CDL School, What's Good, What's Not

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RebelliousVamp 's Comment
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When you pay $5000 for CDL school, what do you consider acceptable as far as how many students per truck/per trainer, how many times you get to go out to drive on the road, often times short on trainers (therefor ending up with one or two trainers having to split themselves up), students from previous classes who show up to hog the trucks because "I'm testing out tomorrow and need practice", leaving you and the other two students standing there waiting to start practicing....I mean, we paid a lot of money to attend classes, the trucks and instructors should be available to our class, no?

Our group only goes on the weekends because we all have jobs or other obligations. Going 5 days in between is already enough time that went by, sometimes it makes it a bit difficult to remember what you've learned the weekend before. There's an average of 3-4 students per truck already. We take turns.

Just curious.

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.
RebelliousVamp 's Comment
member avatar

PS I forgot to add, we get about 30 minutes of driving time once a day, therefor twice in one weekend. 1 hour total approximate.

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.

Ernie S. (AKA Old Salty D's Comment
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PS I forgot to add, we get about 30 minutes of driving time once a day, therefor twice in one weekend. 1 hour total approximate.

If I was in that situation, I would be looking for the person in charge to ask why. Like the prior students, you are paying very good money to learn how to drive one of these trucks safely and well enough to pass your CDL test. And only getting 1 hour out of 7 days (the 5 plus the weekend you are there to learn) just is not enough to get the job done.

That in my opinion is very selfish of the prior students to come in on the weekend and hog the use of the trucks. Just because they are getting ready to test does not give them priority in my opinion. They should be coming in after hours (whether it be evenings or weekends) when regular classed are not being conducted to get the practice they are wanting. Just my take on the situation.

Ernie

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.

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.

Jodi 's Comment
member avatar

I to had to do my school on the weekends due to having to work and pay bills. I was surprised at the amount of time I spent standing in a parking lot watching the other students practice. I guess that's the standard. They are just getting us enough knowledge to pass the test. Most of are learning will come from our driver trainers when we get to which ever company we choose to go with. If I had to do it again I would go to the same school cause at the end of the day they did what I paid them to do. 2 weeks I go to Crete carriers to start the real learning. Can't wait

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.

Rick S.'s Comment
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Interestingly, the "lack of driving" seems to be endemic (from what I've seen) to "private driving schools" - versus public (VoTech & College) schools.

For example - the county VoTech I attended, had a higher driver-to-student ratio, but had a truck for every 2 students (18 students per class). So for the 4 weeks of "yard exercises" they had 9 single-screw cab-overs, and 9 road trucks.

After the yard skills phase of the course, they road tested the top 9 students in the class, so they could be fully licensed to "ride shotgun" for the rest of the class.

In this course, I did 1,000 road miles over the 4 weeks of the "road portion" of the course. We also went out on 2 "night runs" during the class.

Unfortunately, for those seeking to stay employed during a course, this was 9 weeks, full time - 7:30-2:30 - for 320 hours of course time.

Any way you slice it - even with a course as lengthy as this - you will still have to do "training miles" at a company that hires newly licensed drivers. While it expands the options to include companies that don't do "CDL Bootcamp" training (that is, training unlicensed drivers), it's still a lot of time to put in, to walk into a company already licensed (versus doing a Prime/Swift/etc. type of hire).

The other advantage, is the "Public Schools" course are usually way less expensive than the "private CDL mills". My course was (and still is, 6 years later) $1,900 plus $100 for the books and materials.

From the experiences related by a number of members here - the private school route just seems like a rip-off - both $$-wise, and the actual amount of time behind the wheel you get.

While I understand that most folks just don't have the time to do a full-time course (because y'all still have bills to pay - I had the flexibility of being self-employed), I feel really bad at the $$'s ya'll all plunking down, for a "substandard experience".

Rick

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Yes....I am in there for 10 weeks, on the weekends, from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.....half hour of driving per day seems very little.

Now don't get me wrong, I like my instructors. But my concern is that I will not be ready after 10 weekends to take my road test. My concern is getting all the road time I should be getting for the amount of money I put into it. The "recruiter" who got me to sign up for the classes even told me that even tho the course is 10 weeks on weekends, that most students need a couple weeks more. I wonder why....maybe that's because most of the students don't get the time they need on the road and not enough practice doing maneuvers.

Old School's Comment
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There's a lot of stuff being stated in this thread that could be quite confusing and/or misleading for other new folks trying to get started in this adventure.

First off, it is not unusual at all for there to be 3 or 4 students per truck. You can't really compare that to a company sponsored program where a single student is sent out in a truck with an instructor for about four straight weeks of driving where the student is the only one doing the driving. These schools would go broke in a heartbeat if they did that. Remember as a student in a Company-Sponsored Training program you are actually moving freight while you are being trained. Therefore you are hopefully contributing some revenue in the process of your training. The private schools only have your payment as their revenue, and letting a bunch of greenhorns attempt to learn double clutching takes a tremendous toll on the already abused equipment they are trying to teach you in. Fuel, insurance, and maintenance on the trucks for a private school is a tremendous expense, not to mention the salaries involved for the staff at the school.

My concern is getting all the road time I should be getting for the amount of money I put into it.

This is a common misconception for students. They look at that pile of money they laid out, and they start thinking they are getting short-changed on the transaction. While private truck driving school tuition is running in the 3,500 to 5,500 range, and the community college courses (which are able to garner subsidies from state programs) are a little less, if you were to take a course where you were the only student in the truck and you got to drive for four or five hours a day, you would be looking at a whopping jump in the cost - probably upwards of three and a half times what you are paying now. It is not feasible, which is why you don't find any schools doing it that way.

There are no short-cuts to being a competent successful truck driver. There are shortcuts to obtaining a CDL , and most schools are doing everything they can to fast-track you to that point. That (obtaining a CDL) is what you are paying them for, and they are trying their best to be efficient at it.

I understand the frustration of feeling like there are students there who haven't progressed enough, and they are taking valuable time away from your own training. But look at it another way and you will realize that the school is going to give you some extra time and attention also if you need it. When I was in school we had four students in our truck. At the end of the day we each drove approximately thirty minutes each, had some time where the instructor was driving and showing us examples of how to do something, and we also had about maybe thirty to forty five minutes each of practicing backing or parking maneuvers. At the beginning of the third week of our four week course they added a female student from the prior class to our truck because she was not ready to test out yet. We groaned... we knew that meant we were going to get less time behind the wheel now. She was still dong very poorly and they gave her extra time over us so that they could get her ready. I wasn't too concerned because I was already feeling I could pass a road test, but I realized that they were giving her "free" time just to get her to the point where she could pass, and they would do the same for anyone in my class who needed it. Yes, it kind of bottle-necks the flow of things somewhat, but that's just the way it is. They want you to pass, and unless you are just unteachable. they will do what it takes for that to happen.

RV, I know you've seen us talking about how you don't really learn to be a truck driver at truck driving school. Now you really know what we are talking about. To be honest with you it doesn't take a whole lot of skill to pass the road test. What it takes is a bare minimum of understanding on how to operate a commercial vehicle, and a little bit of confidence shown as you're testing out - things like not panicking if you miss a gear, and demonstrating that you can get it back in gear so that you can proceed without having to stop completely and start over again. I'm not trying to diminish anyone's accomplishment at passing their test and getting that nice shiny new license - it's a moment we all never forget, but it's just the beginning, just sort of scratching the surface, if you will, of a rewarding new career. Don't let it eat at you - those folks at that school are going to get you where you need to be to pass your road test. Then you'll have the next three to five years to really get to where you know what you are doing!

I think the weekend school courses are probably the most fraught with difficulties simply because there is such a lag in time from when you were last in a truck. When you are a total newbie that week long vacation in between classes can really seem to be an issue. Just stay focused and you'll get there. The real test will be when you are on a truck at the company that's writing your paycheck - hang in there, and don't get discouraged. You can do this, there are about three million others out here on the road who managed to get in a drivers seat - you are up next.

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.

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

RebelliousVamp 's Comment
member avatar

I just want to be clear....I am not trying to mislead or confuse any other member on here with my post....I was merely asking the question, to see what others have as experience going to private school, and actually see if the way it's done, is the norm. I do understand that the real experience will come driving for a company....and I also understand it will take time, stressful situations, challenges, scares, errors, *try again*, keep going....breathe. I do have a perfectionist personality. Sometimes it plays against me, I'm well aware of that....because it plays with my patience. I just want to do everything right...

RebelliousVamp 's Comment
member avatar

PS I also want to make sure you understand that I'm not trying to bash my school, my instructors, etc. I am learning with them. They've been good to me.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Oh I totally get that, it was more of the comments in some of the responses that I thought were a little misleading.

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