In the last two months, six people who are interested in becoming a professional truck driver have reached out to me and asked, “Do you know of a good CDL training school?” It has been very intriguing to me how to find the best training schools since the FMCSA ELDT (Entry Level Driver Training) Program began February 7, 2022 (and actually even before).
Two of the six were young men in their early 30s who were starting families and needed higher income. One was a 59-year-old man that has reached retirement at his current job, is in great health and wants to get out and see the country. Another man is struggling in the economy of inflation and driving 65 miles one-way to a job that just isn’t paying his family’s bills. Another is a sweet young lady who is a single mother; she has been working for minimum wage for four years. It broke my heart when she said she will have nothing in life for her baby if she doesn’t find a career. And last but not least a childhood friend of mine reached out and asked what she could do to help her youngest son, who wants to become a truck driver and get out of our little mountain town to see the world.
I know many of you are thinking you have heard all of these reasons before. When the last two contacted me, I thought to myself, I too have heard these stories way too many times and I believe similar stories are being faced more than we can even imagine in our country today.
First let me say, I didn’t go to a truck driver training school. Even though I am around many drivers that have attended such a school, I guess I haven’t paid close enough attention to that in the last couple of years. I couldn’t have told you where one was located anywhere close to me back when I started driving. I wonder if companies back then gave new drivers a bus ticket on the Greyhound to get to their training facility? Hmmm
Even though the truck driving industry is made up of people from every sector in life, I’m not really sure I know how to guide these diverse peopleto a good CDL training school! So you all are going to have to help me out here.
Let’s back up a little. Driver training as I knew it when I began was done by your family, a friend or maybe you were a hitchhiker and you caught a ride on a truck and decided to stay and learn. Don’t laugh! I have known of more than a few that became a successful professional truck driver after hitchhiking. Many have come into the industry from a career of truck stop waitresses, mechanics, truck wash employees, even law enforcement. All walks of life.
Then later on there were trucking companies growing into fleets that began their own in-house training and third-party testing for licensing. Community colleges and trade schools began implementing CDL driver training programs and technical colleges were opened. Each had their own criteria, curriculum and course of study, and if you dug into the courses they were all different. Some crammed it all into 14-16 days, some four weeks and some were on weekends and nights. Talk about diversity. The inconsistencies drove us all crazy and we weren’t even in school. But we are out here on the road beside the outcomes.
In 2018-2019 when most were tired of being up in arms complaining that nobody can learn to drive 80,000 pounds of steel in 14 days (me included), the FMCSA ELDT program was created, and implemented on February 7 of this year. This only requires schools, instructors, trainers and testers to be registered within the FMCSA Training Provider Registry. And all locations of training sites are required to register and follow set guidelines.
By this time you’ve palm-planted your face asking me why didn’t I just simply direct all six of the interested individuals to this ELDT training program? Because have you EVER seen anything with the government that easy? I haven’t!
The ELDT is there to monitor and enforce registration of all schools and instructors and their certifications. It also keeps a record of the piece of paper that says “certified” – the piece of paper that the new entrant needs to receive a CDL license.
It seems to me nothing changed for the required training for safety and knowledge. Did you know you can get your ELDT certificate on the internet for $295? This is possible without ever leaving your house except for your driving practice and final test. Boy, have I wasted 42.5 years of education and training. Go ahead, you can facepalm yourself again. I did!
So now that I have gotten this far and you’re wondering the same thing I am …
How does the new driver find a GOOD, reputable hands-on instruction, training school that includes attention to detail and safe real-time answers? How can I or anyone show or tell them which is a 5-star school (or a -1 star school to stay away from) for their education to drive a 75-foot tractor and trailer if there isn’t a scale to choose from? There’s not a guide or registry that ranks CDL driver training schools, so how do we know where to tell someone new to the industry to go?
I feel like we are back to square one of where to go and how to get there. Those of us in the industry are unsure of where to guide them and mentor them to help them gain their CDL so they are proficient and safe for themselves and around others. My only answer is the same as what I live by. I don’t listen to opinions nor do I take advice; I will only make a choice by facts and experience. The longevity with success in safety for anyone training new CDL drivers is first and foremost to me.
So now that I have written this out and cleared my head of what in the world to do to help new entrants, I am going to do some studying and digging. I am going to bring what I find back to you. I want to discuss and talk and hope my mailbox fills up with POSITIVE experiences and facts. I hope you comment and reply with your POSITIVE knowledge when you read this so that we all can answer the much needed answer to …. “Do You Know a Good CDL Driver Training School?”
You know where to find me on the social platforms and my email address I will leave below. Let’s find a POSITIVE efficient way to help new entrants, future Women and Men of the highway get the best training and schools that are out here.
From me to you … Drive safe, be somebody’s Smile and Don’t forget your prayers!
Until next time,