(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College observed National Truck Driver Appreciation Week by relaunching the commercial driver’s license (CDL) program in West Texas.
September 11-17 is a time to honor truck drivers for their work delivering goods to consumers and for keeping highways safer. It was also the perfect time for TSTC to relaunch the Professional Driving Academy program to help employers across West Texas.
Instructor Jake Whitley opened his first session this week with three students. State guidelines mandate that only four students are allowed for every one instructor. TSTC will have a second instructor on the Abilene campus in time for the October 3 cohort.
“I am really excited to be able to bring this program to TSTC,” Whitley said. “I have 38 years of truck driving experience, and 30 of those were hauling cattle. I will be able to share tons of information with our students.”
Whitley said when he first took his CDL test, it was known as a chauffeur’s license test.
“Things have come a long way since I took the test in 1980,” he said. “Back then, it was a written test and a driving test. There is so much more for people to do before they even take the test.”
Whitley will bring his experience and 4.5 million miles of accident-free driving to each student, including Noah Stokes of Abilene.
“I am super excited that TSTC is offering this program,” Stokes said. “This is a life-changer for me. There are not many public opportunities to take a CDL course in our area.”
Stokes is no stranger to TSTC and knew it would be a perfect place to take classes and test for his license.
“I was in the Culinary Arts program while it was in Sweetwater,” he said. “If TSTC brings that kind of training to this, I know at the end of the program I will be on the right track.”
Doug Jeter, TSTC’s project manager for Workforce Training and Continuing Education, said the three students in the program are perfect for the relaunch.
“This is a great group of students. They are eager to be here,” he said. “They all have great personalities and will be assets wherever they work.”
Whitley said the program will be the same each month. The first week will be mainly in the classroom reviewing the pre-trip inspection checklist.
“That is the hardest part of the entire test,” he said. “I want them to know everything they need to know before so they will be prepared to take the test.”
During the second week, students will begin pre-trip inspections on one of the two trucks donated by Dunagin Transport or Circle C Hauling. Pre-trip inspections will continue into the third week, when the fun will begin for the students, Whitley said.
“Typically during the third week, we will begin maneuvers around the parking lot,” he said. “We will also be taking the truck on the road for drives.”
The final week will continue to see students perform pre-trip inspections and maneuvers, and it will be test time as Whitley will schedule each student for the Department of Public Safety test.
“I love the fact that this is a four-week program because we are going to get students in and out successfully and making good money,” Jeter said.
Openings for the October sessions are available, Jeter said. Anyone interested in attending may contact him at email@example.com.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.