Commercial Driver Education in Missouri
A resource for missouri CDL drivers, with trucking schools, application information, and more.
A resource for Missouri 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 Missouri to get a CDL. However not technically mandatory, commercial driver’s education is really necessary to understand the intricacies that you need to have in order to get a CDL and to drive a commercial vehicle successfully.
COMMERCIAL DRIVERS FEDERAL REGULATIONS
Federal regulations for commercial driving are the same for all states in the US. The regulations are determined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) outlining standards for driver safety and the general public.
COMMERCIAL DRIVERS’ STATE REGULATIONS
Before you can drive a commercial vehicle legally in Missouri, you are required to take certain exams. These tests depend on the type of CDL 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 exam, and the road exam. Apart from these driver exams, the test vehicle also has to pass inspection of the examiner. See here for the testing and application requirements for obtaining a CDL.
Missouri also adheres to the U.S. Division of Motor Vehicles Hazardous Materials Regulations which includes the mandatory training and testing of commercial drivers who transport hazardous materials.
Drivers who apply for a CDL in order to operate school buses require an additional school bus endorsement on their CDL which should note that they are authorized to drive fifteen or more people beside themselves. Separate knowledge and practical driving safety tests are required for bus driving. If there are air brakes on the school bus, a section on the test will cover them. A skills test must be completed.
CERTIFIED TRUCK DRIVING PROGRAMS 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.
- The third type is on the job training offered by carriers themselves with an aim to get the trainees to work for them. These training programs are usually not the best and only impart enough knowledge and skills to get a CDL.
If a school is PTDI certified, it has to meet the PTDI standards. This includes providing 44 hours of driving experience and a standard curriculum that not only gives the basic training for getting a CDL, but also includes a variety of other topics that the trainee should know about in order to safely and successfully get a CDL as well as to operate a truck.
FINDING A GOOD TRUCK DRIVING TRAINING PROGRAM
A good first step in finding info is look at program brochures or catalogues. Most decent school will present everything that is offered from the course, in the booklet. The catalogue should inform you about:
- how the program is involved with truck driving (how it helps with licensing and recruitment).
- the facilities it offers and the codes of conduct that it follows.
- the courses that are offered and the process for admission to the school.
- 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.
- 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.
DURATION OF TRAINING
There aren’t set standards for the length of courses. An established program will note the duration in details on their brochure, clearly outlining how many hours are spent in actual driving and how many in the classroom. The training given behind the wheel is the most practical part of this training program. 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. Any course which comes close to this standard is a good course and is worth enrolling for.
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 have a diploma or certificate after the program is finished. When carriers and trucking companies hire new drivers, they almost always prefer students who have such a certificate/diploma since that is proof of the students having completed the basic hours of training. This proof is also required by their insurance providers as part of the new hire processes. 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 programs have to take positions with the motor carriers themselves.
Good schools help their students to find good jobs at the end of their training program. They usually have placement services on campus which arrange recruiting events with prospective employers to come and make presentations to the students and interview them.
Placement rates are shown by some programs detailing what the rate of employment is for graduates upon completion of the course. They aim to increase these rates through interview and resume prep and networking. Some programs offer lifetime placement assistance.
- Before applying for a CDL it is important complete a driver’s education program from a good reputable program with a good placement rate.
- See CDL Basics.