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Training people for the open road
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For those interested in or considering pursuing a career in trucking, a school for them has just opened in Covington.

Atlantic CDL Training Center has opened up shop on Old Oxford Road. Featuring three truck driving instructors, whose years of experience in the industry range from 15 to 42 years, the school is seeking new students.

"We keep a low student/teacher ratio," said Ron Barfield, Atlantic CDL's director of driver training, adding that all students are cross-trained with instructors so they can benefit from the instructors' ranges of experience.

Since opening its doors in mid-June, Atlantic CDL has already seen a number of the students it has trained receive their commercial driver's licenses and successfully placed with trucking companies.

"It's been really, really good," said Angela Brooks, office manager for Atlantic CDL, of the school's progress so far.

With a 35 percent to 40 percent shortage of qualified drivers in the industry, students who earn their CDL are likely to have no problem finding a job, Barfield said.

"It opens up a whole new career for them," Barfield said. "It's a great profession. It's great job security."

Brooks said the school has three recruiters lined up to speak to students this week about employment opportunities with their companies.

Atlantic CDL offers a 180-hour Class A commercial driver's license course. Students can enroll full-time to complete the course in 18 days, attending class Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. The course includes 60 hours of classroom instruction, 60 hours of training course time and 60 hours of training time on the open road.

Students can also take the course on a part-time schedule.

"To the best of our ability we accommodate their schedules," Brooks said. Tuition is $3,250. There are enrollment specials and financing is available.

Atlantic CDL is located next to its paved eight acre training course. On the course, students will learn six different backing skills, parallel parking and how to ready their trailer for an inspection among other things. Upon completion of their course, students are driven to a state testing facility.

Driver's who have their Class A license are licensed to drive any type of vehicle, from full-rigs to construction equipment.

"We want to have safe drivers out there. That's why going to a CDL school is important," Barfield said.

Atlantic CDL plans to expand its course offerings for drivers with Class C licenses by teaching drivers ed courses, remedial driver training for DUI offenders and a defensive driving course for drivers looking to get a small break on their car insurance premiums. The school plans to offer Class B training for drivers interested in driving school buses.

Weekend classes and refresher CDL courses are in the works as well, Barfield said.