How to Choose a Truck Driver School near Epes Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Epes AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Epes residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you’ll receive the right training. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick 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 Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Epes AL, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with 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 CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several of the vehicles that operators may be qualified to drive with Class B licenses are:
- Tractor Trailers
- Dump Trucks
- Cement Mixers
- Large Buses
- Class C Vehicles
Both Class A and Class B CDLs may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Epes AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Epes AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Epes AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Epes AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide ample 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Epes AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Epes AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Epes AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Epes AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Epes AL area trade or technical 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.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Epes AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Epes Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Epes is located near Jones Bluff, overlooking the Tombigbee River. It is located at 32°41′26″N 88°7′27″W / 32.69056°N 88.12417°W / 32.69056; -88.12417 (32.690497, -88.124182). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 1.9 square miles (4.9 km2), all land.
Epes has its origins in Fort de Tombecbé (Fort Tombecbe), one of the major fortifications built under Louis XIV of France, in what is now the American south, in the early eighteenth century. In January 1736, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, governor of Louisiana, recruited a Swiss officer serving with the French, Joseph Christophe de Lusser, to construct a fort on the Tombigbee River, "atop an 80-foot bluff to support his campaign against the Chickasaws" that was to proceed in the year following; Bienville visited the site in April of the same year, and took control of the construction, leading to its completion and its support of his martial efforts against the Native Americans. After a 26-year stay, during which the French used this and other holdings to check "westward expansion by the British into the French colony of Louisiana," and to serve "as a trading post, solidifying France's relations with the Choctaws... the most powerful French ally in the area," the French ceded the fort, with most of its North American territory, to Great Britain under the Treaty of Paris, surrendering Tombecbé in November 1763; the British inspected and renamed it Fort York, although its actual inhabitation would await a recurrence of hostilities between the Choctaw and Creek Indians in 1766. Records of those overseeing the fort in this period document the challenge of supplying such a remote location, and after a 1768 truce ended the hostilities between the Choctaw and Creeks, the British abandoned Fort York, with Choctaws being the remaining inhabitants of the area until this tribe ceded a small parcel of land that included the fort to the Spanish in 1792/1793, under the Treaty of Boucfouca. As little of the original fortification structures remained when Spain arrived to take control in 1794, the Spanish chose to construct "a smaller but more substantial earthen structure" (rather building further wooden fortifications); they renamed the site and their resulting structure Fort Confederacion, in recognition of the alliance the Spanish had struck with Native American groups to assist them in resisting encroachment by commerce and settlements from the United States. Fortifications were completed before the beginning of 1796, in time to provide support to the Spanish when war broke out with the United States, and when hostilities began again between the Chickasaw and Creek Indians; the Treaty of San Lorenzo, between Spain and the young U.S., ended that part of the hostilities, and ceded Spanish territory "above the 31st parallel," including the Fort, to the U.S, "thus marking the end of the European colonial era in Alabama."
Epes was incorporated in 1899 and named for Dr. John W. Epes, who donated the right-of-way for Southern Railroad (if the town would be named Epes). The town is located on the high bluffs of the Tombigbee River. Standing on the bluffs, you could hear the ferries and steamboats traveling down river. During its prime, it was known as the transportation and business and service center. It had three cotton gins, a cotton compress, cotton seed oil mill, creamery, handle company, The Casey Hotel, The Bowers Boarding House, a school, two grocery stores, a drug store, general merchandising stores, and two livery stables. The second stockyard in Alabama opened in Epes in 1936.
Select the Best Truck Driving School Epes AL
Picking the right truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Epes AL.
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