If you have just signed up to earn your truck driving certification and get a commercial driver’s license, you may be anxious about starting a program without much knowledge of what is in store for you. Luckily, you can read here some information about what types of classes to expect during your education. In short, you will most likely receive instruction both in a classroom, on a school-owned driving range, and on actual roads and highways.
Your training will likely start with studies conducted in a classroom. This is where you will receive academic instruction in many key areas related to truck driving, such as CDL permit and endorsement, vehicle inspection, air brake training, cargo handling, whistleblower protection, defensive driving, hours of service and map reading, federal regulations, driver wellness, and other driver qualifications. Since most trucking schools only offer short certifications to drivers and not associate’s or bachelor’s degrees, you probably won’t have to take any unrelated classes, such as in history or math. Although you may be bored with classroom instruction and antsy to actually practice driving, learning about the regulations and safety concerns affecting truck drivers is of the utmost importance. If you jump right into a vehicle without first receiving training in how to properly take care of yourself on the road, how to keep your vehicle in prime condition, and how to protect cargo, you may find yourself having an unsuccessful time as a driver.
Some schools offer an intermediate experience between classroom instruction and road driving where you practice on a protected range that belongs to the school or organization offering the certificate program. In this period of instruction you will learn about inspecting your vehicle before your trip, coupling and uncoupling, the proper use of the clutch and gears, the fundamentals behind how to control your truck, and how to properly execute techniques for backing up. These classes will train you in some of the most basic (and also most difficult) aspects of driving a truck for long distances. For example, backing up is much harder to do in a tractor trailer than in a regular car, and requires precision and concentration. You also have to follow specific step-by-step practices for coupling or uncoupling your truck, and inspecting your vehicle is an important component of your drive that can’t be missed.
Toward the end of your training you will finally be ready to take to the open road and practice what you have learned. During this phase of the certification process you will study defensive driving, how to properly observe highway laws, and how to assess different driving conditions and roads. You will also polish your knowledge of vehicle control and how to appropriately use the clutch and gears. You may also be taught how to deal with loaded trailers and what to do during night driving. After you have completed all the aspects of your program, you will be given a CDL (commercial driver’s license) test. Once you have passed, you will be able to search for jobs with a variety of companies. Some schools even partner with specific trucking companies to help you get hired right away.