How Driving in a Personal Vehicle Affects Your CDL

After you come home from a haul, there’s a good chance you’ll be driving your personal vehicle for one reason or another. Whether you’re driving your kids around, going out to meet your friends, or simply running errands, your actions have the potential to affect your commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Although you do not have to follow all the same regulations you do when driving a commercial vehicle, you do still have a responsibility to drive safely, as does everyone on the road. Additionally, certain types of traffic violations or offenses can result in a license suspension or even disqualify you from holding a CDL.

CDL Suspensions and Disqualifications

Having two serious traffic violations in three years will result in your CDL being revoked for 60 days. Three serious violations in this amount of time will result in a revocation of 120 days. For the most part, the revocation only applies when these violations are committed while driving a commercial vehicle. However, some states have different moving violations that could qualify, even if you are in a personal vehicle.

Additionally, some offenses will result in a CDL suspension or disqualification whether you are in a commercial or personal motor vehicle. One of these is driving under the influence (DUI). A first-offense DUI will result in a CDL suspension of one year, and any subsequent offenses will result in a lifetime disqualification. Other serious offenses that fall under this category include unlawfully refusing a DUI test, leaving the scene of an accident, or using your vehicle to commit a felony.

State License Suspension

Many states have a demerit system, which assigns a certain number of “points” to any traffic violations. Even if an incident does not meet the qualifications to affect your CDL directly, your personal and commercial driving privileges could still be suspended.

Any citations you get will remain on your motor vehicle record (MVR) for seven years. Trucking companies are required to check your MVR before hiring you and to continue to check it regularly during your employment. This means that even if your license is not suspended due to traffic violations, they will appear on your MVR and could affect your employment depending on the specific policy at your current or future employer.

Most motor carriers have a policy in place requiring you to report any citations or accidents to them, even if these occur in your personal vehicle outside of the scope of your work. It’s important that you know and follow this policy at all times to avoid any issues. Additionally, never lie on applications for new trucking jobs. If your MVR does not match what you report on your application or during your interview, you likely will not get the job.

We Are Hiring Safe Drivers

If you are a safer driver with a CDL, DSW is currently hiring for regional and over-the-road routes. We offer competitive pay, excellent benefits, and the best home time around.

Contact us today to learn more about our available truck driving jobs based in Tucson.

Balancing Freedom and Responsibility in Trucking

One of the biggest motivating factors to join the trucking industry is the sense of freedom it provides: the freedom of the open road, the absence of a boss looking over your shoulder, and the ability to manage your daily schedule. However, there is also a great deal of responsibility in trucking. The best truckers can balance freedom and responsibility to set themselves up for success.

Being Your Own Boss

Owner-operators are truckers that own their semi-trucks and run their own trucking businesses. These drivers are their own bosses in a more traditional sense. However, even company drivers who are technically employees have more similarities with business owners than many other types of workers.

Although truckers typically have supervisors and other individuals they report to, they are in charge of their daily schedule within reason. You’ll be told where/when to pick the freight up and where/when to drop it off, and it’s up to you to get between these two points on time while following hours of service (HOS) regulations. Since long-haul drivers are paid per mile, this also means that you can determine how much you earn.

On the flip side, you are ultimately responsible for making each delivery safely and on time. If you can’t manage your time efficiently, you’ll develop a poor reputation and will earn less over time. If you are consistent, however, you have the opportunity to get more miles and take home more pay.

Safety on the Open Road

Trucking is a lifestyle as much as it is a career. Being an over-the-road trucker often involves waking up in a new place every day and seeing the country from the cab of a semi-truck. People who are interested in a unique and adventurous lifestyle are often drawn to the industry for this reason. Plus, the vehicles have their own appeal. Big trucks, for many people, are just plain cool.

However, as adventurous as trucking can be, it is still a career and not just a vacation. Additionally, while semi-trucks can be cool and exciting, they’re also massive vehicles that take skill and care to operate safely.

This is where balance comes into play again. It’s important to recognize that every time you are behind the wheel, you have a responsibility to yourself, your company, and everyone on the road to be safe. This includes resting regularly so you don’t suffer from fatigue, staying calm even when other drivers frustrate you, driving defensively, and inspecting your vehicle. It’s not always easy to keep up with all of this, especially when you may see four-wheelers neglecting their responsibility to stay safe, but it is essential.

Drive With the Best

Working with a great motor carrier can help you strike the perfect balance between freedom and responsibility in trucking. At DSW, our management is made up of former drivers that know what life on the open road is like. We will work as hard for you as you do for us.

Contact us today to learn how you can get miles, get paid, and get home regularly with DSW.

What to Do If You’re Pulled Over as a Trucker

Seeing a cop car pull up behind you is never a fun experience. However, it’s important to be prepared for what to do if you are pulled over. For truckers, this is even more essential since there are additional regulations you will need to follow.

Here are some tips for what to do if you’re pulled over as a trucker:

1. Keep Your Documents Organized

This is a preventative step that you should take before you are pulled over and it can help you avoid any issues. Make sure that all essential documents are organized and easily accessible from the front seat of your truck. Some documents to be aware of include your commercial driver’s license (CDL), Department of Transportation (DOT) physical certificate, and the bill of lading for your load.

While your essential documents should be easily accessible, you should wait to actually retrieve them until the law enforcement officer asks for you to do so.

2. Pull Over As Soon As You Can Safely Do So

Once you notice the law enforcement officer is pulling you over, you should move your vehicle to the side of the road as soon as you are able to do so safely. Keep in mind your safety and the safety of the officer when stopping, and also avoid impeding the flow of traffic. Due to the large size of semi-trucks, this can be more complicated. If there is an off-ramp or paved area, this is generally the best place to stop. Avoid stopping on a soft shoulder, because your vehicle may get stuck.

3. Keep Your Seatbelt On

Keep your seatbelt on even after you’ve stopped the vehicle. If the officer sees that you are not wearing it, they may give you a ticket. Having additional fines and violations on your record is never a good thing, and this simple step can help you avoid at least one possible issue.

4. Be Polite

This tip is the same whether you are pulled over in a semi-truck or a standard passenger vehicle. It’s important to be polite and courteous to the law enforcement officer throughout the stop. Even if you are annoyed at being stopped, stay calm and remember that the officer is just doing their job.

Avoiding Getting Pulled Over

While it’s helpful to know what to do if you are pulled over, it’s best to avoid this situation in the first place. You can do this by driving safely and following all traffic regulations. Maintain a safe speed and sufficient following distance, and keep up with your pre-trip inspections to avoid citations for mechanical issues.

Become a DSW Trucker

If you’re a safe driver and want to earn competitive pay and benefits, DSW is currently hiring. We have both regional and over-the-road (OTR) routes available.

To learn more about our available truck driving jobs based in Tucson, contact us today.

Tips for Preventing Cargo Theft

Semi-trucks moved 72.5% of freight in the United States in 2020 according to data from the American Trucking Associations (ATA). Simply put, trucks and their drivers keep our nation’s economy moving. Unfortunately, thieves are aware of this fact and target trucks for cargo theft. This is a serious issue and it’s important to be prepared and take steps to keep yourself and your freight safe.

Here are some tips truckers can use to prevent cargo theft:

1. Don’t Talk About Your Freight

At truck stops, you may end up chatting with your fellow truckers or other travelers you pass by. While there’s nothing wrong with swapping stories, be cautious about oversharing. In particular, never share details about the type of freight you are hauling or specifics about your route. The person you are talking to may not have the best intentions or, even if you trust this person, a thief could overhear and decide to target your truck.

2. Don’t Assume Your Cargo Won’t Be Targeted

Many people assume that high-value items or potentially dangerous hauls like hazardous materials would be the main targets for thieves. While organized thieves can often target these hauls and extra precautions are often necessary, any type of cargo can be a target. In fact, lower-value household goods are often more of a target because they can be sold easily. Opportunistic thieves may even steal cargo that seems too specialized to be valuable simply because the truck is vulnerable. With this in mind, it’s best to be too cautious versus not being cautious enough, regardless of the cargo you are hauling.

3. Avoid Stopping in Dangerous Areas

When you’re making your trip plan, it’s important to consider the safety of the areas where you are stopping for your breaks. Research the areas ahead of time so you can avoid parking for the night in an unsafe location, and always have a few back-ups so you don’t get caught in a situation where you aren’t sure where to park. This is not just important for preventing cargo theft, but also for the sake of your personal safety.

Additionally, avoid stopping within the first stretch after picking up a new load. Thieves sometimes “case” distribution centers and loading docks, and may be waiting for you to stop after a pick-up. If you ever feel unsafe or notice suspicious activity, notice the proper authorities.

4. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

At truck stops, fuel stations, or anywhere else you stop, pay attention to your surroundings. Avoid being on your phone while you are walking around and keep an eye on your truck any time you are away from it. This way you’ll be aware if someone is acting strangely. Again, this helps keep your cargo safe, but is also important for your own personal safety.

Now Hiring for OTR and Regional Trucking Jobs

At DSW, we care about our drivers and know you by name, not by truck number. If you are looking for an over-the-road (OTR) or regional trucking job based in Tucson, we are currently hiring.

Contact us today to learn more about our truck driving job openings.

Tips for Getting More Miles as a Trucker

Since over-the-road (OTR) truckers are typically paid per mile, being able to travel efficiently is an essential skill to develop. There are many factors that can influence your ability to get the most miles as a trucker. Some of these are out of your control, but there are others that you can work to improve.

Here are some tips for getting more miles:

1. Safety First

Before we dive into other tips for getting more miles as a trucker, it’s important to remember that safety should always be your top priority on the road. It’s never worth putting yourself and others at risk for the sake of getting to your destination a little bit faster or fitting in a few more miles for the day.

In the long term, you’re more likely to build a strong reputation with your company and get assigned more favorable routes if you have a reputation for staying safe. This means that even if you may lose a few miles in the short term, you’ll benefit overall.

Safety considerations to keep in mind when trying to increase your miles:

  • Maintain a safe speed at all times. Speeding is especially dangerous in large vehicles like semi-trucks.
  • Driving while tired has similar effects to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you’re fatigued, taking a break to nap is the best way to recover. You may drive fewer miles in the short term, but you’ll be safer, and you’ll get energized more quickly to continue driving in the long term.
  • This should go without saying, but never use illicit drugs to try to stay energized. This puts yourself and others at risk and you could lose your license.

2. Trip Plan

Trip planning is an essential skill for professional drivers to have. This involves scheduling your driving time to stay in line with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, as well as listing potential locations for stops.

Planning your trip can help increase your miles in various ways, including:

  • Reduces time spent looking for a place to park
  • Allows you to plan ahead for high-traffic locations (e.g. avoiding rush hour near cities)
  • Helps you build a track record of on-time deliveries

3. Perform Thorough Pre-Trip Inspections

Pre-trip inspections are required by the FMCSA. They help ensure your truck is in good working condition before you hit the road, which is essential for safety. Additionally, they can help minimize downtime. If you catch an issue before it becomes serious, it can often be fixed more quickly than if you let it get worse. This means that being thorough during your inspections can help you improve your mileage over time.

4. Don’t Forget the Social Side of Trucking

Trucking is a solitary job in many ways since drivers typically spend most of their day alone in their vehicles. However, there is a significant social aspect to the job, and understanding this can help you be more successful.

One of the individuals you will communicate with most is your dispatcher, and building a positive relationship with this person can help you get more miles.

Some tips for working with your dispatcher:

  • Keep them updated on any changes to your schedule.
  • Be polite and courteous, even if you are frustrated.
  • Work together to make deliveries on time, every time.

Other individuals you’ll interact with include dock personnel, customers at shippers or receivers, other truckers, and management at your trucking company. There may not always be a direct link between these interactions and your miles, but over time, your reputation can definitely make a difference in the routes you get.

Get Consistent Miles with DSW

At DSW, our goal is to help you get miles, get paid, and get home regularly. We offer competitive pay and work hard to provide consistent miles for our truckers.

To learn more about our open truck driving jobs, contact us today.

What Is An APU In Trucking?

Long-haul truckers spend weeks at a time on the road and their semi-trucks become their homes away from home. During hauls, drivers often pass through many different regions with various climates, so maintaining a good temperature in the cab is essential for staying comfortable. However, keeping a semi-truck running so the AC or heat stays on during breaks can waste a lot of fuel, and may even result in a fine in states with no-idling laws.

An auxiliary power unit (APU) provides a solution to this problem. This is a device that produces power to keep a semi-truck’s heating and cooling system running even when the engine is off. It can also generate power for electronic devices that are plugged into the inverter.

How Does an APU Work?

There are two different types of APUs.

The first are called combustion APUs and they run on fuel. This allows them to keep working for a longer period of time and to generate more power at once, but they are very maintenance-heavy and require more costs to run.

The second type, electric APUs, run on battery power and the battery recharges either while the truck engine is running or by plugging the battery into an outlet. The run time varies depending on the unit, but it is typically less than a combustion APU. However, these units require significantly less maintenance.

Benefits of an APU

Some ways APUs benefit truckers include:

1. Save Fuel While Maintaining a Comfortable Temperature

As an over-the-road (OTR) trucker, you’ll often be sleeping in your truck, and it can be very difficult to get comfortable if the temperature is too hot or too cold. However, leaving your truck idling overnight wastes a lot of fuel (on top of potentially being illegal, which we’ll discuss in more detail later in this article). Using an APU instead saves fuel while still allowing you to be comfortable in your sleeper cab.

2. Run Small Electronics

If your truck has an inverter, an APU allows you to keep small electronics running even when your truck’s engine is off. This is important if you want to have a mini-fridge or electric cooler in your cab and you can also use it for a small television, a video game system, or to charge your phone/tablet. Depending on the type of APU, you may need to be mindful of the total capacity and the time you keep these running.

3. Stay Compliant With No Idling Laws

Many states have laws that forbid idling or restrict the circumstances when it is allowed. Some such restrictions include having a time limit or specifying a temperature range when idling is permitted and restricting it otherwise. If you aren’t in compliance with these laws while you’re stopped in one of these states, you can get a fine. Having an APU means you don’t have to compromise on your comfort while still obeying state no-idling laws.

DSW Offers APUs for Drivers

At DSW, our management is made up of former truckers and we know what life on the open road is like. In addition to offering competitive compensation, we also offer benefits that make day-to-day life easier for our drivers, including equipping our fleet vehicles with APUs.

To learn more about our open truck driver jobs, contact us today.

Setting and Achieving Trucking Goals

In any career, being a self-starter and staying committed to your own success is essential for growth. In particular, trucking is a field that is very well-suited to self-motivated individuals. Since long-haul drivers are typically paid per mile rather than per hour worked, your performance is directly tied to how much money you take home. Knowing how to set clear and realistic trucking goals is an essential skill to develop throughout your career in order to set yourself up for success.

Here are some tips for setting and achieving goals as a trucker:

1. Think About What Motivates You

Everyone has values that are important to them, and tapping into this can give you more fuel to achieve your goals. It also helps you narrow down which goals are most in line with your values so you can give them more focus and attention.

For example, you may be motivated by your family, by long-term financial goals, or by a desire to reach specific career milestones. When working toward your goal feels challenging, remind yourself of this motivation and why it is important for you to persevere.

2. Start With One Goal at a Time

Splitting your focus between several goals makes it more difficult to give your full energy to each one, and makes it less likely that you’ll succeed. Instead, start with one goal that is most important to you. Once you’ve completed this goal (or made significant progress, in the case of a long-term goal), then you can start adding more to your list.

3. Set SMART Goals

One system for setting goals is known as the SMART system, and this can help you set goals that are more achievable. It also gives you a clear roadmap to follow. SMART is an acronym, and each letter represents an aspect of the goal you are setting.

We’ll use working toward a healthy lifestyle as an example to illustrate each of the principles of SMART goals since this is a common goal for truckers. However, you can apply this to any goal you wish to set, from getting more miles to managing your time on the road.

S – Specific

If your goal is too general, it’ll be difficult to know when you’ve achieved it. Instead, it should be specific enough to track. For example, “getting healthy” would be too broad, but narrowing in on a specific aspect of health like “working out more” would be easier to manage.

M – Measurable

You need to be able to measure your progress and have a clear indication of when you have reached a goal. In the example of “working out more,” you could make this measurable by setting a number of times a week to exercise and a length of time, such as two thirty-minute workouts a week.

A – Attainable

Setting challenging goals for yourself can help you grow, but your goals need to be within the realm of possibility. When it comes to working out, this can be a challenge for long-haul truckers since you may not have regular access to a gym or a lot of free time when you’re on the road. This is why starting small with two thirty-minute workouts each week is often more reasonable than trying for long workouts five or more days out of the week. Of course, you could increase or decrease this goal depending on your specific lifestyle, as long as you can honestly say it is attainable for you.

R – Relevant

Your goal should be relevant to your values. Otherwise, you won’t be motivated to work toward it. Following the example, this is relevant to many truckers’ lives because trucking is a sedentary career, and moving more is better for your heart and long-term health. You can also identify specific motivations that are powerful to you, like getting healthy for the sake of your family or in order to improve a specific health problem.

T – Time-Bound

Setting a time limit on goals helps you stay focused. For something recurring like working out regularly, you can set a time of a month to start so you can get used to doing so, then revisit the goal. For longer-term goals, the time limit should be reasonable. You want to challenge yourself, but you also want to make sure you can actually achieve your goal in the amount of time you set.

Grow Your Trucking Career

If your SMART goal is to grow your career with a family-owned trucking company, join the team at DSW. We’re currently hiring over-the-road and regional truckers and we offer competitive pay and benefits.

To learn more about how we can help you achieve your trucking goals, contact us today.

Managing Homesickness as a Trucker

Being an over-the-road (OTR) trucker has many benefits, but does come with its challenges as well. One challenge that drivers may face is managing the emotions that may arise when they are away from their homes and family for weeks at a time. Luckily, there are many ways you can overcome feeling homesick while on the road.


Follow these five tips to help you manage homesickness as a trucker:

1. Make Your Truck Feel Like Home

You will spend a lot of time in the cab of your truck as an OTR trucker, so making it as cozy as possible can help fight homesickness. Bring a pillow or blanket that reminds you of home. Not only will it help you get a good night’s sleep, but it will also make you feel closer to your loved ones. Carrying pictures of your family in your truck is another way to keep feelings of loneliness away. Seeing their faces while you’re driving will help you feel closer to them.

2. Find A New Hobby

Keeping your mind off missing home is another way to manage homesickness as a trucker. To keep yourself busy, you can try taking up a new hobby while you’re on the road. Subscribe to an interesting podcast, binge-watch your favorite tv show, or bring along some books to read. Other great hobbies for truckers are getting into photography, collecting, or learning to play an instrument. 

3. Keep In Touch With Loved Ones

Talking to your loved ones as often as possible is crucial during trips that span long periods of time. A lot of drivers find it helpful to set a communication routine. For instance, a driver with young children may video chat every evening before their kids go to bed or in the morning before they leave for school. Having scheduled family chats give you something to look forward to during the day and helps you avoid playing phone tag. You can also ask your spouse or friends to record or live stream important events so you don’t feel like you are missing out.

4. Bring Along Your Furry Friend

Trucking is one of the few careers that allow you to bring your pet along with you while you work. Many truckers have found that driving with their animals in the cab significantly improves their mental well-being. It gives you someone to talk to throughout the day and encourages you to exercise and be social at truck stops. 


At DSW, we are a pet-friendly company and are more than happy for your furry friend to join the team with you.

5. Be Kind To Your Body

Feeling good physically can help fend off pangs of homesickness, whereas feeling sluggish can magnify them. Be kind to your body while you are on the road by drinking lots of water, eating balanced meals, and getting good sleep as often as possible. Staying active can also help take your mind off of things. Exercise releases endorphins that put you in a good mood so if you are struggling with homesickness, try lifting weights or taking a long walk around the truck stop.

A Trucking Company That Cares

While occasionally feeling homesick is a part of truck driving, it doesn’t have to control your life. At DSW, we understand the importance of home time and make sure everyone who works with us gets home regularly. We have our drivers’ best interests in mind. 

If you are ready to take on both the challenges and rewards of being a truck driver, contact DSW today.