Right-Sizing Truck Driving Training One Expert's Perspective, Harry Kowalchyk

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Written by Cheryl Hentz

Contact Information:

Harry Kowalchyk, Jr., President
National Tractor Trailer School, Inc.
4650 Buckley Road, Liverpool, NY 13088
Phone: 800-243-9300
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web site:

Federal regulation of the interstate trucking industry began in 1935. But, as with other industries, economic research throughout the 1960s and early 1970s showed that trucking rates would be far lower in a competitive marketplace. Given that and a growing opposition to interstate regulation, Congress passed legislation in 1980 that virtually deregulated the trucking industry. “Since then, the industry has transformed itself,” says Harry Kowalchyk, Jr., president of National Tractor Trailer School, Inc.

With campuses in Liverpool and Buffalo, New York, Kowlachyk and his business partner, William Mocarski, co-founded NTTS in 1971. Since then, NTTS has trained over 17,000 men and women as entry-level tractor trailer and heavy truck drivers, and has placed its graduates with over 600 national and local companies. Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT), NTTS offers courses certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI).

“Prior to deregulation there were approximately 17,000 to 18,000 regulated interstate companies. Since deregulation, there are well over 40,000; so the industry has seen substantial growth. That, in turn, created a tremendous need for more drivers,” he says, adding, “that is but one change the industry has seen. Additionally, the implementation of the Commercial Drivers License (CDL) further increased the need for qualified drivers.

“The industry wasn’t perceived as a lucrative profession in the early 1980s. To attract new drivers, companies began implementing better compensation packages, home-time policies, and tried to create a more driver friendly environment to recruit new drivers from different backgrounds. Currently, we are seeing that go from real headhunting of drivers to more selective and stricter pre-screening. A company no longer has to settle for an inferior driver,” says Kowalchyk. “I’m not suggesting that companies do that, but if you have a lot of trucks sitting against a fence, you might be tempted to put somebody in there that you wouldn’t normally put behind the wheel.”

“The industry has also seen the rise and fall of the CDL mills, the two-week CDL courses, free training, and things of this nature. The whole industry went through a nosedive along with predatory lending that occurred in educational loans and the mortgage business where everything was overly inflated. Now reality is starting to sink in,” he continues.

Kowalchyk says, however, many trucking companies are telling him these things are both good and bad for driver training schools. “There’s a silver lining to this cloud. Companies are raising their criteria and qualifications for drivers. Companies will think twice about hiring a person who graduated from a CDL-mill type school versus someone who graduated from an accredited school or a school with PTDI-certified courses. That, ultimately, is a safer driver. In other words, they are going to truly get their pick now. The cream will always rise to the top when it comes to training,” he explains. “If you take a look at the survivors in this business, people who have been around for a long time—and there are some very good non-accredited schools and some that don’t have certified courses that have been around for a long period of time—you’ll see that they haven’t sacrificed the quality of their instruction just to be competitive.”

Some of the schools that have been around the longest have comprehensive programs, including more behind-the-wheel training, and more in-depth subject material added to their courses, Kowalchyk notes.

“I never thought I’d see the day that we’d be teaching drivers things like business operations. What does that have to do with getting a license or driving, some might ask? Well, I think they should know something about business because if their truck is two hours late for a delivery and they’ve got a payload on there worth $40,000, and there’s an assembly line that needs all those parts by tomorrow afternoon, that driver better know about business operations. They better understand their cost per mile and how much it costs to operate. If a driver understands the operational side of trucking, dispatching and such, they’ll not only be able to comprehend more, but they’re going to become a more productive employee all the way around.”

“The industry has worked on recruitment and retention for the last 25 or 30 years, and it’s made some great advances. With today’s economy, we are not seeing the big shortage of drivers as in past years, and there is not a huge retention problem right now because drivers are hesitant to jump around.”

Where does Kowalchyk see the future of driver training schools headed? “The more marketable the product, and the more crosstraining that you provide to your students, the better success you have. Is there going to be a fallout of smaller schools? Absolutely. Unfortunately, some good ones will fall out, too. But, there’s also going to be a weeding out process, and it will force training to improve for those that need to be improved. They will turn out a better driver who is more competitive and has more soft-skills training. The industry will improve overall. Obviously, if a company hires a safer, better trained driver, accidents and injuries decrease, safety records improve, insurance rates go down, and profits go up.”

NOTE: Schneider National, the largest trucking company in the country (featured in the Career Education Review, December 2008), is now hiring only experienced drivers and has closed its driving schools. Offering free training, Schneider trained over 10,000 drivers a year.


Roadmaster Acquires 3 New Locations

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CONTACT: Elise M. Phillips
Career Path Training
PHONE: 813-831-4490. x250
FAX: 813-831-7017
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Truck Driving School Expands to Include Three Midwestern Schools

(Tampa, FL), Jan. 26, 2009 – Roadmaster Drivers School has announced that it has contracted to acquire three schools from American Truck Training and American Truck Training Academy located in Kansas City, MO, Oklahoma City, OK, and Tulsa, OK. The agreement encompasses the entirety of the American chain and brings Roadmaster to the sum of twelve nationwide truck driving schools.  Both Roadmaster Drivers School and American Truck Training, Inc enjoy an excellent reputation for providing the trucking industry with safe, qualified driver graduates.  Upon governmental approval, the three American locations will become Roadmaster Drivers Schools.

When asked about the new acquisitions, President and CEO of Roadmaster Drivers School, John Kearney Sr. remarked, “By inviting American Truck Training Inc. to join the Roadmaster chain of schools, their three additional school locations will provide us with a stronger Mid-West presence in major transportation freight lanes which will be an added benefit to the list of carriers dependant on Roadmaster graduates.”

ABOUT ROADMASTER - Roadmaster Drivers School has a broad array of training options within the truck driver training program. Roadmaster Drivers Schools’ other trucking school locations include: Dunn, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio;  Indianapolis, Indiana; Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando, Florida; West Memphis, Arkansas; San Antonio, Texas; and Salt Lake City, Utah.

For additional information on Roadmaster Drivers School, contact Roadmaster at 800-831-1300 or visit

Tim Dean Selected as America's Road Team Captain

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Tim Dean Selected as America's Road Team Captain

Werner Enterprises Driver Tim Dean has been selected as one of the 18 captains for the 2009-2010 American Trucking Association's America's Road Team.

While maintaining his job at Werner Enterprises, Dean will travel across the country, speaking on behalf of the trucking industry about transportation and safety issues to the community, news media and public officials.




Top Truck Drivers Named to New America's Road Team

January 14, 2009 7:00 AM

Eric Reller  (703) 838-1896

Drivers Represent Industry and Deliver Trucking's Highway Safety Message


ARLINGTON, Va. - The American Trucking Associations today announced the Captains of the 2009 - 2010 America's Road Team. The premier group of million-mile, accident-free professional truck drivers will spend the next two years representing the trucking industry and delivering its highway safety message to the motoring public.


18 captains, with a collective 468 years of experience and over 30.7 million accident free miles, were selected from a group of 34 finalists who competed this week before a panel of judges from the trucking industry and related fields. The competition included a review of trucking industry expertise and a demonstration of their communication skills, combined with their community service and lifetime safety records. 


“The America's Road Team is the best way the trucking industry can reach out to the motoring public to advance the image of the industry,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “These elite professional drivers combine impressive safety records with the desire to share their dedication and passion for safety. The trucking industry is proud to welcome these new Captains as they serve as ambassadors, sharing trucking’s message of professionalism, safety and essentiality.” 


ATA created America's Road Team in 1986. It continues today with the generous support of Volvo Trucks North America. The Team represents America's 3.5 million professional drivers and serves as an example of the professional dedication and teamwork needed to deliver America's freight safely and on time.


“Volvo Trucks congratulates the outstanding drivers chosen to represent the U.S. trucking industry in 2009 and 2010,” said Scott Kress, Volvo Trucks senior vice president - sales & marketing. “Their driving records and complete professionalism demonstrate their commitment to safety and the pride they take in driving a truck well, every day.  They make possible the benefit to society that the trucking industry delivers.  Volvo also salutes their employers, since America's Road Team wouldn't happen without their support.”


While maintaining their jobs as full-time professional drivers, the new America's Road Team Captains will now travel the country speaking on behalf of the trucking industry to the community, news media and public officials. The Captains will address transportation and safety issues, speaking at community events and anywhere they can reach the motoring public to share safe driving tips and offer advice on how to safely share the road with tractor-trailers.


The Road Team Captains also advocate safety to those within the industry at terminals and truck stops. They speak with fellow drivers, driver training students and corporate safety officers. They also have the opportunity to present trucking and safety issues before our public officials, at the national, state and local levels.


To be nominated to serve as a Road Team Captain, the candidates must be employed as a company driver or leased owner-operator by a full-dues-paying member of ATA. Each nominee must have an excellent safety record and demonstrate an ability to communicate a commitment to safety and professionalism. 


2009-2010 America’s Road Team Captains





Gerald Charron

Con-way Freight  

Danville, VT

Tim Dean 

Werner Enterprises 

Griswold, IA

Rich Ewing 

Yellow Transportation

Bellingham, WA

John Foran 

United Parcel Service

Saint Albans, VT

James Gallagher 


Williamsville, NY

Paul Gattin 

ABF Freight System 

Benton, AR

Ronald Hawkins, Jr. 

K-Limited Carrier Ltd.

Perrysburg, OH

Mark Hassemer 

Yellow Transportation

Whitelaw, WI

Barry Holland

UPS Freight 

Hurlock, MD

Edward Hosegood 

Publix Super Markets, Inc. 

Lakeland, FL

Keith Johnson 


Eatonville, WA

Gary Leu 

Wal-Mart Transportation

Shelbina, MO

Greg Nauertz


Peoria, AZ

Kurt Pedersen 

Con-way Freight

Surprise, AZ

Ben Saiz 

ABF Freight System 

Estancia, NM

Frank Silio 

Covenant Transport

Miami, FL

Jeffrey Thompson 

FedEx Freight 

Olathe, KS

Ron Van Bibber 


South Jordan, UT


The America's Road Team, sponsored by Volvo Trucks North America, is a national public outreach

program led by a small group of professional truck drivers who share superior driving skills, remarkable safety records and a strong desire to spread the word about safety on the highway.  For more information go to


The American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of other trucking groups, industry-related conferences, and its 50 affiliated state trucking associations, ATA represents more than 37,000 members covering every type of motor carrier in the United States.


The American Trucking Associations has led the campaign for rigorous safety laws that affect every driver on the nation’s highways. ATA’s overall safety agenda includes greater education on sharing the road with large trucks, increased traffic enforcement for all vehicles that operate unsafely around large trucks, the adoption of primary safety belt laws in all states, and reinstatement of a national maximum speed limit of 65 mph for all vehicles. ATA also supports limiting truck speeds at the time of manufacture.


Sharing the Roads

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This news provided by National Tractor Trailer School:


By WTVH News1


Motivation Tools You Need To Survive In Sales

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Motivation Tools You Need To Survive In Sales

To make motivation a daily part of your life takes practice and perseverance. Below are nine ways to stock your motivation toolbox. Use these tools daily to keep your spirits and goals on track.

Accept where you are. By accepting your own abilities and working within your limitations, you can use valuable energy to create positive life changes. Someone once said, "Your circumstances don't control you, they define you!" The way you are reflects the sum total of your choices to date.

Dare to Think in awesome dimensions. When you think about what you want to achieve, do you think of yourself-proclaimed limits? Why stop where you stop? Try thinking in unusual or outrageous terms.

"When you give up in your mind, your mind gives up on you."

Don't dwell on defeat. When you give up in your mind, your mind gives up on you. Once this happens the rest is downhill. Remember there is no such thing as failure; there are only outcomes. If you don't like your outcome, try changing your activity.

Listen to motivational tapes. When you listen to your "mental recordings" of past years, you fall victim to your mind's ceaseless broadcast. To counteract this endless tape, flood your mind with positive input every day of your life. If you were to add up the money you spend on the outside of your head you'd be surprised at the annual expenditure. instead, spend some money on the inside of your head by purchasing at least one cassette every month. Listen to a tape every time you drive.

For every dollar you spend ask yourself, "Do I need this and can I afford this?" This tip can help you spend less and save more. If you expect to become one of the four percent of Americans who reach financial independence by age 65, then saving is absolutely essential. Here's a sobering exercise. Ask yourself how much money per month you'd want, net, after taxes, if you retired today and quit working.

Now, leaving the principal intact, figure out how much money you'll need at eight percent net (after all taxes and investment management expenses) to generate that amount monthly for the rest of your life. Add the tax you have to pay on the total amount of income you'll need to put into your life savings account. Now you have a positive basis for beginning to plan for your financial future.

Stay committed to your career goals. People have a tendency to be on the lookout for a better deal. Lack of personal career commitment is the greatest source of personal dissatisfaction with one's profession. Get committed and learn to just say "No" to anything that doesn't support your career purpose.

Do not allow setbacks to control you. If you do, then your supporters may be that you haven't the resolve to stick to your plans for success. When you face an inevitable disappointment, accept it as a learning experience and find creative ways to work through it. You can choose to react to a disappointment by seeking solace and quitting trying, thus weakening your ability to do something positive about it. Or, you can choose to learn from it, to resolve to handle a similar situation differently the next time around, to grow and become more of a person instead of shrinking from challenge and becoming less.

"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude." - Thomas Jefferson

Never be intimidated. Most success is more perceived than real. it does no good to envy the possessions of others. There is a teaching in Buddhism that says: "People are not their stuff." This means if you take all your elements such as your pride, body, friends, money, status, position, job and anything else you can think of that you normally use to define another, and remove them from yourself, the real you is left. You are as important as anyone else on the planet. Be your own person and don't get caught up in the myth of a "get more to be more" society.

If it is to be, it is up to me. You have to accept the responsibility for getting what you want in your life. When you don't like a situation, take action to change it. Waiting for someone else to make the changes you want decreases your motivation and your ability to act. By waiting you diminish yourself and your cause. Don't just take notice, take action!

FMCSA’s Analysis, Research and Technology Programs Forum

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You are invited to attend a forum presented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Office of Analysis, Research and Technology on Tuesday, January 13, 2009, at the 88th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) from 8 a.m. to noon in Salon III at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Road, NW, Washington, DC 20008.


Admission to the forum is free, and there is no need for registration. Simply go to Salon III and sign the attendee list.

Topics to be presented:

  • Impact of Weather on Large Truck Crashes
  • FMCSA State Safety Data Quality (SSDQ) Map Improves State Data Reporting and Model Predicts Nonfatal Crashes for States Reporting to the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS)
  • Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 Operational Model Test Update
  • Using the Internet to Promote Defensive Driving Tips for CMV Drivers
  • North American Fatigue Management Program Motor Carrier Test Results
  • Progress Report on Commercial Vehicle Information Systems & Networks (CVISN) Deployment
  • Motor Carrier Efficiency Study


If you plan to attend any other TRB conference sessions, you must register separately and pay a registration fee. To register for the TRB Annual Meeting, visit


FMCSA Sends EOBR Rule to White House for Review

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Move Comes as Agency Proposes No Change to HOS Rule

Click here to write a Letter to the Editor.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has sent its rule governing the use of electronic onboard recorders to the White House for review, in tandem with its announcement that it would leaving its hours-of-service regulation unchanged.

FMCSA Administrator John Hill told reporters in a conference call Tuesday he “anticipate[d] publishing an EOBR rule before I walk out of here on Jan. 20,” even though there are less than 90 days left in the Bush administration. That is the customary time the Office of Management and Budget takes to review new regulations.

Agency officials have said the EOBR and hours rules have both been fast-tracked, in the hope that both will be completed before President-elect Barack Obama is sworn into office on Jan. 20. The hours rule was at OMB for only 24 days before being approved.

FMCSA’s initial proposal was to require carriers with egregious and repeated violations of the hours rules to carry an EOBR, but Hill has said he looked for ways to expand that mandate.

 (Click here for previous coverage.)