Truck Driver Training

Truck Diver Training
Truck Driver Trainees
Types of Truck Driving Schools
Why Attend A PTDI Certified Course
Choosing the Right School
To Report A Problem

The Truck transportation differs dramatically from almost every other form of business in the modern national economy. Its most essential employee &endash; the driver &endash; must work alone. In no other industry is a lone individual entrusted for such long periods, sometimes a week or more at a time, with so much valuable property belonging to others. This virtually total reliance on the 2.9 million individual drivers makes the trucking business unique among modern industries, where most work is performed under direct supervision or in intense collaboration. In the rest of the transportation industry, group effort is the norm: airliners, trains, barge tows and oceangoing ships are manned by crews rather than individuals, and most trips originate and terminate at stations manned by additional carrier personnel.

However, thanks to modern telecommunications, today's truck driver no longer suffers the almost total isolation his peers experienced a generation ago. He can talk with his dispatcher, his customers, his fellow truckers, or highway law-enforcement officers as he drives.

But while the driver can turn to these sources for help and advice, he or she cannot delegate to them his primary responsibility for the truck and the safe and timely delivery of its cargo. Only his/her hands are on the wheel. Only his/her feet touch the pedals. Only his/her eyes peer through the windshield at the road ahead and scan the side mirrors for the approach of potential hazards from the rear. Once the trailer doors are secured and the latch sealed, the driver bears sole responsibility not only for driving the truck safely, but also for bringing the truck and cargo to the receiver's dock on time, undamaged, and in compliance with all laws.

In the most literal sense, it's all in the driver's hands, and that driver must deliver the highest measure in industry diligence and professionalism at all times. In addition, each driver is an important link in overall highway safety.

Truck Diver Training

About five percent of the nation's professional truck drivers were trained in the military, which operates tractor-trailer combinations that operate very much like those used by commercial highway carriers. If you are going to be in the military or DoD civilian outplacement process and are interested in pursuing a career in the truckload industry, we suggest you collect the following information while you are still in active military or civilian DoD status (some only apply to those currently driving for the military):

  • A copy of an American Council on Education/Army Registry Transcript System transcript. This form equates Army Training with college credits.

  • A copy of DA Form 348, Equipment Operators Qualification Record.

  • A copy of DD Form 214, Report of Separation from Active Duty.

  • A copy of your 201 file (a candidate's history of military assignments and duties). Also, a notarized copy of your last efficiency and performance reports.

  • Commercial Driver's License (CDL) if available. If you do not have a CDL, ask any carrier that you contact about the procedures to obtain one.

  • Letter from last commanding officer or civilian supervisor certifying job performance.

  • A copy of your civilian driving record.

  • A copy of the Department of Transportation physical form, completed within the last 12 months.

Truck Driver Trainees

Many trucking companies are willing to take a new driver fresh out of driving school, or it operates its own school and will train someone with no experience. You can find driver training schools in most parts of the country, often in community colleges, vocational-technical schools, and through private proprietary schools.

Types of Truck Driving Schools

The United States boasts some 350 truck driving schools which offer training courses with more than four weeks of training. There are three types of schools: public, private and motor carrier.

There is also a type of truck driving school called a "finishing school," operated by the major highway carriers themselves. These accept only those who already know how to drive a tractor-trailer. Once enrolled, drivers are given additional training to polish their skills, plus company-specific instruction in the non-driving aspects of trucking: how to manage the carrier's paperwork, how to work with its dispatchers, and how to interact with customers. In addition to advanced driving techniques, these schools teach the "company way" of doing things.


The Professional Truck Driver Institute is a national, nonprofit organization sponsored by the nation's trucking industry to advance truck driving proficiency, safety and professional standards among drivers which, in turn, will foster benefits for all stakeholders, including motor carriers, insurers, training schools, government bodies at all levels, funding organizations and the American public.

Why Attend A PTDI Certified Course

The industry's annual demand for new drivers hovers around the 80,000 mark. And, it is the well-trained driver with the proper professional attitude and skills who is chosen first by employers.

Graduates from PTDI certified courses can apply for their first jobs with confidence that they will stand the best chance of being hired.

You can rest assured that the PTDI course you attend meets the standards set by the industry in curriculum, instruction, lab work, behind the wheel time and reputation with funding sources and the industry itself.

Your credentials as a graduate of a PTDI-certified course attest that you have mastered the knowledge, procedures and basic skill habits that will keep you safe on the road and assure that your job is secure.

As a PTDI graduate, you can take pride in the fact that you have the businesslike, professional attitude that commands respect from your peers and from shippers, receivers, law enforcement officials, and your employer.


Professional Truck Driver Institute
2460 W 26th Ave, Ste. 245-C
Denver, CO 80211
720/221-7242 (fax) (e-mail) (website)

Choosing the Right School

Choosing a school takes careful research and comparison shopping. To find a program that's right for you, visit as many schools as you can and consider the guidelines in the checklist that follows.

Once you have decided on the program that's right for you, pay close attention to the following details before signing the contract: read and understand the contract, and know exactly what your obligations are; verify the tuition and other costs and terms governing refund or forfeiture of the down payment should you fail to complete the program; and, if necessary, make arrangements (and be sure you clearly understand the terms) for financing the remainder of the tuition.

If the school is far from your home, check the availability of room and board at the school. Be sure to investigate adequacy and costs of those facilities. If you have dependents, be sure you have made arrangements to support them while you complete training. Research the availability of truck driving jobs where you live and determine whether you need to relocate in order to find a job.

To Report A Problem

If you enroll in a truck-driving course and a problem occurs that you cannot resolve with the school, send a letter describing your problem to your local or state consumer protection office. Send a copy of your letter to:

Correspondence Branch
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, DC 20580

Although the FTC cannot represent you directly in a dispute with a company, it can act if there is evidence of a pattern of deceptive or unfair sales practices. If you borrowed Federal funds to pay for truck-driver training, you can also call the Department of Education to report your problem. The toll-free number is: (800) MIS-USED. If a course is PTDI-certified, contact the Professional Truck Driver Institute (see information above).

This Checklist is a yardstick for motor carriers, truck driver employers, truck safety advocates, prospective students and others in measuring the quality of a tractor-trailer driver training program.

Formal training is the most reliable way to learn the many special skills required for safe truck driving. The more skills that are learned in supervised training, the fewer that need to be learned on the job. Such training is available from private truck driver training schools, public education institutions and in-house motor carrier training programs. Because of the important role in truck safety, the trucking industry has implemented minimum standards by which to measure training programs. The standards are administered through the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). Training institutions voluntarily certify their courses to meet PTDI standards. Not all schools have chosen to certify their courses.

You can use the following Checklist to evaluate a course against PTDI standards, if a course is not certified by PTDI. PTDI-certified courses meet all of these standards plus a number of others. (Click here for the full checklist .) The Checklist is only a brief treatment of the standards by which truck driver training quality is measured. It is not intended to provide an exhaustive treatment of evaluation standards.


The Trucking Industry
America Needs More Drivers
Driver Qualifications
Truck Driver Training
Checklist for Quality Programs in Tractor-Trailer Driver Training
North American Schools with PTDI-Certified Entry-Level Truck Driver Training Courses
Further Information on Careers in Trucking

Download a complete copy of Careers in Trucking in PDF format. You'll need Adobe's Acrobat Reader to view the publication .