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Old 02-28-2009, 11:17 AM
Anachronism Anachronism is offline
Join Date: May 2000
Location: New England, U.S.A.
Posts: 788
Originally Posted by InvisibleWombat View Post
I've actually been wondering about this, too. I was trying to make a deal with a buddy that has a farm down the road. He would help me with some stuff on my ranch, and I'd drive a beet truck for him for a couple of days during the beet harvest. I thought it would be cool to get my license so I could also drive a cattle truck.

It appears I have to take a class to get the license. The only local truck-driving course I could find cost $10,000 and took three weeks.

WHAT!? I've driven tractors, swathers, stick shifts, automatics, busses and vans. I've towed 30-foot horse trailers behind 4-door pickups (and backed them around corners in corrals). I've driven a 42-foot motor home and pulled boats, cars, and flatbeds.

How on Earth could it take me three freakin' weeks to learn to drive a semi? What makes it so darned complicated?
A fair amount is classroom stuff, learning regulations. The rules for hours of service and keeping a log book are complicated and take up quite a bit of time.

If you have never driven a vehicle with a transmission that does not have syncros it can take a while to get the hang of it. At the school I went to we spent a couple days going up and down the gears in an area without traffic just to get the hang of it.

For actual driving the two main things are shifting and handling a large vehicle on the road. If you lose your gear and become flustered it is hard to concentrate on what you need to do because of the size of the vehicle.

If you are already used to driving a large vehicle obviously you have a good part of the driving part down.

It has been a long time since I was in school but $10,000 seems high. Some schools in my area offer different programs at a cheaper price for people who don't need the whole course. It is possible to get your liscence without school but it is difficult, obviously you need access to a truck to practice on and take the driving portion of the test with.

A guy who worked as a helper at my company spent a few days driving trucks around our yard and some time on the road with his learners permit with a driver and was able to get his license without any school.