If you enjoy driving, want a flexible work schedule, and enjoy seeing different parts of the country, truck driving may be a good career option. To drive a truck, you must have a commercial driver’s license and pass a skills test that shows you know how to handle a particular category of truck. Most drivers undergo a training course that teaches them how to handle differently sized vehicles and gain the knowledge to pass the skills test. Although each state has its own regulations for licensing and training, the fundamental elements taught in a truck driving school curriculum apply no matter where you live.
Truck Driving School Curriculum
Truck driving school provides the skills and knowledge you need to become a professional truck driver. Truck drivers must understand road and personal safety while on the job, and they must adhere to regulations regarding how many hours can be driven and how much rest must be taken during defined periods. Courses teach drivers how to handle a truck on the road and provide an understanding of the mechanics of the vehicle, including brakes, hydraulics, and gears.
Although each institution organizes its truck driving school curriculum differently, standard courses present both classroom knowledge and hands-on training. Each state requires that drivers pass a written test and an in-truck skills test to obtain a commercial license. In addition, the Department of Transportation requires a state-issued commercial driver’s license to drive certain categories of trucks, including tankers, vehicles transporting hazardous waste, passenger vehicles, and trucks with multiple trailers.
Most schools require a drug screening test and a medical checkup to verify that the driver is fit to endure the physical demands of driving. In-classroom training covers introductory topics like driver wellness, driver qualifications, and hours of service restrictions. Advanced topics include road rules, defensive driving, operating practices, and vehicle maintenance. Instructors teach students about the different components of the vehicle, like the brakes, hydraulics, air brakes, and transmissions.
Students are also taught how to perform a pre-trip inspection as required by DOT, and they undergo training on backing up and how to couple and uncouple trailers. Other in-classroom skills include map reading, trip planning, keeping log books, and using the truck atlas, which is a spiral-bound book of maps of the U.S. used in the trucking industry.
The first part of hands-on training includes a lab that puts students behind the wheel. Most schools have a practice yard where students learn how to back up, uncouple trailers, connect and disconnect air brakes and air lines, shift, and identify and inspect the elements of the truck. Specific techniques include alley docking, entering a driveway, backing up, and parking. Courses also cover vehicle maintenance and inspection.
Advanced topics include jack-knife parking and demonstrating knowledge of how to perform the four-point brake test. Students must perform the test in the proper sequence to pass the DOT skills test.
After students learn how to handle a truck in the lab, they are taken out on the road to drive in both urban and rural environments. Students learn how to interact with traffic, use mirrors, turn, shift, use the clutch in traffic, enter and exit highways, and control a truck at high speeds. Students also learn how to drive on two-lane roads.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
Not all schools equally prepare students for life on the road even if a similar truck driving school curriculum is offered. Look carefully at the qualifications of the instructors. Do they have industry experience? Many instructors have hours of road experience or are associated with companies in freight transport and delivery, passenger service, or other aspects of the trucking business.
Next, examine the curriculum. A minimum number of hours of instruction should be clearly stated and include both classroom and road training. Courses should be clearly explained, detailing the skills taught, equipment provided, textbooks used, minimum number of hours of instruction, and amount of driving time.
Are you interested in becoming a truck driver? You can learn everything you need to know at Truck Dynasty Driving Academy, a professional truck driver training program that involves 120 clock hours and 3 weeks of professional driver training. In addition, current drivers can use the refresher course to sharpen and develop their skills. To get started, please give us a call at 417-831-8188, e-mail us at [email protected], or contact us online. We look forward to hearing from you!