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Obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is a big investment in both time and money, so it’s important to get it right the first time. Imagine undertaking the training then completing the requirements for your CDL only to find the license itself a useful document when you receive it. It can happen. In fact, it does happen on a regular basis. Why? Because the individual didn’t plan their CDL-A skills tests.
When you are issued a CDL, the testing authority will add endorsements based on a variety of criteria. Some of these endorsements are beneficial — for example, a HazMat endorsement, which allows you to transport hazardous materials. Some endorsements are not beneficial; in fact, some endorsements may make it difficult to find employment, either now or at some stage in the future. Consider these endorsements:
If you complete your CDL skills test in a vehicle fitted with an automatic gear box with no air brakes, and without a fifth wheel, you will have the “L-E-O” endorsements added to your license. This will severely restrict your future employment. Unfortunately, individuals can only have one CDL license, so you would need to cancel your limiting CDL and go through the whole process again if you wanted an unrestricted license. The easier course is to select a truck driver training school that will ensure you complete your skills test driving a vehicle that is best suited to your career options. Don’t be caught short with limiting endorsements simply because you failed to plan well, or chose the wrong truck driver training school.
Talk to many car owners and they’ll tell you they hate trucks on their roads. Note the “their roads” part of that statement. Truck drivers have been accused of a wide range of problems, yet statistics tell a very different story. It’s not just the statistics either. When you think about it, everything we eat, drink, wear and use in our lives has to be transported, and there will have been a truck or two involved in that transportation. What about the stats? Check these out, then tell me if truck drivers should be demeaned by car drivers.
Truck drivers are the life blood of the nation, and in many quarters, they are treasured, not demeaned. Truck drivers are well-trained, heavily regulated, and must pass rigorous testing before gaining their commercial drivers license. I think I’d rather be traveling in a truck than with many of the car drivers on our roads – but then, perhaps I’m biased.
Like almost every industry, trucking has its own set of terminology. New drivers are expected to know many of these terms from day one, especially those that relate to truck safety and truck driving rules and regulations. Do you know any of these common trucking terms?
You may know many of these terms from day-to-day life as they are used in other areas. ABS is a good example as it’s found in all new vehicles, not just trucks. Other terms such as those related to weight are important since it is illegal to drive with a load that exceeds that weight. You should come across most of these terms whilst undertaking truck driver training.
You may consider yourself a very safe driver, and you may well take that safety-conscious approach to a trucking career, however, that doesn’t mean you’ll avoid accidents. Unfortunately, you will have to share the road with other drivers, and they may not be a safe or as smart as you. If you take a truck driving approach that assumes that every other vehicle is a danger to you, you may be able to prevent incidents. This approach is often referred to as a defensive driving strategy, and whilst it may have many opponents, it is proving to be one of the best strategies to use. So what is defensive driving and what does it entail?
As mentioned, defensive driving is an approach that assumes that other vehicles on the road could be a threat. With that in mind, truck drivers who use this strategy drive using the following:
This starts before you even get into your truck. Being prepared includes undertaking vehicle inspections at regular intervals, often after every break in driving. Inspections should include oil, gas, and water levels; how well the load has been secured; and electrical components like indicators and lights. Ensuring your mirrors are positioned correctly is also important.
Being prepared also means looking after yourself. Food, water and sleep are all important to our general health, and this includes truck drivers. Being well fed, well hydrated and well rested means you’ll be alert and able to drive to the conditions. Being alert also means you can be on a constant lookout for escape measures should other vehicles impinge on your road space. If you do notice drivers that are a danger to you and your vehicle, the best approach is to remove yourself from their sphere of influence. This may mean changing lanes, slowing down to let them get well ahead, or stopping altogether.
The safest way to drive is by ensuring there is plenty of space around your vehicle. The three-second rule is tried and tested – ensure there is a three second gap between yourself and the vehicle in front and you can avoid them in an emergency. In wet weather, it pays to add a full second to that. In icy conditions, push that to around ten seconds. Don’t become frustrated if other drivers jump into the space – just back off a little and allow that gap to widen again.
If I can’t see you, I don’t know you’re there. Don’t tailgate other trucks – remember the three-second rule. This means I can see you clearly. Ensure your lights are all working when driving at night – headlights alone may confuse drivers into thinking you’re just another car.
If you aware of hazards ahead, try to avoid them. If you can’t avoid them, then slow down until you are clear of the hazard. You should also be aware of hazards inside your truck. Cell phones, televisions (and yes, truck drivers have been pulled over for watching a DVD whilst driving), eating and drinking can all lead to problems if your concentration is broken.
These are all simple processes, and if followed, will help you should you become involved in a dangerous situation. You may be a good truck driver, you may have attended a good truck driver training school, however, if you don’t drive defensively, it could account for nothing if another driver rams into you.
When undertaking truck driver training it is important to receive the skills that will help you pass the tests required to gain a commercial drivers license whilst also gaining the skills that will make you immediately employable. Learning how to drive forward is a piece of cake. Learning how to reverse is a little more complicated, especially when you have one or more trailers involved. Reversing is a skill that is a must – you’ll be using it everyday, and if you get it wrong, it can create huge problems.
There’s more to reversing than just driving backwards. When you are driving a tractor trailer, your vision is going to be impaired. One area that is not often taught by inexperienced truck driver trainers is preparation. You can make reversing a whole lot easier just by positioning your truck to begin with. Whilst your vision may be impaired, you can make use of visual cues from other objects that can help you determine where your trailer is in relation to where it needs to be.
Reversing is just one skill. Driving a tractor trailer around a corner can also be a difficult task if you don’t handle the situation with care. You need patience to wait for other vehicles to clear, and even then you’ll most likely frustrate other road users since you’ll most likely need all of the road to negotiate a corner. Once again, preparation is the key to successfully negotiating this part of truck driver training.
Being trained in how to prepare for various maneuvers is as important as the maneuver itself. When seeking truck driver training, don’t accept a program that just teaches you the basic skills. You may be able to pass your CDL tests, however, there’s a good chance you won’t be work ready.
One of the real growth areas in trucking is the number of women who are making careers of truck driving. I’m not talking about local or short haul truck drivers either. I’m talking about long distance truck drivers.
What is of particular interest is the number of young women who are entering the industry. Current statistics suggest there are as many as 250,000 women working as truck drivers, and the majority of these drivers are under 35 – this is on a par with the number of young men who are joining the industry.
So what is the attraction for young women? Is it the money; the freedom; the work itself? It’s probably a combination of many factors, however, there is one factor that does stand out, and that’s equality. Trucking companies don’t discriminate when it comes to hiring drivers. If you can do the job and have a good driving history, then you’ll have the same opportunity as a male. You’ll also be paid exactly the same since these drivers are generally paid by the mile. If there is a downside, it is on the highway – the amenities for truck drivers have been built mainly for males, however, female truck drivers soon find suitable alternatives.
For young women, trucking careers offer a different lifestyle to the normal nine-to-five type career. What is also interesting to note is that women who take on this career often meet and marry other truck drivers. This makes family life much easier – both sides of the relationship know what to expect when starting a family. You’ll be surprised how many women continue driving trucks after starting a family, often sharing their career with their spouse – one at home whilst the other takes a run, then swapping for the next run. Many small trucking businesses start with this concept.
Trucking is an interesting career for women. It only takes a couple of weeks of truck driver training to be in a position to gain a commercial drivers license. From there, your career is totally in your hands – do the job and you’ll always have plenty of work.
These days it’s hard to define the ”average” truck driver. The lure of the open highway attracts people from all walks of life, and sometimes you’d be surprised at who was driving a truck alongside you. Today, there are truck drivers who were accountants, lawyers, police officers, and even politicians, in a previous career. Sure, we see of lot of people who are entering the trucking industry as their first career, however, they are still in the minority – a factor that is causing problems within the industry. With so many people making trucking their second, or perhaps third, career move, we have at best a middle aged workforce – at worst, an aging workforce.
That aging workforce means there is a constant demand for new operators as older workers retire. Perhaps it takes maturity to understand the freedom of truck driving – it certainly hasn’t appealed to a lot of youngsters who are looking for their first career. Young people probably feel that trucking is a lonely profession – it’s not. In reality, it mixes the best of both worlds – drivers can work in peace whilst taking advantage of a strong camaraderie that exists amongst truck drivers.
The other component of a trucking career that often scares off younger people is the long hours on the road, time that they would rather spend partying. Truck drivers do party, and they party hard when they want to. They just know there are limitations on when they can party.
As to the long hours on the road, it’s part of the job, and something that you very quickly learn to come to terms with. You’ll quickly rebalance your life once you get into a routine.
Trucking is a career that will always have strong demand for new operators. Younger truck drivers will always find a welcome sign out if they are prepared to work hard and follow the rules. There’s a lot to like about truck driving, and that includes young drivers.
It’s really not that difficult to obtain a commercial drivers license (CDL). You will need to pass several knowledge-based tests, and you will have to pass a practical driving test. If you have a reasonably clean driving record and no major criminal offenses recorded against your name, and you can pass a medical assessment, then you’re the perfect candidate for a commercial drivers license. Whilst gaining experience is important, you don’t have to be a truck driver to have a commercial drivers license.
So why gain a license to drive trucks if you’re not going to be a truck driver? There is a difference between being a truck driver and being someone who drives trucks. A good example is a heavy equipment operator. Their main profession is operating heavy equipment. A CDL comes in very handy when heavy equipment needs to be moved to a new location. In most cases, heavy equipment is not permitted to drive on public roads – imagine the damage a large tracked bulldozer would do to our roads? A tractor-trailer is used to move heavy equipment, and if operators have a CDL, they can load up and transport the heavy equipment themselves.
Warehouse personnel and truck mechanics are two further areas where a truck drivers license could be an asset. Truck mechanics need to test drive trucks after undertaking routine services and repairs whilst warehouse personnel could ‘fill-in’ for truck drivers when they are absent for any reason. If you work for a trucking company and have a CDL, then you are in a position to move trucks where and when required.
It takes as little as two weeks truck driver training to be in a position to pass the necessary tests to obtain a CDL. This training can be completed full-time or part-time by attending training on weekends. For many drivers, this is a small time investment for what is a lifetime license and an increase in the skills that may make you more employable in the future.
I could give you a million reasons why prospective truck drivers should be selecting our training school. In reality, I need only one.
Schools will talk about the quality of their training, the quality of their instructors, and even the quality of their trucks – and we have all that. However, the one reason you should be looking at Diesel Truck Driver Training School is much simpler than that – our graduates are immediately employable. Furthermore, our graduates find work as truck drivers fairly quickly.
Yes, we do have a well-respected training program, and yes, we do have good quality instructors. When put together, we deliver a well-rounded training program that includes in-the-seat driver experience (with plenty of practice), and classroom-based training that teaches students all the knowledge required to become good truck drivers. What must also be respected is our history – fifty years of truck driver training is proof enough of our ability to provide occupational training to graduates who are work ready.
We also believe in the delivery of a support service to students and graduates. This support comes in the form financial assistance (we help you obtain loans if required), housing assistance (for those who have to travel to our training school), and career service support in the form of training (resumes and interview techniques), an employer database, and a dedicated jobs website where employers list truck driving job vacancies.
This all leads me back to my original statement. Our graduates are ready for work from day one – and really, that’s the only reason you ever need to select any type of training school. Diesel Truck Driver Training School prides itself on the quality of its graduates and their abilities to then go on to highly successful careers in the trucking industry.
The trucking industry is a fairly close one. In fact, some people could accuse it of being an almost closed industry. By closed, I am referring to the fact that many truck driving jobs are not advertised externally. They are advertised only within the industry and through industry-related organizations. New truck drivers can often find it frustrating to find that first job, and jobs further down the track. The answer is to learn how to network within the industry, and it’s not as hard as it sounds.
New truck drivers can gain an advantage by being trained through truck driver training schools that have already developed a network within the industry. This will at least open doors that will give new drivers the chance to be interviewed for vacancies. Once these drivers have their first job, it then becomes important to build a reputation for reliability and safety. At the same, new truck drivers need to build friendships with other drivers – that’s the start of your network.
At Diesel Truck Driver Training School, we know how important that first job is. We have a dedicated career services section that works with students to prepare them for the workplace. We don’t just teach our students how to drive; we also teach them how to how to fill out applications, how to handle job interviews, and how to network with others in the industry. We will also work with our students to identify suitable employers from our network, employers that will at least look at their applications and perhaps give them an interview.
Like most industries, sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and that’s what networking is all about. If you intend on becoming a truck driver, then undertake your training through a school that has already developed a strong network within the industry.