Choosing a CDL School

CDL Training

Choosing a school for CDL training means finding the right training needed to start a career as a professional truck driver. Training will include the familiarization with equipment, driving on the pad for the CDL test and on the road, pre-trip inspections, and most important, safety, all from highly experienced professional drivers and trainers. When completed, drivers will have a CDL and be able to shift without grinding gears and hitting things, but also have an understanding of the all aspects of the career.

Obviously, it is important to know how to check safety and function, and how systems work. These include the engine, transmission, steering, suspension, frame, axles, wheels, tires, exhaust, air brakes, engine brakes, air conditioning, air compressors, fuel systems, gauges, air and oil, and the basics like the horn, windshield, headlights, marker lights, turn signals and safety equipment. The school will teach end-to-end safety and maintenance checks for pre-trip inspections.

Getting as much road experience as possible is as important as learning “on the pad”, driving straight through a set of cones, turning accurately, angled, alley, serpentine and straight in backing, parallel parking, docking, and shifting, steering, braking, coupling and uncoupling trailers, and how double and triple trailers work. Training will include understanding road signs, map notations, permits, weigh stations, documentation, borders, tolls, DOT inspections, and DOT information and rule books.

Aside from the technical information, the graduate will get a clear understanding of the work itself. Along with aspects common to any job, are customer service, professionalism, and the driver/company relationship, having an appreciation for the grave responsibility a driver has for safety. This is partly about planning trips, taking care of themselves and their equipment to maximize productive driving time, and how to log hours of service in logbooks, and why they are important. A driver should be prepared to pass tanker, double and triple trailers, and Hazmat endorsements. Though not required for a CDL, it should be taught at the school. One should learn enough to pass.

A good school will teach reading maps developed for professional drivers, about driving long distances in unfamiliar places, learning how to avoid making expensive errors and dangerous mistakes, and how to negotiate interstates, highways, roads and streets, hills, mountains, and weather. The day a new driver reports to the trainer’s truck is when the most important training begins. A good CDL School will prepare them for driving with a trainer, and for taking their first solo trips, when they really start learning to be a professional driver.

CDL schools can be financed like any other college or vocational course, and they are offered by community colleges, some truck driving companies, and probably best, specialized professional driving schools. Student loans and grants are available, and some companies will charge the student back for training they provide over their first year of driving, or will reimburse tuition after hiring. Some schools have hiring arrangements for successful graduates to go directly from school to a trainer’s truck for several weeks, up to several months.

 

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