I really wish I had found this forum before I went. Really, I wish I had done any research. Below I'll share all the info I've gleaned from my (short) time as a student at Premier Driving School in Salt Lake City.
For those of you that are unaware, Premier Driving School is CR England's CDL mill. CDL mill may seem harsh, the operate at the bare, bare minimum, which in my mind is dangerous to everyone on the road. I am writing this out to hopefully give information to that prospective student, hopefully you'll read this before you get on the Greyhound to Salt Lake City.
Let me start with a few tidbits about the school itself, and then I'll lead into my personal account. If I put "I heard" it is just a rumor, take it for what you will. If I say "I heard from a reliable source" an instructor said it so I consider it to be fairly genuine.
-School is 10 days long, only 6 days of which is actually in or around the trucks.
-You sign a loan agreement/contract. You stay with CR England for 12 months (or 9 months if a Veteran) and they pay it off. The company you sign loan agreement with is owned by CR England. If you leave prior to completing, you owe them about 8 grand.
-They do not take money from you while the loan is being "paid". CR England "pays" 150 a month, and then after 12(or 9) months pays off the remaining amount. This means if you leave 1 month before your contract is up, you still owe thousands of dollars and the interest rate sucks. If you leave prior to taking the CDL test, however, you owe nothing.
-You take a Greyhound bus, no matter where you are coming from. You can fund your own way to get there if you want, if you really want to get to Salt Lake City that badly.
-You'll most likely live in the "dorms". Either a 2 man room that shares a bathroom/shower with other rooms or a 8 man room that has its own shower/bathroom. It generally stinks.
-One good point I can make is most of the Instructors DO seem to genuinely care. They are doing the best they can with the time they have, but it is such a crunch and they have to put through so many students. So if you do decide to still go after all I post here, and what you can read else where, that is a bright spot. Listen to them. Pick their brains. Some of them have 30 years of experience and are there because they care about the future of trucking.
All that being said, I'll lead on to my personal experience. It was a Sunday night and I was screwing around on the internet. Crappy job as a security officer working 60 hours a week for 24k a year. A job with the city opened up as a garbage truck driver, making 48k a year. Only thing, it requires a CDL A or B. I had neither, so I started googling around and I eventually landed on CR England. I filled out their little online form and then just thought nothing of it. The next day before I've even woke up, I have two emails, a missed call, and a text message from them. Before I can even read the first email, my phone rings again. CR England.
I talk to the first lady, she was prescreening. No DUIs in 4 years? No more than 3 driving violations in 3 years? Good to go! On to the school placement recruiter, she made promise after promise after promise and told me how I could even be a trainer within 6 months making 85k a year. Needless to say I was skeptical... No one should be teaching anything after having only been doing it 6 months. After saying, yes, I'd like to do all this they got me a school seat set for 10 days later. I did my last 4 days of my security job and then took care of my DOT Physical, went and got my CLP from the DMV, and was all set. Left the next Saturday, got in at near midnight on Sunday.
There was no shuttle waiting for us, like they said there would be, so we cabbed it. All the Dorm rooms were full so they got us into a hotel, which I was infinitely happy about. Went there, slept for 4 hours (they gave us the option to come in at 7:30 instead, but I went in at 5am because I didn't want to be behind.)
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Monday (Day 1)
Paperwork all day, signing the loan agreement, meeting the instructors and school staff, and a cringy Sexual Harassment video. Also did the drug tests and physical that showed we could get into and out of the trailers and lift 35 pounds and what not. Then we squeezed in a video about Air Brakes in the last hour and we went back to the dorms, or hotels for those of us so fortunate.
Tuesday (Day 2)
This was the day! My first time ever being inside a Semi, much less driving one. I was very excited. Thing is, the Driving instructor my group of 10 was assigned to didn't show up that day. The schedule for the day is divided. You are either doing Pretrip/Backing Maneuvers or Driving in the morning and then you switch. Seeing as our driving instructor never showed up, I did Pretrip and Backing for both parts of the day. So I did get to drive a truck, just I never left the backing range. We only did straight backing and it was insane how many people couldn't do it. You got about 8 attempts each and the backing range consisted of lots of people standing around waiting for their turn. Pretrip is... Pretrip. You inspect your tractor and trailer to ensure everything works and it is all safe to drive. Pretty straight forward right? But no. There are 4 different instructors teaching pretrip and they teach 4 different things that you have to say for each part for the CDL Test. They finally got this straightened out later in the week, but it made the entire thing very confusing. After we cut for the day, at the hotel we create a pretrip study group and I never missed one. I kept doing pretrip until I could do it blindfold.
Wednesday (Day 3)
Guess what! Driving Instructor for my group still didn't show up. They pulled someone else to do it, so no big deal, we just have one day less practice than everyone else. So I still did the Pretrip and Backing in the morning. This time we did Offset Backing. If I thought people couldn't do straight backing, my God. Anyways, it wasn't too difficult to figure out. I actually bought a little toy tractor-trailer from the company store to give myself all the visuals I could with backing. After that, pretrip again. By Utah law, you can't use any aids when doing the pretrip portion of your CDL test, so they definitely stress its importance to you(but only the driver's side of the tractor-trailer and parts unique only to the right side because that is all they test on). Finally, after lunch, my time to drive! The driving instructor put three of us in the cab and off we drove... for about 10 minutes each. I got to drive on the interstate for about 3 minutes, so I'm a pretty solid trucker now. We got back at about 2 pm and the instructor said "Alright, you all did good, so you tomorrow." So I just went and did more pretrip until about 4pm and then went back to the hotel and did more with the study group.
Thursday (Day 4)
So, a new class came in on this day. 50 more students. This day was basically their Monday. My class went out, and again, morning we did Parallel Parking and then pretrip. Parallel parking made for some very interesting driving on the range. Mostly backing instructors blowing whistles and yelling at students as rampaging trucks galloped across the range. When it was time to drive again, after lunch, the driving instructor told us to just practice in-cab, tug test, and air brakes for our pretrip. No driving today.
Friday (Day 5)
So, today we still did pretrip and back and all that, but it was different. My class was sent to the north range, where all the test failures practice... And we no longer had instructors. We were supposed to do our final driving today before our CDL test on Monday too, but my driving instructor said he'd do it on Sunday. So yes, to this point I have driven the truck in a forward motion for a total of about 10 minutes, and the CDL test was in 3 days. This is when it all began to hit me that maybe this company doesn't look out for the best interests of its drivers. I heard that some poor guy that had just graduated and was waiting on a trainer was given a load and told to drive it somewhere to meet his trainer. They told him "You can do it!" and sent him on his way. BTW, they don't teach logs or weighing or wtf a prepass is or anything at the school. They only teach the bare minimum to get your CDL. They put everything else on the trainer, which has about 6 months of experience as I've mentioned earlier. I went home that day and began reading things on the internet.
Saturday (Day 6)
On this day you get to do as much backing or pretrip as you want. You just have to go wait in line. You can also just go screw around in the company store or the eatery all day. No one cares. I pretripped the entire day, but this is when I started looking at other companies and reevaluating the decision I'd made to join CR England. Why did I join them, when I could just go to a local school and get my CDL for free, utilizing my GI Bill, and owe a contract to no one? When I could go home every night and lay on my own bed? Would I even feel competent to drive after only 10 minutes of driving? That night I lay in bed looking up schools at home. I found one and also a company(Maverick) that I've heard nothing but good things about that hires graduates right from the school. Almost that moment I bought a bus ticket home, packed my stuff, and left.
I left before the CDL test, but I know I would have passed it. I legally would be allowed to drive a truck from Florida to Washington. Would it have been safe? Do I think what I got at CR England would have prepared me to drive a truck 10 miles on my own? And not just me, think of all the other CR England drivers out there with the exact same training.
Closing words on Premier Driving School, don't do it. If you are too poor to get into a school on your own there are companies with far better reputations than CR England. Although, if you're like me, you won't read this until you're already like 2 days away from testing... Which is actually a point I almost forgot to bring up. My CLP wasn't 15 days old yet. I was actually going to have to wait 2 days before I could legally test out.
Well, this is a very wordy first post and I hope I didn't bore the crap out of you. Also, hello, I'm new here.
If anyone has questions about anything I've written, or something that I haven't, feel free to ask me. And yes, CR England still calls me and sends me emails trying to get me to return and work for them.
Welcome to TTR. Don't have anything to do with CRST, either. Both CRST and England are locked in an eternal duel for the title of Dark Overlord of bottom of the barrel truck schools.
I know because I've been to both. But hey, you lived!
Are you still interested in continuing your trucking career? If so, @Chinatown can offer a suggestion, or two, or three.
He'll want to know where you work from.
And I promise you that trucking gets easier once you gain experience and can get on with a good company.
Hah! I have to think it is because they only see you as a number. CR England sticks about 40 people through each class, and they have two classes dropping every week. If 90% of people don't get through, so what, they have plenty more where that came from.
Something I neglected to mention, they only have automatics, so you get a nice little restriction on your CDL.
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