My experience at C.R. England:
I was excited at the opportunity to earn a CDL and begin a new career. However, my excitement quickly turned to horror. After an agonizing two day bus ride, I arrived at the SLC terminal. England pumps nearly 100 students through each of it's four schools in "meat-grinder" fashion. The dormitory was a petri dish of disease and viruses. The rooms held up to eight people and were more like jail cells than accommodations. The "schooling" progressed at an extremely rapid pace, however I held a perfect GPA throughout. I was placed into their "flex" program. (Which means that I went out with a local driver instead of being in the classroom) Having never seen the inside of a truck before, I was extremely nervous driving on the highway.
However, I "manned" through it and, with little instruction, taught myself the basics of shifting and operating a 40 ton vehicle on the open road. [continued below]....
..... After graduating with a 4.0 GPA and receiving my CDL, I was ready to begin my Phase One training. When I met my trainer, his first words to me were "4 o'clock comes around early, better get some sleep." I slept in the bunk that night and was awakened at 3:45 a.m. to be placed behind the wheel and told "Just stay heading East on I-80." Before I made it out of the parking lot, he was in the bunk with the curtain closed. As I was driving, I noticed an unfamiliar red switch on the side of the gear selector.
Having never seen this before, and having been instructed not to stop, I was forced to research this switch on my Iphone while driving down the interstate. I taught myself to drive a thirteen speed while driving the interstate! Finally, after nearly 10 1/2 hours of straight driving, my trainer woke up and instructed me where to stop for fuel and to change drivers. I was allowed to urinate, but not have a bowel movement. I was told that I could do that when we got back to SLC in three days. Then my "trainer" took over driving. He would swerve between vehicles and generally drive like a maniac. I felt unsafe whenever he drove and had great difficulty falling asleep. Worst of all, I was not getting any input on my driving or any instruction. There was absolutely no TRAINING!!!
As soon as I had the chance, I spoke with my training coordinator. He told me to "give it thirty days." The next morning, I awoke to find that I only had seven hours left on my clock. He had been driving on my logs. (I also forgot to mention that my trainer had less than a year of experience) He went to sleep while I drove through the Smoky Mountains. In addition to the steep downgrades, I hit a storm and visibility was near zero. I was white-knuckled the whole time. I yelled for help, but he wouldn't wake up. It became a regular occurrence for me to find hours missing on my logs.
Throughout this time, we were getting qualcomm reports about the high number of rollovers throughout the company which left several employees dead. After twenty-six days of this and following a horrifying night of watching my trainer drive over mountains in a storm like he was on the NASCAR circuit, I decided to leave England for my own safety. When we arrived in Salt Lake City that morning I packed my belongings, e-mailed a letter of resignation to my TC, turned in my fuel cards, caught a shuttle to the greyhound station and purchased a ticket home. I thought that would be the last that I would see of England, but not so.
No sooner had I arrived home, but my TC began to call and e-mail me several times per day. He stated how sorry he was about what happened and that he wanted me back. I told him that I would agree to return on the following conditions: 1) He must provide me with a GOOD trainer and 2) He would have to pay for my travel back to the terminal. He agreed and after almost three weeks of his constant begging, I decided to give them a second chance. My next trainer had seventeen years of driving experience (with another company). He was very knowledgeable, however he did not possess a gift for instilling that knowledge upon others. He drove with two students, so I had to sleep on the top bunk while the other student slept on the floor by the gearshift. (His bunk was off-limits)
While he drove in a safe and courteous manner, he spent his free time online studying for law school instead of doing any training. Meanwhile, England left me on that truck for three weeks with no income and no way of getting an advance to eat. Had it not been for the generosity of the other student, I would have starved. When that period was over, we were returned to SLC for Phase 2. However, during the upgrade class, we were informed that the phase 2 program was discontinued and we would have to lease a truck right away. Fortunately for me, the waiting list was so long that there was not enough trucks available. So, after sitting at the yard for a week with no pay, they placed me on another truck.
My third trainer boasted almost six months of driving experience and had failed the CDL test three times before passing on his fourth attempt. He then had his first accident on the was out of the DMV when he hit the side of a building. He too, was a speed freak and insisted on keeping the cruise control set at the highest governed speed. He would stay awake for days at a time. While traveling down the interstate, cruise control locked, he got up from the driver's seat and went to lay in the bunk. I was in the passenger seat at the time and lept over to the steering wheel narrowly stopping us from running off of the road. As soon as the truck stopped, I called the after-hours dept who forwarded me to safety. (Now you would think that such a horrific tale would raise alarms, but they acted like this was a commonplace event)
They told me "Just bear with it for a few more days" (Yes, you read that right!) Horrified and sick of the safety violations, log violations, missing pay and lack of humanity, I told them that I wanted off of the truck immediately. They told me to stay on the truck until we got to Burns Harbour in Hammond, IN. There, I told that I would have to find my own way home. When I found a driver who was going through Muskogee, OK, I begged for a ride. He agreed on the condition that I do part of the driving without pay. I readily agreed and made my way home. C.R. England is a one-way ticket to debt and/or the cemetery. Avoid this company at all costs! I wish I could take legal action against them.