Truck Driving School Advice

Truck Driving School Advice

I may be putting a plugin on my blog here that will let all of you out there ask me direct questions about how to find a good truck driving school. I plug Sage only because I took a refresher course there myself after being off duty for a few years. The insurance company required me to pass a few tests. I found that students who were new and had attended the Sage truck driving school showed a higher skill level for the job right out of the gate.

I no longer train drivers, I got burned out after 8 plus years of doing that. I can still give general advice I feel to anyone who asks for it. I am solo now ans am enjoying the solace of having the whole truck to myself again. I spent so many years running team miles that my health was taking a hit, and I had survived those years with no accidents and none of my students having any either. I felt I was lucky. Time for a break and don’t press your luck I thought.

Many of  my old students still call, I had a call last month from a former student who checked on me. I think it’s a good feeling to know that I was able to help somebody and actually have them check on me even years later. I have met former students at truck stops around the country. It is nice to hear your comments. Most of them had attended a good truck driving school, but some had not. They needed real help in getting started and their skill levels were really poor. I had to wear two hats, driving instructor and driver trainer, there is a big difference.

I learned early on that I had to be able to shift the truck left handed from the passenger seat, that is a skill that came to me out of  an emergency, I have had to “grab a gear” more than once with the student failing to find one on a grade or just being tired and frustrated. I also learned how to teach shifting with the student using the throttle and I showing him which gear to select by engine sound. I would run the shifter while he ran the engine rpm’s to the correct level. This example helped him realize the engines role in gear selection along with road speed.

The bottom line is this, I use these examples of what I saw from end of the training over the road. I have seen many come to me with little or no skills taught to them by these truck driving schools. It is extremely important to select a school that will give you good baseline skills to get your feet planted firmly on the ground. A good trainer will be able to identify your shortcomings and work on those, but, basic shifting should be already there. We as trainers are usually supposed to polish what skills you have, not teach those from the start.

There are many things the truck driving schools will not teach. They have set ways and say that is how it is on the job. I will say right here that many things they say is gospel, is not accurate. I have many trainees say “that’s what they told me”. I say let a trainer show the real world way of doing things. Have an open mind when you get in the truck. Be ready to be flexible and learn, don’t just think because a trainer has a different way of doing something that it is wrong. He or she will have learned from experience.

I has set formulas for backing. I also know that any “formula” had better have a plan b and c and so on. There is always room for being flexible, but follow the basic formula and adjust it for the individual setting. In a good truck driving school, they will work you on real world backing situations. Having you back in both sight side and blind side. After 10 years or so, you will have a good idea what you can do when backing. But I must stress this one last point. I will always look at the space I am backing into, I get out of the truck and look for myself. Do not take it for granted. It is your responsibility and nobody else.

Good luck out there and stay safe.

Jim

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