Truck Stop Etiquette & Safety

If you choose to become an over-the-road (OTR) trucker after earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL), you’ll spend a lot of time driving across the country. You’ll also probably spend a lot of time at truck stops to shower, refuel, and rest. You may also be grabbing a bite to eat at these locations from time to time, even if you pack food on your truck as well.

You’ll be learning a great deal during your first year as a new trucker, from safe driving to how to communicate best with your dispatcher. During this time, you should also make sure you understand truck stop etiquette and safety.

Many of these “rules” boil down to staying polite and being a reasonably cautious driver in general, so if you follow those principles, you will be in a good position.

Some things you should keep in mind at truck stops:

Drive Slowly and Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Truck stops generally have a lot of foot traffic as well as multiple semi-trucks and passenger vehicles navigating the lot. It’s important to drive slowly, no matter how much of a hurry you are in. You should also be aware of what is going on around you and keep a lookout for any potential hazards.

Don’t Park at the Fuel Pump Longer than Necessary

After getting your diesel, it’s okay to stay at the pump to go inside and get your receipt or to grab a few items at the register. However, if you are doing anything longer than that, you should pull into a parking spot. It can be tempting to avoid the hassle of backing in, but no one wants to wait in a long line to fuel up.

Be Mindful When Parking a Bobtail

If you are driving a tractor without an attached trailer (bobtail), you should park in the designated bobtail spaces when possible. Most truck stops have these spots. If they are full or the truck stop you are at does not have them, consider pulling forward in the parking area and leaving space for another bobtail to park in the same spot. In cases where this isn’t possible to coordinate, make sure your tractor is clearly visible so no one starts backing in, only to see the tractor in the back of the spot.

Get Out and Look (GOAL)

You should always back into spots instead of pulling through, as this is safer for when you leave the truck stop. That being said, it’s understandable that backing is sometimes difficult, especially if you are a new trucker. Make sure you get out and look (GOAL) to get a clear idea of what is around the spot and take your time.

It’s better to slow down than to try to rush the process and hit another truck. Most other truckers will be patient since everyone has been in this position before. Even if someone seems frustrated with the time it takes, they would definitely be more upset if you hit their truck!

Clean Up After Yourself and Your Pets

This should go without saying, but it’s important to make sure to clean up after yourself at truck stops. If you are trucking with your pets, pick up after them as well.

Be Kind and Help Out When You Can

It doesn’t cost anything to be friendly. No matter what kind of day you are having, try to be polite to those you meet at truck stops, whether you are talking to the cashier or another driver.

Additionally, try to help out your fellow drivers when it’s safe to do so. Especially after you have gained some more experience on the road. You can assist other drivers who may be dealing with the same things you did during your first year. Even as a rookie, you can help spot for someone while they back in, let a driver know if they are able to hit something, and generally lend a hand when you can. These small actions make life on the road a little easier for everyone.

Become a Truck Driver at Phoenix Truck Driving School

If you want to earn competitive pay while enjoying the freedom of the open road, our CDL school can help. Our program can take as little as four weeks and we give you the skills you need to succeed.

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

Top 5 Skills for a Truck Driver to Have

Trucking is a rewarding career path and drivers can make more than $69,000 a year.* It is also one of few industries where you can finish training in as little as four weeks. It’s helpful to consider the top skills a truck driver needs to possess to understand whether this might be the ideal job for you. If you already have these skills, you would likely make a great trucker.

1. Safe Driving

Safety is absolutely essential in the trucking industry. Operating a vehicle that is so much larger than the standard four-wheeler is a big responsibility. Your actions affect not only yourself but also everyone else on the road.

Truck drivers need to be focused on safety at all times. This includes maintaining a safe speed, avoiding distractions, and driving defensively.

2. Communication

Most people think of trucking as a solitary job. In many cases, this is true. Unless you are a team driver, you will likely spend most of your time by yourself. However, communicating well with others is actually a big part of your job as a trucker.

One of the people you will communicate with most is your dispatcher. Dispatchers act as a go-between for motor carriers and their drivers. Their job is to make sure freight gets to the customer on time and undamaged. If there are unexpected delays, routing issues, or other concerns while on the road, your dispatcher is typically the person you’ll work with to find a solution.

At various points, you’ll also need to communicate with the customer to arrange deliveries, with your company’s safety director if you have any concerns or questions, and many more. In addition to your professional life, communication will likely impact your personal life, especially if you are trucking with a family.

3. Navigation

Over-the-road (OTR) truckers travel across the United States to deliver freight. While modern GPS technology has made it easier to determine where you are going, you shouldn’t rely on navigation devices entirely.

Most truckers use a road atlas and/or a phone application in addition to their GPS system. This allows you to see where rest stops are, what roads are off-limits to semi-trucks, and if there are any closures you need to be aware of. You should be comfortable with using a map and be skilled in navigation.

4. Organization

You will have various paperwork on your truck to document your load. In addition, you will need to keep track of daily pre-trip inspections, manage your hours of service (HOS), and plan your routes. All of these tasks require good organizational skills. Many truckers keep a binder or file cabinet in their cab to help them keep track of everything.

5. Motivation to Succeed

One of the reasons why trucking is a great career path is that, in many cases, you are in control of your own success. If you work hard, consistently deliver your freight on time, and drive safely, you can earn competitive pay and continue to advance your career. You can even become an owner-operator and run your own trucking business.

Get Your Career Started

If you are interested in becoming a commercial truck driver, Phoenix Truck Driving School can help you get started. We offer accelerated training and can get you on the road in as little as four weeks.

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

**Professional truck drivers earn a mean annual wage of $47,130 The top 10% of truck drivers make more than $69,480 per year according to the 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What is Oversize Trucking?

There are many types of specialized trucking that may interest you over the course of your career. In most cases, you will want to have some experience between graduating from a commercial driver’s license (CDL) school and getting one of these specialized jobs. This is because they require expertise and drivers who have spent more time on the road are usually more prepared to handle the unique responsibilities and challenges.

However, having an idea of the many jobs that are out there can help you plan for your career. One option is oversize trucking, which involves transporting loads with large dimensions and weight. Heavy-haul truckers are in high demand, although there are many unique considerations for this type of career.

What is Considered an Oversize Load?

Each state sets its own weight and size limits for which vehicles are considered oversize. In general, anything greater than 8.6 feet wide, 13.6 feet tall, 53 feet long, or 80,000 pounds of gross weight is a heavy load. These hauls may include specialized equipment, airline parts, or mobile homes.

Special Requirements for Overweight Trucking

Before transporting an overweight load, the trucking company will need to obtain all necessary permits for the regions that the vehicle will be traveling through. Each state, municipality, and county have different requirements for these types of hauls.

The route needs to be carefully planned, and unlike other over-the-road (OTR) jobs where the driver has some flexibility with which roads they use, oversize truckers will need to follow the route on their trip plan as closely as possible.

In most cases, the vehicle will need to be clearly labeled as an “oversize load.” In some areas, especially if the terrain is more difficult to navigate, there will need to be pilot cars, also known as guide vehicles. These are cars or trucks that travel in front of and/or behind the oversize truck. They alert others on the road that an oversize load is approaching and inform the trucker about any approaching road hazards.

Doubles & Triples

A doubles/triples CDL endorsement may be necessary for some oversized loads. Having this on your license can open up more job opportunities, even if it is not required for every haul.

Considerations for Oversize Truckers

If you are considering working toward a career as a heavy-haul trucker, you should be prepared for the challenges it can present. Driving any semi-truck is a big responsibility and can take some getting used to. This is even more true when the truck is oversized. 

The haul may block your visibility and requires extreme care to transport safely. This type of job is not generally a good fit for new CDL drivers. In general, oversize truckers have several years of experience with other types of freight before transitioning into heavy-haul trucking.

Planning for a Specialized Trucking Career

If you love the idea of hauling oversize freight, the first step is getting your CDL. Focus on building your skills and plan to have another type of trucking job first. Our program can help you earn your license in as little as four weeks and start your trucking career with the skills you need to succeed.

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

What to Do After a Failed CDL Test

Earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL) is the first step to a rewarding career in the trucking industry. In order to do this, you need to pass two exams: a written test and a skills test. Some drivers fail these the first time and although this can be discouraging, the good news is that it isn’t the end of your trucking career.

After a failed CDL test, it’s important to take an honest look at why you didn’t pass and take the necessary steps to improve. Many great truckers did not pass these tests on the first try and taking the test again shows that you are willing to keep going even when faced with challenges.

If you failed your CDL test, here are some steps to take:

1. Know State Rules for Retesting

Each state has different rules for how soon you can retake one of the CDL tests after failing it. In New Mexico, you can take the written exam up to twice in a seven-day period. There is no limit on the number of times you can attempt to pass. For the skills test, you will need to wait one week to retest, and you can take the exam up to 3 times within the year. After this, you will need to wait one year from the date of your first attempt before you can try again.

2. Study/Practice the Material You Struggled With

If you failed the written portion of the test, re-read the relevant sections of the CDL manual. For the general knowledge portion, these are Introduction (1), Driving Safely (2), Cargo (3), and Combination Vehicles (6). The material for the endorsement tests is covered in Doubles and Triples (7), Tank Vehicles (8), and Hazardous Materials (9).

There are “Test Your Knowledge” sections throughout the manual with practice questions. Make sure you know the answers to these and ask your instructors for help if you are having trouble with the material.

If you failed the skills test, start with the section of the exam that you struggled with. If this was the pre-trip inspection, try making flashcards and running through the steps as many times as possible before you take the test again.

For driving skills, ask your instructors to give you some pointers and to supervise practice focused on the areas you had the most trouble with.

3. Take a Deep Breath

Many students who fail the CDL test know the material and are good drivers, but they get nervous when testing. Before you go in to retake the test, take a moment to calm down and focus on the task at hand. Being able to handle pressure is an important skill for a truck driver to have, so learning how to do this before you go out on your first solo trip is essential.

If you do make a mistake during the exam, simply correct it and move on. If it wasn’t a safety-related error, don’t panic. The instructors use a point system that calculates how many non-safety errors you can make without failing.

We Give Our Students the Tools They Need to Succeed

At Phoenix Truck Driving School, our highly skilled instructors are here to help you pass the CDL test. We help students earn their commercial license and enter the rewarding trucking industry. You could be on the road and earning in as little as four weeks and many of our students have offers before they even graduate.

To learn more about how we can help you pass your CDL exam, contact us today.

What is Dedicated Trucking?

After you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL), there are many types of trucking jobs available to you. There are different varieties of freight and route lengths, as well as variations in who you are delivering for. Dedicated trucking is when you haul goods or materials for one specific freight customer. This type of driving could be a good fit if you are looking for consistency and since every shipper is different, you can choose one that best matches your career goals.

Differences Between Dedicated Jobs

The one thing that all dedicated driving positions have in common is that you haul for a consistent customer. Beyond this, the responsibilities differ depending on the type of freight being delivered and the needs of the shipper. Some have local routes that allow you to be home every night. Other customers need to move goods and materials over long distances and are very similar to over-the-road (OTR) jobs. If the freight is time-sensitive, a company may be hiring team drivers, whereas others have openings for solo truckers. If you are interested in dedicated trucking, it’s a good idea to make a list of what is important to you in a job. This list can help you narrow down your search to options that match your desired lifestyle, pay, home time, et cetera.

Benefits of Dedicated Trucking

Consistency

The main reason people are interested in dedicated driving is the consistency. A typical OTR driver will be assigned freight from multiple customers and won’t necessarily know what their next route will look like. This leads to variation in pay and home time. With a dedicated job, you get consistent miles and, except in unique circumstances, usually have a regular schedule.

Getting to Know Customers

Dedicated truckers work with the same company for each delivery, so they have the opportunity to get to know the customer better over time. This gives you the opportunity to build a relationship and make a good impression on them.

Familiarity

Driving the same route gives you the opportunity to become familiar with traffic patterns, truck stops, and potential challenges. This familiarity makes it easier to be efficient and safe during your deliveries.

What to Consider

While there are many benefits to dedicated trucking, it is not right for everyone. While some individuals appreciate the consistency, others prefer the excitement of seeing the country and traveling a new route with each haul. In this case, an OTR job may be a better fit for you. One of the great things about getting your CDL is that you aren’t limited to one type of career. You can always try out dedicated trucking then move into OTR or vice versa, in addition to other CDL jobs.

Earn Your CDL

At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we can help you start your trucking career with the skills you need to succeed. Our job placement assistance team can also help you explore the different job opportunities that are available to you.

If you are interested in dedicated trucking, we can help you earn your CDL and get started on the road to your new career.

What to Know as a New Trucker

Becoming a truck driver can be an exciting and rewarding career decision. However, like any change, it can take some getting used to at first. A commitment to improving can help you enter the industry with a strong foundation. The first year on the road is usually the toughest and as you gain more experience, you’ll continue to grow into your role. Staying focused and keeping a positive attitude will make it easier for you to succeed as a new trucker.

Here are some tips for your first year in the trucking industry:

Focus on Safety

Safety is essential for truck drivers. Operating such a big vehicle comes with correspondingly big responsibilities, and it can take some time to get used to driving a semi-truck. During your first year, make safe driving a priority. Do not drive distracted, stay under the speed limit, and take the time to build your defensive driving skills. Any accidents will go on your driving record, and this can affect your future job prospects, not to mention the potential damage and injuries that can occur.

Be Realistic About Your Goals

It can be tempting to compare yourself and your miles to more experienced drivers. However, it’s important to keep in mind that becoming a more efficient trucker takes time and effort. Setting unrealistic goals can affect your confidence and can be dangerous if you compromise on safety to try to complete hauls more quickly. Instead, it’s a good idea to talk to experienced truckers that you trust and to see what goals they set or wish they set for their first year. This helps you stay motivated without overextending yourself.

Establish Healthy Habits

Staying healthy can be difficult for anyone, but over-the-road (OTR) drivers face some unique challenges. It’s easier to build good habits as a new trucker than it is to completely change your lifestyle after you’ve already been driving for a while. Many of the same actions that keep you healthy are also, naturally, beneficial for safe driving. For example, getting enough rest reduces your risk of health problems while also helping you stay alert.

Build a Strong Support Network

Everyone can benefit from help and support. The challenges you may face during your first year may be easier to tackle if you know you have people you can count on for advice and encouragement. Your support network should include individuals who aren’t in the industry, such as your family and friends. Making time to stay in touch with your loved ones while you are on the road is important. In addition to these individuals, it can be helpful to find mentors in the trucking industry. More experienced drivers can give you helpful advice and will understand the challenges that are common for new truckers.

Get Started on the Road to a Trucking Career

If you are interested in becoming a truck driver, our program can help give you the skills you need to succeed. We can help you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and start earning in as little as four weeks.

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

Types of Specialized Trucking

Truck drivers are essential to our nation’s economy and trucks transport over 70% of the nation’s freight. Much of this is hauled in dry vans, which are the type of vehicles that line up most closely with the standard idea of a “semi-truck.” Refrigerated trucks, also called reefers, are also common. However, beyond these more well-known varieties of transportation, there are many types of specialized trucking. These drivers haul unique freight and often earn high pay due to the additional training and skills required.

Some types of specialized trucking include:

Livestock Transport

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there are over 250,000 livestock haulers in the United States. These trucks transport various animals to farms across the country. Cattle haulers are among the most common, but trucks may also transport chickens, horses, pigs, or even bees. In order to succeed as a livestock trucker, you will need to have an understanding of how to care for the animals you are transporting, and many of these haulers have farm experience. This type of work is often seasonal and is subject to regulations from not only the FMCSA and Department of Transportation (DOT), but also the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other organizations.

Car Haulers

Did you know that the first semi-truck was invented to haul automobiles to buyers without causing unnecessary wear and tear? Transporting cars to dealerships has become more advanced over the years and instead of moving one vehicle at a time, these specialized trucks typically have an open trailer with several cars. This type of trucking requires knowledge of weight regulations and car haulers need to know how to safely load the vehicles and inspect them for damage. Due to the high value of this type of freight, it’s important for these truckers to build a strong reputation, and many are owner-operators.

Hazardous Materials

The category of hazardous materials (hazmat) includes a variety of potentially dangerous substances. One of the most common is gasoline and without fuel trucks, transportation in the United States would be severely impacted in less than a week. These jobs require both the hazmat and tanker endorsements. Most companies will prefer to hire drivers who have experience with non-hazardous freight first, because a strong safety record is essential for these high-risk hauls.

Getting into Specialized Trucking

If you are interested in jobs beyond dry van or reefer trucking, it is important to know how to get started. The first step is to earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL). Then, by looking at what type of trucking you are interested in, you will need to determine what additional endorsements you may need. In most cases, it is recommended to start with a more traditional truck driving job to get some experience before you apply to specialized trucking companies. However, there may be exceptions to this, such as if you have related experience outside of driving (e.g. a farming background, in the case of livestock hauling).

Our job placement assistance team can help you consider your options, and if additional endorsements are needed, our classes at Phoenix Truck Driving School cover material for the hazmat, tanker, and doubles/triples tests.

Earn Your Commercial License

Phoenix Truck Driving School can get you on the road and earning in as little as four weeks. Our program gives you valuable skills that will continue to benefit you throughout your trucking career.

Take the first step toward a specialized trucking job and earn your CDL. Contact us today.

Trucking Career Advancement Opportunities

Truck driving jobs can be highly rewarding, and you can earn more than $66,000 a year* as a trucker. One of the questions that many people who are considering getting their commercial driver’s license (CDL) have is what advancement opportunities exist within this industry. Your trucking career can evolve as you gain more experience and there are many ways you can advance as a driver.

Some advancement opportunities within trucking, assuming you start out as an over-the-road (OTR) company driver, include:

Growing Within a Company Driver Role

Advancement as a trucker does not always involve a change in your title. Many individuals who start out as over-the-road (OTR) drivers for a motor carrier continue to have this role throughout their trucking career. When you gain more experience and build a strong reputation, your company will begin to recognize you as a driver they can trust. As a result, you can get more miles and advance your career as a company driver.

Mentorship Roles

Many motor carriers have mentorship programs for new drivers. Mentors are experienced truckers who help new hires learn the ropes. This often includes driving as a team for a period of time so the new driver has supervision at first. Becoming a driver mentor can be a great option for advancement in the trucking industry if you are interested in teaching others while staying on the open road.

CDL School Instructor

Becoming a trucking school instructor is similar to being a driver mentor in that you are teaching a new generation of truckers. However, as an instructor you will usually stay in one place. This can make it an excellent choice for experienced drivers who are interested in transitioning out of an active driving role.

Trucking Company Management

Management work at a trucking company may include dispatch, on-site supervision, safety program coordination, et cetera. Having a thorough understanding of the transportation industry can make you a valuable asset in these positions. This type of role is usually something you would consider after many years of driving rather than just out of CDL school.

Exploring Different Routes

Although some individuals can find regional or local trucking jobs right after earning their CDL, these positions are often more competitive. In many cases, it is helpful to have some experience as an OTR driver before pursuing a job that keeps you closer to home. Although this isn’t advancement in the traditional sense of moving up within a company, it is a relatively common trucking career path to move from OTR to regional or local.

Becoming an Owner-Operator

An owner-operator is a trucker who owns their own vehicle and either contracts with a motor carrier or operates under their own authority. These jobs are some of the highest paying in the industry, but it is important to consider whether it is the right choice for you. It’s a good idea to have a few years of experience, and you will also need to either save up to buy a truck or participate in an owner-operator program with a trucking company.

Earn Your CDL Phoenix Truck Driving School

If you are interested in life on the open road, Phoenix Truck Driving School can help. Our programs will give you a strong foundation of valuable skills that will continue to benefit you throughout your career, no matter which path you take.

To start your trucking career, 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.

What to Consider When Choosing a Trucking Job

After earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL), there are many different career paths available to you. When you are deciding what type of trucking job you are interested in, there are several factors to consider. In addition to choosing whether local, regional, or over-the-road (OTR) driving is a better fit, you will need to consider the different companies that have openings. Our job placement assistance team can help you gather the information you need to make an informed decision.

Some factors to think about when choosing a CDL job:

Pay

Money is an important consideration for any type of career. In the trucking industry, you will usually be paid per mile. This is especially true for regional and long-haul jobs. Local trucking, on the other hand, is more likely to have hourly wages. Pay is going to be a consideration both in terms of which type of driving you want to do (local, regional, or OTR) and which company you work for. It’s a good idea to do some research on rates for new CDL drivers in your area to determine what you can expect.

Benefits

In addition to pay, you should consider what benefits the companies you are interested in offer their drivers. Many motor carriers have health, dental, and vision insurance plans as well as other benefits such as paid time off, tuition reimbursement, et cetera. This will be more of a consideration once you have chosen a general path and are deciding between companies, as opposed to a factor for deciding the type of trucking you want to pursue.

Home Time

Having time at home is an important factor for your job satisfaction. Home time varies depending on the type of trucking job you have and can also differ among companies within the same category. Overall, local driving will usually get you home every night, regional jobs often get you home every week, and long-haul jobs get you home every few weeks. In addition to considering these general trends, make sure to research the companies you are interested in.

Lifestyle

The trucking lifestyle is unique and for many drivers, this is a big reason they are interested in this career path. However, the lifestyle of a long-haul trucker is very different from a local pick-up and delivery driver. If you want to experience the freedom of the open road and see more of the country, OTR is likely going to be a better fit. On the other hand, a local job or a dedicated regional route will be preferable if you like a stable routine.

Company Reputation

Having a supportive company can make a major difference for how much you enjoy your trucking job. To get an idea of a company’s reputation, you can research them online and talk to drivers if possible. Be sure to seek a balanced perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in only the negative, or vice versa, but the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. You should also keep in mind that your attitude and work ethic are going to be important in determining your success, regardless of which company you choose.

Get Your Trucking Career Started

If you are interested in life on the open road, Phoenix Truck Driving School can help. You can earn your CDL in as little as four weeks with our accelerated program.

To learn more about how we can help you prepare for a trucking job, contact us today.

CDL Training School Timeline

There are few industries where you can earn competitive pay after only a few weeks of training. Trucking is one of these rare opportunities. You can earn more than $66,000* as a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder. Our CDL training school can get you on the road and earning in as little as four weeks.

Here is a timeline for our accelerated truck driving school program:

Week One – Written CDL Test Prep

During the first week of your training, you will be in the classroom (in person or virtually) studying material for the written CDL test. The major portion of this is the general knowledge exam, which covers truck driving safety and other basic information. The test is in a multiple-choice format and you will need to answer at least 80% of the questions correctly. When you pass, you will get your commercial learner’s permit (CLP) and will be able to transition into hands-on training.

In addition to going over what you need to know for the general CDL test, our truck driving school also includes information for three endorsements. These are hazardous materials (hazmat), tanker, and doubles/triples. To earn these endorsements, you will need to pass the additional written tests, which you will take at the same time as the general knowledge exam.

Weeks Two – Four – Hands-On Truck Driver Training

After you’ve earned your CLP, you will move into hands-on training. This includes preparation for all parts of the CDL skills test. You will learn basic semi-truck operation skills including backing, turning, parking, and shifting. We only use real vehicles, not simulators, so you will be able to develop the confidence and experience you need to succeed as a trucker. In addition to range learning, your instructor will supervise you for on-the-road training.

Once you are prepared, you will take the skills test. This consists of three parts: a pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control drills, and a driving test. Our instructors will help you understand what to expect from all of these portions so you are set up for success. After passing the skills test, you will obtain your CDL.

Post-Graduation

Phoenix Truck Driving School has a job placement assistance team and we can help you find companies that are hiring drivers like you. Many of our students have offers before graduation and are able to hit the road as soon as they earn their CDL.

High-Quality CDL Training

We pride ourselves on offering high-quality truck driver training in Albuquerque, NM. Our instructors have real-world experience and work hard to give you the skills you need to succeed. Our accelerated program can be completed in as little as four weeks and prepares you for an exciting and rewarding career as a trucker.

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

*Professional truck drivers earn a mean annual wage of $46,370. The top 10% of truck drivers make more than $66,840 per year according to the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Truckers Should Know About DAC Reports

Being a truck driver gives you the opportunity to enjoy the freedom of the open road. This can be a great career option for many individuals. However, trucking also comes with responsibility. Since you will be operating a large vehicle on public roads, you will be trusted to make safety a priority. Because of this, motor carriers will want to be sure they are hiring the best drivers. One method for checking the driving history of potential new hires is with a Drive-a-Check (DAC) report. Most medium or large trucking companies will use this for hiring purposes. As a result, it’s important to understand what DAC reports are before you enter the trucking industry so you can be prepared.

DAC Report Overview

The background check service HireRight complies the DAC report. It provides an overall view of a truck driver’s professional history. HireRight operates under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). As a result, they have certain obligations to truckers whose information is included in the reports.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the trucking industry. They do not require motor carriers to use DAC reports specifically. However, companies are required to obtain certain information about new drivers before employment and to keep this on file. Because of this, many of the categories on these reports will be reviewed by potential employers in some form, whether they use DAC reports or another method.

What Do DAC Reports Include?

A DAC report gives detailed information about a truck driver’s employment history for the past ten years. The specific items included vary depending on the trucking company that requests the report.

Some information that DAC reports may contain:

  • Your commercial driver’s license (CDL) number and what endorsements and/or restrictions you have, if any
  • Accident history
  • Name and address of previous trucking companies you’ve driven for
  • How long you worked for each carrier
  • What type of truck you drove and what type of freight you hauled
  • A record of your on-the-job performance
  • Your reason for leaving previous trucking companies and your eligibility for rehire
  • Drug and alcohol testing results, which are also included in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Clearinghouse system, although the DAC report may include additional non-DOT drug testing information

What Truckers Can Do About Their DAC Reports

Since the information in your DAC report can affect whether a motor carrier hires you or not, you want to make sure it reflects well on you as a driver. The best way to keep a clean report is to have a good driving record and focus on safety and professionalism.   

In some cases, a DAC report may contain incorrect or false information and if this ever happens to you, it’s important to correct it as a soon as possible. Like consumer credit reports, you are entitled to request a free copy of your DAC report once a year. You should look over the information and if anything is inaccurate, missing, or incomplete, you should dispute it on HireRight’s website. To make this process easier, keep any records you have throughout your trucking career so they are ready in case you need to dispute your report.

Helping You Understand the Trucking Industry

At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we can help you prepare to start your trucking career with the knowledge you need to succeed.

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

What is LTL Freight?

Although over-the-road (OTR) truck driving is one of the most common career paths for commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders, there are many more options available. One to be aware of is less-than-truckload (LTL) freight. There is generally more home time for this type of trucking. However, there are some things to consider when deciding if it is right for you.

How LTL Freight Works

To understand what an LTL driver does, it’s helpful to have an idea of how this type of freight service operates. Whereas OTR loads are generally for one or only a few customers and move large distances all at once, LTL loads involve several smaller portions of freight from different sources. LTL gets its name from the fact that each customer has less than a full truckload of freight that needs to be delivered. These shipments are picked up and taken to a terminal for the freight company. Here, they are sorted and sent out on trucks to different terminals. The loads then branch out until they are delivered to their final destination. To visualize this, imagine a tree where the roots (freight customers) come into the central trunk (LTL terminals). This then breaks off into smaller branches (delivery locations).

Linehaul vs P&D LTL Driving

There are two types of LTL jobs you might have: pickup and delivery (P&D) and linehaul. These involve different responsibilities and your day-to-day life will look different depending on which one you choose.

P&D, as the name implies, involves picking up freight from customers and bringing it to the LTL terminal or taking freight from the terminal and delivering it. These drivers make several stops each day and load and unload shipments. The lifestyle is similar to other local delivery jobs and drivers are usually home daily or nightly.

Linehaul drivers, on the other hand, move freight from terminal to terminal. The length of the route depends on various factors. As a result, you may be home multiple times each week or less frequently. For longer linehaul routes, the schedule is similar to regional trucking and often gets drivers home for weekends. Linehaul jobs almost always involve driving overnight, so if you prefer to drive during the day, P&D or another type of trucking may be more suitable.

LTL vs OTR

Some things to consider if you are choosing between LTL and OTR include:

Home Time

One of the main reasons drivers choose LTL jobs instead of OTR is the home time. P&D drivers may be home every day and even linehaul drivers with long routes spend more time at home than OTR truckers.

Sleeper Cab vs Day Cab

Long-haul truck drivers will usually drive semi-trucks that have sleeper berths, meaning there is an area behind the seats with a bunk for sleeping. On the other hand, LTL drivers typically have day cabs that do not have a sleeping area. If the driver is running a longer linehaul route, they usually stay overnight in a hotel paid for by their company.

Lifestyle

OTR driving is as much of a lifestyle as it is a career. For some, this is a major advantage. They love the freedom of the open road and enjoy the excitement of traveling the country while earning money. LTL freight is different because you are usually driving the same route and are not living the “trucking lifestyle.” Some drivers see this as a disadvantage, whereas others appreciate the routine and home time.

Truck Driver Pay

Of course, one of the major considerations for any career decision is pay. This can vary considerably among different LTL and OTR jobs, so it is difficult to make a straightforward comparison between the two. It is a good idea to look at the pay for the companies you are interested in and talk to current and former drivers to get a better idea of what to expect.

Earn Your CDL

Whether you are interested in LTL, OTR, or another type of career that requires a CDL, Phoenix Truck Driving School can help. You can earn your commercial license in as little as four weeks and our job placement assistance team can help you start earning as soon as possible after graduation. We take into account what types of jobs are more compatible with your lifestyle preferences and career goals.

To get started in LTL freight, long-haul trucking, or another CDL career, contact us today.