Keys Energy Services’ apprentice substation electrician Raynald Bastien, who will soon take the commercial drivers’ license (CDL) test at College of the Florida Keys, visits the college with a CDL-certified coworker. CONTRIBUTED

“Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me / Other times I can barely see / Lately it occurs to me / What a long, strange trip it’s been” — Grateful Dead “Truckin’”

One can’t write about truck-driving without humming the tune of the Grateful Dead’s legendary road anthem, “Truckin’.” 

One also couldn’t repair utilities, deliver goods, transport people or complete construction jobs without professional truck drivers, and the College of the Florida Keys is now an official testing site for commercial driver licenses, or CDLs, that keep life moving in the Keys. 

“Previously, Keys businesses had to send drivers to the mainland for testing, spending extra time and money to maintain a qualified workforce,” college officials said.

The school recently received state approval to provide testing for CDLs, which are required to operate large vehicles and trucks that transport people, maintain utilities, collect trash and deliver goods.

“As an official third-party test administrator for CDLs, approved by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the college will now be able to provide testing for A, B and C class CDL licenses,” officials announced this week. 

“Waste Management and the City of Key West are lending space for a driving course, marked with traffic cones donated by Historic Tours of America. Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority operations supervisor Tony Campo trained to become a CDL third party tester and now works part-time for the college to administer the CDL test,” said Megan Perez, CFK’s director of community engagement & testing, who formalized the program.

In addition to providing businesses that depend on certified CDL holders, several public agencies stand to benefit, including Keys Energy Services, Florida Keys Electric Cooperative, Monroe County, City of Marathon, and Monroe County School District. 

“While state approval came in February, the COVID-19 pandemic caused delays and complicated protocols for the face-to-face elements of the testing,” Perez said. She worked with the state to develop procedures for the tester and students to interact. Last week, the college began CDL testing services for employed drivers who need certification. Since the pandemic, many drivers were issued extensions until they could safely certify their CDL. 

“Collaboration was key in this valuable workforce development venture. Our community partners were integral in bringing together the resources necessary,” said Jack Seubert, who oversees workforce development programs at the college. “We’re looking forward to supporting local businesses, utilities, government services, and their employees by offering this new testing opportunity in the Keys.” 

More information is at 305-809-3185 or by email to [email protected]

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