The class of students that Transport Topics is following includes six men and one woman who range in age from 25 to 50. Two are married, four are single, and one’s widowed. Among them they have nine children.
One has driven a school bus, another a dump truck. Those two have their Class B commercial driving licenses but need to upgrade to Class A to drive an 80,000-pound tractor trailer. Along with the five who have standard licenses, they enrolled for the prospect of better pay in an industry with a prolonged and pronounced driver shortage.
All are residents of the Louisville area and have signed up for this 16-day course at Truck America Training, where owner Debby Mobley’s 20-acre spread sits in Shepherdsville about two miles off Exit 121 on I-65, about 20 miles south of downtown Louisville. The property features a large gravel oval on which the students will begin practicing next week.
PHOTO GALLERY: Photos of students, classroom and training property.
TAT employs a maximum 12-to-1 ratio of students to classroom instructor. As this particular class was being assembled, some students who had applied failed to meet all of the requirements in time to be admitted. One student failed to complete a loan approval process in time to pay the $4,000 cost of the course; another did not get his letter of eligibility from the Veterans Administration in time. Sometimes students apply and then don't follow up even after they are accepted and the school is unable to reach them.
Even as late as Monday morning, the school was half-expecting an eighth student whose admittance was pending the results of a Department of Transportation physical exam. Those results did not come through in time.
The school says this is not unusual. A new class begins every two weeks, so students who don't have all of their paperwork in order for this one may end up joining a class that begins Sept. 6 (a Tuesday start due to Labor Day).
Before they get behind the wheel, this class of seven will spend the week learning the ins and outs of driving a commercial truck from classroom instructor Ann Wooldridge.
The students we’ll be following are:
Anna Basham, 50, of Muldraugh, Ky.
Russell Durgasingh, 45, of Louisville
Teddy Flener Jr., 25, of Shepherdsville, Ky.
Jason Horton, 29, of Louisville
Wayne Meenach, 48, of Hillview, Ky.
Ryan Strange, 32, of Louisville
Joey Wilson Jr., 27, of Louisville
You can read more about them on their student bio pages.
Starting Tuesday, we’ll be doing daily Skype interviews with two students per day, and you’ll be able to see and hear what the students have to say as they journey toward becoming a professional truck driver.
By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter. Photo by John Sommers II for TT