truck driving jobs for 18 year olds

Looking to get into trucking but think that you need to wait until you’re 21? That’s not the case! In most states, drivers can earn their CDL and begin driving at 18.  Because of this, there are a ton of truck driving jobs for 18-year-olds that pay well, give great experience, and will give you a leg up when you turn 21. 

Why Won’t Some Companies Hire 18-Year Old Drivers?

While it’s a myth that you can’t start driving until you’re 21, it is more difficult to find the kind of high-paying work that older, more experienced drivers can. There are two reasons for this. The first and biggest is that you can’t carry freight across state lines. There have been pushes to do away with this requirement over the past few years, but nothing has happened yet. Since most OTR routes will take you beyond your home state, larger companies won’t even consider hiring you until you hit 21. The second is insurance. Many of the large insurance companies that specialize in trucking insurance won’t even consider insuring a driver until he or she is 21 (even 25 in some cases).  

What Kind of Trucking Jobs Am I Able to Land?

Since you won’t be able to drive across state lines, your work is limited to intra-state. This isn’t a bad thing by any means. Many of these jobs will help you learn the essential skills you’ll need when you turn 21. While some of these jobs will require a CDL, there’s a good number that don’t, depending on the type of truck you’ll be driving and the state you’re in. 

1. Furniture Delivery

Large retailers are always looking for drivers to deliver large furniture to customers. These jobs are great for young drivers since all deliveries are within state lines and you’ll get straight truck (think of a large U-Haul) experience. Be aware though, these jobs are more than driving, you’ll most likely be doing the labor of moving the furniture as well.  

truck driving jobs for 18 year olds

2 Repo/Tow

You’re probably familiar with the concept of repo/towing. This job entails towing wreckage from an accident, or a perfectly good car from a driver who chooses not to make their car payments. Either way, this job is a great way to not only get you driving experience, but learning worthwhile mechanical skills that will help you further along in your career.  

3. Dump Truck

This is another example of a Class B vehicle that almost never crosses state lines, making it a prime option for 18–year-old drivers. Dump truck drivers can either work for a company or be owner-operators, but if you’re under 21, you’ll most likely be going the company route. This work can also be a gateway into a career specializing in construction equipment. If you tend to be more social, that’s another reason dump truck driving might be for you. This line of work will have you working with the same crew on a consistent basis.   

4. Livestock Hauling

Hauling livestock isn’t the easiest job on this list, but if you’re young, want driving experience and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, it may be the job for you. Because of the extra sanitation and safety concerns present when hauling live animals, livestock haulers are considered “specialty” drivers and are usually compensated as such. If you live in a rural area with a lot of farmland, chances are there will be some sort of livestock hauling work near you. 

5. Beverage Delivery

While larger beverage carriers may require you to have a Class A, many smaller beverage companies and regional beer makers may use smaller trucks that only require a Class B. Hiring requirements for this job will vary from company to company, it’s a great way to get valuable hours of experience behind the wheel before you turn 21. Be warned, like furniture, beverage delivery will have you not only driving, but unloading and even stocking product in stores and restaurants.  

6. Truck Driver Assistant

This job is perfect if you’re interested in trucking but want to make sure it’s right for you before spending time and money earning your CDL. Truck driver assistants mostly help with the loading and unloading of cargo and getting documents signed from customers upon delivery. More importantly, you’ll be getting firsthand experience inside a truck, observing the ins and outs of what it takes to be a driver and ultimately seeing if the position is right for you.  

Donald Wedington-Clark is a trucker out of Phoenix who started driving when he was 18. He had the following to say about starting your trucking career early,

“Just starting out, I was lucky enough to have an old time driver teach me what he knew. He accepted nothing short of excellence.  During my first year OTR, I was teamed with a driver who loved his job and passed on so much information on how to do all the little things that make the job great. The best thing in my training was being teamed with an experienced driver and staying as a team for an entire year.” – shared Donald.

Many young people think that trucking careers start at 21. Don’t make that mistake. There are plenty of truck driving jobs for 18-year-olds that will help you earn valuable driving experience as well as some good money. 

truck driving jobs for 18 year olds

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drayage trucker

Many people think the supply chain process is simple: it gets groceries and goods from point A to point B, however we know there’s more to the journey than just that. More often than not, the first stop on that journey involves drayage truckers. While drayage isn’t what most people think of when they hear the word “trucking”, it’s the first and arguably most important part of the logistics chain.  

What is Drayage?

You’ll find different definitions out there, but drayage is usually described as the first mile in transportation. It typically involves hauling a cargo container short distances, usually from a port or harbor to a rail terminal or warehouse within the same metropolitan area. 

Drayage trucking is an integral part of both Intermodal transportation and the cold chain. The practice goes back hundreds of years, when teams of horses used to pull carts of heavy freight from ports to nearby towns. Around the turn of the century, trucks replaced horses and here we are, over 100 years later.  

What are the Benefits to Drayage Trucking?

If you ask most drayage drivers, they’ll tell you the biggest benefit is the shorter routes. Drivers will usually complete at least one route, (most times more) in a single shift and be home every night

Another benefit to drayage work is the variety of consistent shifts you can take on. Intermodal shipping runs 24/7, with cargo moving in and out of piers and rail terminals at all hours of the day. This means that drivers have more freedom when choosing their hours, giving them more time for life outside of work.   

One more reason drayage work might be for you? Drayage truckers are often hauling “no-touch” cargo, meaning you won’t be doing any of the leg work of loading and unloading cargo from your truck. 

Any Disadvantages?

There aren’t many disadvantages to this line of work, but it can be stressful. Yes, your trips are much shorter, but it comes with a trade-off. Moving in and out of large ports and contending with all the rules and regulations associated with them can be a hassle. Sometimes these rules can change multiple times per day at a single port. But, if you’re able to learn on the fly and handle stress well, this shouldn’t be a problem.  

Classifications

As you could guess, drayage trucking encompasses more than moving containers from a port to a warehouse. The IANA (Intermodal Association of North America) lists 6 distinct types of drayage transportation.  

  • Inter-carrier: What is most thought of for drayage driving. Moving cargo between locations owned by two separate carriers 
  • Intra-carrier: Moving freight between two locations that are owned by the same carrier 
  • Door-to-Door: Straight from your truck to the customer’s door 
  • Expedited: For time-sensitive containers and cargo 
  • Pier – Moving cargo to a port or harbor so it can be shipped via waterway, domestically or internationally. 
  • Shuttle: Moving cargo to a temporary location due to overcrowding at the intended terminal. It will usually be picked up by a secondary transport later. 

What Are the Requirements for Driving Drayage?

  • CDL – No surprise here. You’ll need a Class A CDL to work as a drayage driver 
  • RFID Tags – Specific to entering and exiting ports, RFID tags are used by port authorities to identify carriers and get them in and out as quickly as possible 
  • TWIC – Standard for any worker entering secure ports, you’ll need to apply with the TSA for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential. Make sure to apply for this early, as it can take up to 45 days to provide you with a response after you’ve applied 
  • Must be 21 – There are some exceptions to this, but most carriers will prefer drivers to be 21 or over, in order to take cargo over state lines 

Is Drayage Right for You?

We were able to speak with Peter, a drayage driver out of California, to get his advice for people looking to get into this line of work. 

“Make sure you are paid by the hour and the company you are going to work for has their own yard and office.”

Like with all other trucking jobs, there’s a big need for qualified and experienced drivers in the drayage field. If you’re looking for steady work that keeps you close to home and can deal with navigating large ports and harbors, then it might be the line of work for you.  

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Truck Driver Hiring Events: What to Know

Over the past several years, more and more trucking companies have executed truck driver hiring events nationwide. These are great opportunities for drivers to learn about open positions, interview on the spot, meet the company, and ask questions. If you haven’t attended a truck driver hiring event in the past, here is information about what to bring for the day and what to expect during the event.

What to Bring

truck driver resumeUpdated Resume

It’s important to have an updated copy of your resume that includes your relevant work history, contact information, licenses, skills, and achievements. There will likely be several other drivers there applying for the same position, so make sure your resume stands out!

Questions

Do you have questions about the position, requirements, or company? Is there something on the job description that is confusing? Write these questions down and bring them with you to receive answers on the spot.

What to Expect

Appointments and Walk-Ins Welcome

Although many hiring events encourage prior registration, most also welcome drivers who walk in to the event that day. You are also typically not required to stay for the entire event and can leave after you finish talking with the recruiter.

Truck Driver Hiring Events: What to KnowInterview and Meet the Recruiter

Typically when a company hosts a hiring event, you can expect to interview on the spot. This is not only an opportunity for you to meet the recruiter, but also a chance to share more about your background and career goals.

Recruiters will ask you questions about your previous work experience, why you want to work for the company, and what makes you a good candidate for the position. Be prepared to answer their questions! In addition, many hiring events do not require specific attire to attend. However, dressing professionally for an interview won’t hurt your chances of landing the job.

Position Details

Recruiters typically share details about the position including compensation, home time, equipment, benefits, qualifications, and more. This is a good opportunity for you to learn more details about the position instead of simply reading a job description. If the event is held on the company premise, recruiters might give a facility tour as well! This helps paint a day-in-the-life picture for you.

Application Assistance

If time allows, many virtual hiring events offer assistance for completing an application that day. This is a nice option if you have questions about the application or would like to further explain something on a resume. If this is not an option, the company might provide you with detailed information of how to apply after leaving the event.

Truck Driver Hiring Events: What to Bring and ExpectVirtual Options

Some companies also offer virtual hiring events for drivers in addition to in-person events. These virtual events are often held on Zoom or another video platform to allow for attendees to virtually meet the recruiter, ask questions, and discuss the open position. If you can’t attend a hiring event in person, check with the company to find out if there are other options available.

How to Find a Hiring Event

Trucking companies offering upcoming hiring events usually either advertise the event separately or mention the event in the job description. If there is a company you want to work for in the future, feel free to reach out to inquire about upcoming hiring events. That’s a great way to show initiative to the hiring managers!

Bonus: Two of Drive My Way’s customers have upcoming hiring events! Chat with us here to find out the details for the Republic Services hiring event and the NFI hiring event.

truck driver at loading dock

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Does Your Truck Driver Resume Stand Out?

Will your truck driver resume land you with your dream company? Does your resume stand out to hiring managers? Whether you have extensive driving experience or are brand new to the industry, having an updated resume will help you control your career. We put together a sample resume and tips below to help you get started.

John Smith

Experienced CDL A Driver with over 16 years of experience and Hazmat and Tanker endorsements. Excellent driving record, time management, and customer service skills. Seeking a local position with a growing company.

Work Experience

Trucking Company

CDL A Local Fuel Truck Driver  |  July 2015-Present

Cleveland, OH

  • Duties completed
  • Achievements

Trucking Company

CDL A Regional Fuel Truck Driver  |  July 2010-June 2015

Akron, OH

  • Duties completed
  • Achievements

Trucking Company

CDL A OTR Dry Van Truck Driver  |  May 2005-June 2010

Erie, PA

  • Duties completed
  • Achievements

Contact

  • 333-444-5566
  • driver@trucking.com
  • Cleveland, OH

Licenses

Class A CDL License

HAZMAT Endorsement

Tanker Endorsement

Education

High School or University

Erie, PA |  2001-2005

Skills

  • Safety
  • Problem Solving
  • Time Management
  • Accountability
  • Integrity

Awards

2019: Driver of the Year

2017: 1,000,000 Safe Miles

Following the truck driver resume format above keeps you organized, helps you highlight the right information, and makes sure you stand out. Let’s talk through each of the sections.

Summary

This section is important. Write a brief summary about what makes you unique and why you’re looking for a new opportunity. Do you have extensive experience or endorsements? Or do you have customer service skills from a past position or an excellent driving record? Including these in your summary section will catch a hiring manager’s eyes.

Work Experience

Include your current and past roles that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. Remember, it’s important to not only share your duties and responsibilities in your role, but also your key achievements while in the position.

Duties and Responsibilities

Example bullets describing your duties and responsibilities include:

  • Ensured on-time deliveries from terminal to customers nationwide
  • Maintained log of deliveries, billing statements,
  • Use equipment to lift heavy cargo for transport and delivery
  • Followed DOT and Trucking Company safety and driving protocols

Pro Tip: Include specific duties and responsibilities that are also expected of you in the role you’re applying for.

Key Achievements

In addition, example bullets describing your key achievements include:

  • Worked with manager to develop more efficient delivery routes, saving Trucking Company over $10,000 annually and over 3,000 hours on the road
  • Earned over 200 positive customer scores from developing excellent relationships with customers
  • Worked with safety manager to create a pre and post-trip inspection checklist, implemented across entire fleet of 300 drivers
  • Delivered 1,000 loads annually ahead of the schedule provided

Pro Tip: Include metrics in this section to quantify your achievements.

However, if you are a new truck driver and don’t have much relevant work experience yet, that’s okay. Make sure you highlight past positions that showcase your skills applicable to the driving job you’re applying for. Remember, landing your first trucking job isn’t impossible with a good resume.

Contact Information

Make sure the phone number and email address in this section are your primary ways of communication. You wouldn’t want to miss a call or email about a job opportunity! Another tip is to make sure the email address provided is professional. For example, using an email like Bigsexytrucker@gmail.com might not create the best first impression with the hiring manager.

Licenses & Education

Include your licenses, endorsements, and education in this section. If your endorsements have an expiration, including the valid-through dates is helpful for the hiring manager.

delivery driver

Skills

Feature your relevant skills in this section to help you land your next job. Have you developed good time management, problem solving, or teamwork skills throughout your career? Does the job you’re applying for require specific skills such as technology or customer service? Customize this section to make sure you’re including the skills the hiring manager is seeking.

Awards

If you earned awards throughout your career, showcase them in this section! Were you nominated by your boss or peers as “Truck Driver of the Month/Quarter/Year”? Have you driven 1,000,000 safe miles? Or have you been selected as a driver lead or trainer? Showcase these achievements in this section to stand out amongst other applicants.

Finally, after you create your resume and are ready to submit it, be sure to review it first. Sharing the document with a trusted friend or peer to have a second set of eyes review it is always helpful. Make sure any misspellings or typos are cleaned up before you submit it to open positions. Overall, applying the tips above will help you take your truck driver resume to the next level. Also, be sure to always keep your resume updated so you can quickly apply to any new opportunities!

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secured loads

One of the most important things a truck driver is responsible for is securing loads. This not only ensures the safety of the driver and the cargo, but also makes sure other cars on the road are safe too. In fact, according to Simmons Fletcher, P.C., Injury & Accident Lawyers, shifting loads are cited as a contributing factor in almost 1/3 of all commercial motor vehicle accidents. Here are three things truck drivers should know for secured loads.

1. The Dangers of Improperly Secured Loads

A secured load is when cargo cannot shift or fall. This includes preventing cargo movement in any direction and protecting against weather that can cause cargo to become airborne.

Improper load securement creates risk for both the truck driver and other cars on the road. When a load is insecure, it may result in objects from the cargo flying off and hitting the truck driver’s windshield or other cars. In addition, these objects then become hazards on the road for other vehicles. Depending on the debris, the driver may not have ample time to react, causing the driver to swerve or damage the vehicle.

oversized loadIn addition, when items on a load are secured but extend past the vehicle itself, this also causes a risk to other drivers. In this case, a driver can mark their truck as an oversized load, alerting other drivers of the size and shape of the cargo. When a truck driver does not mark the load as oversized, it doesn’t give other drivers the proper visibility and potentially creates risk of a collision.

2. Who is Responsible for Secured Loads

The responsibility for securing a load properly lies with both the truck driver and the trucking company. Trucking companies often train their drivers to be familiar with rules regarding securing loads. The type of truck used to transport the cargo should be determined by legal limits on weights and sizes, and in most situations, a combination of blocks, chains, and tie-downs should be used to secure the cargo.

However, even with proper training and preparation, sometimes a load can still become insure on the road. This is then the driver’s responsibility to pull over and take the proper steps to secure the load. We spoke with Rachel, a flatbed and lowbed driver from Northern California, and she shared her experience with this.

“I was hauling a D11 blade in my lowbed, and one of my blocks came loose when I had about 500 miles to go. I had to secure it because it was on my passenger side. I can’t see it as I’m going down the road, and I didn’t want to be worried about it. I created a specific knot and used a bungee to attach the knot to my chain to make sure it wasn’t going anywhere,” shared Rachel.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (FMCSR), a driver is not required to personally load, block, brace, and tie down the cargo. However, the driver is required to be familiar with the methods for securing the cargo. They are required to inspect the load and make adjustments during transit.

3. FMCSA Rules & Regulations for Secured Loads

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published securement rules based on the North American Cargo Securement Standard Model Regulations. The rules reflect the results of a research program that evaluate U.S. and Canadian cargo securement regulations.

Minimum Number of Tiedowns

According to the FMCSA, the number of tiedowns needed depends on the length and weight of the articles on the truck.

The FMCSA states, “There must be 1 tiedown for articles 5 feet or less in length and 1,100 pounds or less in weight. There must be 2 tiedowns for articles 5 feet or less in length and more than 1,100 pounds in weight. There must be 2 tiedowns for articles greater than 5 feet but less than 10 feet, regardless of weight.”

The intent of these rules is to reduce the number of accidents caused by cargo shifting.

Commodity-Specific Securement Requirements

autohaulerIn addition, the FMCSA created requirements for the securement of the following commodities:

  • Logs and dressed lumber
  • Metal coils, paper rolls, and concrete pipes
  • Intermodal containers
  • Automobiles, light trucks, vans, and flattened or crushed vehicles
  • Heavy vehicles, equipment, and machinery
  • Roll-on/roll-off containers
  • Large boulders

The FMCSA outlines specific instructions for securement for each commodity.

Overall, understanding the rules of secured loads not only helps truck drivers be more prepared, but also protects those around them.

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best trucker gps
While almost everyone has a cell phone these days, it may not be the most helpful tool if you’re a driver who often spends hours (or days) on the road. Using a GPS designed specifically for truck drivers will act as a partner on the road, by helping you navigate through difficult roads or unfamiliar state routes. Below are a few tips to guide you in choosing the best trucker GPS to fit your needs.

Consider What Best Fits You

Finding the right GPS model for you might be easier than you think. Before making your purchase there are a few items worth taking into consideration. The first thing to consider is screen size. Purchasing a GPS with a screen that’s too small can place extra strain on your eyes, making it harder to keep your eyes on the road. On the flip side, if you go with a model that’s too big, you risk blocking your vision.

In your trucker GPS, look for a good screen size as well as Bluetooth and hands-free navigation capabilities.

You should also think about whether or not the GPS comes with built-in Bluetooth capabilities and hands-free voice navigation. Certain models also have the ability to guide you through even the most remote country roads where WI-FI can be nonexistent, which is something that your cell phone won’t be able to do. Using a unit with a voice navigation function will not only make things easier for you but can also cut down potential distractions, allowing you to stay focused on the road ahead.

Remember: It’s All About the Features

semi truck dashboardTrucker GPS systems also come loaded with special features that you won’t find on your standard smartphone. Whether you’re looking to track your fuel usage, the number of miles you’ve driven, your tire mileage, or just curious about the nearest fuel stop, your GPS can provide you with all of that information. A good system will also alert you to changes in routine traffic patterns, hazardous conditions, weight restrictions, low overpasses, and more – all in real-time.

All of the features mentioned above will help keep you on the most efficient routes possible. And, most importantly, your GPS can help make sure you stay within HOS Compliance at all times, making the roads a safer place for everyone involved. This will allow you to deliver your loads on time, help ensure that you get the pay you deserve, and that you make it home on time.

Enjoy the Benefit of Automatic Updates

Additionally, many of the newer GPS models provide users with the benefits of automatic updates. This will help ensure that you have the most up-to-date software at your fingertips every time you get behind the wheel without the need for complicated instructions or flipping through manuals. Your system will always be up-to-date without you having to buy new equipment or software every single time.

Do Your Homework!

Happy trucker driverIt’s important to do your research before deciding on the best trucker GPS system that’s right for you and your life on the road. A simple internet search can lead you to a number of products on the market, as well as their reviews – many of which have been written by actual drivers. Use their feedback to walk you through the good, the bad, and the in-between before making your final purchase.

Remember that choosing the best GPS is all about finding the right option that fits your needs. Make sure that it comes with all of the features and functions that will help improve your driving experience. This will allow you to get a better feel for the product and everything it offers before making your selection.

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non-cdl driver job
Do you need a commercial driver’s license to be a professional truck driver? Not necessarily. There are quite a few ways to get a non-CDL driver job. As delivery services become increasingly popular, driving jobs are in high demand, and a CDL isn’t always required. A non-CDL driving job is a great way to see if professional driving is for you. It’s also typically very quick to start, so if you want to jump right into driving, a non-CDL driver job could be the perfect fit. 

What Jobs Don’t Require a CDL?

Many professional trucking jobs require a CDL, but not all of them. Many delivery jobs with companies like Amazon, UPS, and FedEx do not require a CDL. Similarly, some box truck, reefer, and hotshot jobs do not require a commercial driver’s license.

Each company has different qualifications, so read the job description carefully for each non-CDL driver job.

If you’re new to trucking, you might be wondering whether you should get a CDL or apply for non-CDL jobs. Ultimately, that depends on what you want out of a trucking career. If you want to see the country and anticipate spending many years in the industry, a CDL will allow you to get a wider variety of jobs. On the other hand, if you want to jump in quickly and prefer to stay closer to home, a CDL may not be necessary. Non-CDL jobs are in demand and often keep you in a smaller range. Here are the pros and cons to consider before you take a non-CDL driver job.

1. The Pros

Fed Ex VanA non-CDL driver job can be a great choice because they are much faster and cheaper to start than earning a CDL license. For many delivery, box truck, and hotshot jobs, you will be able to start very quickly. If a CDL is not required, the only training you will need is typically provided with your new position. Similarly, there’s no large upfront cost for CDL training, so non-CDL jobs are a good choice if you want to get to a paycheck as quickly as possible. This also makes non-CDL driver jobs a particularly good fit for people between jobs. You can start right away with very little initial cost. 

Another huge perk of non-CDL driving jobs is that they are often local work. Many positions keep drivers in a relatively close geographic area. This means that drivers get to go home daily, which can be particularly good for drivers who want to spend more time with their families. Not all non-CDL driving jobs are local, so make sure to read the fine print before you take the job so you know exactly what to expect.

2. The Cons

There’s a lot to love about the “quick to start and quick to earn” nature of non-CDL driver jobs. That said, they are not for everyone. There are a few drawbacks that are worth considering before you jump right in.

DHL Van

First, some non-CDL driver jobs are contract work. When that’s the case, the pay may be lower, hours and workload may be inconsistent, and employees are often guaranteed fewer company protections. For people who live for the hustle, contract work can be a great way to earn extra cash. It’s not for everyone though. In addition, not all non-CDL driver jobs have a clear path for professional development. In other words, some of these jobs are great if you need a short-term job for a little while, but growth opportunities may be limited. 

The final factor to consider when looking at trucking jobs is vehicle use. Non-CDL drivers who use their personal vehicles for work should factor that into the total cost of the job. There will be some natural wear and tear on your vehicle because of the added use.  Typically the driver is responsible for any gas and maintenance costs, even when the cost is a result of increased work use.

3. How to Start

If you are ready to get started in trucking with a non-CDL driver job, the first thing to do is get a sense of jobs in your area. Based on the jobs you see, decide if there is a specific job or company that interests you. Then, read the job descriptions closely and clarify whether there is any additional training required. Look for jobs that are a good fit for your skills and lifestyle preferences, and you are ready to get started!

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cdl driving test
Passing the CDL Driving test is one of the first steps to success in a trucking career. If you’ve recently passed the test, you know the relief, pride, and satisfaction that comes with getting that license. Truck driving can be a great career, and if you’re thinking about becoming a driver, the CDL driving test is one of your next steps. Here’s what you need to know to pass the test with flying colors. 

Study Up!

The CDL test is a little different based on what state you are in. Make sure you get a copy of the study guide from the state where you’ll be taking the licensing test. Set a study schedule for yourself. Choose a target date to take the test and then spend a little time studying every day. Be realistic in the date you choose. You’ll want to be fresh for the test and stay motivated, so choose something relatively close. That said, make sure you give yourself enough time to properly study. It only adds time if you have to take the test twice.  

Once you get to know the material, start taking practice tests. Many states offer free practice tests on their website. There are also third-party sites like Trucker Country that allow practice tests. Drivers can take a generalized test for a CDL license or practice tests that are for a specific endorsement. These practice tests are a great way to test your knowledge and find any areas that need more studying. 

Make an effort to practice the driving portion of the test as well. If you are training through a CDL school, ask plenty of questions and put your learning into practice whenever possible.

New CDL Driver, Brittany

New CDL Driver, Brittany

We spoke with new CDL driver Brittany, and she shared this advice: 

“If they’re going to school, be out there every day doing Pre-trip and maneuvers and stay focused. Ask all the questions because that’s what instructors are for. No question is a dumb question and don’t be nervous on test day. All the practices will flow long as they’ve put in the work before test day.”

Passing a CDL test isn’t easy, but if you put in the work, you’ll be on your way to a trucking job in no time.

Demonstrate Technical Expertise

When you are ready to take the practical element CDL driving test, it’s time to show off your skills. First and foremost, make sure you know the truck. The last thing you want is to make a simple air vent adjustment and be fumbling with the buttons. With the evaluator watching, even routine adjustments can feel like they have a lot of pressure. Know the inside of the cab like the back of your hand. 

There are a few skills on the driving test that you have to get right in order to pass. Train yourself early to pay attention to these details!

Like knowing the inside of your cab, there are a few skills that you absolutely have to get right to pass the CDL driving test. Some of them are obvious — don’t stall and no shifting at intersections. Others are skills that you may need to be more conscious about. For example, it’s very important to use proper exit and entry techniques when you are getting in and out of the truck. Similarly, train yourself to notice weight limit signs as you’re driving. An examiner may ask you about a posted weight limit sign shortly after you’ve passed it. You need to know what it said. Any time you are driving, even in a personal vehicle, try to notice details on the road like weight limit signs. 

Make the Basics Obvious

cdl truckWhen you take the CDL driving test, it’s easy to focus on the things that will be challenging, but don’t forget the basics. These are the things that are probably almost second nature to you, and you do them any time you drive. Keep two hands on the wheel. Check your mirrors and scan regularly. Signal all lane changes. Keep an eye out for speed limit signs and make sure you’re driving a few miles per hour under the speed limit. All of these are common sense basics, but make a point to make these obvious when you take your licensing test. 

Beyond Driving Skills

yellow semi truckThe CDL driving test is a big step toward a driving career. It’s common to be nervous before the test. That’s why you practice beforehand — so that the information and skills are second nature when you take the test. Make sure you know the automatic failure points so you can avoid them, but set your sights higher. Don’t focus on just barely passing. When you are in the cab with the evaluator, remember to stick to your purpose. You’re not in the cab to make friends, so don’t get too chatty. Some evaluators may consider this distracted driving. 

Above all, stay calm even if you make mistakes. You will likely encounter at least one small unexpected surprise while doing the CDL driving test. Take in the new information and keep moving forward. If you made a mistake, fix it for the next time. A calm personality and the ability to respond well to unexpected changes are key for drivers. Demonstrating that skill in a road test will impress your evaluator and give them confidence in your ability to be on the road professionally

truck driver at loading dock

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DAC Report
When you have an accident or fail an inspection, all drivers know that there are consequences. What you may not realize is that those records can follow you for years after an incident occurs! Future employers 2 years down the road can (and almost certainly will) be looking at your PSP and DAC records. As a driver, your record reflects your professional skills. Make sure you know exactly what is on the record. If you see a PSP or DAC report error, take steps to correct it as soon as possible.

Why dispute a PSP or DAC Error?

PSP reports and DAC errors might sound like unnecessary jargon and an entire alphabet soup of regulations, but don’t lose track of them. These two little acronyms play a big role when it comes time to find your next job. The Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) report includes your crash and inspection history. On the other hand, the DAC report is basically a credit report for truckers

Many employers will look at both of these reports before hiring a new driver, so you want to make sure that you have a good record. If you think there has been a mistake on your CSA or DAC report, take time to set the record straight. It could be the difference between getting your next job or not. 

How to Dispute a PSP Error

CDL truckDrivers can dispute PSP errors electronically. The PSP records are federal and the FMCSA manages the database. The record includes every driver’s 3 year crash history and 5 year inspection history. The website to check your record or file a dispute is called the DataQ program, but it manages PSP records. Drivers can visit the website and create a profile or login if you already have one.

Once you create the profile, it’s easy to submit a complaint through the same website. You can also view your existing record for $10. Ultimately, it’s a driver’s responsibility to ensure that the PSP record is accurate and free of errors, so make sure you know exactly what carriers will see. $10 is a small price to pay for peace of mind going into a job interview!

How to Dispute a DAC Error

Like the PSP reports, DAC records can be requested electronically. However, unlike PSP reports, DAC records are not managed by a federal organization. A private, third party company called HireRight manages DAC records. While it’s not mandatory, the vast majority of large carriers use HireRight as part of their verification process for new hires. 

As a driver, you have the right to know exactly what’s on the DAC report. HireRight offers drivers one free report for themselves. You can request a copy on their website. Their website also allows drivers to electronically dispute a claim if they believe there was a mistake. If you want to reach out by phone, you can find complete contact information for HireRight in this article from CDLLife.

Correcting a PSP or DAC error can make a big difference in hiring conversations. If you get a copy of your records and notice that something is wrong, correct it as quickly as possible. Fortunately, with PSP and DAC records now being stored online, a quick internet message will get you back on track. Disputing errors that are then cleared gives you a better chance of being hired and makes sure there are no surprises when you go into an interview. 

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On the road safety isn’t just about driving practices. Maintenance of your semi truck tires boosts fuel economy and can improve the tires’ lifespans. Keeping your semi truck tires in good shape doesn’t have to take a lot of time. A little bit of regular maintenance goes a long way and can save you from long hours waiting and a headache on the side of the road!

Understanding Your Tires

The first step to proper tire care is to understand your sidewall. Did you know that everything you need to know about loading capacity and speed ratings is printed on the tire? Here’s a quick guide to your sidewall.

Most of the information on your sidewall won’t affect your day to day work. However, when the time comes to replace a tire, or you’re deciding whether a load might exceed your truck’s capacity, these little markings have everything you need!

Tire Regulations

To maintain safety on the road and stay within code for your semi truck tires, there are several numbers to know. The first is for tread depth. The FMCSA and CVSA have different tread requirements, and drivers must stay within the limits of both. For the FMCSA, the minimum tread depth for a steer tire is 4/32 of an inch on every major tread groove. Drive and trailer tires must have at least 2/32 of an inch tread depth in every major groove. The CVSA measures differently. For the CVSA, no two adjacent tread grooves on a steer tire can have a depth of less than 2/32 of an inch. For all other tires, the tread depth must be at least 1/32 of an inch when measured in adjacent grooves. Trucks that fail CVSA minimums will be placed out of service while FMCSA violations may result in citations.

In addition to FMCSA and CVSA regulations, the CSA issues tire scores. These scores are part of “Vehicle Maintenance” on the BASICs assessment. The data on these scorecards comes from roadside inspections, and tire violations can carry a lot of weight. According to Tire Review, 8 point violations include:

  • “Flat tire or exposed fabric
  • Ply or belt material exposed
  • Tread or sidewall separation
  • Tread depth
  • Audible air leak
  • Cut exposing ply or belt material”

Also, several of the 3 point violations include:

  • “Using regrooved tires (on front of truck/truck-tractor)
  • Underinflated tires
  • Tire load weight rating”

Tire violations can really add up on your CSA. Keep close track of your CSA and MVR score and be prepared to answer questions any time you change jobs. It’s important to remember that failing an inspection and being put “out of service” are not the same thing. A tire can fail the FMCSA standards while still meeting the CVSA requirements. In that case, you will likely get a violation on your record, but the vehicle won’t be put out of service. 

Best Practices

The best way to avoid tire violations is through regular inspections and maintenance. Measure tread depth to make sure it meets FMCSA and CVSA regulations. Also, look closely for early signs of tire wear. Cracks, bulges, foreign objects (like rocks or glass shards) are warning signs to watch for according to USDOT’s Tire Safety Tips. If you notice any of these problems, let your mechanic know as soon as possible. 

We spoke with owner operator Trucker Marq who shared this tip on the importance of tire maintenance:

As you inspect your tires, take a moment to gauge the inflation pressure. Make sure to do this before you drive while the wheels are cold. Overinflated tires will wear excessively on the center tire treads. An underinflated tire will wear on the outside tire treads and can lead to internal structural damage.

Finally, we recommend regular check-ups with a technician for your tires. As a driver, you can identify any obvious external signs of damage. A technician will inspect not just your tires, but also everything connected to them. A well-maintained rig will help make sure your semi truck tires are up to the job every time.

truck driver at loading dock

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