Southern State Truck Driving Academy remains open


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Southern State’s North Campus in Wilmington will be closing, but the Truck Driving Academy will remain open to serve students interested in obtaining the skills required to drive a truck.

The classroom portion will take place at the Brown County Campus in Mt. Orab (351 Brooks-Malott Road) beginning on July 20. Students will continue to utilize the existing pad in Wilmington (on Davids Drive) when training moves from the classroom to behind-the-wheel.

Students enrolled in the program can expect to spend their first week or two at the Brown County Campus for classroom instruction. The transition should be seamless. The TDA offices will also relocate to the Brown County Campus. The academy is following all CDC guidelines during this pandemic to keep students and instructors safe.

Truck driver training is more important than ever. People can expect the nationwide shortage of truck drivers to worsen in coming years, according to a recent report from an Indiana trucking authority. Local truck driving instructor JT Smith said there has never been a better time to enter the transportation industry.

Smith, who oversees Southern State’s Truck Driving Academy, said a longstanding demand for truck drivers has longevity beyond his lifetime.

“Everything still comes on a truck regardless of what it is, whether it’s groceries or gas,” Smith said. “Any store you want to shop at or anything online like Amazon uses trucks. Trains and planes can only get them so far – trucks get things where they need to go.”

Smith said Southern State offers high-tech training methods to prepare students for the road in changing times. The Truck Driving Academy uses virtual-reality simulators for shifting and driving training so students can safely learn techniques without getting behind the wheel, and the college will soon offer a tablet and smartphone app simulating pre-trip maintenance and preparation, Smith said.

Accompanying the technological changes in the trucking industry is a paradigm shift in the way society sees truck drivers, Smith said. “The stigma of being a truck driver has come a long way,” he said. “You can support a family on a single income and you can avoid all kinds of college debt. If you like to drive, truck driving is a great field to get into.”

Smith said potential truck drivers could qualify for a Class A Commercial Driver’s License in four weeks or eight weekends at a cost of $5,300. The course for a Class B license, or passenger bus qualification, is two weeks and costs $2,900.

Smith can be reached by email at jtsmith@sscc.edu. For more information, please visit https://www.sscc.edu/academics/programs/truck-driving.shtml.

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