How to Succeed During CDL Training – Learn From Your Mistakes


Originally starting out as a recruiter, Simpson brings over 10 years of experience to the C1 team. Read more from

Many students are worried about completing CDL training when they first arrive. Perhaps they’re nervous about driving a vehicle with a manual transmission. There are any number of reasons why students are nervous. Today, I’m going to talk about how to succeed during your time at CDL training.

First of all, you must listen to your trainers. They are there to help you and if you don’t understand or need extra help, say so! The program is fast paced, but attainable.

I think one of the biggest myths out there is that driving a truck is a piece of cake, but it isn’t. You have to stay 100% focused at all times, believe in yourself that you can do it, and give 100% all day EVERY day while you are training. Push yourself to do better every day. Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others in your group. You will also learn from what the other students are doing correctly.

Study pre-trip every chance you get. If you have never been around a semi before then you’re not going to know these parts by just looking at them. You have to study. Buddy up with the people in your group — a lot of times students will feel insecure and emotional around people they don’t know. Having a buddy or a study group will give you encouragement, accountability, and confidence during your pre-trip studying.

When the instructors are training the students on backing skills, students will need to control the truck and trailer in order to get it around a fixed object.

They will also learn how to pre-trip properly. This procedure helps to keep their truck safe from the obvious maintenance problems such as having a blow out, overheating, running low on oil, or another issue that could cause the DOT to shut them down. Students will learn about safety, how to properly use mirrors, lane control, filling out a log book, and being aware of their surroundings.

I remember a past student who was going through that situation I explained earlier of feeling insecure at school. He had never driven a standard transmission, lacked the confidence and self-esteem, and felt like he would not succeed. He had not made friends with too many people in his class and was uncomfortable when it was his turn to drive, feeling like other students were laughing at him even though they weren’t.

This student eventually came to me upset because he felt that he was not going to be able to pick it up. I told him that first of all, this takes time and that we would walk him through every step, but that he must not think about what he can’t do. I told him he couldn’t worry about the other students seeming to pick it up faster than him — he just needed to focus only on what he was being taught by his trainer. He did, and this student ended up passing with flying colors.

The moral of the story is this — don’t worry if you mess up! You’re going to mess up, it’s inevitable. But instead of getting upset about it, learn from the mistakes. Don’t be upset about what you can’t do. Be excited about what you have succeeded at so far! If you really want to drive a truck, then you have to believe that you can.