Professional Driver: School Bus to Tour Bus to Tractor Trailer
Warren Wheeler Continues to Advance his Professional Driving Career
Warren Wheeler has been driving large buses since he was 20 years old, but this year, he embarked on a new chapter in his professional driving career. He entered Skyline Transportation’s training program in May, secured his Class A CDL and finished several weeks of over the road training. He has been assigned a truck and sets out this week on his first solo trip. We sat down with Warren to talk about what inspired him to drive professionally for Skyline.
“I wanted to further my driving career and make a better living for myself. I’m getting to the point where I need to think of my retirement and driving will make the best use of my licenses and previous experience.”
Warren Wheeler was born in Morristown, NJ and lived there for about 30 years. He said driving was a natural fit and a journey that took him all over the country and even around the world.
“I really liked driving, but my parents encouraged me to pursue college. I enrolled into a business management program, but I wasn’t particularly passionate about it and didn’t feel well-suited for college. That’s when I found something I knew I could do – I could drive.”
Warren’s first CDL was a Class B and he drove a school bus.
“It came very easily to me. I really enjoyed it and I interacted well with the kids.”
Warren said a fellow bus driver told him about a European bus tour company which drove tourists from foreign countries all over the United States.
“I started driving for these cross-continental tour groups. I would drive 22 days from New York to San Francisco and then bring another group of tourists back across the country.”
Warren did that for three years and achieved seniority within the company, all the while he was making friends.
“I developed friendships with these guests who were from all over Europe. I filled a whole book with their names and contact information but never in my wildest dreams would I have predicted that I would end up reconnecting with them.”
In the summer of 1983, Warren took four months and travelled across Europe. Everyone he stayed with was someone he had driven across the United States in his tour bus.
“I started in Amsterdam and traveled all over western Europe, from one city to the next, staying with my former guests at every stop. I went all over the main land and visited Berlin at a time when East and West were bordered with guard towers. It was an eye-opening and a wonderful experience.”
Warren continued to drive tour bus in the U.S. and loved it.
“I was paid to entertain folks while enjoying the best seat on the bus and seeing America through my windshield.”
A high point for Warren was working for a company in the Grand Canyon in the early nineties. He drove tour bus around the south rim while working for the Grand Canyon National Park Lodges.
“I have been to the Grand Canyon so many times. I really love that place – not just the canyon, but all the wilderness around the rim. This was a time in my life when I was lucky enough to be working in a place in which I loved to play and wanted to be. I had everything there.”
Heading Back Home
Warren eventually relocated to North Carolina to be closer to family. He lives with his wife in the Winston-Salem area, where he’ll be based for Skyline. Warren can’t say enough about Skyline’s training program and the support he received from start to finish.
“The thoroughness of the program is unbelievable. The trainers want each driver to be ready before they go out on their own and they have a good feel for when someone is ready. They know that each individual may need a different amount of training. From the moment I walked through the door at Skyline, to training over the road, my trainers kept me safe and helped to build my confidence. I would recommend that any motor carrier company use Skyline’s driver training program as a blueprint. The emphasis on safety and security translates to an effective training program.”
What do you want people to know about professional drivers and the transportation industry?
“We are trained professionals, working hard to make a living safely and efficiently delivering your goods to you every day. Be respectful of that large vehicle travelling down the road, put your cellphone down and be aware of the space we need to break. We’re all partners in keeping our highways safe.”