By Holly Desrosier
Craven Community College’s (Craven CC) Commercial Driving License (CDL) program is revving up for the start of the spring semester. The Class A CDL course will have an orientation session on Feb. 10 on the New Bern campus for the next class that begins March 16.
Students will learn how to properly inspect and operate tractor-trailers and assume driving responsibilities on the road. They will also learn about vehicle inspections, defensive driving, range maneuvers, motor carrier safety regulations and certification, trip planning, cargo planning, size/weight laws, general maintenance procedures and accident prevention.
After satisfactory completion of all course requirements, students should be prepared to take the NC Department of Motor Vehicles Class A CDL examination. Additionally, students will receive a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Entry-level Driver Training Certificate and a Craven CC Certificate of Completion.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration’s Occupational Employment Statistics Program, new job openings for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in North Carolina is very likely. An 8% increase in employment opportunities is projected between 2016 and 2026. With the help of Craven CC’s support and connections with employers, graduates will be ready to hit the road with a trucking career.
And that’s exactly what Daniel Roberts did. Roberts graduated from the college’s second CDL program in Nov. 2015. Upon graduating, he immediately found employment at Roehl Transport, which provides national transportation and logistics services and is one of the largest trucking companies in America. His time in Craven CC’s CDL program proved extremely beneficial and helped him feel confident in his chosen field.
“When I went to my first driving job, I was miles ahead of the other new drivers,” said Roberts. “They had gone to shorter schools or private schools and did not have the seat time or skills I had from going to a community college.”
He started driving for Dave Kuker Trucking in April 2019. He hauls fresh pork or beef from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Los Angeles, California, and then hauls fresh produce back to the Midwest. He gets to come back to North Carolina every eight to 10 weeks, hauling fresh pork or beef, and then returns to the Midwest with imported wine or North Carolina potatoes.
Throughout his brief trucking career, he has already been in all of the lower 48 states, Mexico and Canada and has gained experience in hauling a variety of trailers including refrigerated, flatbed, Conestoga and dry van. Despite the numerous on-the-job skills Roberts has acquired, he still credits the CDL program with teaching him everything he needed to get started.
“Even with four years of experience now, I still use knowledge and advice I got from the instructors at Craven,” said Roberts. “They provided great advice and were more than willing to help anyone who sought it. The instructors also were able to work with students at their own pace.”
He believes that a combination of knowledgeable instructors and highly motivated students paved the way to where he is today. While the experience of the instructors and the information they imparted guided the program, Roberts noted that their patience and willingness to let students learn at their own pace was critical.
“The class overall was very student driven,” he said. “Each student was given ample time in the seat to learn their own skills, be it backing, driving or just getting a general feel of the truck.”
The next class will be held from March 16 to May 13. A four-hour orientation session will be held on Monday, Feb. 10 at 5:30 p.m. to ensure students have enough time to take care of all requirements needed to enter the program. Multiple scholarships are available for those who qualify.
“Trucking is not for everyone,” admitted Roberts. “It’s not easy. Right out of the gate new drivers won’t make much, but that’s with any career. You don’t start at the top—you gotta work your way up and earn the respect and prove that you can run. Craven Community College puts new drivers on a foundation built for success for the individuals who put in the work to build upon that foundation. I thank Craven Community College for the solid foundation I was given to build my career on.”
For more information, contact Sandra McKibbin, director of service programs, at 252-638-5583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published in the New Bern Sun Journal on February 5, 2020.