The Importance of Pre-Trip Inspections

Before you hit the road each morning as a truck driver, you’ll need to perform a pre-trip inspection. This inspection is also part of the commercial driver’s license (CDL) skills test and knowing how to do one correctly is an essential skill for truckers.

Here are some of the reasons pre-trip inspections are so important:

1. FMCSA Requirements

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry and sets requirements truckers must follow. One of these is that drivers must perform a pre-trip inspection each day they are on the road to ensure their vehicles are in safe operating condition.

2. Safety

The most important reason to perform a pre-trip inspection every day is that it helps keep you and others on the road safe. Semi-truck accidents are typically more severe than accidents between passenger vehicles and it is your responsibility as a driver to focus on safety at all times. Pre-trip inspections help you catch any issues and fix them before they cause an accident.

As an example, consider your semi-truck’s tires. Tire issues are not uncommon and at highway speeds and a blowout can lead to an accident. When you examine your tires, you’ll check if they are worn down or if the air pressure is low. These things may seem simple, but addressing them early reduces the risk of them causing an accident.

3. Avoid Downtime

It may seem counterintuitive that getting maintenance for a truck issue reduces your downtime, since your truck may need to be off the road temporarily while the issue is addressed. However, getting maintenance when you first notice an issue does save you time in the long run.

Consider the tire example again. Replacing a worn-down tire will take some of your time, but getting your truck towed after a blowout on the highway will cost a lot more time and money, not to mention the risk of you or someone else getting hurt.

4. Minimize Liability

After an accident, you could be found liable for any damages depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident. If you can’t demonstrate that you’ve been performing thorough pre-trip inspections as required by the FMCSA, this could be used against you. In addition to inspecting your truck, you also need to make sure to properly document that you did so. You should also document any repairs.

Learning How to Perform a Pre-Trip Inspection

In order to earn your CDL, you will need to demonstrate your ability to perform a pre-trip inspection. Since there are so many parts you’ll need to name and inspect, this is often one of the parts of the CDL test that students stress over the most. Performing mock inspections and making flashcards can help you learn how to perform an inspection. Additionally, choosing a high-quality CDL training program gives you access to helpful resources while you learn this and other trucking skills.

Truck Driving School in Albuquerque

At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we can help you get on the road and earning in as little as four weeks. Our program covers essential information related to trucking safety and operation, including how to perform pre-trip inspections.

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

What Jackknifing Is and How to Prevent It

Due to the large size of semi-trucks, accidents involving these vehicles are typically more severe than those involving only passenger vehicles. Many of the most serious semi-truck accidents involve jackknifing. This can also be called “a jackknife” and it is important for professional drivers to understand what this is and why it occurs so they can take steps to prevent it.

What is Jackknifing?

Jackknifing is when the trailer portion of a semi-truck folds in toward the tractor portion. This creates an acute angle, and it gets its name from the fact that it looks similar to a folded pocket knife. A jackknife starts with the trailer skidding and then the force of the skid pulls the truck into an acute angle if no action is taken.

This is different from trailer swing, which is when the trailer of the vehicle moves to one side, often while on a slippery surface. Trailer swing is less serious and can be corrected, although it is still important to be mindful of it so the trailer does not collide with anything.

Why is Jackknifing Dangerous?

When a semi-truck jackknifes, it often turns horizontally. This can result in it blocking several lanes of traffic, and nearby vehicles may be unable to stop before colliding with the trailer. This results in a chain reaction and can impact a significant number of vehicles.

Why Do Semi-Trucks Jackknife?

Understanding the circumstances that can lead to a jackknife helps you take the steps to prevent these issues.

Here are some of the reasons a semi-truck can jackknife:

  • Speeding: A semi-truck takes significantly longer than a passenger vehicle to come to a stop safely. Speeding increases this distance and if a driver is going too fast and needs to stop suddenly, this can result in the trailer skidding.
  • Unbalanced Cargo: It’s important to ensure your load is balanced correctly before you start driving. Unbalanced cargo can cause the trailer to tip or tilt. Light loads also increase the risk of a jackknife since there is less traction between the trailer and the road in these cases.
  • Poor Weather: Rain makes the road slippery, and this increases the possibility of jackknifing if a driver tries to stop too suddenly.

What to Do If Your Trailer Starts to Skid

Preventing skidding is the best way to prevent jackknifing, and you can do this by driving at a reasonable speed and making sure you do not brake or turn suddenly. If your trailer does start to skid, it is still possible to prevent a more serious issue, but it’s important to act quickly. Take your foot off the gas, avoid braking until the skid stops, and turn your wheel in the direction you want to go.

Learn How to Be a Safe Trucker

At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we can help you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and cover a variety of topics that help you become a safe and successful truck driver.

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

Making Your Semi-Truck Sleeper Feel Like Home

For truckers, their cab functions as both their office and their home while they are on the road. Making this space feel comfortable is important. While the area is relatively small, it’s still possible to add a few personal touches and customize the area so it feels more homey.

Here are some tips for making your semi-truck sleeper feel like home:

Start With The Essentials

When you’re working with a smaller amount of available space, it’s important to make sure you have everything you need before you start adding more. For your first few solo trips, it’s best to start with the most essential items. This allows you to get used to organizing and storing these supplies and by the time you’ve gotten some more experience, you’ll have a better idea of what space is available. Additionally, part of feeling at home is having peace of mind that you have access to everything you need, so having these supplies is an important step in feeling comfortable on hauls.

Some of the key supplies for truckers include clothing, any prescription or over-the-counter medication you take, personal hygiene products, organizational supplies for storing key documents, and tools for maintaining your truck. It’s also best to have some healthy snacks and meals available to avoid eating too many meals at truck stops or restaurants. Water is also essential and you should have a good supply in case of any emergencies.

Consider The Quality Of Your Sleep

Sleep is essential for anyone’s health and wellbeing and for truckers, minimizing fatigue can lower your risk of getting into an accident. There are many simple steps you can take to make sleeping in your semi-truck more comfortable. One is to consider adding a mattress topper to your bed or upgrading your mattress. You can also get high-quality pillows, sheets, and comforters. Customizing these items can help you decorate your cab and make it feel more like your own space.

In addition to the bed itself, you can add small items to help you sleep. Some options that are small enough for a semi-truck include an essential oil diffuser, a white noise machine, or a portable fan. You can customize these based on what you know works best for helping you get to sleep. However, it’s best not to go overboard and add multiple items all at once. Instead, add one at a time and see if it makes a difference, then go from there.

Add Electronics and Other Entertainment Items

When you aren’t driving, it helps to have ways to keep yourself entertained. Your semi-truck’s inverter can be used to power small electronics such as a television or gaming system. Of course, you won’t be able to fit a big flat-screen in your truck, but this doesn’t mean you can’t have a small TV set.

You can also bring your laptop or tablet on the road as long as you have a mobile hotspot to connect to the internet. Many truck stops also have Wi-Fi available, but keep in mind that this isn’t always reliable or fast, and not all truck stops have it available.

Make Your Cab Your Own With Personal Touches

Even a few small personal touches can make your semi-truck sleep feel more like home. Items that you can hang up on the wall take up minimal space while boosting your mood and helping your space feel unique. You can hang up flags, posters, and/or photos of your family and friends.

Sharing Your Cab With a Pet

Trucking is one of the few professions where you can have your pet with you every day on the job. Bringing a dog or cat on the road can make your rig homier and gives you a companion to share your hauls with. However, it’s important to be aware that it takes planning ahead of time to bring a pet on your semi-truck. You’ll also need to have enough space for their essential items such as food/treats, bowls, water, toys, and supplies to clean up after them.

Interested in the Trucking Lifestyle?

Trucking is as much a lifestyle as it is a career and for many people, this is part of the appeal. If you want to enjoy the freedom of the open road while also earning competitive pay, you may want to consider becoming a truck driver. The first step to do this is earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL). At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we can help you do this in as little as four weeks.

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