The Sad Realization Of My CDL School

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Miss Miyoshi's Comment
member avatar

I've been going to CDL school for one month now. It's a weekends-only program, 8am - 4pm Saturday and Sunday with an hour break for lunch. In that time we have had ZERO class time, and I get in the yard truck time for straight backing about twice each day. I have time to do two straight backing maneuvers before I have to give someone else the truck. I also get one 15 minute driving opportunity each weekend since I got my permit (last weekend).

The problem is that the school only has one truck that is legally allowed to leave the yard, and one truck in the yard to practice backing and parallel parking maneuvers. There are also only 3 instructors that work at the school at any given time it seems. Right now the weekends are full of "graduated" students who are there for "practice" for the pretrip, backing, parallel parking, and driving they will need for the CDL test. Compound that with the problem that after you "graduate" it can take up to 2 months to get scheduled for the CDL test with the DMV.

So as you can see, all the time my classmate and I should have in the classroom doesn't happen because our instructor has to be in the yard while students are using the truck, which leaves us standing in the yard the entire day doing pretty much nothing. (I was using this time to study for the permit test and now the pretrip inspection.) All the truck time my classmate and I should have is taken up by about 15 other people that need to "practice" on the weekends so they don't lose the skills they just learned prior to their scheduled CDL test.

I'm not concerned with the cost I've fronted for this schooling. (About $6000 after interest is figured on the signature loan I signed.) What I AM concerned about is that the rate at which these other "graduates" are failing their skills tests, I'll likely be on the same path to failing because it's obvious I won't have nearly enough time in the truck to master the skills I need. So I'm figuring this schooling is pretty much a waste of time.

I talked with my instructor, who is super cool. The suggestion that was made was this: After I complete their program, he recommends not being scheduled for the CDL test at the DMV and contacting Prime and starting my training with them from the bottom of the totem pole (PSD), because really that's what I'll need in order to pass the CDL test. One driving instructor at the school (which I've only seen once or twice) used to work for Prime and told me how awesome they were as a company and gave me the direct contact information to an in-house recruitment guy, bypassing the 800 number recruitment salespeople.

So, it looks like this is what I'll have to do. I can't head to Prime prior to the end of February because I have plans on the last weekend of February that cannot be changed. I'm pretty bummed and I wish I had heeded my first instinct to just go to Prime from the outset. Expensive lesson to have learned, but at least I still have some options. And, at least I have my DOT physical card and permit (which is valid until July) so I'm at least two steps ahead of the game when it comes to new students there.

Wish me luck. Rainy D, I'll likely be PMing you in a bit. Right now I'm off to get tattooed by my good buddy, the world famous Bob Tyrrell, who conveniently happens to be in town for a tattoo convention. I have zero guilt about missing a day of class, because, well, what exactly would I be missing, right?

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.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

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.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.
Barry Y. ( Watchd0g)'s Comment
member avatar

I've been going to CDL school for one month now. It's a weekends-only program, 8am - 4pm Saturday and Sunday with an hour break for lunch. In that time we have had ZERO class time, and I get in the yard truck time for straight backing about twice each day. I have time to do two straight backing maneuvers before I have to give someone else the truck. I also get one 15 minute driving opportunity each weekend since I got my permit (last weekend).

The problem is that the school only has one truck that is legally allowed to leave the yard, and one truck in the yard to practice backing and parallel parking maneuvers. There are also only 3 instructors that work at the school at any given time it seems. Right now the weekends are full of "graduated" students who are there for "practice" for the pretrip, backing, parallel parking, and driving they will need for the CDL test. Compound that with the problem that after you "graduate" it can take up to 2 months to get scheduled for the CDL test with the DMV.

So as you can see, all the time my classmate and I should have in the classroom doesn't happen because our instructor has to be in the yard while students are using the truck, which leaves us standing in the yard the entire day doing pretty much nothing. (I was using this time to study for the permit test and now the pretrip inspection.) All the truck time my classmate and I should have is taken up by about 15 other people that need to "practice" on the weekends so they don't lose the skills they just learned prior to their scheduled CDL test.

I'm not concerned with the cost I've fronted for this schooling. (About $6000 after interest is figured on the signature loan I signed.) What I AM concerned about is that the rate at which these other "graduates" are failing their skills tests, I'll likely be on the same path to failing because it's obvious I won't have nearly enough time in the truck to master the skills I need. So I'm figuring this schooling is pretty much a waste of time.

I talked with my instructor, who is super cool. The suggestion that was made was this: After I complete their program, he recommends not being scheduled for the CDL test at the DMV and contacting Prime and starting my training with them from the bottom of the totem pole (PSD), because really that's what I'll need in order to pass the CDL test. One driving instructor at the school (which I've only seen once or twice) used to work for Prime and told me how awesome they were as a company and gave me the direct contact information to an in-house recruitment guy, bypassing the 800 number recruitment salespeople.

So, it looks like this is what I'll have to do. I can't head to Prime prior to the end of February because I have plans on the last weekend of February that cannot be changed. I'm pretty bummed and I wish I had heeded my first instinct to just go to Prime from the outset. Expensive lesson to have learned, but at least I still have some options. And, at least I have my DOT physical card and permit (which is valid until July) so I'm at least two steps ahead of the game when it comes to new students there.

Wish me luck. Rainy D, I'll likely be PMing you in a bit. Right now I'm off to get tattooed by my good buddy, the world famous Bob Tyrrell, who conveniently happens to be in town for a tattoo convention. I have zero guilt about missing a day of class, because, well, what exactly would I be missing, right?

Wow. Just wow. I thought I had it rough at my school with 8 people split in 2 trucks. We get about 40-50 mins each day driving. a bit in the morning and a bit after lunch. My instructors last day was Friday, but he came in Saturday to work with some of us because we lost a day last week due to snow. We get a new instructor Monday. He has been riding with us to learn the course. The new guy is cool, but not as relaxed as the other one. I guess he is probably nervous too, being new to the job. He does know his ****, and I think we will be fine. The other thing we did that was cool, was to have 2 guys stay home Friday, the other guy and I will stay home Monday. So Friday I got a lot of drive time. I hope we continue that over the next 3 weeks.

Doing week ends only has to be rough, how the heck do you your timing down on shifting?

I have already thought along the lines you are thinking about, if I fail, hopefully I can get in with swift or crst and try again. Hopefully it doesn't come down to that, I went to this school to avoid the long OTR contracts the big schools have.

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.

OTR:

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.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

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.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.
The Persian Conversion's Comment
member avatar

Oh man, I'm sorry! As you said, that certainly is an expensive lesson to learn!

I guess I was lucky, I took a CDL course through my community college's workforce training program, paid for by my GI Bill. It was just me and 1 other guy. That's it. Plus we had the benefit of 3 different instructors and their varied experiences.

Instructor #1 handled the first week, which was all classroom instruction. Amazingly, he was also a state-certified skills tester, so when test time came around it was obvious who we chose. It made the test so much easier because I already knew the guy and felt relaxed around him.

Instructors #2 and #3 did the actual hands-on portion for the next 4 or 5 weeks. They traded off days, so we only had 1 instructor each day, not both of them together. Since there was just the 2 of us students, we started every day doing a complete pre-trip. One of us would go through the entire procedure, which took about 30-45 minutes, while the other one observed, and the instructor followed along correcting us when necessary. Then we'd trade off and do it again. This was a very effective system for us since we could observe each other's mistakes, and by doing it every morning, we pretty much had it down cold after the first couple of weeks.

After pre-trips we would hit the road. Whoever drove first the day before would sit in the back (on a bench seat the school had installed where the bed would have been), while the other would drive. The instructor would obviously be in the passenger seat. We started off slow the first few days, just kind of bobtailing around the sparsely populated industrial area around the school, but soon enough we were hooked up to the trailer and on the open road. We did a lot of city driving, highway driving, and even went up 4th of July and Lookout passes several times. Granted it was with an empty trailer, but we still felt pretty good about it!

The backing course was at a small airport about 20 minutes from the school. We usually went there in the afternoons after lunch. One of us would drive there and the other would drive back. The course was set up sequentially, so driver #1 would pull into the lot and pull all the way through the straight-back cones and stop ahead of them. Then driver #2 and the instructor would hop out to observe. After doing the straight back, we would pull up again to the same spot, then do an offset back into a parallel set of cones on the right. Finally, we would pull around and make a 180 degree turn to the left, ending up alongside a set of perpendicular cones for the 90. We each got to do this routine probably about 10 times each day, and towards the end we kind of stopped going there since we had gotten so much practice already and the instructors felt confident that we had it.

Sorry for rambling on, I wasn't expecting to write so much, but I guess my point is that I was very lucky to have a great school experience, and I feel bad that yours is somewhat lacking. But even so, I still had to do several weeks of "graduate school" with my company before I was anywhere near ready to go out on my own, so I guess no matter how good or bad a school is, the most important part of your education will be the on-the-job training.

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.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

Did you talk to any of the active class members before attending that school?

J Johns's Comment
member avatar

I'm not enjoying your [discomfort? misfortune?] by any means but I can't help but be relieved that we've decided to go straight to Prime for all of our training. I'm literally breathing sigh after sigh of relief. Thanks for sharing your experience, it's like gold for people like myself.

Phil C.'s Comment
member avatar

It would seem like such a terrible school would be getting sued and getting refunds for students. You should have a reasonable expectation of getting your CDL at the end of the program, if not then you should get a refund. Is there anyone you can talk to about it like the president or something?

Phil

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.
Kurt G.'s Comment
member avatar

Wow, that does suck. Seriously, the *instructor* suggested that you start over somewhere else? That's a bad sign.

Turbo Dan's Comment
member avatar

Is this a State approved school,, IE ,, their Lesson Plans and corriculum meet state standards ? Do you get a 160 Hour certificate after passing ? How many week ends did they say you would need to finish their course ?

I went to a small school in Chicago, they had 3 beat up trucks and trailers and we had a lot of stand around time watching other students practicing in the yard. One good thing about that was seeing them make mistakes and maybe getting some insight watching the instructor helping them correct their problems.

Do they have an office where you do self directed computer lessons, I know you already have your writtens passed, but a lot of the 160 hours includes classroom time. They should have a computer course explaining the pretrip inspection plus you should have a printed out pretrip inspection list to learn so you can understand all it's parts your inspecting order and location from memory. It's not easy, I'm a mechanic and I still was going over the list in my head as I went to sleep and as I was waking up.

Our school was small but it still had the DMV inspectors come to our school once a week to do pretrip and skills testing in our yard, then the road test on the same route we had practiced on.

You've got 4 weekends in,,,, 8 days times 7 hours is only 56 HRs towards the 160... Maybe that's the way the school is looking at your progression with 100 hours left to go,,, I don't know, You're going to have to ask them what their expectation is. I hope the school isn't as messed up as it sounds,,,, Dan

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.

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

Miss Myoshi, I certainly feel your pain. I too attended a part time program. My school normally doesn't offer that but did it for employees of Amazon only, at Amazons request. I did get my CDL but it took way longer than I had anticipated. We really strained the schools resources and instructors because they were still holding full time college classes Monday through Thursday for those students at their 13 locations.

We ended up with 3.. yes THREE separate part time classes on the same range at the same time. It was a disaster. 17 students and 2 trucks. Several people complained to our employer and then for a while they brought in 4 trucks and 4 instructors.

The net result. . Out of the first class of 12, only 1.. yes one has passed all their exams and obtained their CDL-A. Out of my class, which began with 12 and finished with 4, we've all obtained ours, but we were all extremely serious and dedicated to our new career choice. Out of the 3rd class of 12, only 1 remains, so I have no doubt, he'll get the time he needs.

I recommend you a) talk to the owner of the school regarding your concerns. b) don't miss a single class and let the instructors know you are serious. c) see if you can convert to a full time weekday class. Believe it or not, CDL school only teaches you barely enough to pass your pretrip, backing, and road tests. Despite only getting 2 shots a day at backing, you CAN actually learn enough to pass, bjt that away time during the week makes it difficult to reinforce your skills like you need to.

BTW, at Lake Cumberland CDL, people who have tested with DOT and failed are NOT still attending class. They make special arrangements to come in and practice a few days before they retest with DOT. The exam schedules are way backed up due to the holidays and it's taking 2 to 3 weeks between attempts.

Good luck to you and feel free to pm me if you have any questions.

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.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Miss Miyoshi's Comment
member avatar

Doing week ends only has to be rough, how the heck do you your timing down on shifting?

I have already thought along the lines you are thinking about, if I fail, hopefully I can get in with swift or crst and try again. Hopefully it doesn't come down to that, I went to this school to avoid the long OTR contracts the big schools have.

That's my point. I'm not getting enough truck time to really get a good feel for anything. And I'm not worried about OTR contracts with companies. They're investing in me, and I plan on staying with a carrier long term. So that's a moot point in my case.

OTR:

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.

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