CDL Schools: What Is Their Real Purpose and What Do They Really Teach?

by Farmer Bob

I first went to a CDL school back in 1974. I didn't do anything with my new license, except to keep it. Now, I am wanting to go and become a real driver. Most companies will not accept you as an inexperienced driver unless you are a recent CDL school graduate. So, back to school for me. In my last post I gave a few key pointers in choosing a school. Now I want to let you know what I think the real purpose of the school is. (HINT: it's not about making you a truck driver!).

After talking with a number of current and past students and the school's instructors I realized that the main purpose of my school - and I suspect most others - is to get you ready to pass the department of motor vehicles CDL written exam and CDL driving test. Once I realized this, a lot of the frustrations like getting less driving time than I had hoped, weeks of reading and testing, and hours and hours of doing three types of backing in the training yard went away. As one instructor put it, "Of course we aren't making drivers out of you. That's why most companies have a long training period." (I'll cover this in a later post on choosing a company). The light came on!! I must pass the DMV test before I can get hired. That makes sense! What a no-brainer!

So, after you have chosen your school remember that your main task at hand is to pass the CDL written test, driving test, and backing skills test. You have to learn to walk before you can learn to run. Don't get frustrated, keep your cool. Most of all - don't give up!

A note from Brett Aquila:Farmer Bob is exactly right. It takes years to really become a good truck driver. Truck driving schools and trucking companies that offer CDL training, some of which actually turn out to be free truck driving schools, are all out to accomplish one thing - teach you what you need to know to get your CDL so that you can get a job with a trucking company and learn to become a truck driver.

So don't think that once your CDL schooling is done that you're going to get a job and be on your own. Landing your first truck driving job is only the beginning of your training. You'll go out on the road with a trainer for quite a long time. That's when the real training begins!

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

by Brett Aquila

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