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Truck Driving School 101

I've been driving an 18-wheeler for 11 years. People always ask "is it hard to drive that thing." The answer is: yes and no. Once you're used to driving an 18-wheeler, it's not hard. But it takes a lot of practice, patience, and paying attention to get good. You know a guy has been trucking a long time when he can blind side it into a hole between two trucks without having to pull up once. For the rest of us, it's a good idea to have an extra set of eyes watching from outside the truck, go slow, and not worry about looking dumb when you need to make a correction.

Trucking schools teach you the basics. They teach you what you need to know to pass the test in your state. They teach you how to answer the questions the right way and how to turn the wheel to put the trailer where the examiner wants it to go. They do NOT teach you trucking. I'd call trucking school "Intro to Trucking, 101," if you will. Don't get me wrong-trucking school provides you with a good base of knowledge about trucking. You can learn the physics behind a jack knife and some basic tips to avoid trucking accidents. You can learn the basics of maneuvering. You can learn the rules and regulations of the trucking world. The more you know when you leave trucking school, the better equipped you are to handle the realities you will encounter on the road.

I don't know of any reputable companies that don't require trucking school. Some companies provide their own trucking school and teach you for free so long as you drive for them for a certain period of time- usually 6 months to a year.

When I went to trucking school, there were 4 ways to pay.

  1. Pay cash up front.
  2. Get a loan, pay the trucking school up front and pay the loan back to the loaner (whether it's a bank or a relative).
  3. Take a loan from the trucking school and pay them back with a lot of interest.
  4. Government funding through unemployment or military programs.
If you opt to take a loan from the trucking school, be aware of the interest they are charging. Also, read the contract on the loan carefully. Some loans penalize you for paying them off early and some require that you pay all the interest whether you pay it off early or not.

If you opt to work for a company that provides the training in return for your commitment to drive for them, be aware of what the going rates are for new drivers. Say that trucking school costs $3,500 and the going rate for a solo driver is 30 cents per mile (cpm). If you opt to go through a company's trucking school and they want you to drive for them for a year at 20 cpm, that's a 10 cent difference. In a year's time, if you drive 100,000 miles, you have made $10,000 less than you would have working for 30 cpm. You need to decide if the original investment in trucking school is worth the loss of income you may face.

However you pay for it, trucking school is a necessity in most cases. It is the gateway to a good paying job. is the only comprehensive online resource for over 1100 truck weigh stations and scales as well as state DOT weight regulations and policies. Knowledge of the varying policies and the ability to manage or avoid most weigh stations can save truckers thousands of dollars in ticket fines. For further information, contact Michael Farrell at 646.257.2052 or view complete Truck Weigh Stations, Scales and State DOT Information at

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Truck Driving School 101

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