How to Decide on the Best Truck Driver Classes near Fruitdale Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Fruitdale AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Fruitdale home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal means to make sure you’ll receive the right training. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Fruitdale AL, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several of the vehicles that drivers may be able to operate with Class A licenses are:
- Interstate or Intrastate Tractor Trailers
- Trucks with Double or Triple Trailers
- Tanker Trucks
- Livestock Carriers
- Class B and Class C Vehicles
Class B CDL. A Class B CDL is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate with Class B licenses are:
- Tractor Trailers
- Dump Trucks
- Cement Mixers
- Large Buses
- Class C Vehicles
Both Class A and Class B Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Fruitdale AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are several more things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Fruitdale AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Fruitdale AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Fruitdale AL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Fruitdale AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Fruitdale AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Fruitdale AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Fruitdale AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Fruitdale AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
How To Choose A Truck Driver School Fruitdale Alabama
Picking the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in How To Choose A Truck Driver School and wanting information on the topic CDL Driving Classes. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Fruitdale AL.
Truck On in These Other Alabama Locations
U.S. Route 45 in Alabama
In the U.S. state of Alabama, U.S. Route 45 (US 45) is a 60-mile-long (97 km) north–south United States Highway in the east south central state of Alabama. It travels from Mobile to the Mississippi state line, just east of State Line, Mississippi. The highway's southern terminus is in Mobile, at an intersection with US 98. Its northern terminus in the state of Alabama is at the Mississippi state line, where the highway continues to the northwest into that state.
In Alabama, all of the U.S. Highways have one or more unsigned state highways designated along its length. US 45 travels concurrently with State Route 17 (SR 17) from its southern terminus to just north of Deer Park. For the rest of its length in the state, the highway travels concurrently with SR 57.
US 45, along with unsigned SR 17, begins at an intersection with US 98 (Spring Hill Avenue; unsigned SR 42) in the central part of Mobile, in Mobile County. US 45 heads to the northwest and travels just north of Lyons Park and skirts along the northeastern edge of USA Children's & Women's Hospital. It crosses over Threemile Creek and curves to the north-northwest. It passes just to the east of Washington Middle School and Carver Park. Just after passing Gorgas Park and LeFlore Magnet High School, the highway curves back to the northwest. At an intersection with West Prichard Avenue, it leaves Mobile and enters Prichard. It crosses over some railroad tracks of Canadian National Railway just before an interchange with Interstate 65 (I-65). The highway passes Whispering Pines Cemetery just before crossing over Eightmile Creek. Almost immediately, it intersects the southern terminus of SR 213 (South Shelton Beach Road). Approximately 1,000 feet (300 m) later is an intersection with the southern terminus of SR 217 (Lott Road). US 45 passes John F. Fagerstrom Municipal Park and then Collins–Rhodes Elementary School. It curves to the north-northeast and crosses over Seabury Creek. The highway curves to a nearly due north direction and has an interchange with SR 158 (Industrial Parkway). It curves back to the northwest and travels through Kushla, which is within the city limits of Prichard. Immediately after leaving the city, the highway crosses over Magee Creek. It then enters Mauvilla. Here, it intersects the southern terminus of County Route 78 (CR 78; Spice Pond Road). Just northeast of Mauvilla Cemetery is an intersection with the southern terminus of CR 55 (Kali Oka Road). US 45 curves to the north-northwest, leaves Mauvilla, and crosses over Williams Creek. It curves to the north and crosses over Silver Creek. It curves to the north-northeast and enters Chunchula. The highway curves back to the north-northwest and enters the main part of the community. There, the highway has an intersection with CR 63 (Chunchula–Georgetown Road/Roberts Road). It curves back to the northwest and crosses over Beaver Pond Creek. It curves back to the north-northwest and crosses over Sweetwater and Drinking branches. It heads to the north-northeast and crosses over Sand Hill Creek. In Gulfcrest, the highway intersects the eastern terminus of CR 92 (Gulfcrest Road). The highway curves to the north and passes McDavid–Jones Elementary School. Then, it enters Citronelle. Almost immediately is an intersection with CR 41 (Celeste Road), which begins to parallel the U.S. Highway. It passes Lott Middle School and then Pilgrims Rest Cemetery. At an intersection with the southern terminus of Main Street, CR 41 ends its paralleling of US 45. It curves to the north and crosses over Puppy Creek. In the main part of Citronelle, it has an intersection with both CR 96 (West State Street) and the northern terminus of CR 41 (East State Street). CR 96 has a brief unsigned concurrency with US 45. On the northeastern edge of the intersection is War Memorial Park. One block later, CR 96 splits off to the east, onto Lebaron Avenue. On the northeastern edge of the intersection, US 45 passes the new campus of Citronelle High School. It curves to the north-northwest and briefly leaves Citronelle. It passes Wesleyan Christian Academy and then re-enters the city for a very short stint. During the last stint, it crosses over Bennett Creek. Upon leaving the city, it enters Washington County.