Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Fruitdale AL

How to Decide on a Trucking School near Fruitdale Alabama

Fruitdale AL truck driving school campusCongratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Fruitdale AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Fruitdale residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best means to make certain you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow 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? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.

Which CDL Will You Need?

long haul tractor trailer in Fruitdale ALIn order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Fruitdale AL, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver 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 together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions of the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.

How to Evaluate a CDL School

Questions to ask Fruitdale AL truck driving schoolsOnce you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Fruitdale AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Fruitdale AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Fruitdale AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.

How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Fruitdale AL schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.

Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will provide ample driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Fruitdale AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Fruitdale AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Fruitdale AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.

Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Fruitdale AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Fruitdale AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.

Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Fruitdale AL?

If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Fruitdale Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.

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.[2]

Pick the Right Truck Driver School Fruitdale AL

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Fruitdale ALChoosing the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive 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 soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Fruitdale AL.

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