Defensive Driving Tips for Truckers

One of the keys to staying safe on the road is to always drive defensively. This is especially true for drivers in the trucking industry. Truckers spend long hours on the road and face a wide variety of dangerous road conditions. You never know what is around the corner, so learning to drive defensively is an essential skill to keep you and the drivers around you safe.


What is Defensive Driving?

As defined by the National Safety Council and the American Society of Safety Engineers, defensive driving is “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.” Defensive driving goes beyond basic skills, helping you anticipate and mitigate potentially hazardous situations. 


Tips for Defensive Driving 

Learning the basics of defensive driving can increase your chances of staying safe despite what other drivers around you are doing. 


Follow these five defensive driving tips to remain safe on the road:


1. Maintain a Safe Following Distance 

Creating and maintaining a safe following distance is one of the foundations of defensive driving. As recommended by the US Department of Transportation, commercial trucks traveling up to 40 mph should maintain at least four seconds behind the vehicle in front of them. The DOT also recommends adding one second for every additional 10 mph of speed. 


2. Adjust Your Speed to the Conditions 

Many factors besides posted speed limits play a role in how fast a trucker should be driving. Construction zones, rush hour traffic, and potential snow or rain all require a speed reduction and more caution. Anticipating these changing conditions and adjusting your speed accordingly will help you prevent a motor vehicle accident. 


3. Eliminate Any Distractions 

Lack of focus is one of the top causes of distracted driving-related crashes. Eliminating any distractions in your vehicle will maximize your reaction time and help you concentrate on the road. You can do this by never using your phone while driving, turning off the radio in heavy traffic and poor weather conditions, and setting your GPS before you start your engine. 


4. Make Sure You Are Seen

While it may seem impossible for someone to miss a semi-truck, extreme weather conditions can decrease visibility and make it difficult for others to notice your vehicle until it’s too late. In addition, drivers that are tired, drunk, upset, or young may not be attentive enough. Make yourself seen by others on the road by turning your lights on, braking slowly, and taking wide turns. 


5. Stay Alert

It only takes a second for an accident to occur, so you must stay alert when driving long distances. To keep yourself focused on driving, it is helpful to look around at other drivers. Trying to recognize their driving patterns and seeing if you can predict their next move is a good practice in defensive driving. 


Learn Defensive Driving at our Commercial Drivers License Training School

Defensive driving is one of the many skills you will practice at Phoenix Truck Driving School, along with pre and post-trip inspections, cab familiarization, and other basic road skills. Our instructors are drivers with real-world experience and will share their knowledge and expertise with you. We are committed to helping prepare you for your truck driving career.


To take the first step toward a rewarding career and contact us today.

Top CDL School Challenges and How to Face Them

If you want to become a truck driver, the first step is earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL). Most trucking companies prefer to hire drivers who have attended truck driving school, so this is the preferred route for most individuals entering the industry. Although completing your training at CDL school can come with its challenges, you can overcome these and set yourself up for success by focusing on your mindset.


Here are some of the top challenges trucking school students often face and how to overcome them:


1. Backing

While many challenges related to becoming a trucker are related to mindset, there are also practical skills that can be difficult to learn. After all, driving a large semi-truck is different from operating a standard passenger vehicle and can be intimidating at first. In this vein, semi-truck backing is often one of the skills that students are most nervous about.


Practice Makes Perfect

One way to overcome the challenge of learning how to back up in the semi-truck is to remember that it takes time and practice to get better. Even if it makes you nervous at first, getting out and practicing your backing will help you improve over time. Asking your instructor or other experienced truckers for tips can also help the fundamentals of backing “click” for many students.


2. Written Test

Test-taking is a challenge for many people and the written portion of the CDL exam often causes some anxiety. It’s normal to be a bit nervous, but you should also feel confident that you have the support you need to succeed.


Find the Study Method That Works Best for You

In order to prepare for your written test and ease some of your stress, experiment with different study methods to find what works best for you. Some students prefer flashcards, whereas others prefer to review the information verbally with another student. You can also ask your instructors for help with any material you’re struggling with.


3. Positive Mindset

Trucking has the potential to be a very rewarding career. However, no path is perfect, and if you focus too much on the negative, it can make it difficult to work toward your ideal circumstances.


Remind Yourself of Your Goals

Everyone has a different reason for pursuing a career in trucking. Whether this is the freedom of the open road, a desire to provide for your family, or another goal, keep your motivations in mind when you start to doubt yourself. This allows you to overcome challenges more easily and continue to improve as a trucker, in school and beyond.


Earn Your CDL

At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we can help you earn your CDL and are here to support you during your truck driver training. We have programs in Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico.


Contact us today to learn more about our CDL schools.

Why Trucking is a Great Career for Veterans

For many veterans, the transition from military service to civilian life is challenging. Civilian companies don’t always know how to take advantage of their unique values and skill set. If you are nervous about making the switch from active duty, consider a career in trucking. Not only are drivers in high demand, but this is also a great career for veterans because the two industries share a few characteristics. 


A few of the many benefits of truck driving as a career for veterans are:


Provides Job Security

Job security is one of the many benefits of the trucking industry. When veterans join a career in trucking, they will not have to worry about going through the job application process over and over again. Once a company hires you, there are many opportunities to advance and a high possibility that you will stay with them for a long period of time. The industry is growing and companies are always hiring, so if you choose to pursue a career in trucking, there will always be a job available for you.


Continued Service 

Veterans understand the value of service. As a member of the armed forces, they took pride in serving their country and may be looking for a job that will allow them to continue contributing. Like Americans depend on the military for security and protection, we also depend on truck drivers to keep the economy running. A career in trucking can offer veterans a similar feeling of serving their country as their time in the military did. 


Easy to Adapt

Military service often allows you to travel and see the world. Similarly, truck driving lets you continue to see the beauty of the United States from the convenience of your vehicle. The transition between the military and trucking is smooth because they are both jobs that typically take place outside of an office. When you come from a military background, truck driver training also feels easy to complete. 



Working as a truck driver will give veterans the pay they deserve. Truck drivers can earn more than $72,000 a year.* Trucking companies also often give signing bonuses to new employees. In addition, military veterans have access to funding opportunities to make their new career more affordable. Qualified veterans can receive tuition assistance from the G.I. Bill®** to put toward earning their commercial driver’s license (CDL).


Transferable Skills 

A successful career in the military requires veterans to develop a certain skill set that sets them up to excel in other job paths as well. Some of the traits that carry over from the military to trucking are dependability, situational awareness, leadership, organization, and self-discipline. The minimal supervision and ability to do your own thing as a trucker may differ from service in the military, but many veterans find that aspect of the trucking industry to be refreshing. 


Truck Driver Education for Veterans 

If you are ready to transition into a career in trucking, Phoenix Truck Driving School is a great place to start. Our program offers benefits for veterans, as well as national guard and reserve members. Additionally, our Fort Bliss campus specifically serves active-duty military members, veterans, and their families. Veterans can earn their CDL in as little as four weeks.


To learn more about our benefits for veterans, contact us today.


*Professional truck drivers earn a mean annual wage of $48,310. The top 10% of truck drivers make more than $72,730 per year according to the 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics.


**GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at

Tips for Better Sleep as an OTR Trucker

One of the many challenges an over-the-road truck driver faces is getting quality sleep while they are on the road. As an OTR trucker, sleeping in your semi-truck is something you will have to get used to. If getting sufficient sleep is an issue for you, try out some of our tips to help you sleep better while on the road.


Tip #1 – Find a Safe Spot to Park

The first step in getting a good night’s sleep as an OTR trucker is finding a safe place to park. Before you leave on a trip, plan your stops for the night ahead of time, and pre-pay for parking if necessary. Well-lit truck stops or rest areas are the safest places for truckers to sleep. Parking on the side of the road or on a ramp is a safety hazard and could result in a ticket.


Tip #2 – Eliminate Any Distractions 

Light and noise coming into your truck from outside can make it very difficult to fall asleep. To keep light out, try using a visor shade to cover up your windshield and curtains for the windows. If the light is still bothering you, wear a face mask. Eliminating sound is best done by parking away from other trucks, especially those with reefer motors or live animal loads. You can also invest in a white noise machine. Wearing earplugs should be a last resort because it is important to still be aware of your surroundings if you’re parked in an unfamiliar area.


Tip #3 – Invest In A Good Mattress 

Having a comfortable mattress is a crucial component of good sleep, especially when you are sleeping in your vehicle. While high-quality mattresses can be expensive, they are an investment in yourself and your well-being. They will pay for themselves after just a few nights of quality sleep. You can also add a mattress topper for extra comfort. Along with your mattress, pillows, sheets, and comforters can also make a big difference in getting restful sleep.


Tip #4 – Cut Back On Your Caffeine Intake 

Caffeinated beverages like coffee, energy drinks, and soda are popular among long-haul truckers. However, drinking too much caffeine during the day can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Try to avoid caffeine within five hours of when you want to go to sleep. This will also cut down the number of trips you take to the bathroom throughout the night.


Tip #5 – Create a Sleep Routine 

Despite the varying schedule of an OTR trucker, you can still benefit from having a routine to complete every time before you go to bed. A bedtime routine can help your body understand it is time to fall asleep even if your schedule changes. Pre-bed rituals can be as simple as brushing your teeth or meditating. Replacing screen time with a different activity, such as reading a book or listening to music, will also help prepare your body for sleep.


Earn Your CDL Today

If you want to be a truck driver and join an essential part of our nation’s economy, consider attending Phoenix Truck Driving School. Once you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) with us, you can choose which career path you want to pursue, whether it’s OTR, local, or regional. 


Contact us today to get started on your career as a truck driver. 

What to Expect During Trucking Company Training

After you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL), you’re ready to hit the road and start your trucking career. However, you likely aren’t completely finished with training just yet. Many over-the-road (OTR) trucking companies require on-the-job training before you can go solo. It’s helpful to know what to expect during this process so you can be prepared and set yourself up for success. 


How Trucking Company Training Works

At most motor carriers, rookie drivers (typically anyone right out of CDL school or with less than six months to a year of experience) get paired with a driver trainer. This is a more experienced trucker who takes new hires on the road to train them. 


Some companies also have an orientation process that involves going over similar material to what you learned at trucking school, but with a focus on company-specific policies. If this is the case, you’ll do this prior to hitting the road with your driver trainer. 


The exact structure for the on-the-road portion of training varies. In many cases, there will be periods of time where the trainer supervises you while you drive and others where you’ll be team trucking. The latter means that the trainer will be asleep or otherwise off-duty while you drive. However, they will still be available if you run into a situation that requires their immediate assistance. 


Each company has a different timeline for this training. Some have a set number of hours with a mentor, whereas others allow driver trainers to determine when their trainees are ready to go solo. 


At the conclusion of training, you’ll be assigned your own truck and will hit the road on your own, or with a team if you’ve chosen to pursue team driving. 


Common Questions About Motor Carrier Training


1. What should I pack for on-the-road training?

Make sure you have the necessities, but remember that you’re sharing space with another driver in a relatively small space, so pack light. You’ll need to have important documents such as your CDL, as well as clothing and other personal items.


2. What if I don’t get along with my trainer?

Companies will typically allow you to specify some basic preferences for your trainer, notably smoking vs non-smoking or if you prefer a same-gender trainer. Beyond that, you may find that you have an entirely different personality. Try to view this as a learning experience, and remember that it’s only for a limited period of time.


However, if your trainer is abusive or you don’t feel safe with them, this is a different story, and your company should support you in seeking a resolution. 


3. What should I expect to learn during company training?

During CDL school, your training focuses on giving you a broad range of knowledge to set you up with a strong foundation for your trucking career. Company training builds on this foundation, but it isn’t as structured as trucking school. You’re actually on the job, and the challenges and learning opportunities you will face can vary.


Different trainers also take different approaches. Some are very focused on teaching and helping give you practical skills, whereas others mostly make sure you are a safe enough driver to be on your own. 


Rather than going into training with an expectation of learning anything specific, approach it with curiosity and a willingness to learn and adapt. 


Earn Your CDL

Before you hit the road, with a trainer and then eventually solo, you’ll need to earn your CDL. At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we can help you do this in as little as four weeks.


To learn more about our truck driver training in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, contact us today.

Owner-Operator vs Company Driver

Many truckers are drawn to the industry because of their independence. This career offers the ability to enjoy the freedom of the open road and to manage many aspects of your own daily schedule, even if you are an employee of a trucking company. That being said, many desire to take this a step further and become an owner-operator

Owner-operators own their semi-trucks and manage all aspects of their business operations. Because of the high earning potential and the desire to be one’s own boss, many drivers are interested in pursuing this career path, either by saving up to buy a truck outright or by driving for a company with a lease-purchase program. However, it’s important to truly consider the pros and cons of being an owner-operator vs a company driver to see which is best for you. 


Company Driver

We’ve already defined what an owner-operator is in trucking, so it’s useful to have a clear definition of what a company driver is as well. This is an individual who is a traditional employee for a motor carrier. The company they work for assigns hauls, although drivers may be able to work with their company to get certain types of hauls over time. 


Pro – Focus on Driving

When you’re employed by a motor carrier, they will handle the logistics of getting hauls, paying for insurance, and managing many of the “back office” tasks involved in trucking. You’ll still be responsible for certain non-trucking tasks, but there is a clearer division of responsibility. This means that you get to focus more on driving, which is often a major advantage since a love for driving is probably one of the factors that led you to a trucking career. 


Con – Less Flexibility in Hauls

An owner-operator is responsible for finding their own hauls. This means they can select certain routes for areas of the country they prefer and schedule their time with greater flexibility. As a company driver, you are a bit more limited, at least at first. Like in any career, truckers prove themselves over time, and those with seniority may have more flexibility in negotiating for dedicated customers or preferred routes. 


Variable – Earning Potential 

Many of the highest-paid truckers are owner-operators and it’s true that earning potential is often higher with this path. That being said, company drivers have the potential to earn very competitive pay, and since they don’t have the same costs as owner-operators, the final earning potential is highly variable. 



Pro – More Control 

One of the major reasons truckers wish to become owner-operators is the sense of increased control. Although this can vary depending on whether or not you contract with one company or are fully independent, owner-operators do generally have more control over their hauls and time off. Of course, you won’t get paid if you aren’t hauling, but you can choose when to drive and when to not with greater flexibility. 


Con – Greater Risks and Liabilities

Owner-operators take on greater financial risks and are liable for more costs than company drivers. For example, if your truck breaks down as a company driver, you’ll lose driving time, but the company is responsible for the cost of repair. Owner-operators own their trucks and so are responsible for these costs. You’ll also need to cover business expenses such as insurance and diesel, which can add up quickly. 


Variable – Earning Potential 

As mentioned above, owner-operators do often make more than company drivers, but this can vary significantly due to the variable operating costs. It’s important to realistically estimate your potential income and costs in order to decide if being an owner-operator is right for you, and you do take a risk of losing money, especially as you establish your business. 


Variable – Become a Business Owner

Owner-operators are small business owners. There are many positives to this, and one of the major ones is the sense of pride at being your own boss. However, there’s also downsides to this. You’ll be managing all aspects of your business, not just driving your truck. If you know you enjoy business management as well as trucking, this can be a great fit. On the other hand, if handling accounting between hauls sounds unappealing, being an owner-operator may not be ideal. 


Start Your Career with Phoenix Truck Driving School

At the end of the day, there are pros and cons to being an owner-operator or to being a company driver. It’s important to be honest with yourself about your own values and motivations to decide what’s right for you, and to realize that this can change over time. 

No matter which path you pursue, the first step is earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL). At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we can help you do this in as little as four weeks. We also offer job placement assistance and work with you to find companies that align with your long-term goals. This can include finding motor carriers that offer pathways to truck ownership. 


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

A Guide to Trip Planning for Truckers

Efficiency is one of the most crucial qualities of a good truck driver. Not only is it important to your company and customers receiving the freight, but it also allows you to drive more miles and earn more money. Trucking trip planning is the first step toward successful delivery. Being prepared before you set out on the highway will help you avoid obstacles and stay on schedule.

The Importance of Trip Planning

Trip planning can be the difference between a good truck driver and a great one.


Some of the benefits of a well-planned trip are:


  • Lower stress levels and better sleep
  • Saving time and making more money per trip
  • Establishing a good reputation with customers and dispatchers


Trip planning is also important because it helps you avoid the consequences of poor trip management. 


Some of these may include:


  • Running out of fuel
  • Ending up in an unknown or unsafe area
  • Delivering late cargo to a customer

Tips For Effective Trip Planning 

The more you practice trip planning, the more effective it will be. Figuring out what planning strategies work the best for you will make you a more organized employee. 


Five tips that can help you trip plan effectively:


Use Multiple Resources

While many trucks are equipped with satellite navigation systems, it is helpful to have other options available to give you directions. You can also check state Department of Transportation (DOT) sites for updates on road construction, weather, and other potential delays. 

Most trucks also carry a road atlas for areas with no phone service as well. Make sure you get a trucker’s atlas since the standard options may not label restricted roads. 


Know Where to Fuel Up

Keeping your truck properly fueled is essential for long-haul trucking. Looking up gas stations along your route beforehand can ensure that you don’t run out of gas. Gas prices vary widely from state to state, so planning to fill up in a less expensive area can also save you money in the long run.

In addition to knowing where to fuel up, it is necessary to locate other essential resources along your route. These include repair and tire shops, as well as truck stops, hospitals, and places to stop for a meal.


Plan Out Your Breaks

The fewer stops you make during a delivery, the faster you get to your destination and the more you get paid. Setting a goal for how many stops you can realistically make in a day can help maximize your driving time. Plan out bathroom, fuel, meal, and rest stop breaks ahead of time.


Have a Back-Up Plan

You should always hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Trips don’t always go as anticipated, so being ready for unexpected situations to arise can better prepare you to deal with them. Having a backup travel plan for your stops, especially rest stops, will save you the stress of trying to find a new location if your first option is at capacity.


Keep Communication Open

No matter what type of route you have, communication is the key to a safe and successful trip. Your fellow drivers are a great resource for any questions you may have along the way. Updating your dispatcher and customers often on your estimated time of arrival (ETA) is also an important part of open communication and can boost your reputation.


Start Your Trucking Journey Today

If a career in truck driving sounds like a good fit for you, get started at Phoenix Truck Driving School. Our commercial driver’s license (CDL) program can be completed in a month’s time at our locations in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.


To get started on earning your CDL, contact Phoenix Truck Driving School today.

Tips for Working With Your Driver Dispatcher

The relationship with your dispatcher is one of the most important working relationships in the trucking industry. It can be challenging to navigate at first, but extremely rewarding if you build a strong connection with them. The first step to working with your driver dispatcher is understanding their role. Then, you can openly communicate and ask them for help when necessary.


What is a Driver Dispatcher?

A driver dispatcher is responsible for managing freight and ensuring that the loads are delivered to the correct customer on time and undamaged. Dispatchers also aim to minimize the mileage of a truck while maximizing the profits of the company. To do so, they communicate with truck drivers, motor carriers, and the company receiving the cargo.

Driver dispatchers are not necessarily a supervisor, but they do manage the software systems and give truckers their instructions. They act as an intermediary between drivers and customers. 


How Do You Work With Your Driver Dispatcher?

Relationships take time and effort to grow, and the same is true for working with a dispatcher.


These tips can help you improve your relationship with your driver dispatcher:


Understand Both Roles

Most dispatchers have never been a trucker and vice versa. This can lead to unrealistic expectations of what each person can manage in a day. One of the best ways to avoid unnecessary conflict from your side is to understand a bit about the duties of a truck dispatcher.

While you are concerned about the logistics of your own route, driver dispatchers have to manage the details of every driver’s schedule, as well as the expectations of multiple customers and trucking company management. Recognizing that they have a lot on their plate will allow you to be more patient with them. 


Keep Communication Open

Open communication is key when navigating a driver-dispatcher relationship. While it is their job to be in contact with you, communication should go both ways. Being clear, honest, and direct with each other can help avoid misunderstandings and conflict.

It is also important to respect your dispatcher’s time. You are not the only driver they are working with, so being prepared can make both of your lives easier. One way to do this is to establish the details of a trip before you leave. This includes reviewing mileage, filling out paperwork, and anticipating obstacles ahead of time.


Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

Another way to improve the relationship with your dispatcher is to reach out to them if you have a question. When you are assigned a job, it is important that you fully understand all of the details. If an aspect of your trip is unclear to you, express that to your dispatcher so they can clear up any confusion.

You should also not be afraid to speak up for your wellbeing. If a dispatcher assigned you an unrealistic schedule that might compromise your safety, let them know so you can work something else out. Try to keep calm and work toward a solution that is beneficial to you both.


Jumpstart Your Trucking Career

If you are considering a career in truck driving, Phoenix Truck Driving School can help you get started. With our accelerated program, you can earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in as little as four weeks. We have schools located in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.


Contact us today to learn more about earning your CDL.