New CDL Driving Program Offers Solution to Local, State and National Challenge

Posted on: May 07, 2018

Marion County Public Schools has part of the answer to a local, state, and national shortage of commercial truck drivers – a new program training local drivers in our own backyard.

Booster Stadium on Northeast 36th Avenue will be the home of the new Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program.  This location provides easily accessible space and a safe location for practicing commercial driving skills without interfering with surrounding properties or heavy traffic.

Marion Technical College will operate the program tailored to local adults with affordable tuition. Students interested in the CDL program may find financial assistance at CareerSource CLM if they qualify.  The district anticipates the first class to start early this fall, and the instructor has already been hired.

The program will use a driving simulator for much of the training, the only such simulator in this part of Florida.  This allows students to drive on various road terrains (uphill, downhill, etc.) and conditions (rain, snow, ice, daytime, nighttime, etc.) without actually putting tires to the ground. It reduces wear and tear on vehicles and offers cost savings in lower fuel consumption.  Most importantly, it guarantees safety for students in these various training scenarios: jack-knifing, skidding or unexpected collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians.

The eight-week training includes 320 hours of instruction, meets Department of Transportation regulations, and eventually provides Class A and Class B driver’s licenses to graduates. 

The idea is rich with support from local entities including Mid-Florida Regional Manufacturers Association, CareerSource, the Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership, Capri Furniture and R&L Trucking.  Marion County is already home to large distribution centers including FedEx, Chewy, and AutoZone to name a few.  A local advisory committee will help ensure the program meets the diverse needs of businesses requiring CDL drivers.

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