Maine high school students receive CDL training

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | Friday, March 31, 2017

About 100 high school students in Maine are being taught the skills necessary to earn a commercial driver’s license.

Unique to Maine, four vocational high schools offer commercial truck driving classes for students as young as 16. Each year, students learn how to operate Class A and Class B commercial vehicles.

Vicki Kimball, a truck driving instructor at Tri-County Technical Center in Dexter, Maine, said employers have noticed the quality of drivers graduating from these schools.

“These kids have done close to 350 hours of training, and my students have gotten close to 1,000 miles,” Kimball said. “They spend nine months training. They spend an entire school year training with me. I think that’s a pretty big deal, where many companies have the minimal amount of driving time and the minimal amount of training.

“These kids don’t pay a fee to come here, and they’re getting one hell of an opportunity. I would put the training that my high school kids get against any adult training.”

The students get to put the skills they learned to the test during the Dick Dolloff Memorial Student Driving Competition on April 12 in Augusta, Maine.

Competition is divided into A and B classes, and has two parts. The first part of the competition involves driving skills, and the second part is focused on the pre-trip portion of the job. Students compete for trophies and the right to participate in the Future Truckers Competition on May 20 in Bangor, Maine. Members of the Maine Professional Driver’s Association will mentor the students to prepare them for the competition.

“This, to our knowledge, is the only program of its kind in the country, and the side-by-side mentoring these students receive from top drivers in the state is invaluable to their training,” the Maine Professional Drivers Association wrote in a news release.

Many of the students become intrastate drivers for companies after graduation, Kimball said. Additionally, the program prepares students for the possibility of becoming interstate truck drivers once they’re 21 years old.

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