160 Driving Academy

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Mark G.'s Comment
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Hi all I'm a 62 year old that have had my own business since the 90's and always wanted to get my cdl and get into trucking, I'm a little apprehensive to sign on to these large trucking companies and I am exploring schools. I live in NJ and not sure if this has been covered but has anyone delt with 160 Driving academy they advertise tuition free not sure how that would work? Thanks for all your response and help in advance.

Thanks,

Mark G.

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.
IDMtnGal 's Comment
member avatar

Howdy!

Welcome to Trucking Truth. Some of the guys will be along in the morning to give you more info. Old School will give you the skinny on why it's better to go to a trucking company and get your experience there vs going to a school. He's more eloquent than I am.

We have members that have gone to schools and succeeded. But then, we get more people that have gone to a school, got their CDL and then couldn't be hired for infractions of one sort or another. We've also had people come from schools bearing tales of woe because they got very little drive time, went to a company, had a fender bender and got let go and couldn't find another company. So definitely keep an open mind.

Laura

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.
James H.'s Comment
member avatar

I would ask the school what companies their graduates go to, and if you have a sense of what kind of driving you'd like, be sure to ask about placements in that part of the industry. My employer offers external driving school tuition reimbursement up to $5,000 for drivers who obtained their CDL within one year of starting work with them. So effectively all I did was front the money. Since they do it, I assume other companies offer the same.

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
I'm a little apprehensive to sign on to these large trucking companies and I am exploring schools.

I also got into trucking as a second career after owning my own business for many years.

I can give you some advice, and suggestions, but I am curious first about your apprehensions. What are they, and how did you come by them?

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

I graduated from 160 driving academy in Moline Illinois 4 years ago. I was hired by PFG as a driver apprentice and they put me through there.

They advertise tuition free because a company is sponsoring you. When you enroll they'll send your information to the carriers they work with. More than likely you'll be given different options for pricing. If you self pay 4 years ago it was something like $4,000, if you sign a contract to be sponsored (zero out of pocket) the amount will be different for each company if you quit. I recall a classmate had an offer for USA Truck but they'd require him to repay them $11,000 if he didn't stay a year. There were a couple guys sponsored by Swift and Schneider that also had their hotel paid for as they lived a couple hours away.

I was quite happy with my experience at 160 but your overall experience will vary mainly due to your instructor. I actually received a phone call last week seeking former students wanting to be instructors. Im happy where I'm at and unfortunately the openings were out in Chicagoland. I also don't think I'd have the patience. As I get older (ill be 32!) I find that I enjoy just doing my own thing. I'm more than happy to jump out and help someone in need but I'd also feel that I failed my students/trainee if they're struggling.

If you want more info about 160 I could layout the way we did things. Personally I'd suggest Apply For Paid CDL Training and see who offers you a spot.

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.
Mark G.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks everyone for your helpful replies! My main concern is having to be committed to working for the company for a year and just the point of being locked in like that. I think LTL is what I would like, I don't want OTR. There is a company about an hour from me that offers training and you can commute to them daily for your training, but then your locked in for 1 year. It is a union job also which means you must start at the bottom I would think, but I haven't talked with them so I'm not sure. I guess the apprehension part is not knowing if you get in a situation with (being polite here) employees that are less then happy and dealing with that could be brutal. That's really it. Of course this is also a very serious important commitment for me and my family and I want to try to be as sure as possible in my decision. Thanks in advance for your experienced reply.

Mark G

double-quotes-start.png

I'm a little apprehensive to sign on to these large trucking companies and I am exploring schools.

double-quotes-end.png

I also got into trucking as a second career after owning my own business for many years.

I can give you some advice, and suggestions, but I am curious first about your apprehensions. What are they, and how did you come by them?

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Hey Mark we all have to do what we are comfortable with, but I just like to make sure people understand how this stuff works. You have been in business for years so you know there is no free lunch. Somebody is going to pay for you to go to school. It might be you or it might be some other source, but it costs somebody. The person bearing the cost wants to get a decent return for their investment.

When I started pursuing my trucking career, I was convinced if I was paying for it I would be getting the best training and have the most options. In the end, I was wrong on both accounts. I paid $4,000 to get my CDL. I think I actually spent maybe 2.5 hours behind the wheel during my four weeks of school. I got what I paid for - I got a CDL , but I didn't have any practical experience and I had never even pulled a loaded trailer. I was as green as I could be. I had no confidence in my abilities, but I had that shiny new license. It didn't do much for me though. I got rejected time and time again when applying for jobs. That's why I like these company sponsored programs.

Have you heard the phrase “having skin in the game?” That’s what these trucking companies do. They put some skin in the game for your benefit. They don’t want to train you and then let you go. They don’t do this so they can collect the money you owe them. They are not in the loan business. They are in the trucking business. They need drivers, and are willing to pay to set them up for success. They are happy to forgive your debt after you have worked for them for one year.

Let’s assume you are struggling with some aspect of your training. They have every reason to spend a little more time on you to polish you off. They don’t want to lose what they have invested in you. There is no question these programs are done in a rush. They need to get you out of the classroom and into a truck as quickly as possible. They are not going to waste too much time or money on a bad investment. If you are proving to make progress and seem committed to the effort, they will work with you and help you get to where you need to be.

I like these programs, and wish I had gone that way when I first started. Were I to do it again, I would take advantage of them. You still get to choose where you want to work. You just make that choice before attending school. I attended school first and then chose my employer. If you go through a company sponsored training program you just do that in reverse. You choose the employer first and then they pay for your training. It is as simple as that.

People don't like that idea of being committed to the company for one year, but it is really something that helps you the driver. This career is somewhat tricky to get established in. Sticking with that first year is important to your success.

I guess the apprehension part is not knowing if you get in a situation with (being polite here) employees that are less then happy and dealing with that could be brutal. That's really it.

I don't really know how much interaction you think you will be having with other employees. This is a job with much solitude. Your solitude will be more of a problem than dealing with other employees. I seldom ever talk to anyone with my company. I may have two or three conversations per week with my dispatcher. That is about the maximum exposure I have with the company. Most of the time he trusts me to handle things the way I want and we mostly communicate via emails through my tablet in my truck. I get the job done and he keeps me moving on with the next objective. That's the way things are supposed to work and I do everything in my power to keep it that way. Trust is a big part of this job, and you have to build that up with your support staff in the office. You trust them, they trust you, and you will seldom be talking to one another. You will have one main contact and that person is going to be depending on you as much as you depend on them.

Let's get back to the thought about the one year commitment. Here's a great podcast you should listen to. It may help you with the decisions you are trying to make as you start this career.

Why Stick With Your First Company For One Year?

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.

Dispatcher:

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.

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

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.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Mark says

There is a company about an hour from me that offers training and you can commute to them daily for your training, but then your locked in for 1 year. It is a union job also which means you must start at the bottom I would think

Are you really wanting to commute that far after you may work 14 (or 16 due to short haul exception) hours? If you end up on a run that regularly is 14 hours that means you'll need to be back to run it again in 10 hours. Hour commute each way now has your break down to 8 hours. Thats also before you factor in winter weather increasing the commute. By the time you eat and shower you're stuck with the difficult decision of spending time with family or getting the most sleep to be fit for duty the next day. Also keep in mind if you're doing linehaul you're almost guaranteed to be working the overnight hours and sleeping during the day. Most local jobs operate on a seniority system regardless if they're union or not. As the new guy you'll end up with what nobody else wanted which may include working on the loading dock rather than driving. Depending on your terminal you could possibly move up seniority quickly or you may sit stationary for a couple years. My company is a bit different than most, but in 2 years 9 months I've moved up maybe 7 spots and they've hired another 32 drivers after me with plans of hiring an additional 20 when our new freezer addition opens early next year.

My situation is different due to me having 3 young kids with a wife that stays home to raise them but ill share it anyways to give you something to think about. I commute 45-50 minutes each way in perfect conditions. To maximize my income I try to get as close to 14 hours every day. By the time I get home, stop at the store if we need anything, eat dinner and shower im left with only a few hours. I usually end up spending some time with the kids playing board games or reading books then I'm off to bed. I don't have a whole lot of time to devote to my wife on the days I work. She's told me numerous times she feels we'd be better if I went OTR/regional because the days I get home after work I'm not really home. I'm too focused on what my next day is going to bring and needing to juggle priorities. Where I'm at we only work a 4 day work week so my off days I make sure we spend time together even if it's just taking a walk around the block.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.
Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

One other thing I forgot to touch on was when Mark said

I guess the apprehension part is not knowing if you get in a situation with (being polite here) employees that are less then happy and dealing with that could be brutal.

You're going to find that everywhere. You're far more likely to deal with that in a local job than OTR. In my experience the easier/better the job the more whining and bizarre complaints you're going to hear. What I've found to be the easiest way to deal with it is ignore them, or laugh about it. With most local jobs you're going to have the newer drivers slip seating (sharing trucks). Drivers with more seniority are given assigned trucks for when they're working but their off days its likely a newer employee or someone who's truck is out of service will be in that truck. We have a driver that gets real worked up over minor things that now people intentionally take his truck to get him fired up. What drives him crazy is on our ELD Google maps changing the icon from what he prefers (truck) to the car or bus. They also get him riled up by changing the radio from FM1 to FM2 so he thinks somebody changed all his preset stations. Without fail every Monday this driver is complaining about something. Hes always yelling "Jesus christ just get in the F****** truck and drive!!!" He's not the only one. We have numerous drivers that complain about minor things that blow it out of proportion.

The difference between a puppy and a trucker is the puppy quits whining after a while. smile.gif

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.

Fm:

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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