucking Career

Earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL) is the first step to entering the trucking industry. After graduation, there are many different paths available to you. There are several choices you will make as you start your trucking career and throughout your time as a driver. You have the ability to select a job that matches your desired lifestyle and goals. While you can always change course later, it’s helpful to consider the options before you hit the road so you can get started with the best possible foundation.

Some choices you’ll make as a trucker include:

Local, Regional, or OTR?

Local jobs allow drivers to come home every night, over-the-road (OTR) driving involves being on the road for weeks at a time, and regional trucking is somewhere in between. If you prefer a stable schedule, a local driving career may be a good fit. However, if you love the freedom of the open road and want to see the country, you’ll probably prefer OTR. Regional is a middle ground and offers some elements of OTR, but with more frequent home time.

What Type of Freight to Haul

Most truckers start out driving a dry van, which is a semi-truck with a standard trailer. However, this is not your only option. You could drive a refrigerated truck (reefer), haul hazardous materials (hazmat), or even transport livestock. Some types of freight require additional endorsements and you may end up needing some experience before moving into more specialized varieties of trucking.

Solo or Team?

Team driving keeps the truck moving more efficiently, which often translates into higher earning potential. If you already know someone else with a CDL, you can team up with them and spend time together while earning competitive pay. Husband-and-wife trucking teams are relatively common, for example. Many companies also offer team matching if you don’t already have a driving partner in mind. On the other hand, some drivers prefer to go solo and have more control over their schedule and how to set up their truck.

Which Company to Work For

Once you’ve narrowed down the type of trucking you are interested in, it’s time to look at which motor carriers are hiring for these roles. You should consider pay, benefits, and company culture when making a decision. Try to talk to current and former drivers from the trucking companies you are interested in as well as researching them online. Keep in mind that opinions are going to vary and that at the end of the day, every motor carrier will have some benefits and some drawbacks.

Advancement Opportunities

After you’ve spent some time in the trucking industry, you’ll be able to choose how you want to advance in your career. You may be interested in saving up for a truck and becoming an owner-operator, or maybe you want to teach the next generation of truckers as a CDL school instructor.

Choose a High-Quality Trucking School

Students at HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) learn the skills they need to succeed in the trucking industry. Our accelerated program can get you on the road and earning in as little as four weeks.

If you are interested in starting your trucking career, contact us today to learn more.

Types of Truck Driver Pay

Truck driving is an excellent choice for those seeking a high-paying career. Truckers can make more than $66,000 a year*, but the pay structure is often different for over-the-road drivers than it is for other workers. There are several different types of truck driver pay that you may encounter after you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL), and it’s important to understand what these are and when you might receive them.

Base Pay

Base pay is going to make up the bulk of what you earn as a driver. How your base pay is calculated will vary depending on the type of trucking you do.

Some possible types of pay for truckers include:

Pay Per Mile

The majority of long-haul truck drivers are paid per mile that they drive to deliver goods and materials. This can be calculated based on practical mileage, which is the number of miles in the most efficient route from your starting point to your destination. Other methods include household goods (HHG) mileage (measured from zip code to zip code) or hub mileage (includes all miles a truck drives). These rates are given in cents per mile (CPM).

Hourly

Hourly pay is less common in the trucking industry, but local drivers or regional drivers with short routes may be paid hourly instead of by mile. This is more practical if the job often involves non-driving tasks such as loading and unloading or interacting with customers.

Salary

Salaried truck driver jobs offer consistent pay on a weekly or biweekly basis. Like hourly jobs, these are more common for local or regional positions.

Pay Per Load

Pay per load is less common, although it is offered under some circumstances. This type of compensation is more likely for specialized jobs such as gas tankers, livestock, et cetera. This may be a flat rate or as a percentage of the profit for the load. The latter is often reserved for owner-operators and is rare, but sought-after.

Additional Truck Driver Pay

Beyond base compensation, there are other types of pay that may be applicable depending on the situation.

These include:

Per Diem

A per diem is a daily allowance that helps cover meals and other daily expenses a trucker might have while on the road. In many cases, this is added onto CPM. Per diem pay is non-taxable, so it’s important to know what portion of your pay is considered per diem, if any.

Detention, Layovers, and Breakdowns

Things don’t always go as planned in trucking, and these additional types of pay allow drivers to be compensated when unexpected delays occur. Detention is when a driver is stuck at the receiver waiting to drop off a load. Layovers are when truckers are waiting to get a new load. Breakdowns refer to any issues with the semi-truck that require the driver to stop and wait for repairs. Companies offer varying compensation for these circumstances since they impact a driver’s ability to get miles and earn the amount they want.

Stop Pay

Over-the-road truckers often deliver a full truckload to one final customer. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes a load will include two or more stops. In these cases, many companies offer additional stop pay for every drop-off beyond the first.

Bonuses and Incentives

In order to encourage the best performance, many companies offer bonuses. These may include incentives for improving fuel efficiency, practicing safe driving, passing Department of Transportation (DOT) inspections, and more. Additionally, the truck driver shortage has created a high demand for long-haul truckers and some motor carriers offer sign-on bonuses.

Start Your Trucking Career

If you are looking for a job where you can see more of the country and earn competitive pay, truck driving may be the right choice for you. We can help you earn your CDL and offer job placement assistance. Many of our students have offers even before they graduate and can hit the road right away.

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

*Professional truck drivers earn a mean annual wage of $44,500 (https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm). The top 10% of truck drivers make more than $66,800 per year* according to the 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A Guide to Local Trucking

When people think of truck driving, they often think of over-the-road (OTR) jobs first. These careers involve transporting freight long distances and drivers are generally out for several weeks at a time. Although these types of truckers are in high demand, this is by no means the only path available to you once you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL). One option that is appealing to those who want to stay closer to home is local trucking. These jobs involve different responsibilities and a different lifestyle than OTR and may be a good fit depending on your desires and goals.

Local Driving Basics

In general, a local truck driving job involves transporting goods and materials within a range of 200 miles or less. This may be one city, a metro area, or a portion of a state (e.g. Southern Arizona). These jobs may be pick-up and delivery (P&D) for less-than-truckload (LTL) freight companies, delivery truck driving, or transporting a specialized type of shipment. In any case, local drivers are usually home every day and make multiple stops on their routes.

Pros and Cons of Local Trucking

If you are interested in a local route, it’s important to understand the benefits and potential downsides of these types of jobs.

Pros include:

Home Daily

One of the biggest reasons truckers are drawn to local driving is that it will typically allow you to be home every night.

Consistent Days Off

Many local jobs offer weekends off. Even if this is not the case, you will typically have consistent days off each week to spend time with your family.

Routine and Predictability

Local drivers usually have a stable daily routine. Although not everyone prefers this, those who enjoy a more predictable job will generally enjoy local driving over OTR.

Cons include:

Complicated Driving

Whereas long-haul jobs involve a lot of time on the highway, local driving is typically within cities. Additionally, you will usually be making multiple stops a day, which requires pulling into loading docks or parking at businesses or residences. This type of driving can be more stressful for some drivers, especially those who have less experience maneuvering a large truck.

Lower Pay vs OTR

Although this varies based on the trucking company, local jobs usually pay less than OTR, especially for those who are just starting out. This can sometimes even out as you gain more experience and seniority.

Highly Competitive

Getting a local job can often be more difficult. The truck driver shortage affects mostly OTR routes, whereas local companies often have many applicants for open positions. In most cases, it is easier to get one of these jobs after you have some long-haul experience under your belt. Some companies also hire from warehouse positions within the company, increasing the difficulty of landing an open position. 

The First Step to Local Driving

If you are interested in a local trucking job, the first step is earning your CDL. At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), we give our students the skills they need to succeed, whether they are interested in OTR, local, or another type of CDL job.

To learn more about earning your commercial license with HDS, contact us today.