4 Tips for Choosing a Chicago CDL School

There are multiple CDL schools in Chicago, so how do you find the right one for you? When choosing a CDL school in Chicago, there are a few key factors that you should take into account:

1. Look at their track record.

First and foremost, look at the track record of the school. How many commercial driver’s licenses have they issued? A school that advertises that they’re the “best driving school in Chicago”, but doesn’t have an establish track record of helping students to graduate and find jobs is a school to avoid. At Progressive Truck School, we’ve graduated over 50,000 students since 1974 – those are the types of numbers you should be looking for when selecting a school.

Also, look at the testimonials on the school’s website and social media. Look carefully at what students say about the training and professionalism of the staff. Avoid schools where you aren’t able to find feedback from former students.

2. Check out the equipment they offer to students.

Does the school offer late-model conventional and cab-over tractors, day cabs and sleepers, with single and double axles and various transmissions, as well as different brands of vehicle, so you get an all-around training experience?

Also, what does their training terminal/lot look like? A school without a dedicated, large training terminal and parking lot is typically a CDL school to avoid. Also, look for a school that offers on-the-road training, so that you can get real-life experience.

3. Find out if they offer job placement assistance.

Does the school you’re considering offer Job Placement assistance? The last thing you want to be is a CDL graduate without a great job to jump-start your career.

Look for schools that have experience placing students with top companies. At Progressive Truck School, we assist students to get jobs at companies like Schneider National, Werner Enterprises, FedEx, Roehl, and Con-Way.  Also, look for CDL schools that offer job placement assistance free of charge!

4. Find out if they offer PTDI-accredited courses.

PTDI is the first nonprofit organization to develop uniform skill performance, curriculum, and certification standards for the trucking industry and to award course certification to entry-level truck driver training courses and motor carrier driver-finishing programs.

Look for a school that offers classes that are certified by PTDI. PTDI is a great indication that the trucking school is recognized on the national level for meeting the PTDI’s high performance standards.

By taking these four factors into consideration, you are well on your way to finding a great truck school for your CDL certification! To apply to Progressive Truck Diving School, complete this form.

Owner-Operator Has a Once-in-a-Lifetime Load: The Capitol Christmas Tree

Elwood Higdem has a very important responsibility this year: transporting this year’s capitol Christmas tree from it’s harvesting point in Minnesota across the country to the nation’s capital: Washington D.C.

According to Higdem, hauling this holiday icon has been “one of the best experiences of my life.”

Higdem won’t be making the journey alone. His wife, Joan, is accompanying him on his trip. Higdem works for Willie Transport, which is the carrier contacted this year to haul the tree.

“I’ve never really been in a situation before where I drive for an hour or two and then stand in front of cameras and be interviewed two or three times and asked a bunch of questions about what it’s like to haul the nation’s Christmas tree,” Higdem said. “I kind of like the attention.”

capital christmas tree truck

Higdem is transporting the 75-foot white spruce in a custom Kenworth T880 wrapped in special Capital Christmas tree graphics.

The tree will be lit Nov. 20 by Speaker of the House John Boehner. 

Weigh My Truck App Now Available for iPhone, iPad

New technology in trucking is often put towards improving equipment and process. Now, a new iPhone app is looking to put new technology into the hands, or should we say iPhones, of drivers.

Cat Scale Co. has announced that its popular Weigh My Truck app is now available on iPhone and iPad. The app allows drivers to weigh their truck, have weights displayed on their smartphone, and pay for the transaction within the app via PayPal, all without ever having to leave their vehicle.

Using the app is simple: drivers create an account that stores their basic information and email preferences, along with a record of past weigh transactions.

The app also includes the ability to email a PDF copy scale ticket or weight information as a text file to up to 5 email addresses that the driver specifies. In the event that a driver still needs a hard copy scale ticket, they can opt to pick up a printed CAT scale ticket at the fuel desk after weighing in with the Weigh My Truck app.

As of this posting, Weight My Truck is now available on the Google Play Store as well as the Apple App Store.

To learn more about joining the fast-moving trucking industry, contact a Progressive Admissions Adviser: 773.736.5522

5 Great Blogs for Truckers

5. Heavy Duty Trucking

This content-rich, but ad-heavy blog offers a variety of posts regarding new trucking technology, news, equipment, fleet management, safety and compliance, driving, and maintenance. They offer award-winning articles written for executives of fleets from five trucks to thousands. They also offer a variety of content, including videos.

4. LifeAsATrucker.com

This blog is exactly what it sounds like: a blog written by truckers, for truckers. This trucking life blog is updated with questions and posts about trucking lifestyle, trucking jobs, trucking schools, relationship challenges and other truck driving related information. The nice thing about this blog is there aren’t a ton of ads or distractions, just information about trucking, the industry, and real-life trucking stories.

3. Transport Topics

This “Newspaper of Trucking and Freight Transportation” feature up-to-date news on fuel prices, classifieds, news, and an excellent list of the Top 100 For-Hire Carriers. They also feature webinars and video education, as well as an updated calendar of industry-events.

2. Overdrive Magazine

Overdrive features multiple blogs by industry experts along with a TON of content related to life as a trucker, customer rigs, the trucking industry, equipment and regulations. Checking out their “Editor’s Picks” articles is a good way to start. Their “Gear” section is also great for trucking looking to check out the latest trucking tech and equipment.

1. The Progressive Truck Driving School Blog

Of course we have to rate our blog #1! We feature the latest trucking news, life-as-a-trucker pieces, CDL Info, and just plain fun articles to read! Check out our post on the 5 Classic Movies Featuring Truckers. We also keep you updated with the latest news about hiring spikes, employer benefits, and compensation for truckers.

Did you like this article?  Share this with your friends!

Trucking Adds 3,900 Jobs in October 2014

In a significant increase, the trucking industry added 3,900 jobs in October 2014. Along with the jobs increase, the unemployment rate decreased to 5.8%, declining for the third consecutive month according to a Nov. 7th report from the Labor Department.

This increase mirrors the recovery of the U.S. domestic economy, with an overall increase of 214,000 jobs. The unemployment rate has also dropped to the lowest level in six years, according to Bloomberg News.

This is great news for truckers earning their CDLs, as the trucking industry is not only adding jobs, but also many employers are increasing driver pay and benefits packages to entice new drivers.

The trucking industry also added 3,800 jobs in September 2014.

Now is an excellent time to earn a Commercial Driver’s License. Contact Progressive Truck School to request more information: 773.736.5522

Trucking Companies are Upping Driver Pay to Attract New Drivers (Again).

Wal-Mart, one of the countries’ largest retailer, has begun releasing radio ads in hopes of attracting drivers with a new compensation structure: Wal-Mart is offering qualified drivers with CDLs, like those obtainable through Progressive Truck Driving School, a $76,000 salary plus benefits.

According to a Wal-Mart spokesperson, the company currently has 7,200 drivers, but needs even more.

According to The American Trucking Associations, the US currently has 750,000 “for hire” drivers but needs at least 30,000 more right now. They estimate that the industry must hire 100,000 drivers every year for 10 years if it hopes to keep up with retirements, turnover and industry growth. This will no doubt lead to increased compensation packages and benefits to attract new drivers.

Average annual pay for drivers was under $50,000 last year, up roughly 28 percent from around $39,000 in 2000, according to data from ATA and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With Wal-Mart offering compensation of $70,000+, it is estimated that other companies will join suit to remain competitive, so increases in salary for 2015 are expected.

With pay on the rise, now is a great time to obtain your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and be on your way to a lucrative career in a fast-growing industry.

Contact us to talk to an admissions advisor about earning your CDL:  (773) 736-5522.

 

5 Classic Movies Featuring Truckers

Here are 5 classic movies featuring truckers and (often action-packed) life on the road, some so bad that they’re good.

 

1big trouble. Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

This irreverent 1986 Comedy features Kurt Russell as a trucker who helps rescue his friend’s fiancé from the Chinatown underworld in San Francisco. Crazy action scenes, hilariously bad Kurt Russell one-liners, and one of the wildest trucker protagonists in a feature film.

 

 

 

 

 

black dog2. Black Dog (1998)

Patrick Swayze is an ex-con who takes a new job driving long-haul. What he doesn’t know is that his truck is filled with illegal weapons, leading to a fight to survive and save his family in this 1998 action extravaganza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

white line3. White Line Fever (1975)

In this 1975 action flick starring Jan-Michael Vincent and a cast of little-known actors, Carrol Jo Hummer borrows money to buy a truck after returning from a stint in the Air Force. He’s hoping to make enough money hauling produce to marry Jerri Kane and set up housekeeping. In the world of White Line Fever,  he discovers that his long-haul business is run by racketeers and decides to fight the corrupt forces that control the trucking business.

 

 

 

 

smokey4. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Burt Reynolds, The Bandit, is hired on the run a tractor trailer full of beer over county lines, only to find himself in hot pursuit by a pesky sheriff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ovr the top5. Over the Top (1987)

Sylvester Stallone plays Lincoln Hawk, a struggling trucker who arm wrestles on the side to make extra cash while trying to rebuild his life. After the death of his wife, he tries to make amends with his son who he left behind 10 years earlier. Hawk enters the World Arm Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas hoping is to receive the grand prize of $100,000 and an expensive current custom semi-truck and thus start his own trucking company.

3 Things to Consider Before Forming a Husband and Wife Trucking Team

Husband and wife trucking teams allow couples to share in the experience of OTR/Long Haul trucking: spending time together, traveling around the country, and making great money. There are a few things to consider before making the decision to form a husband and wife trucking team:

1. You can make excellent money.

A husband and wife can drive double the amount of time as a single person in one day, as long as one rests while the other is behind the wheel. With double the miles driven, one of the primary reasons couples team up to drive is the monetary incentive.

2. Husband and wife trucking works best when both people enjoy the work.

Team trucking might be a bad idea if one person doesn’t enjoy driving or the experience of a career in trucking. It’s best to be on the same page with the skill involved, shared responsibilities, and avoiding back-seat driving. Keep in mind that you will be together 24/7, you have to both enjoy the work.

3. Spend time planning what you’ll pack and what you don’t need.

Sleepers do not offer a ton of storage. It’s best to pack light in both clothing, food, and personal items. You won’t have a walk-in closet; planning and packing appropriately for long-hauls allows you to relieve the stress of an over-crowded sleeper. Organize well and make sure that all items are in their proper place.

Are you interested in teaming up with your significant other to drive? Contact us at 773.736.5522 to learn more.

Password Protected Trucks Now Part of Peterbilt Line

In an attempt to decrease theft of Peterbilt trucks, Peterbilt Motors Co. is now offering a new system that requires drivers to enter a password to start the truck.

At Progressive Truck School, we’re excited to see that new technology is helping to decrease theft in our industry.

Truckers enter the password into a 5-inch screen on the instrument panel, within the driver information center. After the code is entered, the engine must be started within six minutes, or the code will need to be re-entered.

To ensure that drivers won’t be locked out of their system, passwords can be changed and the Peterbilt service department can activate or deactivate the system.

The system is available on Models 579 and 567 equipped with Paccar MX-13 Engines.  The anti-theft system is now available for order.

To learn more about CDL certification, contact a Progressive Truck School admissions adviser at: 773.736.5522

Schools Receiving PTDI Course Recertification Address Need to Fund Driver Training

Read the a release below from the Professional Truck Driver’s Institute, issued on September 22, 2014. Gina Buda, President of Progressive Truck Driving School, is one of the featured contributors for this release from PTDI. Progressive Truck School is being re-certified for it’s PTDI-certified program.

Alexandria, Virginia — With the recent passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), PTDI checked in with programs across the U.S. and Canada that received PTDI course recertification in August about how funding initiatives might help address the increasing driver shortage.

“Any kind of funding to help more potential drivers attend school is critical for the industry,” said Paul Bulick, executive director of All-State Career School. “The driver shortage is huge and going to get bigger, to the point where I don’t know how they’re going to fill the need.”

Although WIOA, which provides new funding to train workers for jobs in transportation and other industries, will not affect Bulick’s program since it’s already eligible for federal funding, he noted, “without a doubt, it will help the industry and non-accredited schools.”

Industry leaders expect WIOA will offer increased funding for entry-level driver training—a definite need in the industry, as many students in truck driver-training programs rely on loans and grants for their education.

“Even though they are guaranteed to have employment right after graduation, young people in general don’t have the money to get through the program, so obviously this is a tremendous benefit for them,” said Gina Buda, president of Progressive Truck Driving School, whose schools at three locations in Illinois received PTDI course recertification. “Available funding is always crucial because our students are either in transition or unemployed, and there’s such a great opportunity for employment now. I’ve never seen such a shortage of drivers, and I’ve been in the industry 40 years,” Buda said. Even with the federal funding available, “we still don’t see as many young people as we would like to,” she added. “The public needs to be more aware of the funding available and that there are jobs actually waiting for these young new drivers. Every student who comes through our school gets prehired and will have a job waiting.”

Roxanne Wilkieson, manager, Kim Richardson Transportation Specialist Inc. in Ontario, Canada expressed similar concerns about funding for younger drivers. “We have funding options available for our older clients through TIOW – Targeted Initiative for Older Workers and Second Career, which is an Ontario government program that will pay your tuition. The Ontario government is helping laid-off workers get back to work. We also have funding for programs, services, and initiatives for our First Nations clients. Where we lack funding is for our younger clients 18–30. There really is nothing in place for them other than borrowing money from family members or having to take out loans.”

Despite the funding available, Bulick said, “road transportation is still a secret as to the opportunities, the money you can make. The industry’s reputation has been tarnished, and to attract more drivers, we need to work on our image. This is where adopting PTDI standards at the federal level can make a difference.”

The programs that recently received PTDI course recertification are A. Duie Pyle Truck Driving Academy, West Chester, Penn.; All-State Career School, West Mifflin, Penn.; Kim Richardson Transportation Specialists Inc., Caledonia, Ontario; Ontario Truck Training Academy, at two locations in Oshawa and Peterborough, Ontario; and Progressive Truck Driving School, Inc., at three locations in Chicago, Cicero, and Lansing, Ill.

# # #

PTDI is a national, nonprofit organization established for the twofold purpose of developing uniform industry skill, curriculum, and certification standards for entry-level truck driver training and motor carrier driver finishing programs, and certifying entry-level truck driver training courses at public and private schools and driver finishing programs at carriers for compliance with PTDI standards. PTDI is based in Alexandria, Virginia.

Contact Progressive Truck Driving School at 773.736.5522 to discuss our PTDI-certified training program.