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Truck Driving Schools: How To Make The Best Choice

Allen Smith's - "View from the Cab"
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Truck driving schools are plentiful throughout the United States. There are literally thousands dotted across the country, ready to assist the new driver with achieving the CDL license. What things should you look out for when choosing a truck driving school? How can you be sure that the facility is what it claims to be? There are important factors to consider.

Most important, you must make certain that the school is certified. Certification means that the facility has met the standards set by the trucking industry. There is only one recognized certification . . . PTDI. This stands for Professional Truck Driving Institute. This is the ONLY recognized certification in which the trucking industry takes notice. If you are not certain about your school’s certification, you can contact PTDI at 703-647-7015, or write to them at: 555 E. Braddock Avenue, Alexandria, Virginia 22314.

Secondly, truck driving schools should offer late model vehicles, similar to those that you will be driving in the “real world.” I would not be concerned if the trucks are not bright, shiny new one’s, since this is a training facility where the trucks receive rough handling through students grinding the gears and really putting them through the test.

But, they should not be out of date equipment, or even have automatic transmissions. I can assure you that in reality, you will be in a 10-speed manual transmission at the least. If you train in an automatic, you will be completely lost when you begin searching for truck driving jobs.

You will also want to train in conventional trucks and not “cab-overs,” since these types of vehicles are nearly extinct. In addition, you will want to know the student to truck ratios and the student to an instructor ratio. The lower the number, the better. Many truck driving schools will have a student to truck ratio of 10:1 . . . obviously, you are not going to be in the truck actually driving, very often. This also brings up another important issue . . . observation time.

Quite often, schools will have 3-4 students in a truck at one time. While one is driving, the others are to “observe.” This is a complete waste of time and money. If any of the truck driving schools tell you there will be observation time in your CDL training … run!

There are three types of truck driving schools: private, public and by motor carrier. A certified, private school is acceptable, but will be very costly. I would not recommend this type of training facility. A truck driving school by a motor carrier is simply a “school” where you train for 2-3 weeks with the carrier, and then you will have to ride with a driver- trainer for several more weeks. This is absolutely the worst thing you could do! Remember, any training that is only 2-3 weeks in length, is considered a “CDL mill.” Their only goal is to get you just good enough to pass the CDL test, and then they want you in their truck to get the freight moving. Also, you will be required to work for that carrier and that carrier only, for at least one year. You will be paid at the very bottom of the pay scale.

Stay away from motor carrier truck driving schools. The best school for CDL training is the public training facility. Generally, these are your Vo-Tech schools. PTDI certification requires students to have 44 hours of actual driving time. This is the minimum. Any training that states you will receive your CDL in a few weeks, is a scam. To achieve the best training, where the trucking industry will take notice, will take you at least three or more months.

This is where the Vo-Tech courses will come into play. Not only is the training usually three months or longer, but the actual time for driving, really hands-on experience, will exceed the 44 hours required by PTDI. In addition, the Vo-Tech training is far cheaper than the private schools and especially the motor carrier truck driving schools. Not only will you achieve the best training possible with a Vo-Tech course, you will end up paying thousands less. Get your training through a Vo-Tech school and stay away from the truck driving schools the motor carriers offer.

To be the best at anything, takes determination and the willingness to learn. To run through a CDL mill only creates dangerous drivers. Trucking companies created their truck driving schools as part of the scam to take advantage of the innocent. If professional truck driving is in your plan, take the time to investigate the truck driving schools that you are interested in approaching. With the right training, and the willingness to invest the time, money and effort, you will not only come away with your CDL, but you will truly be a professional.



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