The truck driving profession is one that is least hit by unemployment, and thus is a popular choice for many who need steady income and job security. Anyone can become a truck driver, however, getting the best training can be a challenge. Read on to find out more about truck driver training.
There is much more to driving a truck than just getting one’s CDL (Commercial Drivers License). Truck driving schools offer intensive training that prepares novice drivers for life on the road. Truck driver training teaches students all aspects of truck driving from safety and Department of Transportation rules and regulations to how to drive in poor weather conditions. Once a person has completed truck driver training, they are qualified to go to work for most trucking companies within the United States.
There are three types of driver training schools available: public institutions, private schools and motor carrier training. Public institutions are funded and regulated by state and local governments. The training usually takes place within the confines of a local vocational school or community college. The cost of training through a public institution is normally lower; however, the length of the course is substantially longer (several months). The curriculum tends to be more in depth and you can learn a tremendous amount from attending this type of program.
Private schools are for-profit organizations that offer the training program to make a profit. These schools are generally required to carry a license, and are monitored by the state in which they are located. Not all private schools are created equal, however, so one must use caution when choosing a private training program. The shorter the length of the program, the less credible and worthwhile that program may be. The main focus of the private school is to turn out satisfied customers (drivers), and you can easily find out a school’s reputation by doing a bit of research.
Motor Carrier training programs are sponsored solely by one motor carrier for the express purpose of creating more qualified drivers for their own company. Of the three types of training, this can be the least credible and should be researched and well thought out before committing. Motor Carrier programs require the student driver to contract to service with the company, during which time, part of the driver’s earnings will be withheld in order to repay the company for the training. The training provided in this type of program can be minimal at best. The industry is starting to implement stricter standards with regards to driver training, however, so all training programs are coming under scrutiny in hopes of protecting student drivers and making certain that they are getting all the necessary training in order to operate safely.
Training at truck driving schools can last from two weeks to over two months. Two week programs should be avoided as they often tend to be no more than “CDL Mills” that just pass drivers through with the very minimum of training. Once the school training has been completed and a driver is ready to begin with a trucking company, the training period for that company can range from two weeks to a month or more. During this training period, the new driver is paired with a company trainer who normally rides along and monitors the new driver’s habits and skills. Once the training period is complete, and the trainer feels that the driver is thoroughly capable of driving alone, the new driver will be released to start working solo jobs.
Anyone interested in a truck driving career must consider several factors about driver training programs. The length of the program can be an issue for anyone who might not be able to take that much time to go through an extensive training program, such as public institution training. Quality of training is probably the most important factor as inexperience leads to accidents and even fatalities on the road. Cost of a program, also, is an important factor. It may take some homework to find the best training program, but it’s worth it in order to get the best training possible.
There are hundreds of driver training programs throughout the US. Some are excellent, accredited and licensed providers; others are fly-by-night operations looking to make a quick buck. Always be aware of flawed and fraudulent advertising, especially when an advertisement states that the training is “Free” or very low in cost. Free, in this context, means you are signing yourself over to a school or motor carrier, and are in debt to them for the cost of your training. You have to remain in service with that company until your debt is paid. Leaving early means being charged for the full cost of the program, and in some cases double that amount.
Always look out for those programs that serve only as “CDL Mills.” The scope of training is limited, at best. Such programs are not focused on providing quality training, they are only interested in the bottom line, and should be avoided. Truck driving is a dangerous profession which requires extensive knowledge and a top level of responsibility for the driver, the truck and for anyone else on the road. Being unleashed without the proper training can end in sometimes tragic results.