History of Truck Driver Training School

The seeds for the school were first sown in 1939 when the Safety Supervisors Council of the NC Motor Carriers Association (NCMCA) went to NC State College over concerns for the growing need for qualified new drivers.

WWII interrupted planning, but it resumed in 1947 when NC State College Extension Division Director, Edward W. Ruggles, got together with trucking leaders, Claude Schlagenhauf (Akers Motor Lines), Theo Gowens (Cherry Grove NC), Carlton Alexander (McLean Trucking), Johnny Bowden (Transport Indemnity), Tom Moore (Carolina Freight Carriers), Russ Haynie (soon to be Director of the School), and  J.T.”Tom” Outlaw (NCMCA executive vice-president).  Through their efforts, the N C Truck Driver Training School was launched with 25 students in August of 1949. Equipment valued in excess of $50,000 was provided by the council and carriers.  A complete course of study was formulated (syllabus) by Carlton Alexander.  The course was the first college-conducted school in the nation for training professional truck drivers.  Mr. Harry Fletcher served as Director of the first school.

At approximately the same time a second school was initiated in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  Mr. Russell Haynie served as the school director and the equipment was provided by Pilot Freight Carriers. The Winston-Salem site lasted less than a year and the two merged with Russell Haynie named the Director in 1950. 

The School used several locations to conduct training while under the wing of NC State. These included Camp Butner, the State Fair grounds, Raleigh Municipal Airport, the NC State campus near Reynolds Coliseum and in the early 60s a site on Blue Ridge Road behind Polk Youth Prison.

On Sept 30, 1974 the school was transferred from the university system to the Department of Community Colleges and assigned to Johnston Technical Institute, later to become Johnston Community College. The Blue Ridge Rd training site was utilized by the community college until 1983. During those 9 years, under the leadership and guidance of Dr John L Tart, who was President of Johnston Community College, the training field and facilities that are utilized today were built and the North Carolina Truck Driver Training School moved to its permanent home in Smithfield N.C. on the Johnston Community College campus in 1983.

In 1987 a “Roving” component was initiated and the first roving school was conducted in Henderson, N.C. at Vance Granville Community College.   The roving component sent instructors and equipment to any community college that requested training for their citizens.  Training was conducted from Murphy, NC to Morehead City, NC, with a high of 5 roving sites being conducted simultaneously along with the home site. It took 29 instructors and a director to accomplish this feat. 

As a result of the exposure these roving schools provided, numerous community colleges, as well as public enterprises, have started their own truck driver training programs. The last of the roving off campus sites located in Hickory N.C. at Catawba Valley Community College ended June 23, 2005.  However, CVCC continues to run their own TDT program with its roots deeply entrenched with the NCTDTS.

NCTDTS is the oldest truck driver training school in the world and has been in continuous operation since its inception.  The school has been emulated by others throughout the state, the nation, and the world, including the country of Australia.

In 1991 a Hall of Fame was established to recognize graduates and non-graduates who have made significant contributions to the success of the school and or the trucking industry.  In 2005, under the leadership of Dr. Donald Reichard, new structural editions included the breezeway between the garage and the classroom/offices enclosed complete with heat and air conditioning, the garage work area expanded, and a new door and sidewalk leading from the classroom directly to the training field. The Hall of Fame plaques are displayed in the new breezeway enclosure.       

On October 22, 2005 NCTDTS celebrated its 500th graduating class.                                         

Mr. Paul Jump retired as the Program Director of the NCTDTS on June 30, 2017. Mr. Billy Erskine is the NCTDTS Coordinator beginning July 1, 2017.

Information contained originated from newspaper articles, TARHEEL WHEELS, previous history write-ups or personal knowledge.   Author Chris Chappell