While drivers under the age of 21 are not allowed to cross state borders, they are allowed to drive in their home state of California. With the need for CDL drivers being higher than ever before, those 18-20 can help fill the local gap for state wide routes.
Not everyone wants to take the college route after graduation. Some students want training for a vocational career in school so they can take advantage of entering industries directly after graduation. Patterson High School(PHS) in California has a unique way of solving this problem. They are training Seniors for the trucking industry.
The program is attractive to students as they can have a career in a stable, well paying industry almost straight out of high school. The options after high school to complete training and to obtain a CDL license can be completed in a matter of months, which means the student is on the road and making money before classmates even step onto campus for their first day of Freshman classes.
The CDL curriculum includes 90 hours of lecture as well as 90 hours of hands-on activities. In addition to the those 180 hours, students spend 20 hours using driving simulators to learn how to safely drive a truck. The simulators are capable of presenting real world issues to the student while offering passive-resistance and force-feedback steering. This will allow the students to experience what it is like to drive a truck in the safety of a classroom.
Students learn how to identify vehicle parts as well as how to do pre-trip inspections, fill out log books, injury prevention, and so much more. Some students choose to move to another CDL school after graduation, while some choose to take advantage of the free behind-the-wheel training with a partner carrier, Morning Star Trucking.
The program is being overseen by a former truck driver, Dave Dien, who logged 700,000 accident and ticket free miles, with the support of superintendent Dr. Philip Alfano. Dr. Alfano had earlier created a supply chain and logistics management program at the school. Dien, who had since retired and moved into teaching, saw the success of the program and worked with Dr. Alfano to create the program. Hard work with fleets and industry groups soon paid off as the curriculum came to life.
PHS continues to work closely with their partner carriers to ensure a well rounded and safe education on driving a truck. When developing the curriculum, the highest level standards that have been set by the Professional Truck Driving Institute were incorporated.
The CDL program is helping to build confidence in students who are taking the classes, as they know they will be prepared for after graduation. Students are also maturing faster when it comes to driving awareness and safety. Discussions of current trucking news helps prepare students for the challenges and rewards of the industry, as well as keeping them current on new technologies.
In an economy that is uncertain and college costs soaring, trucking may provide an answer for some high school students. And in return, those students may provide the answer for an industry in desperate need of qualified drivers.