Commercial Driving Education in Maine
A guide for Maine CDL drivers, with trucking schools, application info, and more.
For commercial vehicles, like a truck, tractor-trailer, or school bus, a commercial drivers license is necessary. CDL educational programs are not mandatory in Maine to get a CDL. Although not technically mandatory, commercial driver's education is really necessary to get the knowledge and experience that are crucial in obtaining a CDL and driving effectively on the job.
FEDERAL REGULATIONS FOR COMMERCIAL DRIVING
In all US states, federal regulations are identical for commercial drivers. Regulations are laid out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and are designed for the safety of the drivers and that of the general public.
COMMERCIAL DRIVERS' STATE REGULATIONS
Before you can drive a commercial vehicle legally in Maine, you must take specific exams. These tests vary on different CDLs and the amount and type of endorsements on it. You will need to perform written knowledge, air brake inspection, and road, exams. Apart from these driver exams, the test vehicle also has to undergo inspection of the examiner. See here for the testing and application requirements for getting a CDL.
Maine also adheres to the U.S. Division of Motor Vehicles Hazardous Materials Regulations which incorporates the mandatory training and testing of commercial drivers who transport hazardous materials.
Drivers applying for a CDL in order to operate school buses require an additional school bus endorsement on their CDL which should mention that it is legal for them to drive 15 or more people beside themselves. The school bus endorsement requires drivers to clear a special knowledge test based on driving safety, passengers and school buses. The knowledge test must also include an air brakes section if there are air brakes on the school bus. The driver must also clear the skills test required to drive the school bus.
CERTIFIED TRUCK DRIVING COURSES IN THE US
The Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) certifies truck driving courses across the US. They set standards that programs may opt to adhere to, which indicates their program meets the criteria set out by PTDI. The criteria is based on driving skills taught, theoretical knowledge, and curriculum.
There are three types of training schools for truck driving:
- Private schools - privately owned companies aimed at training people to join the truck driving industry. They are usually high quality.
- Public schools - government run programs through colleges or institutes, usually at a subsidized cost.
- In house programs - these are training programs offered by individual companies themselves set up to train workers for their company. These programs can vary and usually typecast workers for that company only.
The PTDI standard curriculum outlines what is required for certification under their standards, and provides other info and basic training for CDL drivers.
FINDING A GOOD TRUCK DRIVING TRAINING PROGRAM
You can pick a good school on the basis of the information that you receive from the school catalogue or brochure. A good school should be informative about themselves and the training they offer. The catalogue should inform you about:
- the school and its involvement with truck driving training - how it will help you with the licensing and eventual recruitment assistance.
- what the facilities are like and the code of conduct.
- what type of courses are available and the how to apply.
- expenses for receiving a CDL and for taking the courses.
- the refund policy in the event that you drop out of the course or are asked to leave.
- what the evaluation method is, i.e. grading, graduation.
DURATION OF TRAINING
There aren't set standards for the length of courses. Quality schools will break down how time is allocated among driving and in class training. Actual driving experience time is the most important. As per PTDI standards, each student should get at least 44 hours of actual driving experience and 104 hours of classroom and laboratory training to be able to drive a truck safely and competently. This standard is good to keep in mind when selecting programs.
It is recommended by experts to complete training that takes 4-6 weeks, with daily classes. Some high quality schools offer longer programs to give more time to individual driving experience and classroom attention.
GETTING WORK AFTER THE PROGRAM
Private training programs and public training programs typically offer a diploma or certificate at the end of the program. These certificates and diplomas provide a good value for comparison of workers when employers are deciding on positions. Insurance companies also use this diploma for their premiums. Training programs offered by motor carriers do not offer such a diploma or certificate and that training cannot be used as proof of completing the program during recruitment. Hence, students from these schools have to take positions with the motor carriers themselves.
A mark of a good school is their process for helping graduates find jobs upon or before they enter the workforce. Many schools will offer presentations and interview fares with industry professionals.
A reputable program will note its placement rate on its brochure and will have the infrastructure to help its students secure a good position once the training is over, through their network of prospective employers as well as their commitment to students in helping them prepare for interviews and with preparing their resumes. Some top schools in the US are also known to provide lifetime assistance in finding placement.
- Since training schools are evaluated on the basis of their placement rates, it is important to complete a commercial driver's education program from a good school before you apply for a CDL. This ensures that you become a safe driver and are also able to get a good job.
- See CDL Basics and How to Renew a CDL.