Special Alert!!! Truck Driving Schools

Discussion in 'Experienced Truckers' Advice' started by TurboTrucker, Aug 6, 2005.

  1. TurboTrucker

    TurboTrucker Road Train Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    Rossville, Georgia
    Folks, this HAS to be posted.

    I have had contact with another fine person seeking a new career, who has been victimized in just about the absolutely worst way imaginable by another Truck Driving School.

    The most recent complaint involves CDI/TDI located in Christiana, Tennessee. Upon doing some research, they are not endorsed or accredited by any credible source that I can find, but are authorized by the Tennessee Higher Education Center to operate as a training facility for the purpose of training truck drivers. Sponsoring carriers involved are Covenant Transport, Stevens Transport, H.O. Wolding, and Transport America for that location. Other sponsers at some of their associate locations include Werner, Swift, and some smaller, lesser known carriers.

    To ANYONE considering attending a school...PLEASE read this post over and over, until you understand each and every point I am about to raise. This is all too important. There are some really shady players out there, posing as training schools, and they escape the eyes of those that would have the power to shut them down, because they play things very close to the vest, in order to protect themselves from allowing proof to be released that would allow prosecution for their lawlessness.

    I really want to invite people to chime in on this one, for a couple of reasons. I have never attended a training school, number one, and number two, those of you that have, can offer valuable information to others that will help them make better and informed decisions.

    First of all, when anyone is considering the career of driving a truck, and they have no experience, they are going to have to find a way to be trained and introduced to their first job. If you have read my other posts, you are aware of many of my recommendations.

    Please understand that there is a new trend developing in the industry, where several Motor Carriers have tapped into sources of funding for "training" of displaced workers, and they are investing heavily into training facilities, and are aligning themselves with some very questionable non-profits in Washington to steer money their way.

    In the process of doing this, they are using hopeful and desperate people, who are seriously seeking for a better means to support themselves and their families. The sad fact is, some of these companies are not offering what those people are seeking. They want your signature on a contract. Whether or not you work for them for any length of time is immaterial to them.

    With your signature, you can be locked into agreeing to just about anything under the sun, unless it is illegal. Contractual law is vague at best, and at it's worst, offers no protection whatsoever to the consumer. If you sign an ageement, it often takes a civil court action to resolve disagreements. It's not very often that the consumer prevails in cases, because they willfully signed the agreement.

    The Federal Trade Commission offers little if any protection to people who sign tuition agreements for Truck Driving Schools. They don't receive enough complaints to act on them. The thing is, there is widespread abuse in some very specific areas of Federal law occuring on a daily basis. I want to raise these areas to an awareness level.

    First of all, don't be lured into a false sense of security by an accreditation claim. I have found through recent research, that where it concerns Truck Driving Schools, the accreditation of a training facility may be offered by a firm, hired by a group or consortium of Motor Carriers and/or training facilities that have banded together to obtain taxpayer funds for offering training to new drivers, and the endorsement is supplied by that Washington D.C. firm, who gets a piece of the action, so to speak. It's legal, but shady, to say the least.

    I've waivered back and forth on the issue of accreditation, but after doing some research over the past couple of weeks, I am going back to my original stance on something. I would only recommend CONSIDERING, attending facilities that are endorsed by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI)

    I do not consider EVERY school on their lists to be worth attending, but they are at least screened to some degree for standards in their training programs, where many others out there are not. You still need to be careful what you walk into, and know the terms up-front. PDTI, also known as PDTIA, has been around since 1973 in one form or another, and although they have changed hands a few times, they offer the best standards for these schools to live up to, although that is not saying very much. Training facilities continue to be totally unregulated, although the FTC does occasionally slap the hands of those that operate outside the norm.

    If you are interested in understanding a bit more about accreditation, you can read up on it here:


    The contract you sign for any training program, ESPECIALLY one that involves tuition, is regulated under criteria of the Truth In Lending Act, Title 12 of the Code Of Federal Regulations, and by certain state laws that dictate how consumer loans are to be offered. You have certain rights, and these schools and associated lending institutions MUST follow guidelines when they have you sign contracts.

    When considering signing a tuition agreement, I urge you to ask for a BLANK copy of such an agreement up-front, so that you can understand the terms and conditions completely. If such a request is denied, I'd consider that a red flag, and an indication that the deal may have problems. Under no condition do you sign a THING, until you have an opportunity to see what the tution finance contract consists of. "Proprietary reasons or concerns" for denial of this request, if cited by anyone, are BUNK and further evidence that the institution has something to hide. If you agree with the terms of the blank contract, and decide to accept the loan for tuition, before you sign a tuition agreement, make sure that ALL lines and/or boxes are filled in or excluded with X's, and that nothing can be altered at a later date.

    This next point is absolutely important. GET A COPY OF THAT DOCUMENT IMMEDIATELY for your own records, as soon as you sign it. If this request is refused, ask for the document back, and TEAR IT UP INTO LITTLE PIECES, and find the exit door immediately. You have every right to a copy of ANY loan document at the time of signing (unless you have agreed to waive that right as it may be in the loan agreement...again you must READ IT!), and refusal of such a request is a violation of Federal law.

    It has come to my attention that there are schools that are not giving students copies of ANYTHING they sign, and tell them that when they are hired by a carrier and in a truck, all documents will be forwarded to them at that time. This is a completely unacceptable practice, and it may even be illegal, especially if the school has received compensation for your training prior to your being hired by any company. Disclosure laws demand that you are afforded a copy of the agreement NO LATER, than the time that funds are dispersed to the school. Personally, I would not sign a piece of paper that where no copy will be afforded at the time of signing. I get copies of EVERY piece of paper I sign for ANYONE, no matter how insignificant they may be at the time I sign them. They do not leave my presence for one SECOND, until I receive copies.

    You need to know EXACTLY who is financing that tuition, and when it is to be paid to the school. If that information is not included in the finance contract, the contract is more likely than not, illegal.

    Another disturbing finding, is the issue of what these schools are charging to train drivers. I have always thought that $5,000 was over the top, but I have come to learn that many of these people are being demanded to re-pay $10,000 in payments for tution. This amount if often demanded when a student does not hire on with an "approved" sponsoring carrier, or quits the carrier in less time than the contract stipulates for exchanging a service comittment for training. If this was not bad enough, the interest rates for these loans are topping 25%, in some cases. This is outrageous, and it's predatory lending in every sense of the word. In my opinion, it also borders on forced slavery, because you are basically signing away your right to choose an employer.

    Here's one more thing to consider. It is well known that some of the worst carriers, are aligned with the more questionable schools out there. The tactics used in cases where a newbie cannot cope with the job that they take, because it was misrepresented from the get-go, include the ruining of one's credit reports, illegal debt collection practices, blackballing of the former employee when requests for job references are made by prospective employers.

    As some of you may be aware, I endorse Schneider National Carriers, and their training program, the working conditions, and terms that they offer to newbies seeking an economical way to enter the industry. Time after time, I have heard that they have often forgiven the contract debt, even when one leaves them before their commitment is fulfilled. They don't trash credit reports, hound people, or blackball drivers, to the best of my knowledge.

    I urge anyone who is seeking for the most economical method of entering the trucking industry to check them out, because they offer a paid training program, one of the finest and most comprehensive programs out there, and the most comfortable environment for training that I am aware of. I am currently in contact with three people that are in their training program as I write this, and they are thrilled with it. I was in contact with their recruitment department a few weeks ago, to plead the case of one of these people that was not approved over a minor issue, and after a few minutes with a supervisor on the phone, they reversed their decision against company policy and hired this person. It is things like this that keep them on my list of companies that ARE worth a nod of approval. I consider Schneider a rare example of companies that are trying their best to improve their company. Are they perfect? No. They also may not be a good choice, depending on your own set of circumstances, which is why everyone needs to take the time necessary to make an informed decision.

    This exchange is far different from attending a supposed, stand-alone truck driver training facility, and then being forced to select from a few carriers. My advice...select the carrier you would like to work for FIRST, obtain a conditional approval for hire, and THEN worry about obtaining the training that they will accept. All the training in the world is worthless if your chances for staying on the job is in question.

    I am becoming convinced that the vast majority of the stand alone truck driver training schools are scams and shams, and there is more than enough evidence to suggest that some borderline RICO Act material is a part of the scene. Personally, I haven't found evidence that there are many legitimate ones out there. It is also becoming apparent that there are some rather large carriers that are making more from signing people up for school, getting funds for signing them up, and they could care less if a driver stays or quits. Is this what people are seeking? Not on your life.

    Please....don't fall into these spiderwebs of deceit. If you do not have a 100% clear understanding of what you are getting into, DON'T sign one piece of paper. If your sixth sense tells you something is not right, it probably is not.

    Your local Community Colleges and Technical Training Centers are going to be your best and most trusted sources of legitimate training, as well as the least expensive option for obtaining the training if exchanging a service commitment is not your style, and it will offer you the most control over your options. They will also work with legitimate providers of low cost/low interest student loans from traditional lending institutions. You can find the cost of tuition reduced by more than half to two thirds, over the stand-alone truck driver training centers. A decent student loan can be found in the 4.7% to 5.3% range today.

    UPDATE: I did a quick bit of research on what three of the community colleges are offering in my own area for CDL training. I found that the rates for one was $465.00 which was located in North Georgia, and two others in the Chattanooga area were $875.00 each. There were minor fees on top of those rates, but the fees would not add much to the cost. Compare this to a $5,000.00 tuition rate, with interest rates that are topping what is charged to credit card holders with the poorest of credit ratings, and the choice is not hard to make.

    The LOWEST tution rated training facility in my area, will require each and every student to have 750 miles of driving time behind the wheel of a tractor/trailer in order to graduate the course. From what I hear, the stand alone scam schools may allow you 200 miles at best. The Community College with the lowest tuition rate has a student ratio of 3 students to every 1 instructor. Compare this to the scam school....is it 10 to 1? 15 to 1? More?

    The drawback? The community colleges will space your training out over a period of 12-16 weeks. The scam schools will teach you everything you need to know in three to four weeks....right? Don't think that is so for a second. The training you will receive for the longer period will prepare you BETTER, and the chances that you will make mistakes that will end your career before it starts will decline dramatically, because you will have had more time behind that wheel. It's a far better program, for what could actually be a TENTH of the cost in some areas of the country, over the scam schools.

    Think about this for a minute. You can work while attending the course through a local community college, and then take the time you need to select the best job that will meet your needs. Contrast this to being asked to give up everything to attend a scam school, where you sign an agreement to pay some serious coin for a questionable amount of training, and subjected to having less control over your future, and an environment of involuntary servitude. Why would anyone do this?

    Think about one more thing, and I want it understood that I am in no way putting down inexperienced people. I was one at one time too. I simply want to illustrate that there is a REASON why some of these carriers are constantly trying to find ways to recruit drivers.

    If these carriers offered working conditions that would lend to an environment of contentment and loyalty, then they would not be scrounging through the dirt, or constantly advertising, to dredge up warm bodies to fill their empty trucks. Veteran drivers would be piling up applications on their desks.

    You HAVE to protect your own hind end, because there is no one out there that will protect it for you, as unfortunate as it is to state this. Companies are getting away with everything SHORT of murder in this industry, and this is a sickening thing to note, considering that we live in a country that is supposed to be known for it's attention to human rights, and are actively condemning others for their lack of the same.
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  3. Rascally Road Warrior

    Rascally Road Warrior Light Load Member

    Jul 23, 2005
    Titusville, FL
    I am starting a school here in the Florida area. I have done a lot of research as to where the best school would be. I did settle on a Community college which is 2 ½ hours from me, but worth it. One of the closer areas I have looked into was Road masters located in the Orlando area. When I researched that school I looked into the Better Business Bureau and found that just about every complaint, and they had quite a few against them, were all unsettled or unanswered not to mention that they did charge quite a bit more than the Community College. Road Master trains 4-6 students per truck while most of the students only watch, while the Community College student’s are one per truck allowing the student to drive for 4 hours a day for two weeks under many driving conditions. Research and more research is the answer. Wish me luck.
    SOAthor, pcshell, Wargames and 2 others Thank this.
  4. Bay0Wulf

    Bay0Wulf Bobtail Member

    Aug 22, 2005
    Eastern PA
    The school I am in is PDTI & SAGE certified. I elected to pay my own way through school rather than allow myself to be beholden to someone else. I picked the best I could find on the Net. Can you offer any insight to "SAGE" ? It's really too late to change but I would like to know.

    Also, have you any insight to "Tuition Re-Imbursement" ie. things to be wary of?

    Thank You
    - Bay0Wulf
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  5. PortlandDriver

    PortlandDriver RIP, May You Be Heaventown Bound!

    May 30, 2005
    Pacific Northwest
    I had tuition reimburcment after I was hired on with Swift...Needless to say getting it back was like pulling teeth. The standard answer as to why had been there was a "problem" in the line and they were working on it....
  6. Aligator

    Aligator Light Load Member

    Jun 21, 2005
    I talked to a carrier that I want to go to work for, and took their advise about where to go to school. It is the local Community College. Then the Community College asked me where I would like to work, so I referenced The Carrier.
    Maybe it'll work. :?
  7. downtownzallaround

    downtownzallaround Bobtail Member

    Aug 27, 2005
    If you can find a school for 5000,then you are lucky.My school was a huge scam started by Burlington and we all know what happened to Burlington Motor Carrier.They tried to charge me 7900...If I had payed as agreed,it would have been something like 28k after interest.The cheapest way to go is the community college.The glitch here is that not everyone is close to a community college that trains drivers.So people sign these outrageous loan agreements for 2 weeks of training at a training farm where they stuff you into trucks like chickens in pens.I'm currently working on starting my own school and I plan to charge a reasonable rate and provide housing at a real house,just for the trainees.I will train only 3 people at a time.I am gonna start them out in daycabs with automatics pulling a 28 ft trailer.That way we can get the CDL test taken care of on day 3.That way anyone going through the training will have the CDL and that pressure will be gone.Then we move on to the road trucks and 53 footers after students have gotten their license.I believe if you build confidence first then you will have a better student.12 yrs on the road and I think there has to be a better way to make a livin.As for all you drivers makin 65k a year,please send me the names of your companies so I can refer drivers that way.... :roll:
  8. TurboTrucker

    TurboTrucker Road Train Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    Rossville, Georgia
    Sage is nothing but a corporation that runs or attaches their endorsement to, several stand alone institutions across the country. In my opinion, if the tuition exceeds a couple of thousand dollars, depending on where you live, it's an excessive fee to train to drive a truck. There ARE better options.

    As to tuition reimbursement, it is my understanding that there are carriers out there that offer this, but they often hinge it upon service commitments, and it comes with strings of it's own. I advise you to NOT sign a contract that stipulates that if you terminate your employment, that you owe portions or all of any funds "reimbursed" to you for tuition costs. In fact, I wouldn't advise you working for a carrier that would ask you to sign such an agreement to begin with. Of course, if you refuse to sign, they will retract an employment offer, or threaten to do so, or will not reimburse you for tuition...so you might have to make a decision in that regard, as it may apply.

    If you handle your own tuition costs, your options are much better, and you are not likely to find yourself contractually bound to work for a sub-standard carrier with a threat hanging over your head. Some of these carriers will hound you to your grave to recover what they think is theirs, and if they can't coerce you into repaying them, they will trash your credit.

    Always be sure to find out what the terms of reimbursement are, and if ask if there is some contract involved, and if you are curious beyond that point, ask to see a blank copy of it. If they refuse, you can bet that there is probably illegal terms involved, or they know that if someone takes the time to digest the terms long enough, they'll back out of the deal.

    Personally, I'd back out long before I get to the point of asking to see the contract, because I wouldn't sign any agreement to begin with.

    This is something that I cannot stress hard enough to people. If these carriers actually offered terms that were ethical, proper, or even legal, and if they could actually attract drivers to work for them with anything OTHER than ploys of indentured servitude, like offering decent working conditions, then they wouldn't even HAVE to do things like this. The applications would be piling up on the desks.
    lvnv, pcshell, mrvolts and 3 others Thank this.

    BUBBABONE Light Load Member

    Oct 30, 2005
    I can agree with turbo on this issue..i tried the scam school route and man everyone of them i talked to i could just smell a rat. The people i talked to sounded like good salesmen instead of people that cared about my career decision. I eventually waited and went to a community college and it ended up costing me 750 to complete the course. I strongly recommend to anyone to try the college route first.
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  10. MACK E-6

    MACK E-6 Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    Baltimore, MD
    It could be said that I got off cheap by comparison to scenarios mentioned here.

    I went to a small outfit called Drive-Rite Driving School here in MD. I don't think they're endorsed, accredited, or anything like that. They teach cars, buses, and trucks. They only have two trucks and one bus though. There were no contracts, loan agreements, or anything of that sort. He charged $115 for 1 1/2 hrs out with the truck, $140 to take the test, and $40 for a video demonstrating the pre-trip inspection, which he emphasized watching about 50 times.

    I first met with him where they park their trucks. I showed him my learners' and gave him his payment, and then we were off. I had never drove a truck before, and was learning on his 1984 L9000 single axle with a 28' single axle van trlr. There was a school nearby where we practiced manuevers. He could replicate MD's test down to the smallest detail, and had doing it with this truck down to a science; turn the wheel one full turn this way, back up this far, turn the wheel two full turns back that way, etc...

    I went out with him on Saturdays, and by the fifth time, he said he was impressed with my performance for someone who'd never drove before, and I was ready for the test. I passed the pre-trip, but failed on jacknife parking (MD requires this). I passed the second time though. The whole deal cost about $900 when all was said and done. A good deal, I thought.

    They're well known around here, and a lot of people went to them because of their rates. However, the only problem with getting your license through such an outfit is as far as finding a job is concerned, your on your own.

    A question, if I may. Is this what's been referred to as a "CDL mill"?
  11. TurboTrucker

    TurboTrucker Road Train Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    Rossville, Georgia
    No. Your situation is unique and I commend you for finding a way around the normal avenues of entry, in order to enter the industry economically. I'm sure that the people you went through have all the business they can handle.

    "CDL Mills" are those schools that generally sign people up for big bucks and under written contract. They concentrate their efforts on training drivers to pass the CDL tests. They are usually aligned with one or more trucking companies who "recruit" through the schools. Most often, the carriers in question sponsor the programs, which last 2-4 weeks in duration. Ratios of students to teachers can be a dozen to one. Those programs lack giving the attention that is needed to some, and offer a lack of actual driving experience to practically all.

    CR England runs a school in Mira Loma, California that was cited by the state and closed for seven weeks from October 3, 2005 until November 23, 2005. This school represents one of the worst cases of just how reckless a CDL mill school can be, and how utilizing them can be a bigger mistake than one can begin to imagine. The core issue at hand was the lack of actual driving time required by the state of California prior to the issuing of a CDL license.

    The licenses of 1300 drivers that have trained at that particular facility between Nov. 19, 2003, and Aug. 31, 2005 have been revoked. There are many affected drivers out there on the road as we speak that are completely unaware of this fact. I'd bet my right arm that many of those drivers no longer live in the state of California, or never did. Many of these licenses were exchanged in other states. California will simply revoke them without notice, and when a driver goes through an inspection with his license in revoked status, he will be likely arrested. Added to this, will be an extensive process of re-obtaining a valid CDL, and clearing up a record that will be tarnished for a period of time. Driving without a valid license in a commercial vehicle is supposed to result in a mandatory one year suspension of your CDL. If they don't make arrangements to re-test with the state of California, they are going to have an uphill battle all the way.

    California has no obligation to chase down out-of-state residents who had a CDL in the state, and CR England isn't going to offer any assistance to former drivers that no longer are employed with them. Add this as another reason to avoid CR England like the plague.

    Think about this for a moment. In roughly 22 months, CR England ran an average of 59 students per month through that one facility. They have five other training facilities scattered throughout the country. SIX SCHOOLS? They only have 2,645 trucks, as of their most recent MCS-150 filing.

    Do the math. If all six schools were running similar numbers of people through their facilities, that translates into 354 newbies per MONTH. What's the figure per YEAR? 4,248. That's nearly double the amount of trucks they have. Take away the number of trucks leased to them that are a part of the truck figure, and I'll bet it's double or more.

    When you digest this, is there anyone that thinks that CR England is in the trucking business? Hardly. They are in the newbie driver exploiting business.

    Multiply 4,248 students by an average of $2,995 per student. You arrive at a figure of $12,722,760 per year in cash that they milk out of students or through taxpayers. They own the financing institution that charges 18% interest per annum on unpaid balances of tuition. That adds a couple of million in their accounts each year. If they manage to get some trucking done in the interim, they consider that a bonus.

    As was discussed in other threads, I urge ANYONE that is considering CR England at all, to ask a recruiiter one question.

    May I have you fax to me, all paperwork that I will be expected to sign once on the premises for a chance to review it thoroughly? You'll never get it.
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