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Trucking Question And Answer - Question 10

If I take a class B job for a few years, will I need to retrain to return to OTR?

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Trucking Question:

Taking a CDL refresher course

I have always loved the idea of OTR driving, but I'm having a hard time because I left an OTR company to do local delivery in a class B truck. Now I've been trying to go back to OTR but they say that I have to go through the CDL training school first. Can you give me any advice? Thanks. - Kenneth


Often times, truck drivers will decide to quit driving truck for a living. Others, like Kenneth, decide to take jobs driving Class B trucks, or even trucks that don't require a CDL. Most of these are local jobs. OTR companies want their drivers to have "recent" OTR experience before they will hire them and send them out in their own truck without training. What is "recent"? Usually within the past 2-3 years is considered recent enough for most trucking companies.

First of all, let me say that there is never any reason to give up your CDL and apply for a standard driver's license when it's time to renew. Always hang on to your CDL. There is nothing to be gained from losing it and having to start from scratch.

However, if you do come off the road for several years, or you do give up your CDL, it's probably an excellent idea to go through the training again anyhow. Why? Several reasons. First of all, the DOT rules and regulations change from year to year. A refresher on the most recent laws is a must. Second, the tractor trailers themselves change quite a bit over time. WIth the introduction of disc brakes, more advanced air-ride suspensions and seats, one-finger power steering, and all the other advancements they make regularly, it's a good idea to get a feel for the newest equipment in a safe environment.

Technology changes quickly also. With the advent of GPS, antilock braking systems, collision-avoidance systems, satellite communications, and all the other nifty technological advances that have come out with in recent years, it's an excellent idea to learn about all of these new systems before heading out on the road.

After a while you lose the feel for certain things when you've been away from them for a while. Even things you've done for a long time can seem alien at first when you get back into them. Trucking is no different. Backing up, judging width, judging distances, and dealing with the new trucks and technology is all stuff that needs to be refreshd in your mind a little bit after you've been away for a while. A few relaxing weeks "re-learning" your trade is a great idea. By the time the training is done you're feeling like you never missed a day. So don't sweat it, just go with the flow.

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