Driving School

When learning how to drive a commercial vehicle, a driver is best served by enrolling in a course at a driving school. There are several aspects to consider when comparing driving schools, which include:

  • Behind the wheel hours
  • Instructor-to-student ratio
  • Cost
  • Length of the course
The most important aspect of a driving school is the number of hours the student spends behind the wheel learning how to drive the vehicle. Some schools will claim they have a large number of driving hours, but in actuality very few of those hours in a vehicle are spent behind the wheel. Instructors will pack several students into a vehicle for a day-long drive and students will take turns doing the driving. That might be listed as 8 hours of driving time, but a student may only log 2 hours of behind the wheel time. According to the Professional Truck Driver Institute, students should receive at least 44 hours of actual driving behind the wheel time. Any less time spent behind the wheel, a driver will not know how to properly handle the vehicle in all situations.

Along with the number of driving hours, students should consider the instructor-to-student ratio at a driving school. While a higher ratio is fine for a classroom setting (1:20 for example), students will want a smaller ratio (1:7 or less) during "truck lab," or time spent becoming familiar with the vehicle while not actually driving. A 1:2 ratio at most is ideal for actual driving time. Any more than that ratio will hamper students.

Driving School

Cost is obviously a factor for most students. The common types of driving schools are private schools, public institutions and motor carrier training, or training given by a trucking company that would then hire the student. Public institutions such as state colleges, voc-techs and community colleges offer CDL programs as part of their curriculum. Because these are often subsidized by state or local governments, the cost may be somewhat lower than at a private driving school. However, a private school earns its living by training students very well and gaining a reputation for turning out exceptional drivers. Even though they might be somewhat more expensive, these schools offer a more thorough experience.

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Last Updated: 04/25/2014

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