This is how a few of our trucking Twitter tweeps (say that five times fast) responded when asked what they like about hauling goods around the province. Many people love trucks and have the drive to explore B.C.’s diverse landscapes while helping the economy move. Do you? If so, here’s how to get started.
Step 1: Be sure you qualify
You fit the bill if you have a Class 5 or 6 driver’s licence, which are the full privilege licences that allow you to drive a standard passenger vehicle or motorcycle. You also must be at least 19 years of age.
Step 2: Hit the books
Knowledge is horsepower. Before getting behind the wheel, you’ll need to fill your head with all kinds of trucking know-how, from heavy vehicle braking to identifying signs, signals and road markings. ICBC publishes Driving Commercial Vehicles, a study guide for current and aspiring professional drivers. Give it a solid read (or two) and have a friend quiz you on the content.
Step 3: Put what you’ve learned to the written test
Drop by your local driver licensing office to spill the knowledge you’ve learned on paper by taking the commercial vehicle knowledge test. No need for an appointment, but you’ll need to arrive an hour before the office closes.
Hopefully you studied hard because you must answer 28 of the 35 multiple choice questions correctly to receive your Learner’s licence. You can also take your air brake knowledge test during the same visit; that way, you pay only one fee and can practise with air brake equipped vehicles. Before writing the air brake knowledge test, you must pass an air brake course or prove that you already have adequate air brake experience.
Step 4: Get behind the wheel and practise, practise, practise
Now that you have your Learner’s licence, you can start building firsthand experience behind the wheel. There is no provincial standard for truck driving training prior to taking the commercial road test, but you will be better prepared for success after taking a truck driving school program. There are many schools in B.C., varying in terms of course length and hours in classroom, in-cab and on the road. Some schools offer mentorship programs, so best to do your research to choose which school is right for you.
Step 5: Put what you’ve learned to the road test
You’ve booked your commercial driver road test at your local driver licensing office and filled out all the paperwork. Now it’s go time. The road test actually includes two tests: the pre-trip inspection test, including air brakes, and the on-road test. During the pre-trip inspection test, you will show how to inspect the vehicle and complete a written report. During the road test, you will demonstrate all the trucking skills you’ve learned – everything from starting/stopping, shifting gears, turning, backing up, parking, merging on highways and coupling/uncoupling a tractor unit from a trailer.
Now that you’ve earned your Class 1 commercial driver’s licence, you’re ready to roll. But you’ve got some decisions to make. For instance, do you want to be a long-haul driver (typically travelling outside a 160 km radius of home terminal) or short-haul driver (travelling inside 160 km radius)? You likely already made some valuable contacts from your truck school days, particularly if you completed a mentorship program.
The road is wide open… is it your time to take the first step?