Commercial Driving Ed in Virginia
VA CDL drivers education info. Trucking schools, colleges, how to apply and more explained here.
For commercial vehicles, like a truck, tractor-trailer, or school bus, a commercial drivers license is necessary. It is not mandatory to take a commercial driver's education course in order to get your commercial driver's license (CDL) in Virginia. Although not technically mandatory, commercial driver's education is particularly useful to understand the intricacies that you need to have in order to get a CDL and to drive a commercial vehicle successfully.
FEDERAL REGULATIONS FOR COMMERCIAL DRIVING
In all US states, federal regulations are the same 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.
STATE REGULATIONS FOR COMMERCIAL DRIVING
The state of Virginia requires you to successfully complete certain tests to obtain your CDL before you can legally drive a commercial vehicle. These tests depend on different CDLs and the amount and type of endorsements on it. The exams that you need to clear to conform to state regulations are the written knowledge test, the Air Brake Inspection test, and the road test. Apart from these driver tests, the test vehicle also has to pass inspection of the examiner. For all the requirements navigate to our application page.
There is also obligatory training and testing for commercial driver transporting hazardous materials, under the U.S. Division of Motor Vehicles Hazardous Materials regulations.
For school bus driving you require a special school bus endorsement on your CDL that authorizes driving 15 people or more apart from themselves. Separate knowledge and practical driving safety tests are required for bus driving. The knowledge test must also include an air brakes section if there are air brakes on the school bus. A skills test must be completed.
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.
Below are the three types of training schools:
- There are the private schools which are run by privately owned establishments like corporate houses. Their main aim is to train people to join the truck driving industry which has a high level of demand. Their programs are typically of a good standard.
- 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.
HOW TO PICK A GOOD TRAINING SCHOOL FOR TRUCK DRIVING
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. It should outline the following:
- the school and its involvement with truck driving training - how it will help you get licensed and recruited.
- what the facilities are like and the code of conduct.
- the courses that are offered and the process for admission to the school.
- the cost of the course as well as costs associated with getting the CDL.
- what the refund police is in case you have to leave the course.
- the school's expectations from the student in terms of successful completion of the course, how the students will be evaluated, how they will be graded and what they need to do to graduate from the course.
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. The training given behind the wheel is the most practical aspect of this training program. PTDI standards stipulate 44 hours of driving experience and 104 hours classroom and lab time. This standard is good to compare 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.
GRADUATION AND PLACEMENT AFTER TRAINING PROGRAM
Private training programs and public training programs typically have a diploma or certificate after the program is finished. 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.
Good schools help their students to find employment at the end of their training program. They will have placement services on campus which arrange recruiting events with prospective employers to come and make presentations to the students and interview them.
A good program will state 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.