I was at the ribbon cutting for a commercial driving simulator at Lake Land College in Mattoon, Ill., Thursday and had an incredible experience.
Have you ever driven behind someone and wished you were in a rubber car so you could “bump” them? Well “driving” a truck driving simulator fulfills that wish, and scares the socks off you at the same time! Being behind the wheel of a “18-wheeler” is a challenge. And with wintery weather conditions and traffic patterns changing in the blink of an eye, you quickly realize the responsibility is frightening! When you take off the seatbelt and leave the “cab,” you can feel the tenseness in your shoulders. Thank goodness it all occurred in a simulated setting! “On the job training,” without the simulator, would mean “on the road” training! And that IS a scary thought!
But because of a USDA Rural Development Rural Business Enterprise Grant to Lake Land College, that terrifying prospect is eliminated! The RBEG covered the entire cost of the commercial driver training simulator. It’s designed to provide a realistic tractor trailer and commercial vehicle driving experience in preparation for students to receive their CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). And the training and certification is completed in a safe, non-threatening environment over a four-week period.
Not only are the students well prepared, the simulator also enhances the development of a workforce for scores of businesses in the area and throughout the Midwest. Area business have even “signed up their current drivers” for refresher courses!
As the regional leader in commercial driver training, Lake Land College has helped hundreds of men and women find employment in the trucking industry. And that means: job stability, bonus plans, health and life insurance, retirement plans, paid vacations and students being hired even before they graduate!
I’m a long way from getting my CDL, but I’m on the short list of new appreciation for those who do!
Illinois State Director, USDA Rural Development