Be honest, after 3 or 4 weeks of truck driver training at a CDL school, did you feel ready for the open road?
Did you feel fully qualified to pilot an 80,000 pound rig down a steep mountain grade in winter weather?
Chances are, the answer is a resounding “NO!”
If that’s the case fear not, you’re not alone.
With a positive outlook, additional training and plain old hard work, your career in trucking can be safe, rewarding, and even lucrative.
Today, we’ll take a close look at 5 things you probably didn’t learn at truck driving school.
Table of Contents
- 1. Driving a Truck can be Dangerous
- 2. How to Handle Your Equipment
- 3. Load Securement
- 4. You Won’t Learn That You’re Not Ready for the Road… Until You’re On the Road (Truck Driver Training Biggest Shortfall)
- 5. You Won’t Learn to Advocate for Yourself as a Professional Truck Driver
- We Can Help in the Following Ways
1. Driving a Truck can be Dangerous
In most cases CDL school instructors won’t tell just how dangerous that truck driving job you’re training for really is.
Yes, they should give you lots of pointers for operating an 18 wheeler safely, but there’s SO much they won’t teach you, like –
- Loading dock injuries
- Being safe around trucks backing up
- Falling on (or off) the deck of a flatbed
- Attacks by angry protesters
- Organized cargo theft rings
- The danger of parking in unsafe areas
- Injuries resulting from handling equipment improperly
These are common occurrences in trucking you should be aware of.
2. How to Handle Your Equipment
CDL schools tend to focus on the basics of driving a truck – shifting, turning and backing up.
They’re all necessary skills, but schools often fail to train drivers in how to handle their equipment correctly and perform some pretty basic tasks.
Here we’re talking about –
- Scaling a truck
- Sliding the 5th wheel to ensure proper weight distribution
- Sliding trailer axles
- Shifting a standard transmission (automatics are the norm at most CDL schools)
- How to chain up in icy and snowy conditions
Sadly, by not teaching drivers to perform these vital tasks, many CDL schools are doing their students a huge disservice.
Thankfully, many of our blog posts and YouTube videos offer in-depth demonstrations of these skills, which is probably why they’re so popular!
Surprisingly, lots of drivers – even those with several years of experience – still have no idea how to scale a truck or slide the fifth wheel.
AS SEEN ON THE POPULAR YOUTUBE CHANNEL!
3. Load Securement
Few things are as important as load securement.
Improperly secured loads cause hundreds of fatal accidents every year, yet some truck driver training programs skim over or skip teaching this important skill altogether.
And load securement isn’t just for flat-bed drivers.
In fact it’s just as important for:
- General freight
- Reefer freight
- Auto haulers
- Household goods
- Specialized freight like trade show exhibits
I’ve been asked by many drivers who’ve been hauling produce for years, how to properly load and secure pallets on the trailer.
The crazy thing is, many of them have never been taught.
It’s probably not surprising that improper load securement can cause –
- Freight damage
- Unstable trailers to roll over
- Personal injury (or worse) from falling freight when trailer doors are opened
4. You Won’t Learn That You’re Not Ready for the Road… Until You’re On the Road (Truck Driver Training Biggest Shortfall)
Truck driver training is an important step in getting your Class A CDL and safely operating a commercial vehicle.
That said, you may not fully realize what you don’t know until –
- You have an accident
- You can’t get the trailer into a tight loading dock
- You’re struggling with rusty chains in a blizzard
- You find yourself in situations where you have no idea what the hell to do!
This is one of the biggest complaints we hear about truck driving schools.
5. You Won’t Learn to Advocate for Yourself as a Professional Truck Driver
Most new truck drivers spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours getting their CDL licenses.
But what you won’t hear at most truck driver training schools, is that standing up for yourself and protecting your CDL should be top priorities for new drivers.
In addition, they’ll never tell you that driver managers will –
- Urge you to “GO GO GO” even if you’re tired or sick
- Demand that you to take a load requiring special attention – even if you don’t have the proper training or experience
- Try talking you into driving in bad weather conditions, even if you don’t feel safe
So here’s the deal.
Most truck driving schools teach students just enough to pass mandatory tests and get their CDLs. Period.
After all, what can you realistically expect from 3 to 4 week program (or less)?
If you disagree, it’s a clear sign that you haven’t been a “professional driver” for very long.
The truth is, it takes way more than 3 or 4 weeks to become anything more than a steering wheel holder.
The rest will come from real-world experience when you have your CDL and are out on the open road.
But man, what a way to learn!
That’s just the way it is, at least in North America.
We Can Help in the Following Ways
At Smart Trucking, we’re all about helping drivers make the most of their truck driving careers, which is why we post so many articles and YouTube videos about:
- The dangers of trucking
- Load securement
- Shifting and backing
- Winter and city driving tips
- Protecting your CDL, and so much more
These posts and videos are great resources to fill in the big gaps left by many training programs.
Find an Experienced Driver Mentor
Remember, even the most experienced drivers started out as greenhorns.
And most will tell you that there’s no better way to learn the ins and outs of the industry than by having a mentor or two.
If you’re not sure where to find one, consider –
- Break rooms at company terminals
- Loading docks
- Truck stops
- Online forums
In short, good mentors are worth their weight in gold.
But be warned, the industry is chock-full of inexperienced “super truckers” with big mouths and bad attitudes.
Avoid them like the plague.
IF you can’t find the answers you’re looking for on the website or in our Youtube videos and would like some specialized information on your issues regarding your trucking career or training, we offer consultations.
(But first take the time to look around the website and our videos. )
Book a Consultation
- Do you need some advice regarding a specific issue related to your truck driving career?
- Are you unsure about becoming a truck driver?
- Do you need advice about a problem you are experiencing with the trucking company you are working for?