EDITOR’S NOTE: In honor of Labor Day, we would like to recognize the role of truck drivers who are essential to our distribution systems. There is a nationwide shortage of licensed commercial truck drivers, and it regularly impacts deliveries here on the North Oregon Coast. Almost ALL businesses rely on trucks to move or transport goods through the valley. The TBCC Truck Driving School is an important tool for the economic development of Tillamook County and vital to our sustainability and resilience as a community.
Story and photos by Don Backman
Have you ever wondered what it takes to drive a loaded log truck or take a large tractor-trailer with trailers on the highway? Have you seen the TBCC driver training truck drive through town and wondered how to find out about the program? If so, you are in luck. The highly successful Tillamook Bay Community College Truck Driver Training Program – CDL Test Preparation Program for Class A CDLs is a proven local option.
Launched in 2018, TBCC’s Truck Driver Training Program – Commercial Driver’s License Test Preparation has achieved a success rate to be proud of. 98% of those who completed the program got their Class A commercial driver’s license. Currently, students find truck driver jobs almost as soon as they get their CDL. The demand for drivers is so high that trucking and construction companies contact TBCC even before classes are finished. The Oregon State Department of Employment database identified 627 job vacancies for heavy truck drivers as of August 30, 2021. Demand is expected to increase 9.1% over the next ten years.
Initially serving only the Tillamook County area, the program also partnered with Clatsop Community College and Oregon Coast Community College to provide CDL training to students from Astoria to Newport, Oregon. “We had a student who was prepared to stay in a tent for four weeks,” said JoAnn Critelli, Community and Continuing Education Coordinator and CDL Program Coordinator for TBCC. “Our students are motivated.
The CDL program allows drivers to acquire the skills required both to pass the CDL skills test at the Department of Motor Vehicles, but they also learn manual transmission skills that are in demand in the forestry industry. “Some programs just teach automatic transmission,” Critelli explained. “We offer manual transmission because this way our drivers can drive both manual and automatic. ”
The Truck Driver Training Program recently used a grant from the Oregon Business Development Department to install the TBCC Truck Driving Simulator in a freight trailer. It is mobile and can be towed to job sites where employers can train employees in specific driving scenarios or hone their driving skills. The simulator can provide a wide variety of driving conditions such as winter roads and other challenges found here in the Pacific Northwest. And it is not only for heavy truck drivers, it can also simulate driving many other vehicles, such as school buses, fire trucks, tank trucks, tank trucks including trucks milk and snow plows. New Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) features simulate safety technology available in newer trucks. Critelli explains that the possibilities are endless.
Travis Turner is one of three drivers enrolled in the four-week Truck Driver Training Course in August and September. Turner enjoyed the training in the simulator. “It’s like a giant video game, almost, but realistic,” he said. “It was very different from what I expected.” When asked why he enrolled in the program, Turner explained that he wanted to expand his skills and because he enjoys driving. His composure belied his excitement as he drove first and steered the truck out of the parking lot and onto the road.
Students practice in the simulator before taking their first driving lap. Once completed, they are ready for the road. “Today they will tour the port area,” said Bret Rivenes, the driving instructor, pointing to the roads next to the airship hangar. The aim was to prepare them to begin their training on the road. The truck was parked on an empty gravel lot and Bret had placed cones for the students to practice driving. Rivenes makes sure that students have all the skills they need to pass their CDL driving test. “I’m preparing them,” he explained with quiet confidence.
The truck driving program is limited to 4 students per session. The program requires 160 hours of training, including 40 hours in the classroom with online assessment to ensure students are 80% successful. Then they have 120 hours of driving training which includes a driving range and also road training.
The program is popular, Critelli explained. “A married couple took the course because they wanted to drive long-haul roads together,” she said. Anyone interested should contact her at TBCC, at 503-842-8222 x 1320 or [email protected] They can also find a CDL training program request online at www.tillamookbaycc.edu under the Community & Workforce Training tab.
“I can email them a request or they can call and make an appointment to meet with me and fill out an application,” Critelli explained. “We will discuss all of the financing options available at that time. In addition, “students must have their CDL learner’s permit before the start of classes,” she said. “We provide an online study resource that gives them a very good chance to take the license test with DMV. It has been very effective.
The program requires four weeks of training which includes classroom time, time in the advanced truck driving simulator, and road driving. The program costs $ 5,000 plus the additional fees associated with a CDL license (approximately $ 460). There are grants, loans, and scholarships to help cover the costs. TBCC also offers a week-long CDL refresher course for those returning to a career as a truck driver.
TBCC’s Truck Driver Training CDL Test Preparation Program offers a good local option for those who want to get a Class A CDL so they can drive trucks. He has a very high success rate and has changed lives. If you would like to know more, contact JoAnn Critelli at TBCC, [email protected]
Here is more information – https://tillamookbaycc.edu/commercial-truck-driving-cdl/