How many actual driving hours should I get during training?

By Howard Stihlman, Staff Writer
Article last updated on 1/8/2008

As many as possible! You will be driving a truck every day of your career, so you will want to be as prepared and as comfortable as possible before ever going to work for a trucking company. The number of “actual” drive hours varies from school to school, but know this: the Professional Truck Driving Institute, the agency that certifies trucking programs, requires a minimum of 44 hours of behind-the-wheel training for a course to be certified. This means that according to trucking industry standards, students who have at least 44 hours of experience driving a truck will be properly prepared for a career in trucking. Keep this number in mind when you’re looking at schools, and make sure to check out the program’s curriculum to see just how much practice driving time you will get.

Some truck driving schools will advertise a huge number of “practice driving hours”, but will actually give you “observational time”. This means that they will pack 3 to 5 students in each truck and will take turns behind the wheel while the other students watch. This is not actual drive time! Some observational hours are great, but you don’t want to spend 90 percent of your time in the truck watching someone else drive. Practice makes perfect, and the only way you will become a good truck driver is by actually driving! Make sure when you are considering a school that they give you plenty of one-on-one practice drive time: the more hours, the better.

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