Driving Schools: Are They Good for the Industry?

By Eric Braun, Senior Writer, USRW

We all had to start somewhere, and the mere mention of Tractor Trailer Driving School is a topic that will illicit many opinions from the seasoned drivers. However, is the industry accepting of such schools or are they worth the investment or are they a take the money, and rubber stamp the diploma scam?

Surely, there are those schools with good reputations who produce fine candidates for entry level jobs, and there are those who promise the world and deliver disappointing results.  Are these schools really deserving of the bad reputation or an age old stereotype? Did years of advertising on matchbooks in prior decades lower the perception of our industry?

The enticement from most schools makes it sound very easy, just be 21, a valid driver’s license, a good driving record and the ability to pass a DOT physical. A “small down payment” and you’re on your way. Unemployment agencies and certain veteran’s programs will pay for your tuition if you meet certain criteria.  The better schools offer real life simulators, and almost all of them brag of at least a 95% graduation rate and a 100% job placement rate. One school brags that they have a 100% success rate, be leery of that one, it’s hard to imagine that everyone passes and deserves to do so.

The Department of Labor, (DOL) Bureau of Labor & Statistics states that the 2015 median pay for Professional Drivers (Road Warriors) is $40,260 per year, or roughly $19.36 per hour. The DOL actually suggests that a Driving School is the best way to learn and warns that the occupation as a long-haul truck driver is a major lifestyle choice because drivers can be away from home for days or weeks at a time. (in case you didn’t know)

Most of these school’s state you can be trained and on the road in a month or less. We all know that we don’t want to be on the road with a colleague who has a month’s training, driving a 26,000-ton rig pulling a load, going 65 MPH, within a mile of us on the road. Obviously shorter schools that promise the world and are cheaper are a temptation but a long term investment will pay for itself in the end. You don’t just want to be handed a diploma and handshake, you want to know your confident and not just going through the “diploma mill.”

Is the stigma that comes with the stereotype of driving schools fair or is it just a matter of salty drivers forgetting where they came from? What is the best way to enter this field, and what tips would you give a rookie trying to make it in the industry?

How did you get trained? Did you go to a driving school and if so, what was your experience like?  

Your homework tonight Road Warriors is to comment and let us know your thoughts, opinions and experiences! You never know when there might be a pop quiz!

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