Veterans Training Program, Financial Options Expand Student Base for all Peak Programs

Fully committed to students’ education and its belief that students of all backgrounds and financial situations should have access to quality training, Peak Technical Institute is proud to be an approved provider of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity (WIOA) and G.I. Bill® benefits.

Partnering with WIOA and Veterans training has helped grow Peak’s student base across all of its programs – Class A Commercial Driver License, UXO Global unexploded ordnance, hospitality and estate management training.

To date, Peak has had 12 VA students and over 30 WIOA students attend all three Peak programs.

WIOA is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employees with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.

“The relationship with WIOA is beneficial for students because there are many people who want to make positive changes in their lives and help support themselves and their families but are not financially able to acquire proper training,” Peak Institutional Director Blake Bancroft said. “WIOA provides them funding and Peak provides the training to help them reach their goals.”

Peak assists student with job placement, bringing in trucking companies to discuss employment opportunities for students after graduation.

Peak is also proud to now be approved for veterans training, including the post 9/11 G.I. Bill® and Vocational Rehabilitation.

“After serving their country, these men and women can use G.I. Bill® benefits to pay for their education or the education of a family member,” Bancroft said. “They don’t have to worry about paying out of pocket for training as they look to take the next step in their careers.”

Students can use any of their WIOA or VA benefits on any of the three Peak programs – CDL, UXO or Professional Hospitality Management.

Summer Safety

Peak Technical Institute’s own Greg Dotson, Lead Instructor of the CDL Training Program, shares summer driving safety tips with the Maryville Daily Times. Read More.

How Trucking Changed My Life

Turning your life around is never easy.  I know exactly how it feels to work a job just for the weekly paycheck.  I spent years in the hot Florida sun working for a framing company, breaking my back and sacrificing my health.  I realized I needed a new direction; I wanted to be happy.

I took a chance and began a journey where I not only found my life’s purpose, I found freedom.  I was getting paid to travel and making my own rules without any bosses bothering me from sun up to sundown.  I was just a man and his truck loving life on the open road.

I saved up enough money as a company driver to become an owner-operator and had some financial stability. As I gained experience, I got some incredible opportunities.  I hauled everything from massive military freight to the space shuttle engines for NASA.  Now, I’m the program director for Peak Technical Institute’s CDL program.  I don’t just have a job anymore; I now have a career with endless possibilities.

The trucking industry is in need of more than 35,000 drivers right now.  Graduate from PTI in just three weeks to begin filling those jobs quickly.   If you or someone you know is looking for a new start and a promising career, contact us today at 855-399-PEAK or

Drive a truck.  Drive your life. With CDL training from Peak Technical Institute.

Peak Technical Institute: The best environment for the best training

During the course of a typical CDL training experience, students may be expected to stand around outside in bad weather and sit in overcrowded classroom trailers, only to have an occasional port-a-potty break. These environments certainly aren’t the most conducive for learning, but some trucking schools are taking shortcuts that reduce the relevancy of the course.  When it comes to the trucks many schools use to teach prospective truck drivers the important skills of the road, they are often out of date, and even dangerously old.

PTI’s facilities are new and spacious, with an emphasis on a comfortable environment for students to better absorb the program training. Even outdoors, where other schools make students practice driving on gravel, Peak has invested in an $1 million concrete training slab that allows students to practice critical maneuvers in a more realistic setting.

Students will also learn to drive using PTI’s fleet of 2010 International ProStar® tractor trailers, which are used exclusively for training. These trucks are equipped with innovative OnGuardTM technology that allows drivers to know the distance between their truck and the vehicle in front of them. Knowing how to drive late-model trucks and use today’s road equipment is a huge benefit to being able to jump right into a driving career and begin driving safely.

Peak also structures its classes differently than other Class A CDL training programs. Namely, our instructors believe it is critical to get students driving during the second week of the three-week training. This allows students to receive more hands-on time behind the wheel. Peak’s 4-to-1 ratio of students to instructors also ensures that students will have individualized instruction as well as gain all the time they need to learn how to handle the trucks, since our goal is to make driving a truck second nature.

Finally, the combination of classroom, lab, range and on-the-road experience ensures that Peak’s CDL students learn the best procedures and build the skills they need to be safe and successful commercial drivers. We welcome anyone to come to either of our campuses to take a look at the incredible facilities and equipment available to you as you take the step into your new career.

Who’s Hiring? See Where PTI Graduates Can Take Their Careers.

At PTI’s CDL training course, we measure success by our graduates’ success. Our instructors’ combined 6 million road miles, as well as their emphasis on safety, means that companies are eager to hire PTI graduates. We can boast relationships with recruiters who are actively seeking to fill well-paid positions.

You may be considering a new career in truck driving because you’ve heard that you can make a good living. It’s true! A typical truck driver can walk into a new career earning about $46,000 or more, depending on the employer. And this doesn’t include signing bonuses and benefits. What other career can you enter making this type of salary with no prior experience? These companies are expanding rapidly and are seeking men and women to fill jobs quickly.

With multiple opportunities to choose from, our graduates are able to compare offers to find the company that best suits their needs. For instance, many drivers with families are looking for work that won’t put them on the road over weekends. In fact, many of the companies that recruit from our school are family-oriented companies. As a whole, the industry’s reputation for long weeks on the road away from home is changing. With improvements in logistics and operations, many of these companies have been able to keep pace with employees’ desire for more balance between career and family, including the ability to get drivers home on weekends.

At the core, it’s PTI’s quality instruction practices that are recognized by top companies in the field. The following companies are actively recruiting PTI graduates to fill positions that open every day. Of course, a new career in truck driving is not limited by these companies, as a CDL Class A license will qualify drivers to find employment driving any commercial vehicle.

We encourage you to call today to speak with someone about getting started in your new career!

  •  Averitt Express – This Tennessee-based company is one of the nation’s leading freight transportation and supply chain management providers.
  • Colonial  This Tennessee-based company is 100% owner-operated for dry van operation. Major companies have relied on Colonial to meet their transportation needs for 50+ years.
  • Knight Transportation – With more than 4,000 tractors and 8,500 trailers in operation, this is one of the largest and most diverse truckload carriers in the United States. Knight Transportation is trusted by some of the biggest companies in the world to handle its shipping needs.
  • Maverick – Operation includes more than 1,400 tractors and provides services throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, and is focused on hauling steel, building materials, flat glass or temperature controlled products.
  • McElroy Truck Lines, Inc. – This flatbed truckload carrier operates primarily in the Southwest, Southeast, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. The company is committed to supporting families by getting all of its drivers home every weekend.
  • Paschall Truck Lines (PTL) – With more than 70 years of performance on America’s roads, its developed an enviable reputation in the trucking industry. Since the beginning, it has provided reliable, efficient and professional transport solutions throughout the United States.
  • Purdy Bro’s – Serving the forty-eight United States and Canada with a combined company and owner/operator fleet, it has tripled in size in the past ten years. In addition to providing competitive pay and benefits, it aims to stand out from other trucking companies by improving the quality of life for its drivers by asking drivers what they need and then doing whatever possible to meet those needs.
  • Roehl Transport, Inc. – By providing truckload transportation and logistical services for over 50 years, the company has built a solid reputation. It claims to offer the highest starting rate and the best combination of national fleet pay and home time options in one of its truck driving jobs.
  • Schnieder – With proven history spanning 80 years, it is able to provide expert transportation and logistics solutions. A $3.6 billion company, Schneider services many parts of North America and China. Its operations include Van Truckload, Dedicated, Regional, Bulk, Intermodal, Brokerage, Supply Chain Management and Port Logistics services.
  • Star Transportation – With a commitment to offering its customers a high level of timely, dependable and safe services.  It’s reputation of providing customers with dependable services makes it a preferred employer for drivers. It specializes in transporting manufactured housing, RVs, boats, cargo trailers and tow-aways and has terminals located in Indiana, Pennslyvania, Oklahoma, Idaho and North Dakota.
  • Super Service  With more than 1,200 late model tractors and 2,500 trailers, it has one of the most extensive fleets in the region.
  • TMC Transportation – One of the largest employee-owned flatbed trucking companies in the United States, it has more than 40 years in the flatbed industry.
  • U.S.A. Truck – U.S.A. Truck’s fleet consists of more than 2,000 tractors and 6,000 dry-van trailers; All of U.S.A. Truck’s trailers are 53 ft (16 m) dry-vans; the company does not operate any flatbed, refrigerated or tanker trailer fleets.
  • U.S. Xpress – With a compounded annual growth of 16 percent since 1994, 8,000 tractors and 22,000 trailers, it now stands as the nation’s 3rd largest privately-owned truckload carrier.
  • Werner  Werner is among the five largest truckload carriers in the United States, with a diversified portfolio of transportation services that includes dedicated; medium-to-long-haul, regional and local van; expedited; temperature-controlled; and flatbed services.
  • Western Express, Inc. – This asset-based truckload carrier runs approximately 2,500 power units and in excess of 6,500 trailers, and 100% of its power units are satellite-tracked.

Post Author:  Greg Dotson, Program Director, Lead CDL Instructor-Maryville, Peak Technical Institute

Truck Driving: The Authentic Adventure

Getting to see this country firsthand is a privilege not afforded by many. Even fewer actually get paid to travel. It may be just one aspect of the job, but it’s one that stands out to me because of my personal experience.

When I was in my early twenties, I embarked on a new career in truck driving. In addition to a nice paycheck for the first time in my life, I was also thrilled by the adventure of the road. Getting to see California, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the Northwest territories all left a big impression on me. Each day challenged me by demanding something new. One day I would be turning curves up a winding mountain road, and another I would be traveling across the corn and wheat fields of the mid-west without another car passing me for hours.

I knew before I started driving that I didn’t want to work in an office setting, but I didn’t know how much I would love life on the road until I was already living it. Perhaps my favorite early experience was when I was hauling for NASA, transporting shuttle engines from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the retrofitting location in Mississippi. I can still see the inside of the vehicle assembly building and the shuttle being lifted by a crane into the crate supporting it for me to haul.

Maybe not every job is as thrilling as that one was for me, but one of the things that truckers everywhere experience is a sense of pride in what they do. When you drive a truck, you realize how much this country depends on over-the-road transportation. Even though when I started out, I was fairly independent (and still am), as a truck driver I instantly became a part of a very special club, and it’s a club I’m proud to belong to. Whether it’s food or fuel, America can’t run without it. Each of your deliveries alone will impact hundreds to thousands of people.

Today, I’m an instructor to students who are finally taking the step to realize their dreams. They might be fresh out of college, or they might have already found success in other fields. Of the more than one thousand students I’ve trained, some have even come from white collar careers as doctors, lawyers and engineers to join our ranks. For many, it’s the sense of adventure that makes them want to trade in their desks and cubicles for a big rig.

Whether you are seeking financial stability or you are looking beyond the cubicle walls, there is one thing certain – truck driving will give you a chance to see places you might have only seen pictures of. It’s the ultimate adventure to be paid to travel. I wouldn’t be so passionate about devoting my career to training people to drive trucks if I didn’t know for certain that it’s a career that is fulfilling as it is financially rewarding.

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Post Author:  Greg Dotson, Program Director, Lead CDL Instructor-Maryville, Peak Technical Institute

The Elements That Challenge a Driver’s Skill Level 

Whether from rain, snow, ice, or wind, every once in a while a driver will get hit with a true test of his or her abilities. In the case of one skilled CMV driver traveling in Kansas, his day had come with vengeance. Severe crosswinds battered the plains and just as this driver crested the top of a hill, the full force of the storm careened into the side of his truck and trailer. The driver could have panicked and forgotten all of his training and experience or he could maintain control and keep his truck upright. In the case of this particular driver, he made the best choice in his situation and turned his truck into the direction of the roll while aiming for a clearing off the road. There are a ton of factors and split-second decisions that come into play when discussing this video of the Kansas driver. Let’s take a minute and look at some of the factors that could have made this scene go horribly wrong.

Steering-wheel hand position
REASON:  Had the driver been leaning back in his seat with one hand on the top side of the steering wheel, like many drivers do, he would have certainly flipped this truck and trailer over on its side. Instead, the driver maintained a firm grip on his steering wheel which helped him maintain control. This gave him the power to turn into his roll.

Mirror management

REASON: If the driver had not seen the trailer begin to roll over in his mirror, it would have been too late to correct it.

Acceleration and braking

REASON: Acceleration and braking play a major role in the remediation of any emergency maneuver. This driver could have responded by touching his brakes or letting off the fuel, but it most certainly would have resulted in the truck and trailer laying over. You never want to stall a truck. Always be in control with tires rolling freely and in a gear that allows you to accelerate.

Space management
REASON: In many instances, there are emergency vehicles broken down on the side of the road.
If this driver hadn’t had a space cushion on the right side of the truck, he wouldn’t have had any direction to go.

Ultimately, we as drivers need to remember to be aware of our surroundings and the potential hazards of the road. Always keep in mind that we have Stop Work Authority. If the conditions are severe enough, get off the road and wait for the conditions to improve. There is NO load worth the lives of ourselves or others.

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Safety Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving

Have you ever read a text message or responded to a text message while you were driving? Have you ever watched a movie going down the road or reached down on the floor of your truck to pick-up a CD or cell phone that dropped? If you answered yes to one or both of these questions, then you have been a distracted driver. NOW is the time to get educated on the facts and risk associated with distracted driving and the consequences that can come from these activities while driving.

Truck, Car and Bus Collision

Distracted driving picture of truck, car, and school bus collision

Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded! Can you imagine that? Think about it! Next time you are driving down the freeway look for a landmark or point of reference. Once you pass the landmark, count off in thousands (one thousand one, one thousand two and so on). When you get to five seconds, look in your rearview mirror or west coast mirror and see the distance that you covered in your car or tractor trailer in that five seconds. Now imagine doing this Blindfolded! Scary feeling isn’t it? These are small risks that you may not think about when sending that two-word text, reaching down to find that thing on your floor or sending a quick QUALCOMM message to accept your next load. The results of these seemingly small risks can be absolutely devastating for all people involved. The picture on the right is the carnage that was left behind after a young driver sent numerous text messages while driving. The pickup driver and a 15-year-old student on the school bus were killed. In another incident, Thirty-eight people were injured in an accident near Gray Summit, Mo on Aug. 5, 2010. Texting while driving was identified as the cause. A nineteen year old driver of the pickup sent and received 11 messages in eleven seconds immediately before the accident.

Across the nation accidents and incidents like these are happening every day. In 2012, over 3,328 deaths were related to distracted driving and 421,000 people were injured because of distractions while driving. At any given moment there are 660,000 vehicles on the road in which a driver is texting or has a cell phone to their ear. States like North Carolina have a ban on texting while driving, but make exceptions for drivers of CMV’s to use in-cab communication equipment or “Dispatch System” to be able to review, respond and accept load assignments. On July 1, 2008, a driver for Coretrans Trucking was traveling on Interstate 40 in Buncombe County at approximately 60 MPH and received a message on his in-cab system for an additional load. The driver choose to read and respond to this message. He took his eyes off the road for approximately 4-7 seconds and didn’t notice the construction zone with lanes ending and merge over signs. The driver never saw the stopped traffic and thus never had a chance to even hit the brakes. The driver hit two stopped vehicles causing severe and permanent brain damage to one small boy and ending another child’s life.

Distracted Driving: Semi/ Auto collision photo

The FIX! Now that you are familiar with some of the facts about distracted drivers and have read about some of the horrific accidents resulting from distracted drivers, let’s talk about a solution to the problem. As a professional driver, the first and most important rule to remember is that no text or phone call is worth your life or the lives and safety of those around you. Professional drivers have a responsibility to drive with respect for the motorists around them and to consider driving safety Job One. So take these simple steps to minimize the chance of becoming distracted while driving. They may help you to ensure your safety and that of the motoring public:

  • Avoid answering phone calls while driving and rig for hands-free operation.
  • Set auto respond text messages such as, “I’m driving. I’ll call you back”.
  • Plan your trip to avoid having to refer to maps while driving.
  • Program your GPS before leaving and know how to operate it to avoid driving distractions
  • Program your radio stations prior to beginning your trip.

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