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Owner Operator 411


15 May 2009

10) Truck Driving Schools

Truck Driving Schools

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A reader posted a comment about truck driving schools on "Pros and Cons of Being an Owner Operator", so I decided to write a little something about them.

I hadn't written anything before because I really don't know a lot about them.

When I started driving a truck, all you had to do was go to the DMV and tell them you wanted a chauffers license.  If you already had a regular (car) license, that was all there was to it - no written test, no road test, no nothing - just pay your money and you were now a "professional driver"!

Most people learned to drive a truck by going with a friend or relative who drove a truck.  It was a lot like your parents or someone teaching you to drive a car.

Then along came CDL's and everything changed.  Now you have to have a physical before you can even apply.  You have to take a written test.  You have to pay for and take extra written tests if you want to be licensed to pull tankers, or doubles/triples.  If you want to haul hazardous materials, you have to jump through a dozen hoops - and pay even more.  And of course, there is the "skills" (road/driving) test.

When CDL's were first introduced, the "truck driving school" became real popular.  I am sure there are good ones as well as bad ones, but they all cost you a pretty penny.

Do you have to go to a truck driving school to get a CDL?  No.  If by some method you learned to drive a truck and can pass the written tests and skills test, then you don't need to pay someone to get your license.
Then why go to a truck driving school?  Well, how are you going to learn how to drive a truck.  Maybe in the military.  You can get a learner's permit and go with a CDL holder and learn to drive sort of like the old fashioned way.  As for the written tests, all you need to do is get the study book from your DMV, study it well and you should be able to pass your written test without a problem.

The problem is mainly insurance.  If your friend is willing to teach you to drive, you probably won't be covered by their insurance, so they may not want you driving in case an accident should happen.  If your friend has his truck leased to a company, then it becomes even more difficult.  Most companies won't even allow passengers, and if they do, they almost certainly won't allow that passenger to be learning to drive.

From what I have heard and read, in addition to providing you with a truck to practice with, and helping you study, they also teach you things like how to fill out a log book.

Remember when you learned to drive a car and got your first driver's license?  Have your driving skills improved since then?  (I hope so!)  Well, it will be the same when you go to a truck driving school.  You may get your CDL, but there is still a lot to learn.

The main advantage of going to a truck driving school is having a truck to practice with and take your skills test with.

Even if you already know how to drive, it may be difficult to obtain a truck for your skills test.  As I wrote in another post, in some states you can rent a truck (so I've been told), to use to take your skills test, but that is not possible in all states.

Also, if you are not listed on the truck insurance policy, then you may not even be allowed to use a borrowed truck.  I tried to let a friend take his test with my truck and even though I drove him to the test site, he wasn't allowed to use my truck because he wasn't on my insurance.

So beware, if you are thinking of going to a truck driving school.  Find out exactly what they will teach you, and how much time you will get in the truck, actually driving.  Make sure that when you finish you will actually have a CDL.  Try to find someone who has gone to the one you are thinking of going to and see what they think about it.

Like most things, truck driving schools can be beneficial, if you choose the right one.

I am sorry I have to do this, but due to spam "comments"  I feel I need to moderate comments from now on.
I am sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to my legitimate commenters.


Anonymous said...

I went to a truck driving school myself and the knowledge and experience I gained from my school had pretty much shaped my entire career. I noticed your post on CDL schools and I figured being a newer (4 1/2 yrs experience) driver I could give some important info on the right CDL school to go to. Simply put, go to a PTDI (Professional Truck Driver Institute) accredited school. Most, if not all, trucking companies who hire fresh-outta-school drivers give preference to the drivers from PTDI certified schools. I am not saying that if a school is not PTDI certified it isnt good...only saying that their standards for passing there curriculum is looked upon highly by the trucking industry as well as DOT. I dont want this post to be mistaken as spam so I will just say for more info go to google (or any search engine) and type in "PTDI schools" and you should be directed the PTDI website. And if you decide not to go with a PTDI school for whatever reason (PTDI schools arent in every state..but most) then be very careful with the school you choose. Personally I would recommend a school that has a really good job placement rating 80-90% or better (PTDI requires there schools have a job plac. score of 95%:). Also a school that has a bump back program for students who might fail there road test the first time (not saying you will..but you never know). A trend that I have always seen is a school will take your money and wont give a damn if you pass or fail. I had went to a PTDI school and had absolutely no experience in a Truck (never been in one or never even knew how to drive a manual in a car never-the-less a 10speed eaton lol) and I passed the first time around. We only had one guy who had trouble passing and instead of just failing him and making him pay again, they just bumped him back to the next class to give him more Road experience and he passed the second time around. I know it was a little bit much but I cant stress enough that picking a GOOD CDL school can really help big time. Especially these dog-eat-dog days where other truckers will are not as open with giving info to help the next driver out as you are. To conclude...THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS SITE

Road King said...


Thank you so very much for your comment. This is the type of information I would like to see more of.

Having never been to a truck driving school, and not even knowing anyone who has, I could not post information that I gained from first hand knowledge. I could only write about what common sense told me and information based on some internet research.

It is much better to have someone who actually knows what they are talking about post a comment. The information you gave will prove very helpful to many, I am sure.

Again, Thank YOU for your detailed comment.

Anonymous said...

Nowadays, you need a minimum of 160 hours (Class A license) of training before even atempting to take your CDL drive test. SAFETY is a huge concern. If you dont want to fork out money or asking for government grants for trucker training. You can get on with a company that will put you through the course (of course they will want you to stay on afterwards for some time to pay them back).

Nice write up,
this guy has very good information here.

Road King said...


Thank you for the information. I am sure it will be very helpful to others.

Thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you think the information is good.



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