How to Decide on a CDL Driving School near Bristol Florida
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Bristol FL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Bristol residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the ideal means to make certain you’ll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Bristol FL, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 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 pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 operators may be able to drive 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 operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Bristol FL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are some more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Bristol FL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Bristol FL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Florida licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Florida and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Bristol FL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs 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. Check with the Bristol FL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular 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 maintaining affiliations with numerous 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 be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Bristol FL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Florida, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Florida testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Bristol FL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Bristol FL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Bristol FL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Bristol FL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Bristol Florida area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
The Bristol Lodekka was a half-cab low-height step-free double-decker bus built by Bristol Commercial Vehicles in England. It was the first production bus design to have no step up from the passenger entrance throughout the lower deck, although Gilford and Leyland Motors had developed low floor city buses in the 1930s, these did not enter production.
The point of its design and introduction was to end the uncomfortable and inconvenient Lowbridge double-deck bus layout, replacing it by lowering the chassis frame and integrating it with the body, and fitting a drop-centre rear axle, so that there were no steps from the rear entrance platform to the front of the passenger gangway, itself sunk about 10 cm (6 inches) below the seating platforms on the LDX, LD and first five LDLs. A full flat floor was developed on the last LDL, then used on the LDS and the F series Lodekkas. Bristol Commercial Vehicles, Eastern Coach Works and some of their employees obtained a number of patents relating to the design.
Bristol manufactured over 5,200 Lodekkas from 1949 to 1968, as a standard double-deck vehicle for the UK state-owned bus sector. With all examples bodied by Eastern Coach Works in Lowestoft, they have a traditional half-cab design and a lower floor level allowing a low overall height. The earlier LD-series and the later FL and FS had a rear platform, but the FSF and FLF had a forward (behind the front axle and driver's position, rather than 'front' ahead of the front axle and alongside the driver) entrance. Most were powered by 5 or 6-cylinder Gardner engines, with fewer having a Bristol or Leyland power unit.
Pick the Best Truck Driver School Bristol FL
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want 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 driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Bristol FL.
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