Getting Started- A Great Day

Topic 8014 | Page 1

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Skydrick (Brian L.) 's Comment
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Had a great day today. I passed my DOT physical this morning and I visited my first CDL school today, I will probably visit at least one more before making a decision. I am really glad for the information I have found on this site both for deciding between private and company schools as well as how to evaluate programs. I am leaving school names out because I really like that TT isn't a review or rant site and I don't want to promote or talk bad about any programs. I just wanted to mention a few things I found particularly useful during my school and company searches so far.

Through reading some of the previous posts and blog articles on Truck Driving Schools and How To Choose A School I was able to compile a list of criteria that mattered to me and ask the same questions of each school I called. I discovered a few interesting things such as: A few schools do not have 53' trailers. One even said they have only one instructor and take 10 students per class. They consequently do very little road driving. Several do not offer final DMV testing on site. I also found it really helpful to ask about failure fees since some schools charge hundreds of dollars for retesting even after one fail and up to $1000 to repeat the program after 3 fails. Another school has no fees regardless of failure because they view it as their responsibility to the student to help you pass. So always ask questions!

Another bonus for the day was stopping by two truck stops near one of the schools and spending a couple of hours talking to drivers about their companies. At first I was really nervous that I would be bothering those drivers, but every single one I approached spent at least a minute or two and sometimes much more letting me know how they felt about their current company and in a few cases their previous employers. Several said "If i could go back and do it again…" which was really interesting to hear about. I always made sure to ask them if they had a few minutes to spare, and at the end I always thanked them for taking the time and they were all very pleasant, and extremely honest. Overall I spoke with about a dozen drivers and got to speak with at least one driver from almost every company I am so far interested in. I would just like to say if you are thinking of doing this, do it. It has really given me information I could not find anywhere else, especially trying to weed through all the complaint posts littering the internet. It sure was great talking to such nice people, and if any of you that I spoke to today read this, thanks again for your time. And thanks for the great site Brett. I look forward to hanging out here often as I make my way through school and into the industry.



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.


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.


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.


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.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


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.

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