RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Department of Motor Vehicles is investigating a local truck driving school. A former student of this program reached out to 12 On Your Side saying
the school is not living up to its claim and is violating several DMV codes.
James Corbett says after a career in accounting he wanted to get out on the road for a few years before retirement. He came to a school in Virginia because he had family in the area. He says that school, with ties to area community colleges, is not what it seems.
Corbett says he researched what company pays truck drivers the most -- once he found it, he says that company gave him a list of programs that would train him to earn his commercial driver's license.
"They sent me a list and I seen this one in Hampton which is right near Chesapeake, and I said, 'oh how good is this?' And the name of the school was listed as Thomas Nelson Community College," said Corbett.
Thomas Nelson and John Tyler Community colleges refer students to 4CDL.com through the Workforce Alliance Program. 4DCL.com is the website for U.S. Truck Drivers Training Program Inc.
Corbett says he paid $4,000 for the full-time training course that claimed it would get him ready to pass the CDL test with DMV in four weeks. Along the way, he says the instructors were cutting corners that didn't benefit students who are learning how to drive 18 wheelers.
"Here's the test, now you can look at test and you have 10 minutes to ask me any of the questions that are on the test and I'll give you the correct answer and if anybody starts writing on the test, that part is over and you're on your own," Corbett told NBC12. "So with that, within 10 minutes we were able to ask the instructor 30 questions and get the answers and through proper memorization, if you will, everybody was able to ace the test."
In addition to the written tests, Corbett says they were learning to drive. But after six weeks into his four-week course, he says he only learned how to park in this training lot.
"At the end of six weeks, I had yet to be on the road," said Corbett. "I had yet to be off their lot, behind the wheel, on public roads, practicing."
Corbett says the lack of training showed when other students went to test for their licenses. He says some passed, several failed, and adds that the program wasn't turning over students. The classes were growing, but the access to training stayed the same.
Corbett filed a formal complaint against U.S. Truck Drivers Training Program Inc. with DMV. He sent NBC12 the same complaint. And while NBC12 was investigating, an investigator with DMV showed up too.
A DMV official says there is an open investigation into the school, but says the DMV can't comment until that investigation is complete.
The school's owner declined an on-camera interview, but denied Corbett's claims, adding he would provide student records that showed Corbett had attendance issues and "did" have opportunities to go out on the road.
However, those records were never provided and Corbett attests that he was never given the opportunity to train on the road.
Officials at John Tyler and Thomas Nelson community colleges say they are cutting ties with the Workforce Alliance Program after this semester, but didn't say why.
In addition to Corbett's claims of bad instruction, he says instructors at the school violated several DMV codes -- including having too many students in a cab while training and an instructor smoking in the cab with students.
Corbett provided a picture of that incident as evidence.
The owner of the company denies those violations.
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