If you’re like many Americans, you may be looking for a good job that pays well and allows you flexibility. If so, truck driving may appeal to you.
As a truck driver, you will have job security due to the a shortage of commercial truck drivers across the United States. You’ll also earn a good salary, with benefits. One of the most appealing aspects of truck driving for many people is the ability to travel across the United States, seeing sites while getting paid.
In Pennsylvania, there are a number of steps that you must take to become a truck driver. While specific training is not formally required, it is a practical way to learn the skills necessary to pass the required tests under Pennsylvania law. This training can also help you become a safe driver.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2017, 4,889 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal accidents, representing a 9 percent increase from 2016. this is an overall increase of 42 percent since 2009. In 2017, there were 116,000 large truck and bus injury crashes, an increase of 4 percent from 2016. Given the overall increase in the number of accidents involving trucks in the United States, it is vital that truck drivers receive appropriate behind the wheel training for truck driving.
As a Philadelphia truck accident lawyer can explain, on-the-road training is a method by which truck drivers can learn how their vehicle operates — and how they can pick up important safety skills. This includes both how to drive their own truck safely and how to avoid accidents through defensive driving. Read on to learn more about where you can get behind the wheel training in the Philadelphia area.
Requirements to Obtain a CDL in Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania law, anyone who drivers a commercial motor vehicle must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). To qualify, applicants must first pass a general knowledge test that is required for all CDL applicants. If an applicant seeks an additional endorsement, such as for driving vehicles over a certain gross weight, then additional knowledge tests are required.
After the knowledge test(s) are passed, applicants are then required to take a skills test in the class and type of vehicle that they intend to drive. This skills test involves a pre-trip inspection, off-the-road maneuver, and vehicle parking exercise. This skills test cannot be taken until 15 days after the knowledge test is passed and a permit is issued.
How to Get Behind the Wheel Training for Your CDL Test
While the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) does not require a certain number of behind the wheel hours to obtain a CDL, it would be difficult to impossible to pass the skills test without substantial training in driving a commercial vehicle. Fortunately, there are a number of schools and training centers in and around Philadelphia that offer training for prospective truck drivers.
AAA School of Trucking, located in Philadelphia, offers a number of courses for tractor trailer driving (with 55 hours or more of actual drive time), commercial vehicle driving (with 20 or more hours of drive time) and refresher courses (25 hours of drive time). Smith & Solomon Commercial Driver Training, with a location in Dupont, similarly offers courses for tractor trailer driving, straight truck driving, and driving commercial trucks with passengers. All courses include on-the-road drive time.
Start CDL Training in Philadelphia offers students drive time on both city streets and highways, with the ability to choose an entire course or by-the-hour training. 160 Driving Academy, with locations in Trenton and Penns Grove, New Jersey, provides students with both classroom and field instruction, with time on courses and on streets and highways.
While we cannot personally endorse any one training school, these facilities and others in the Philadelphia area offer behind the wheel hours that can assist potential truck drivers with obtaining their CDLs. This training can also help form the basis of a successful career in truck driving.
Why Comprehensive Training Is So Important
When you get behind the wheel of a tractor trailer, you are hauling serious weight. The engine for a semi-truck can weigh over 2,880 pounds — more than a small passenger car. When you add in the weight of the tractor itself, plus the load, these rigs can top out at 80,000 pounds.
The sheer size of semi-trucks makes it critical that truck drivers understand how to operate them properly and safely. If you make an error while operating your commercial vehicle, the results could be deadly, particularly if you are in an accident with a passenger vehicle.
It may be tempting to do the bare minimum training required to familiarize yourself with the vehicle and pass the skills test so that you can get on the road and start earning money. Doing so may be a mistake, as having the skills to operate your truck well will set you apart from other candidates for any job.
More importantly, understanding how to handle your truck safely in a variety of situations will prevent you from making errors in judgment that could have fatal consequences. Something as simple as failing to do a thorough check of your rig before a long haul drive can lead a a serious accident.
In addition, driver training can teach you how to drive defensively. The majority of truck accidents are due to errors by the driver of passenger vehicles. A good training course can help you learn techniques, such as keeping a safe distance from other vehicles, using turn signals, and being patient with slow or reckless drivers.
How a Philadelphia Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
Truck accidents can be incredibly serious, which is why it is so important that prospective truck drivers get appropriate training to safely operate their vehicles. A moment of inattention or a failure to inspect your truck can lead to a dangerous situation — or even a fatal collision with a passenger vehicle.
If you have been involved in a crash with a truck, Solnick & Associates can help. We have more than 30 years of combined experience working with victims of truck and other types of accidents. Call our office today at 215-481-9979, or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation with a skilled Philadelphia truck accident lawyer.