Opening what’s believed to be the only woman-owned truck driving school in the state of Ohio seems like a logical next step in Kimberly Kegley’s career.
She first hit the highway as a school bus driver, then became an owner-operator driving over the road. Then five years ago she received certification as a CDL examiner.
Just recently, Kegley opened Driver’s Edge CDL Training Academy in Piqua, Ohio, a small city smack on I-75 about half an hour north of Dayton in the western part of the state.
Driver’s Edge provides 160 hours of training spread over four weeks. Kegley said that breaks down to:
- 40 hours in a classroom
- 40 hours driving on the school’s 200’ x 400’ practice pad
- 40 hours on the road
- 40 hours of review and more practice
She said Driver’s Edge also offers evening and weekend programs, which like the four-week program, emphasizes driving skills, safety, truck maintenance and upkeep, dealing with issues like fatigue and regulatory issues.
Kegley, who has an associate’s degree in business, said that thus far she’s had students of all ages — “from 18 to 60,” she said — but most have been 20 to 35-year-old men. She said she has several women who are working at getting funding to pay for the program before they start.
One of the benefits of the 25-acre site on which Kegley situated Driver’s Edge is that it has a warehouse building. She said this gives her student-drivers the opportunity to practice backing up to a loading dock.
Students at Driver’s Edge are behind the wheel of a Volvo NL670 and will pull a pup or a 48-foot trailer as they train.
While Kegley is pleased with the latest step on her career ladder, she said she enjoyed and misses her time on the road.
“Of course I was nervous at first,” she said of moving from driving a school bus to a tractor-trailer. “But, after my first week of training, I was fine.”
Kegley, who also holds a real estate license, said she loved her time as an owner-operator.
“It was a great experience,” she said. “I loved the freedom of being on the open road, seeing new places and meeting people. It was that sense of independence; not having a boss standing over you.”
As an o-o, Kegley said she pulled a flatbed delivering campers, and backhauled loaded with trucks, cars and boats. She also spent time pulling a reefer and dry van.
But as a mother of two, Kegley traded the open road for driving locally and being home more often.
“Like I said, I loved it but it’s tough being away from home like that,” said the grandmother of two. “Your life is in that truck 24/7.”
Kegley hopes other women will make the decision she did to take the classes, get their CDL and enter the profession.
“Yes, I heard it: ‘Oh my gosh, you can drive a truck?’ and ‘That’s a man’s job,’” she said. “Women can do this job and do it well.”
Her advice: “Don’t knock yourself. Don’t be intimidated by the equipment. You can do it.”