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Truck driving schools are trade schools that provide an education in the operation of a tractor-trailer, also called an eighteen-wheeler, a semi, or a big rig. There is much more to being a truck driver than the basic mechanics of driving. There are very specific rules regarding how many hours per day one can drive a truck, how many hours a truck driver must rest, how heavy the load can be, how the weight is dispersed, and various other issues. Truck driving schools teach students all this and more.
To operate a tractor-trailer, a person must obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). There is a bit more to earning one than what is required for a typical driver’s license, and there are further endorsements required for some truck driving jobs, such as a "Haz-mat" endorsement for anyone who hauls hazardous materials. Truck driving schools help people prepare for the CDL, as well as for additional endorsements. Truck driving schools teach not only the operation of the truck and trailer, but also the rules of the road concerning trucks. They also teach people how to keep track of driving hours, resting hours, and miles driven, and many other important issues.
Keeping a correct logbook is very important. Truck driving schools teach drivers to document appropriately. If a truck driver’s logbook is incorrect, he or she may be given a citation or “shut down,” which simply means that he or she cannot drive any further until the resting hours or non-driving hours catch up. Logbook infractions tend to carry heavy fines.
Truck driving schools generally have classroom instruction, as well as on-the-job training. Many truck driving schools are in some way related to trucking companies. Some truck driving schools recruit for trucking companies, while others train drivers free of charge and help them get some hands-on experience if they agree to go to work for a certain company for a specific amount of time after earning a CDL. It’s not a bad deal, since truck driving offers reasonable pay and benefits, as well as the chance to see more of the country.
For beginners, truck driving schools are the best option to learn to drive a truck. You’ll get the best of both worlds. You will receive competent classroom instruction and have the opportunity to work with an experienced driver or “trainer” until your company feels you are ready to drive on your own.
@Mor - I've also found forums to be a good source of information on various schools. The people in there can point you in the right direction, or even advise you if you need a local truck driving school to get a job.
I would also keep an eye out for jobs which say that they will take you on with no experience as they will often train you on the job. That's ideal, really since, while there are many theoretical parts to truck driving, for the most part you just need to get the practical experience.
Supposedly you can attend free truck driving schools, but most of the time these turn out to be either a scam of some kind, or they expect you to have a job, and your employers will pay for your training.
Be very careful when you are selecting a truck driving school. Just about anyone can put up a sign saying they'll teach you to drive. Some of them might even be able to do it, but there's no point in shelling out money unless you're going to get a decent qualification out of it.
Try to find out what trucker societies or organizations are around your area and ask for their recommendations before you sign anything or give up your money.
And don't just take their word for it, try to get hold of graduated students and ask how they ended up, and whether it was easy to get a job.
My father always used to say that he was allowed by his father to drive his first truck at fourteen.
We were never quite sure whether to believe him or not, because sometimes he would exaggerate if he thought it made a better story.
My grandfather had a warehouse business and according to dad he was expected to help out as a driver before he even got his license.
I think this is the kind of thing that could possibly have happened back then, but no way it would happen today.
It sounds like there are a ton of regulations surrounding trucks, and a good thing too, since trucks can be so dangerous.
I wouldn't want to drive one unless I'd been to a truck driving training school.
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