CDL Training from Range to Open Road

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I’ve wanted to get my CDL for the experience and knowledge ever since starting my career in the Safety Department at Keller. However, earning a CDL can be a huge time commitment.  In January, I really dedicated the time to learning with the help of Douglas Kessler, one of our awesome Driver Trainers.

The Range CDL Training

I was able to snag about three weeks worth of solo training with Douglas in between his other students, and there is simply no way I could have passed my test without his knowledge or Keller’s great equipment.

For a month, I trained on the range with Douglas starting with the basics. I then progressed on to parallel parking a 70-foot vehicle (I can’t even parallel park my car).  We started and ended each day with my vehicle inspection. I now even sometimes walk around my house mumbling the words, “properly mounted and secured. Not cracked, bent, or broken.” 

Application on the Open Road

Once I was fairly confident on the range, we moved on to the open road.  My first time out was with Mike Ernst for a road test.  I tell you, Mike is one brave man.  I was very nervous and even scared.  We started in town which I was handling fine. But then, Mike told me to take US 24 back to Keller. 

CDL Holder and Keller Trucking Driver Development Coordinator Sarah Cates

I’ve never been so white-knuckled as I was driving 65 mph on US 24 surrounded by other vehicles.  After two more times on the road with Douglas, I finally felt comfortable while driving. We drove all over Northwest, Ohio on all different types of roads, doing a tour of Douglas’ favorite truck stops for lunch.  I learned so much from Douglas during this time, and I am so grateful for his experience and passion for teaching.

The Training Payoff

Finally, it was time to see if all my hard work paid off. I took my CDL test in Wapakoneta, Ohio right as the coronavirus pandemic scare was beginning. BMV locations and state testing facilities were being shut down and I had been worried that my test would also be cancelled.   On testing day, I was nervous, but I knew I could do it.  There was a man there who was testing for the fourth time, but failed the skills portion again. This further added to my nerves. 

When I finished and learned that I had passed every section I was overjoyed.  With people now being classified as “essential” or “non-essential” employees, I knew that I was gaining a valuable skill. A skill that would keep me perpetually employed.  Once things settle back down, I can’t wait to get back in the truck and continue learning.

Currently, you do not need to attend a CDL school in order to take your CDL test in Ohio. However, CDL schooling is the cornerstone of becoming an efficient, confident, top-earning Professional Truck Driver. Keller Trucking vows to provide that cornerstone free of charge for individuals looking to get behind the wheel in the trucking industry.