Heartland students successfully complete CDL course

By Mandy Underwood

Seven students recently completed and received their commercial driver’s license (CDL) from Heartland Career Center.

This school year was the first to offer the CDL program. Eric and Tina Carlos from CTS Driving Dynamics, a training company based in Colorado and housed out of Fort Wayne, were brought in to teach the course. The course consisted of classroom book work, pre-driving education, actual driving practice, and testing.

The following students were participants in the course:

Colton Jones, Donovan Ross, Josh Montel, Nick Rider, Sam Green, Sarah Metzger and Trace Pugh.

Montel and Green discussed their experience in the program with The Paper of Wabash County.

“I grew up on a farm and I have always been interested in driving trucks since I was a little kid,” said Montel of Northfield High School. “This was an opportunity that came up, so I figured I would take it.”

Montel passed all testing on the second attempt and said that the course and test were challenging but worth it.

“It was more challenging than I expected, but I think there were a lot of nerves involved which made it harder,” he said.

Green, on the other hand, chose to participate in this program because he saw it as a good backup plan and because he loves to travel.

“Now that I have the CDL, I want to jump right into a truck,” said Green. “I don’t think I will do a Class A right away because it is a little bit intimidating to be the biggest thing on the road. But, I think I will either try to get in a dump truck or haul seed in a smaller semi.”

Green agrees with Montel that the class was a lot harder than he expected. Especially with the unexpected turn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The trainers that we had, though, were absolutely prenominal. They really talked us through what we were supposed to do and got the job done, and I don’t think anyone could do better.”

The program has been in the planning stages for two years.

“This has been a partnership between Heartland Career Center, Wabash Learning Center (Ivy Tech), Grow Wabash County, Driving Dynamics Center For Transportation Safety CTS Driving Academy and countless others to make this happen,” Mark Hobbs, Heartland Career Center’s Director, said earlier this year when announcing the program.  “We have taken our time, worked with many local businesses and our partners to create a pathway for students of all ages to earn a CDL A License. 

Our interest has focused on high school students, however, the program has developed into an opportunity for students of all ages.”

For the high school students, this includes a 10 week course of both written classroom work and actual driving time, culminating in students taking their CDL A test.  The cost to students is simply the cost of their physical and drug screen, learners permit and drivers license.  Each student is required to be at least 18 years of age, have a valid drivers license and be willing to take and pass a Department of Transportation physical and drug screen. 

CDL licenses are need to drive any type of commercial vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 pounds; or is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver; or is any size vehicle carrying hazardous materials that require placarding.

There are three types of CDL licenses:

Class A - Any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds. Examples include:


Truck & trailer

Tank vehicles

Class B - Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR. Examples include:

Straight trucks weighing 26,001 or more pounds GVWR

Buses weighing 26,001 or more pounds, designed to transport 16 passengers including the driver

Tank vehicles weighing 26,001 or more

Class C - Any single vehicle weighing less than 26,001 pounds GVWR, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR. This group applies to vehicles which are placarded for hazardous materials or designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the operator. Examples include but are not limited to:

Single or combination vehicles, weighing less than 26,001 pounds GVWR

Buses weighing less than 26,001 GVWR and designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver

Passenger vehicles weighing less than 26,001 GVWR

Posted on 2020 Jun 23