Understanding Semi-Truck Tire Maintenance

Maintaining semi-truck tires is an essential part of a commercial truck driver’s job. Not only does it ensure your safety, but it also boosts fuel economy and improves the lifespan of your vehicle. A little maintenance goes a long way and can save you from tire failure while on your route. 


Follow these five tips for semi-truck tire maintenance:

1. Perform Thorough Pre-Trip Inspections

Pre-trip inspections are one of a trucker’s best tools for preventing problems before they occur, including tire failure. This inspection is a thorough check of your truck, trailer, and load to ensure everything is in the correct working order before departure. In addition to pre-trip inspections, you should look over your rig at least once a day while on the road. Taking a few extra minutes before and during every trip to inspect your vehicle thoroughly could save you hours of downtime due to a flat tire or worse.

2. Rotate Tires & Align Wheels Regularly

Checking tire tread and wheel alignment should be part of your commercial truck maintenance routine. Poor alignment and uneven tire tread are two huge factors in premature tire wear, so it is crucial to regularly check these two aspects of your vehicle. As a general rule, rotate your tires every 6,000-8,000 miles to distribute tread evenly, and perform a wheel alignment every 80,000-100,000 miles, or whenever you feel the steering wheel pull to one side or the other when you’re driving. 

3. Maintain a Consistent Tire Pressure

Maintaining consistent air pressure will also expand the lifespan of your tires. Overinflated tires wear excessively on the center tire treads, while an underinflated tire will wear the outside treads, both of which can lead to internal structural damage. Make sure to check your tire pressure before you hit the road, especially if you are driving in below-freezing conditions. 

4. Keep Tires and Wheels Clean

Washing your tires and wheels is another best practice to add to your maintenance checklist. Not only does it make your rig look nice, but it is also good for the health of the tires and wheels themselves. Make it a habit to wash away road salt, grease, and grime once you return home from each route. 

5. Practice Safe Driving Habits

Lastly, one of the major contributors to poor tire performance is how a trucker drives. Forming and practicing safe driving habits will help you avoid flats and blowouts over time. A few tips for safe driving are maintaining a consistent speed on the road, avoiding potholes, braking slowly, avoiding accelerating too quickly, and using caution when driving around curbs.

Learn Safe Driving Habits in Albuquerque

At Phoenix Truck Driving School in Albuquerque, our experienced instructors teach our students the skills necessary to succeed in the trucking industry. This includes pertinent safety information and key maintenance topics, such as how to perform pre-trip inspections and care for commercial truck tires properly.

To learn how we can help you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in as little as four weeks, contact us today.


A Guide To Trucking In The Winter

As a truck driver, you’ll drive through many parts of the country in a variety of conditions. This includes spending time on the road during the winter months. Driving conditions can be challenging during this time, so it’s important to be prepared.

Here are some times for trucking in the winter:

1. Slow Down

It can be tempting to try to speed up to get to your destination faster and cover more miles. However, it’s not worth compromising your safety. When roads are icy, going slowly is essential to ensure you can maintain control of your vehicle. It’s better to go “too slow” and have others pass you than to drive recklessly and cause an accident.

2. Leave Plenty Of Space

Maintaining a safe following distance is important during any season. With icy roads in winter, it’s even more essential. Make sure you have ample room to come to a stop safely if you need to do so. When possible, having space beside your truck is also helpful, although this may be harder to maintain depending on traffic conditions.

3. Keep Supplies In Your Vehicle

You should have chains, a bag of sand or cat litter, extra food and water, and warm clothing in your truck, in addition to your usual supplies.

4. Watch The Weather

Keep an eye on weather forecasts, and be prepared to wait it out if the road condition is dangerous. Use your best judgment. If there’s any doubt whether driving is safe, stay parked. Although it’s stressful to be delayed, it’s not worth risking your life and putting others at risk. If possible, account for possible delays in your trip plan if you anticipate snow storms, and always communicate clearly and promptly with your dispatcher if you do need to stop.

5. Keep Your Truck Visible

Visibility can quickly become an issue during heavy snow. Doing what you can to keep your truck visible helps keep you safe. Make sure snow doesn’t cover your license plate and tail lights, and make sure all of your lights are working properly.

6. Practice Defensive Driving

This tip isn’t winter-specific, but it’s important to keep in mind year-round and can help you manage conditions during any season. Defensive driving means anticipating what others on the road may do and adjusting your driving behavior to prevent accidents. It requires constant awareness of what’s going on around you. Staying focused on driving allows you to see potential hazards in time to react.

Learn Safe Driving Skills

At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we help our students prepare for a rewarding career in the trucking industry. This includes teaching you how to drive safely in all seasons. With our accelerated program, you can earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in as little as four weeks.

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

Weigh Station 101

To keep themselves and others safe on the road, commercial truck drivers must follow all state and federal regulations, including truck weight limits. Most commercial vehicles need to stop at weigh stations, known to truckers as “chicken coops,” to ensure compliance. If you’re a rookie truck driver ready to encounter your first chicken coop, this blog outlines the basics of weigh stations. 

The Purpose of Weigh Stations

Most states require all trucks and commercial vehicles with a gross weight of over 10,000 pounds to stop at every open weigh station located along their route. The purpose of these stations is safety. Heavy semi-trucks are harder to control and more dangerous on the roads, both for the trucker and other drivers around them. Safety is especially a concern in the winter when road conditions are less than favorable. Weight stations also help prevent damage to roadways due to overweight trucks. 

Weigh Station Process

Once you are familiar with the process, navigating weigh stations will easily become part of your routine as a trucker. The process can be broken up into three main phases: approaching the weight station, weighing your rig, and inspecting the vehicle.

Phase One: Entering the Weigh Station

As you drive along the highway on your route, you will see roadside signs indicating that a weigh station is approaching. If the station is closed, you do not have to stop but if the station is open, you are required to exit. After pulling off the highway, follow the posted weigh station signs or instructions from officials that lead you to the scale. 

Phase Two: Weighing the Truck

As you drive toward the scale, follow the posted speed limit and instructional signs. Some scales require you to bring your vehicle to a complete stop, while others can function if your truck is moving slowly. Once on the scale, it will check your total weight and how much weight is on each axle. 

Phase Three: Inspecting the Truck

After you weigh your vehicle, your Department of Transportation (DOT) number is entered into a computer system to ensure your log is accurate. Your safety rating, equipment, and log book will also be verified. If you pass over the scale at the correct speed with an underweight load and pass the inspection, you will be sent to the bypass lane and can continue your route.

What Happens If Your Truck is Overweight?

If the scale indicates that your truck is overweight, you must pull over to the side until a solution is determined. Federally, this is over 80,000 pounds, although some states have lower gross limits. Your motor carrier can either purchase an overweight permit or send a relief driver to take the excess weight. You will not be allowed back on the road until the issue is resolved. An overweight assessment comes with a citation, fine, and points against your Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) score. 

How to Avoid an Overweight Citation

The best way to ensure that your semi-truck is within the weight limit is to be prepared. Completing a thorough pre-trip inspection before you head out on each route is the best way to do so. You should also weigh your truck after loading. Many truck stops have scales, and if weight is an issue, you can adjust your axles or go back to the shipper to avoid an overweight citation at a weigh station.

Start Your Commercial Trucking Career Today

The demand for truck drivers is growing. If you are interested in starting your career in commercial truck driving, let our experienced instructors at Phoenix Truck Driving School teach you everything you need to know. When you earn your commercial driver’s license at our Albuquerque location, we can get you on the road in as little as four weeks

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


The Importance Of Defensive Driving For Truckers

Truckers spend a significant amount of time on the road, and it’s important that they focus on safety. This protects the drivers themselves, as well as their freight and others on the road. Defensive driving is a key skill that helps truckers stay safe and prevent accidents.

What Is Defensive Driving?

Defensive driving is the practice of anticipating potential hazards before they become dangerous and taking steps to prevent accidents through safe driving. Multiple behaviors fall under the umbrella of defensive driving.

Some of these include:

  • Focusing on the road and avoiding both physical and mental distractions
  • Never driving under the influence
  • Scanning the road as a whole for potential hazards rather than looking only at the car in front of you
  • Maintaining a safe speed
  • Maintaining a safe following distance
  • Staying calm and managing your mental state to avoid road rage

Benefits Of Driving Defensively

First and foremost, the major benefit of being a defensive driver is that you are keeping yourself and others safe. This method of driving helps prevent accidents, which should be a top goal for you as a trucker. You have a responsibility to yourself, your company, and everyone you share the road with to be a responsible and safe driver.

Beyond this, driving defensively can also help you be more efficient and travel more miles so you can increase your pay. By minimizing the risk of accidents, you can spend more time on the road instead of dealing with issues.

Defensive driving also helps you avoid fines for traffic violations, and improves your reputation with your motor carrier.

How To Be A Defensive Driver

Defensive driving is more than just a list of behaviors. It’s a mindset that you need to practice so that safety is a consistent focus when you’re behind the wheel.

Here are some tips you can use to improve your defensive driving skills:

1. Ask “What If…?”

As you’re driving, ask yourself “what if” questions to help imagine what could happen on the road. For example, if there’s a car nearby, ask what would happen if they suddenly changed lanes in front of you. Would you have to swerve to avoid them? If so, you may be able to adjust your position so you have more space. There are many different questions you could ask to help you identify hazards that could occur suddenly and prepare in advance.

2. Find Ways To Stay Focused

Focus is a big part of defensive driving. It’s also often a challenge when you spend much of your day behind the wheel. Simply understanding the importance of paying close attention to the road may not be enough to make this a habit. Instead, identify practical strategies that help you stay alert. For example, you may notice that certain types of music keep your focus on the road.

3. Evaluate Your Driving

Self-evaluation is a key skill for truck drivers. After every trip, think about what you did well in terms of safety and identify any issues or close calls you had. Determine what you can do better next time you hit the road, and commit to continuing to grow over time.

Learn To Be A Safe Trucker

At Phoenix Truck Driving School in Albuquerque, we understand the importance of safety and teach our students valuable defensive driving skills. Our program can help you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in as little as four weeks.

To learn more about getting your CDL in Albuquerque, contact us today.