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CDL Training from Range to Open Road

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.

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