A Trucker’s Guide To Food On The Road

The trucking lifestyle comes with some unique considerations, including the question of where to get food each day. Food is likely going to be one of the most significant parts of your budget on the road and also plays a large role in your health. It’s worth putting the time and effort into making a plan for what to eat on the road and how to prepare your meals so you can save money and stay fit more easily.

What to Consider When Planning Meals as a Trucker

There are three major considerations you’ll need to keep in mind when planning where to eat while trucking:

Convenience

Truckers are often on a tight schedule and don’t have access to the same appliances and tools someone could use to cook at home. As a result, it’s often important to find meals that are fast and convenient.

Health

Sitting in one place for most of the day, as most truckers do, can take a toll on your health. Eating nutrient-dense meals and being mindful of calorie consumption can help you stay fit even if you aren’t moving around as much. Eating well can also improve your energy levels and help you feel better overall.

Budget

Budgeting is an important consideration for individuals across many professions. In trucking, food is likely to be a significant expense. Planning ahead and setting a budget can help you manage how much you spend on eating on the road.

Where Can Truckers Eat On the Road?

There are a few different options for where truckers can purchase their meals.

Restaurants

The quickest option for getting food on the road is to stop at a restaurant. There are often multiple options near truck stops or that otherwise have accessible semi-truck parking. Although it’s possible to find healthier options, many restaurants have mostly high-calorie, lower-nutrient options. The expense of eating out multiple times a day can also add up quickly.

Truck Stops

In addition to the restaurants at or near truck stops, you can often find a combination of grab-and-go meals and common ingredients. Many truck stops are starting to offer healthier options and it’s convenient to stop at one location for your food, fuel, and other amenities. However, the food at truck stops may be more costly than you could find at grocery stores, and not all locations offer healthy items.

Grocery Stores

Stopping at a grocery store allows you to get healthier ingredients and is often more budget-friendly. However, you will need to be able to prep and store food on your truck. There are many options for this including slow cookers, microwaves, and hot plates for cooking and a cooler or mini-fridge for storage. You’ll need to find a grocery store that offers semi-truck parking if you choose this option.

Meal Prepping At Home

Making meals at home before starting a haul allows you the ability to make healthy choices that are quick to heat up on the road while also staying on budget. Of course, this does take some time to plan and you’ll need to have enough storage space. Depending on how long you spend on the road, you may need to stop at the other locations on this list for additional meals or ingredients once you run out.

Earn Your CDL in Albuquerque

If you’re interested in becoming a trucker, Phoenix Truck Driving School in Albuquerque can help you get started. You can complete our commercial driver’s license (CDL) training program in as little as four weeks.

To learn more about becoming a trucker, contact us today.

Preventing Trucker Back Pain

Trucking has the potential to be a rewarding career, but it’s also important to consider possible downsides and ways to minimize their effects. One such downside is trucker back pain. While not all drivers experience this pain, some will due to the effects of spending long periods of time sitting down behind the wheel. Luckily, there are methods you can use to reduce the likelihood of suffering from back pain as a truck driver.

Here are some tips:

1. Move Around Regularly

When possible, stop for a few minutes and get out of your semi-truck to walk around or stretch. This helps break up the periods of time you’ll spend sitting down and can prevent back pain and other issues. You don’t need to devote a great deal of time to this. Even a few five-minute breaks spread throughout the day can make a difference. (Of course, you’ll also need to account for your required breaks for hours of service compliance.)

2. Stretch Before You Start Driving

In addition to moving around during the day, try doing some simple stretches each morning (or night, depending on your schedule) before you hit the road. One good option is to twist your torso to the left while seated, then use your right hand to grab the left side of your seat. Hold this stretch for ten seconds, then repeat on the other side.

3. Adjust Your Seat and Posture

If your seat is too far back from the steering wheel or too far forward, it can affect your posture. You don’t want to be hunched over all day. Make sure that when you sit naturally, you are able to comfortably reach the wheel. You should be able to rest your head, neck, and back fully against your seat as you drive.

4. Add Lumbar Support

Adding extra support to your driver’s seat can help you prevent back pain. There are multiple products on the market that can help with this and it can make a significant difference, especially if other methods haven’t helped.

5. Talk To Your Doctor

If you’ve tried multiple methods to minimize back pain and are still having issues, it’s worth having a conversation with your doctor. They may have suggestions that can help you resolve the issue. This may include lifestyle changes, certain supplements, or other recommendations. Make sure to be careful about any medication and ensure it does not interfere with your ability to drive safely. In most cases, your doctor will try other options first.

Start Your Trucking Career

Although there are some things to consider when becoming a trucker, it is still a potentially rewarding career that can allow you to see the country while getting paid competitively. If you’re interested in getting started, Phoenix Truck Driving School can help you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in as little as four weeks.

Contact us today to learn more about our CDL training in Albuquerque.

Best Types of Freight for New Drivers

When you start a new career as diverse and complex as trucking, you will likely have many questions, such as which type of freight you should haul. The main freight classifications are dry van, refrigerated, flatbed, liquid tanker, dry bulk tanker, and doubles/triples, and some are more new driver-friendly than others.

Below are some of the best types of freight for those just starting in the trucking industry: 

Dry Van

General freight trucking, also known as dry vans or box trailers, is the most common type of cargo transportation in the United States, making it an ideal choice for a first-time driver. Box trailers are enclosed vehicles that haul inventory like clothing, non-perishable food, and household goods for some of the largest corporations in the US. 

 

The learning curve with dry van jobs is less demanding than with other freight because you don’t have to worry about securing your load, and loading and unloading require little or no physical effort from the driver. Hauling freight for a dry van company is also ideal for new drivers because these trucking companies tend to offer more home time. 

Refrigerated Freight

Many rookies also begin hauling refrigerated freight because it is very similar to dry van cargo, the only major difference being that the goods are temperature controlled. These semi-trucks keep items like fruit, frozen goods, and pharmaceuticals insulated despite the weather.

 

 Like general freight trucking, refrigerated freight requires minimal physical effort, allowing you to focus on your basic driving skills. It also doesn’t require any specialized training. Another perk of refrigerated carriers is that they typically haul food products, which makes for a relatively consistent schedule throughout the year. 

Flatbed Freight

Flatbed freight is another great option for new truck drivers. These trailers transport large, bulky items like construction materials. While it is slightly more physically demanding than a dry van or refrigerated truck, a flatbed can be a beneficial option for new truckers with families. Many flatbed companies typically can get drivers home more often because shippers and receivers for this type of freight are often only open on weekdays. Many truckers also enjoy the physical and intellectual challenges, as well as the variety of interesting products they haul and the places flatbed freight takes them.

Dry Bulk Tanker

Dry bulk tankers, or pneumatic tankers, are less common than other types of freight but still worth looking into for rookie drivers. These trucking trailers haul dry goods like sand, flour, and sugar, so drivers don’t have to worry about their freight sloshing around as they drive. Drivers need some extra safety training to operate a pneumatic tanker, but the ease of transportation, loading, and unloading typically makes it worth it. Many dry bulk companies also offer generous home time. 

Looking to Start Your Truck Driving Career?

Phoenix Truck Driving School can provide you with the proper training to earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and start a new career on the road. Our Albuquerque location offers a combination of classroom, range, and on-the-road training, and we can have you driving in as little as four weeks.

Contact one of our advisors today, and they will guide you through the process of earning your CDL and becoming a professional truck driver.

Daytime vs Nighttime Trucking

Trucking is an essential part of our nation’s economy, and you’ll see semi-trucks on highways transporting freight at all hours of the day and night. Some types of trucking allow drivers to choose their own daily schedule, provided they can deliver their haul on time and follow all hours of service (HOS) regulations. Others may require more nighttime trucking based on the delivery windows. If you’re interested in becoming a trucker, it’s important to understand when night driving may be required and how to do this safely. It’s also helpful to understand your own preferences for daytime vs nighttime trucking so you can select a type of trucking that best matches your ideal schedule.

When Is Day vs Night Trucking More Common?

For over-the-road (OTR) dry van hauls, solo truckers generally get to choose their own driving schedule. You’ll still need to adhere to HOS rules and will have a delivery window or a specific delivery time you’ll need to arrive by. This type of driving is most flexible for whether you drive during the day or at night.

In trucking teams, drivers switch off to maximize miles while keeping both individuals within HOS limits. This means that one driver is usually behind the wheel during the day, whereas the other will spend more time driving at night. This may alternate depending on when hours are used up, or you may set a schedule so one of you is always driving at night or always driving during the day.

Due to their delivery requirements, refrigerated truckers (reefers) typically drive at night more often. The same is true for less-than-truckload (LTL) linehaul drivers, who transport freight between LTL terminals.

Local drivers who stay within a limited region most often travel during the day. However, there may be some local jobs that require nighttime driving.

Daytime Trucking

Pros

  • This type of driving is more familiar to most people.
  • It’s easier to stay safe and alert.
  • You are working with your circadian rhythm, not against it, which makes getting quality sleep easier.
  • You can enjoy the scenery while you drive.
  • It’s easier to find parking for rest stops during your driving window (e.g. stopping for fuel or your required 30-minute break).

Cons

  • There’s more traffic on the road, which can slow down your trip. This is especially significant if you are traveling near a city during rush hour.
  • Construction zones are more likely to be active.
  • Since many truckers prefer to drive during the day and stop to rest at night, truck stops can be crowded and finding parking for the night can be difficult. You may need to shut down earlier in the day and get up earlier in the morning to beat the crowds.

Nighttime Trucking

Pros

  • There are fewer vehicles on the road, so traffic is less of a concern.
  • Construction is not typically active at night.
  • In some cases, it’s easier to find parking if you’re sleeping during the day.

Cons

  • Drowsiness is more common and can be a safety issue.
  • It’s harder to sleep during the day, especially at truck stops when more people may be moving around and making noise.
  • It’s easier to get lost since landmarks or signs may be hard to see.
  • Low visibility can increase the risk of getting into an accident.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, nighttime trucking is often riskier than daytime driving, but this may vary based on your personal experience and preferences. It’s up to you as a driver to be sure that you stay safe on the road. Choosing a career that includes more of the type of driving you prefer can help you reach your goals and feel more comfortable. At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we can help you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and our job placement assistance team can work with you to explore your career options.

Contact us today to learn more about our truck driver training program in Albuquerque.

A Guide to Truck Stop Amenities

Every trucker needs a break from long hours on the road, and truck stops are designed to do just that. These rest areas allow drivers to sleep, refuel and service their vehicles, and take care of their personal hygiene all in one place. When you plan your breaks, choose truck stops with amenities that fit your needs.

The following are six of the top truck stop amenities:

1. Showers

A clean, hot shower is one of the most sought-after amenities on the road. Luckily, most truck stops offer showers to truck drivers. Each location varies slightly on the requirements for drivers to utilize this amenity. Some are coin-operated, while you must purchase a ticket from others to reserve a shower for a particular time.

2. Laundry Facility

A laundromat is another covered amenity for truckers and road trippers alike. If you are on the road for an extended period, you’ll likely run out of clean clothes. Some truck stops provide quality machines, folding tables, and drying racks to clean your clothes, linens, and towels. Not all truck stops offer laundry services, however, so be sure to plan to hit a rest area with this amenity when you need it. 

3. Fuel Station

Every truck stop offers a fuel station as part of its amenities. Filling up your fuel tank whenever possible will ensure you never run out of fuel and helps maintain your vehicle’s fuel economy. The better your fuel economy, the less often you will have to stop and get fuel. Many truck stops also advertise high fuel quality, which reduces engine damage.

4. Parking Spaces

Truck stops are built to accommodate semi-trucks and supply spacious places to park. Depending on the size of the parking lot, some rest areas designate spaces for overnight parking to allow truckers to sleep. It is a safe place to rest and recharge to finish their route. 

5. Service Station

If you experience mechanical problems on the road, truck stops are one of the most convenient locations to stop and examine the vehicle. These locations offer a truck service station that provides preventative and light mechanical services at a lower price than repair shops. They are equipped with the tools and mechanics to get your semi-truck driving again. Many truck stops also have 24/7 roadside assistance.

6. Driver Lounge

Truck stops with a driver lounge area can be a trucker’s home away from home. While each location varies slightly, most driver lounges include comfortable furniture, a TV with cable or satellite hookup, and free WiFi. These features allow drivers to take a break, catch up on the latest news, or watch a few minutes of a game before hitting the road again.

Truck Driver Training in Albuquerque

Before you can hit the open road and enjoy all the amenities truck stops offer, you first need to earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL). At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we offer a combination of classroom, range, and on-the-road training to get you driving in as little as four weeks. Our Albuquerque location is the only truck driving school in the area that has a trucking company at the facility. 

Contact one of our advisors today to find out how soon you can start earning your CDL.

Is There an Age Limit for Trucking?

Truck driving has the potential to be a very rewarding career path, and it interests people of all ages. This leads many to wonder whether or not there is an age limit for trucking. There is a minimum age to earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL), but there is no official maximum age. There are medical requirements to meet to get and keep your license, but many individuals can still thrive as truckers even as they age.

Here is some more information about age restrictions in trucking:

Minimum Age to Earn a CDL

To drive a commercial vehicle within a single state, you need to be at least 18 years old. To drive across state lines, you need to be 21 or older. These age requirements are set on a federal level and apply in any state you earn your license in.

If you’re interested in a trucking career but aren’t old enough to get an interstate CDL, you can explore other opportunities within your state. However, you should be aware that local jobs are often more competitive and involve challenging driving conditions, such as city driving and frequent backing.

There has been some interest in lowering the age requirement for interstate trucking. However, there has not been much momentum for these changes, so they will continue to apply for the foreseeable future.

How Old Is Too Old to Be a Trucker?

There is no maximum age for trucking. Many people enter this industry later than is often the case for other careers. Some truckers choose to pursue driving after their children have moved out and they have more flexibility to stay on the road for longer and see the country. Others earn their CDL after a career change later in life. Whatever the case, age doesn’t have to limit your ability to become a trucker.

Truckers are required to undergo a Department of Transportation (DOT) medical exam to ensure they are physically able to perform the necessary job duties. Whether or not you can pass this physical exam doesn’t necessarily depend on your age. Many younger individuals can have medical conditions that prevent them from trucking, and many older truckers have clean bills of health. Nevertheless, it’s important to be aware of.

What to Expect From the DOT Physical

The DOT physical involves a full examination of your health. Your doctor will ask questions about your medical history and conduct a complete physical exam. They will also complete urinalysis to check for various medical conditions. Most drivers complete these physicals every two years to ensure they can perform their job duties. If you have a medical condition, your doctor may require you to return annually instead.

Earn Your CDL

Phoenix Truck Driving School in Albuquerque can help you earn your commercial license and become a trucker. We’ve trained students in a wide range of age groups to give them the skills needed to succeed on the road.

Take the first steps to a new trucking career and contact us today.

CDL School Study Tips

The first step in becoming a truck driver is passing the test to earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL). The CDL test is broken up into two parts: a written general knowledge exam and a skills test. Like any test, the written exam requires you to study and prepare for the variety of information it will cover. Rather than trying to memorize the 180-page manual the night before, study smart during the weeks leading up to the test. 

 

Here are five CDL school study tips to help you pass the written exam with flying colors:

1. Pay Attention in Class

One of the best ways to set yourself up for success on your CDL exam is to take advantage of your time in class. Make an effort to pay attention and ask your instructor questions if you are unsure about a certain topic. Your instructor is typically a former truck driver that can share their real-world experience with you. They are one of your most valuable tools while you’re in CDL school, so talk with them whenever you can.

 

Another effective way to study is to take good notes in class. Instead of just listening or reading the material, writing it down yourself will help you retain the information better. While typing your notes on your laptop can also be helpful, using a pen and paper is the best way to ensure that you will remember what you learned.

2. Plan Ahead

Trying to cram all of the information from the CDL manual a day or two before the exam will not yield the best results. Not only will this cause sleep deprivation and trouble focusing, but you also won’t retain the important information you need to be a safe, responsible driver. Studying a little bit every day will help you be fully prepared for the day of the test. Be sure to take breaks while you study as well to give your brain the rest it needs.

3. Use Study Materials 

The CDL exam should not be taken lightly, so to prepare for it, you need to hit the books – especially your state’s commercial driver’s license manual. Many of the topics covered on the test are pulled from this manual, so make sure to read up on all the procedures and laws. To make this information more digestible, use study strategies like flashcards and other memorization techniques.

4. Test Your Knowledge

Another great way to study for your CDL exam is to do a general knowledge practice test. This will help you familiarize yourself with the types of questions that will be on the actual exam. It will also pinpoint the areas that you need to work on. You can work your way up to the real thing by starting with open book practice tests, then setting time limits for yourself that align with the real timeframe. With enough practice, you should be prepared to take the test, closed-book, in the allotted time. 

5. Attend a High-Quality Truck Driving School

Attending an accredited truck driving school puts you at a considerable advantage for the CDL exam. The combination of in-class instruction and training behind the wheel will better prepare you than if you teach yourself the material. At Phoenix Truck Driving School, our instructors are drivers with real-world experience that can share their knowledge and expertise with you. We offer day, evening, and weekend classes to make it as easy as possible to earn your license.

High-Quality CDL School in Albuquerque

At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we offer a high-quality CDL program with skilled instructors, flexible class schedules, and placement assistance. Our Albuquerque location is the only truck driving school in the area with a trucking company at the facility. This allows our students to get more real-world exposure. The program is also accelerated and can be completed in as little as four weeks.

Call us today to schedule a tour of our Albuquerque school and to learn more about our program.

Semi-Truck Backing Tips

Backing a semi-truck is one of the most difficult maneuvers for a truck driver, but an essential skill that must be taken seriously. This skill takes time to develop, but with patience and consistent effort, it is possible to do it effectively. Mastering backing will distinguish you from amateur drivers.

 

Keep these tips in mind to make the semi-truck backing process easier:

1. Safety First

Your safety and the safety of your truck are the most important parts of semi-truck backing. There is no shame in finding a different spot or asking for help you have a gut feeling that your trailer won’t make it. After all, you know your vehicle better than anyone else. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for any objects or debris in your path to be moved so you can back in safely if you need to get into a specific spot, such as at a shipper or receiver. 

2. Drive Slowly

Patience is key when it comes to backing a semi-truck. Don’t let the pressure of your anyone watching make you rush, because safety is always more important than speed. Backing hastily can make you lose focus and skip important safety steps. Driving slowly will significantly reduce the risk of an accident, so readjust your angles or do a few pull-ups before backing if you need to. 

3. Always Get Out and Look

You should always be aware of your surroundings before you back into a spot. When in doubt, always remember the acronym GOAL (get out and look). Take the time to walk completely around your truck and check for obstacles above, below, and underneath it. While it may seem like a hassle, it is important to not solely rely on what you can see from inside your cab. You can physically check your position as often as you feel is necessary to ensure safety. 

4. Back the Trailer, Not the Truck

When you are backing a semi-truck, you want to think of it in terms of backing the trailer, not the truck. While it might feel counterintuitive, turning your steering wheel to the right turns the rear of the trailer left and vice versa. You can use your steering wheel to determine the direction of the trailer. Remember, when you place your left hand on the bottom of the steering wheel, the direction you move your hand is the direction the trailer will move.

5. Remember Your Training 

When you are faced with a tough area to back into, it can be easy to doubt your abilities. However, just remember you have all of the truck reversing skills you need. Take a deep breath, be patient with yourself, and remember what you’ve been training for. It is also helpful to take advantage of resources while you have them at your disposal. During the process of earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL), ask your instructors for help and extra time to practice backing so you are better prepared for after graduation.

High-Quality CDL Training 

Semi-truck backing is just one of the many skills we will teach you in our CDL training program at Phoenix Truck Driving School in Albuquerque. Our experienced instructors help prepare you for situations you may encounter while on the road.

If you are ready to start training for your CDL, contact us today to find out when our next class begins.

What to Do If You Get Lost While Trucking

Whether you are new to the trucking industry or a seasoned driver, there is likely going to come a time when you get lost on the road. Both poor communication while receiving directions and relying solely on a GPS device contribute to getting a driver off route. While you can’t always control whether you get lost, you can control how you react to the situation. 

 

Follow these tips on what to do if you get lost while trucking:

1. Remember Not To Panic

The most important thing to remember when you get lost is not to panic. Driving in a panic can cause you to make hasty decisions and increases your chances of getting in an accident. If you find yourself lost, find a safe place to pull over and reassess your situation. Use your map or GPS device to determine where you are, then check your directions to see where you took a wrong turn.

 

If you can’t reroute yourself with the tools available to you in your truck, you can contact the shipper/receiver for clarification if you are nearby. Otherwise, your dispatcher may be able to help. 

2. Call Other Truckers For Help

Keeping your CB radio on while you are on the road can pay off if you get off course. You can use it to call out to a local driver and ask for directions or clarification on where you are. Every truck driver gets lost once in a while, so drivers will be understanding of your situation and more than likely willing to help.

3. Find A Safe Place to Turn Around

Once you have calmed down and figured out where to go next, you will need to find a safe place to turn around. Turning around in a space that is too small for your truck or failing to see an obstacle can be dangerous for both you and others on the road. You could drive into a ditch, hit a parked car, or sideswipe a trailer. Getting back on course cautiously will help you avoid these potential accidents.

4. Stay On Track

You can avoid getting yourself lost by preparing your directions before you leave for a trip. The number one reason truckers get lost while on their route is when the directions they were given were wrong or they miss a street sign. While they can be helpful with navigating, Google Maps and regular GPS units are not truck-friendly because they do not consider the weight limits of bridges or the height of overpasses. It is important to supplement their directions with other sources, like a road atlas or instructions from your company or shipper/receiver, and to use a trucker-friendly GPS when possible.

 

Here are more tips to help keep you on track:

 

  • Repeat the directions back to the person giving them to you.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Ask for landmarks along the truck route to keep an eye out for.
  • Keep a journal of directions from every trip you take to look back on if you are in the area later.
  • Ask for unfamiliar street names to be spelled out.

A Safe Driving School

At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we will prepare you to be the safest driver possible, but also understand that getting lost is sometimes unavoidable. We have locations in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas to assist our students in getting their commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) in as little as four weeks. We also offer job placement assistance to help you explore your employment options after graduation. 

To learn more about what Phoenix Truck Driving School has to offer, contact us today.

Developing the Right Trucker Mindset

Your mindset plays a large role in your life, and this is true in any field or facet of life, including trucking. How you approach challenges, what your priorities are, and your general way of viewing your role as a trucker all influence your ability to succeed in the industry. It’s worthwhile to take the time to develop a positive “trucker mindset” even before you hit the road in order to set yourself up for the best possible experience.

Here are some mindset tips for truck drivers:

1. Know Why Trucking Is the Path For You

Trucking is a career path that offers excellent pay and benefits, the opportunity to see more of the country, and the ability to enjoy the freedom of the open road. However, like any career path, it’s not without its challenges. Having a clear sense of what’s most important to you will remind you of what makes trucking worthwhile for you specifically, even when things are tough. This may be a motivation to provide for your family, a love of the trucking lifestyle, or a sense of independence.

2. Prioritize Safety

Your specific list of priorities will be unique, but no matter what, safety needs to be on the list. Driving such a large vehicle is a big responsibility. From your first day in training to your last day behind the wheel, keep safety at the front of your mind. In addition to protecting yourself and others on the road, prioritizing safety can also help put things into perspective. Even if you didn’t get as many miles in a day as you wanted or if you had to get out of your truck several times when backing, you can remind yourself of your commitment to safety and why this matters.

3. Set Goals For Yourself

Having goals to work toward gives you a sense of purpose and a feeling of accomplishment when you reach them. Try setting a mix of long-term and short-term goals. This can help you map out the path you’d like to take for your career. Then follow through on this plan.

4. Stay Positive

In trucking, just like in any career, you’ll have good days and bad days. It’s not realistic to assume you’ll feel great 100% of the time, but you can work toward focusing on the positive when you can. This doesn’t mean you can’t acknowledge when something upsets you, but it’s helpful to separate what you can and can’t control and to move on once you’ve worked through the initial problem. If you focus too much on the negative, it can start to affect your well-being and even make you a less safe driver if you’re distracted by your emotions.

5. Keep Learning

Once you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL), you’ll have a foundation of knowledge to enter the trucking industry. After this point, you’ll also go through on-the-job training in most cases. However, even once you complete your training and hit the road on your own (or with your trucking team), you shouldn’t assume you know everything. Each day is a new opportunity to learn and grow as a trucker. The first year is often particularly full of learning opportunities, but no matter how long you’re on the road, there’s still more you can learn.

Start Your Trucking Career

Are you interested in earning rewarding pay in an essential industry? If so, Phoenix Truck Driving School can help you get started. Our program allows you to get your CDL in as little as four weeks and we offer job placement assistance to help you start earning as soon as possible.

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

Staying Focused When Driving OTR

As a truck driver, safety should always be your priority. One essential way to stay safe on the road is to ensure that you are always focused. Over-the-road (OTR) drivers spend long stretches of time behind the wheel, and this can increase the risk of becoming distracted unless you are careful.

Here are some tips for maintaining your focus when driving OTR:

1. Minimize Distractions

Anything that takes your mind off the task of driving, your hands off the wheel, or your eyes off the road is a form of distracted driving. Many distractions do all of these at once. To help you stay focused, it’s important to minimize all types of distractions while you’re behind the wheel.

You should be aware of the dangers of texting and driving, but as a refresher, this is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. Never text and drive as a commercial driver, or while driving any type of vehicle. It’s not worth the risk.

In addition, here are some other distractions to avoid:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking on the phone (even hands-free)
  • Adjusting your radio or air conditioner

One distraction that varies depending on the driver is what you listen to. Some drivers are able to listen to podcasts or audiobooks without losing focus on the road, whereas others get distracted by spoken audio. Use your discretion. If you think something is distracting you, it probably is.

2. Ask “What If” Questions

One of the major principles of defensive driving is thinking ahead and being prepared to react to any sudden changes on the road. To help you do this, try asking yourself “what if” questions related to what is going on while you’re driving. For example, if there is a car in the lane next to you, ask yourself what you would do if that car were to suddenly try to merge. These scenarios give your mind something productive to do while driving so you can stay focused while also improving your defensive driving skills.

3. Take Breaks When You Need Them

If you find yourself unable to stay focused on the road, stop and take a break. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires certain breaks, but even beyond this, you can stop if you feel it will help you. It’s better to spend a bit of time not driving so you are able to focus more effectively in the long run versus trying to power through. Even ten minutes to take a nap, get a snack, or call a loved one back home can help you refocus for the rest of your drive.

4. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Staying healthy can make a huge difference in your ability to stay focused. Although it can take some extra planning to make health a priority when you’re an OTR trucker, it’s well worth the effort in more ways than one.

Here are some health-related tips to improve your focus:

Stay Well-Rested

Sleep is essential to your health and fatigue presents a major risk for drivers. It’s hard to stay focused on the road when you’re tired. Maintain a regular sleep schedule to the best of your ability and stop for a nap if you are getting too tired.

Eat Healthily

Unhealthy meals can reduce your energy and your ability to focus. A healthy diet keeps you more alert, along with many other benefits.

Exercise Regularly

Finding time to exercise on the road doesn’t have to be a challenge. Even a short run at a truck stop can help keep your heart healthy, and it can also improve your focus and overall energy levels.

Interested in a Trucking Career?

At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we help students become safe and successful truckers. Our program allows you to earn your license in as little as four weeks and we offer job placement assistance.

To learn more about becoming a trucker in Albuquerque, contact us today.

Are Driverless Vehicles a Threat to the Trucking Industry?

Semi-trucks move 72.5% of American freight and the trucking industry is absolutely essential to our nation’s economy. As a result of this need and the ongoing driver shortage, earning a commercial driver’s license (CDL) gives you the opportunity to pursue a stable and rewarding career. In recent years, some have started to wonder whether driverless vehicles present a threat to this industry. While autonomous vehicles (AVs) are predicted to change certain aspects of trucking in the long term, they are unlikely to pose a significant threat to driver jobs in the near future.

Levels of Automation

In order to understand how AVs could affect the trucking industry, it’s important to understand the different levels of automation. The Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) defines six levels of automation.

These are:

  • Level 0 No automation – At this level, the vehicle is fully manually controlled. The car may still include some technology to assist the driver, such as blind-spot alerts or automatic emergency braking, as long as these features do not control the vehicle.
  • Level 1 – Driver assistance – Any features that provide steering or acceleration support to the driver fall under this level. Examples include adaptive cruise control or lane centering.
  • Level 2 – Partial driving automation – If a car is using both steering and acceleration support features at the same time, it falls under level 2.
  • Level 3 – Conditional driving automation – This is when a vehicle crosses the threshold from assistive features into what most people think of when they think of “self-driving” cars. However, AVs at this level can only operate autonomously in certain conditions, and the driver may need to take over manual control. This means drivers still need to remain alert when they are behind the well of a level 3 AV.
  • Level 4 – High driving automation – Compared to level 3, these vehicles can operate without manual intervention in more circumstances. A human can take over in an emergency but otherwise, the car can drive itself.
  • Level 5 – Full driving automation – A truly driverless vehicle is a level 5 AV. These do not require any human intervention and can drive everywhere in all conditions.

What Level of AVs Are Available?

Currently, many advanced fleet vehicles have level 2 automation features. Some companies have been pioneering level 4 automated trucks, although there have been limited runs of fully driverless vehicles. For the near future, there are no level 5 vehicles that can operate entirely without a driver as a backup.

What Does This Mean for Truckers?

Companies that are working on AVs for fleet applications currently still require drivers to act as supervisors for the vehicles while they are in operation. This means that although the job may not involve as much active driving as trucking currently, driver jobs are not actively threatened by current models of AVs. Instead, these vehicles act as a complement to more traditional semi-trucks on the road, and may actually be beneficial for helping the trucking industry keep up with increasing freight demands.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that even Level 4 vehicles are a long way from widespread adoption in the industry, and Level 5 vehicles are even further away from this. Experts believe it will be several decades before most truckers experience any changes due to driverless vehicles. Even then, they predict changes to the job responsibilities, but not necessarily a loss of driving jobs on a large scale.

Becoming a Trucker

The bottom line is that trucking is still a much-needed profession, and earning your CDL allows you to take advantage of opportunities within this industry.

Contact Phoenix Truck Driving School today to learn how you can get started on the road to a new career.