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International instructions - Grennell's delivers formal truck-driving lessons

Published:Sunday | April 8, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Chad Bryan, Gleaner Writer

Learning to drive is, perhaps, one of the most important and exciting adventures an individual will undertake when they come 'of age'. Jamaican law sets 18 years old as the earliest age a person can be granted a full driver's licence.

The skills needed for driving a car can be learnt relatively quickly, but the process of learning to drive a truck is more difficult, the larger size mandating that more developed skills are required. These have an impact on an individual's judgement and the driver's ability to manoeuvre the vehicle, stronger skill sets required as the trucks get larger and larger.

However, while it is common to see cars with the identifying red 'L' on the road, indicating that a learner is behind the wheel, seeing it on a truck is a rare sight, and so Automotives was struck by one at the intersection of Hope Road and Garden Boulevard, recently. It turned out that the truck, an International brand behemoth, was not far from its home base, Grennell's Driving School located on Mona Road, St Andrew.

Competence

"The number of people learning to drive trucks varies. There are not many people, but I suspect the number will increase soon as we just acquired a truck last year May," said managing director of the school, Alphonso Grennell. He noted that there are different types of trucks and corresponding licence requirements. While an open general licence authorises someone to drive a truck, a trailer licence is required for an articulated truck.

While it is possible for any individual to learn to drive a truck, Grennell recommends that someone first possess a general driver's licence to drive smaller vehicles, as it is easier to learn this way. The time required to learn to drive a truck also depends on the individual's competence. "Overall, it differs from person to person. It may take 20 lessons to drive a truck but another individual may need 10-15 lessons, based on the person's judgment," Grennell said. Each 45-minute lesson costs $1,800 and learners are taught 'driving the defensive way'.

Grennell's Driving School gives truck-driving lessons to employees of corporate entities, using either the company's vehicles or the International brand truck the school acquired last May.

"Companies sometimes provide their own trucks in order for their drivers to learn. The Jamaica Public Service Co (JPSCo), for example, provides their trucks as well as the chipper to teach their drivers," Grennell stated.