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Requesting Advice/Input on this CDL school

Topic 20408 | Page 1

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Carlos O.'s Comment
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Well, my experience at the private truck driving school has been less than easy to say the least. I am paying my own way. I got my CDL permit on my own before applying to the driving school (in So. Calif). I am now starting my 5th week at the school. Whatever teaching or training I receive each day is decided on that same day, and it goes like this... I get a text from the director (he may also be the owner) saying, "today will meet at the yard at 0930 hours" or "Training today at 1400 hours - air brakes training" or "Off for today".

In the last 4 weeks, I have had (5) days of either watching an out-of-date video for an hour and that's it, or having the whole day called off (this has happened 3 times). Last night he texted me at 10:23 PM, "Off tomorrow".

It's been like that for 4 weeks, with no consistent hours and no plan of training. The last time I worked on my backing and parallel parking skills was 10 days ago. Before that, I had about 5 hours of actual skills practice. I now have had about 8 hours of on-the-road driving.

Last Thursday I drove for about 3 hours, sharing that time with another student. The secretary/recruiter mentioned to me that the next week (meaning this week) we would probably be going to the DMV to test. I said great, and we were dismissed for the day. That same night I received a text from the director saying, "Congratulations, you have been scheduled for your DMV test. Please meet @ 0500 hours @ the yard tomorrow Friday". That really rattled me, because I wasn't expecting it to be the next day, but I just replied "thank you", and did as I was told. I passed the Pretrip Inspection and Airbrakes part of the test, but I didn't pass the skills test. I couldn't get oriented or something. I did good on the straight line first test, but after that I was a mess. I feel like I haven't been given enough time to practice the skills, and now today we are off again.

I haven't written or blogged on my daily progress in training because I didn't want to sound whiny, but I sure could've said something on every day of this "training". Today on another "off" day I feel stuck and with no end to this experience. I just want to get my CDL. I'm trying not to make this a personal thing against the Director/trainer/controller (whatever he is) but it is sure getting to me

Any advice or comments would be appreciated.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

Lucky Life's Comment
member avatar

Not sounding like a good situation, sorry to hear about your story. I have not been able to get my head around how some of the Private Schools operate, Nights only, 12 weeks of Weekend only and some just no consistency at all. On the other hand, Company Sponsored Training Programs seem to operated on two different methods. Some have you do Classroom and driving skills for like 3 weeks then off to get your CDL , others have you do Classroom then drive 10K miles with a Trainer then go get your CDL. Me personally would much rather get that 10K mile of practice prior to getting a CDL, I just don't believe that someone with absolutely no driving experience can obtain all the Driving Skills to confidently test for a CDL A licence.

It has been said that it takes 10,000 Hours to become an Expert or Professional at any given task or Profession, which is basically working a 40 hour week for 5 years. I just don't understand the rush to get the actual Licence, you may be able to Pass with just a few weeks and a dozen or so practice attempts and Backing Skills or Driving but should you really be holding a CDL Licence?

Folks help me out here if I am just way off course here, but I truly believe you should be with a Trainer running Solo with said Trainer Coaching you on the skills you need to acquire your CDL. I just think you need more hours behind the wheel and definitely a Trained Professional Driver to evaluate your Skills and abilities prior to obtaining a CDL. Like I said you my hold a CDL but you may not deserve to be on The Road just because you do.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Carlos the schools only teach you the bare minimum required to pass the tests. Most schools are like that. The real training begins once you have your CDL and you are assigned a trainer. Called road training, finish training or mentoring, it's during this period (varies from 4-10 weeks depending on the company) you really begin to learn the essence of truck driving.

With everything you said, it sounds like the school needs to step it up, and help you with the skills you are weak in. You need to request the help.

Good luck.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Carlos O.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you for the comments.

Part of my frustration is, the reason I paid my own way and did as much as I could to get the CDL permit on my own before starting the school, rather than go with a company-paid program, was that in the end I wanted to have more choices as to what company I was going to work for once I had the CDL. I would love to get more training for as long as it takes. I know I can't get the experience I need by myself. I wasn't trying to skip a step...

G-Town: I have asked for more time to work on skills and I get answers like, "You don't know what you need, we are the professionals." Or suggestions like going and renting a U-Haul trailer and practicing pulling it with my pickup truck on my own. (What am I paying them for?) All I need is a few more hours of skill practice and I think I could pass the CDL test.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Carlos, I found your post intriguing. I actually hope a lot of folks take the time to read it.

I often tell people that unrealistic expectations when getting started in trucking are what kills many people's careers, often times even before they really make a good start at it. I realize that you probably did your research, and somehow came up with the conclusion that if you "paid your own way" you would "have more choices." Or maybe you even fell for that old line about slave labor or indentured servitude being practiced at the training companies. I actually think that is a great misunderstanding about how this whole thing works.

Either way a person enters the industry, whether they pay for it with their own cash, or agree to the terms of a training contract, they have got to realize that the training is limited. Most of us got thrown out here into the real world of trucking feeling like we didn't really have a clue. This job has so much to it that must be learned at the beginning, that there is just no way that we can be fully prepared for it unless we are willing to pay a lot more money for the time it takes to learn it. As it is, you can get started into a really decent paying career without going to college for four or five years, and being burdened for the next ten years with an incredible debt.

The compromise that the industry has developed over the years is the current one we work with, and it simply has some flaws. It does work though, and part of what makes it work is that the rush of it all seems to weed out those who may not really have the temperament or the personality to make it as an Over The Road Driver. It is almost always conducted "Boot Camp" style, meaning you are expected to do what you can to lay hold of the principles involved quickly. You should always be paying attention to everything going on, including trying to learn while you are merely watching others screw up on the practice pad. I'm certainly not trying to say you don't have the temperament, because you may very well become an excellent driver in the future. What I am saying is that while your choice of school may not seem to you at this time to be the greatest in the world, you just need to see if you can make it work for you. This is what professional drivers do everyday. We take a shot at getting things accomplished against incredible odds.

Take the time to listen to these really great and informative Podcasts that Brett put together...

Boot Camp Training

Why is Training so Rushed?

All the schools are really interested in doing is helping you get to the point where you can get your CDL. IF they can get that done, they have done their job. I can tell you that I was not ready for the road when I got my CDL - not even close! It actually doesn't take a whole lot of skill to get the CDL. In fact most of us could go out and get one with no formal training at all. The main barrier would be access to a proper truck to test in, and then we would hit another barrier - no company would be willing to hire us without experience or training. You are going to find that when you get finished with school, and have that nice new shiny CDL in your wallet that you are hopelessly unprepared for the job.

Continued...

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

That is, of course, why you will be paired with a trainer. They will help polish off some of the rough edges, and just get you barely prepared enough for your employer to take a huge chance on you by putting you into your very own truck and seeing how you do at it for a while. That is just how it's done, and that is also one of the many reasons we try to encourage everyone to stick it out for that first very rough year with their first employer. That first year is where you are going to actually learn to back the truck, shift those gears, manage your time, and hopefully become a safe and productive driver. Guess what? About 95% of those first year folks don't make it to their one year anniversary! It is trial by fire, and the chosen few who manage it, usually go on to have long and rewarding careers as professional drivers.

Here's another great podcast I recommend...

Do You Have What It Takes?

One more thing Carlos. It is very important to your success that you stick with your first employer for that initial year of driving. I can't stress this enough. Everybody, and I do mean everybody, gets all hung up on the company they are going to work for, and it is completely the wrong approach to getting started at this career. This is the whole reason you decided to go with paying your own way into school - you wanted to be able to make your own choice about who you worked for. The reality is that most of the Company-Sponsored Training Programs are the best places to get started at in this career - they are completely set up to help rookie drivers break into this career, and they have been perfecting their programs for a long time. That one year commitment that folks make to these training companies is vitally important to their success, it is not some form of slavery or indentured servitude - it their way of helping you to achieve success. They know how important that is for your success, and you can see a lot of the very successful drivers in here who are now moderators in this forum have gone that route as they entered this career.

So, one more Podcast that I would love for you to listen to...

Sticking With Your First Company For One Year

Hang in there Carlos, do what you can to make it work. Keep us posted. You can get through this even if it isn't ideal. I know this to be true, because I went to a private school myself, and there was extremely limited time behind the wheel.

Company-sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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