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DMACC (Des Moines Area Community College) December 5 2016-January 20 2017

Topic 17264 | Page 1

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Johnny 3's Comment
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Well today was day 1, glad to finally get this started.

Before classes ever started there were a checklist of tasks given to prospective students which included: 1. securing financing 2. have a social security card 3. have a birth certificae or passport 4. take a d.o.t physical & have a copy of the results 5. obtain cdl permit by the end of 1st week of class.

I decided that it would be best to study up for my permit & obtain it before class ever started. I have already had my permit for over a month now.

I also continued to study using online tools available from various sources for several weeks prior to class.

Well today arrived, I had taken care of my checklist & put honest effort into being as prepared as I could & I wnded up being very glad that I had.

There were a few students who clearly hadn't & there were a couple of small lectires on preparation from the lady in charge pf the school's administrative duties.

The instructor we are starting with seems relatively laid back for the most part (though he did show mild displeasure at a student wh arrived about 10 minutes late for lunch on day 1). Through introduction, we had learned that he was a high school teacher prior to growing tired of it & deciding to be a truck driver for roughly 10 years and then getting back into education to teach adults how to become professional drivers.

As far as what took place on day 1, the 1st couple of hours were all spent filling out paperwork ( teleases of liavility, financial stuff, etc.).

After this was done, we watched a video on the potential consequences of driving intoxicated.

After this, our instructor went right into what we will need to know to pass the cdl permit. Lunch time was shortly after he started this.

After lunch, he picked up where he left off & had us take a quiz to see where we were at. After this, we reviewed the quiz & I had only missed 2 questions out of 32. (Good thing I was studying well before classes or I wouldn't have done nearly as well). After this, I learned that this quiz doesn't go toward our classes grade (bummer) but the next one would....and we were taking it right away.

This next quiz was very similar but a few more/ differently worded questions. I ended up scoring 49/52 on it. What I said before, still applies.

Our instructor advised that those who didnt score anove 70, had a lunch date with him tomorrow but that they would get to take it again & that those who didn't have their permit yet would have a hard time getting it until they got to a point where they could do better on that quiz.

Class ended shortly after this.

Some names were drawn to take drug screening tomorrow & I was one of the ones chosen so I get to go do that right away in the morning. No concern there.

I am not netvous about any of the academics either really. I am just anxious to see how well I will be able to apply it once I get behind the wheel of a giant vehicle I have bo hands on experience with. I should get an idea in a couple weeks or so......

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Day 2: Today started with a different commute than normal. I had to drive to the clinic instead of school. This was because I was one of the students selected for drug screening today.

The combination of driving to the clinic, waiting to take the test, filling out some paperwork & driving back to class ate up approximately 2 hours of what would have been class time. Everyone who wasn't selected to test today will eventually have to test as well.

Most of the rest of the day was spent reviewing yesterday's homework assignment: 4 chapters of reading.

The reading was a combination of pre-trip inspection , a more detailed chapter on how air brakes work, the general anatomy of a semi truck, different types of transmission systems you may come across in commercial vehicles & a short chapter on the dashboard layout of all the meters you will have to be familiar with.

Some of today's review were done through instruction & we viewed a couple of videos reviewing what we read about as well.

This was all done shortly before 3 pm today.

The instructor sent off the majority of the class (9/12) to the dmv to make an attempt at getting their permits. We'll see how many of them succeeded tomorrow.

3 of us, myself included, took the initiative to get our learner permits before classes even started. As a reward, we were allowed to get some work in on the driving simulator today.

Though we didn't simulate actual driving just yet, we took turns playing games that were designed to familiarize us with the clutch & gearshift. As well as a game where the goal was to get the engine to run at various specific rpm levels and hold it long enough. To me, this was a fun way to be introduced to some of the controls I have no familiarity with without feeling overwhelmed right away.

After this, we were dismissed. Tonight's homework was to read a chapter dealing with hours of service rules for OTR drivers. No sweat as I had already read up on this while researching prior to even enrolling.

More to come tomorrow......

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Day 3:

Today started off with yet more review on questions regarding air brakes. This was due to many of those in our class still being tripped up on questions about air brakes.

None of the people who didn't have permits yet & went to the d.o.t yesterday successfully obtained permits. Apparently, the air brakes portion of the written test tripped up the majority.

Honestly, I think some of them are trying & others are not putting in the amount of study effort they should outside of class. I will be surprised if the entire class is still there a couple of weeks from now.

I am happy at this point to be one of the ones ahead of the game on this.

At the same time, I am anxious to get more practice on the hands on stuff that I know I will really need help on.

My instructor informed the few if us that are ahead of schedule that we will not be able to use the simulator for the next couple of days because another group of students that are a couple weeks ahead of us will be in that classroom for the remainder of the week. No big deal as we still have 5 1/2 weeks left and will probably have plenty of opportunity at some point.

After air brakes review...we watched a short video on hours of service regulations followed by lunch.

After lunch, we were given log book & trip planning exercises for a couple of hours. I found this to be useful as well.

Though I studied this well before 1st day, I still don't have it down to an exact science. After this, we were informed that we were going to be dismissed a little bit early.

Those who don't have their permits yet were instructed to take another crack at it after leaving class. We also have homework which includes more practical log book exercises & some reading on turning, backing & more detailed trailer inspection instructions.

We were also informed that we are taking a graded test tomorrow on hours of service situations & logbooks.

After 4 days, I can tell already that passing this course will not happen without putting in some effort but I expected that...I am definitely glad that I did what I could to get a head start.

More to come....

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Day 4: Today started with the instructor asking those who didn't have their permits yet (the majority of the class) if they succeeded in obtaining them when they were dismissed early to make another attempt at the d.o.t...1 succeeded. Now a whole 1/3rd of us at least have permits.

The instructor emphasized that those that don't have them before class on Monday will need to get them asap if they are going to continue the course.

In my opinion, the ones that don't are not prioritizing the class enough to expect to succeed for the most part. A couple of them have language barriers that may be causing difficulty.

Our instructor may sound somewhat stern from my journal accounts...From my 1st hand account, I feel he has been awfully patient considering the indifference some of my classmates seem to have toward their own success.

After this short conversation, we moved on to review of our logbook exercises. No problem there...I have those pretty much down now. This was followed by a multiple choice/ true false log book exam which was graded...did pretty well as I got 29/31 correct. The ones I missed were about potential penalties of log book violations. I have the rules down, just didn't put enough emphasis on remembering what would happen if they were broken...still pretty satisfied with the overall grade. This was followed by yet another logbook video to drive in the importance.

Pizza was provided for lunch shortly after.. Free lunch was provided today by our 1st visiting recruiter...Global Transit... I tried...with no success to find some information on this company beforehand.

The recruiter that came in, as it turns out, is actually the owner of the company...and his business is a bit outside of the box. In short, his company doesn't deliver goods using semis. He hires independent contractors on a per job basis to deliver new vehicles from manufacturers to customers (mostly garbage trucks & school buses) some semis & other vehicles as well..

the mileage pay is typical of what an experienced company driver might make for most jobs & plane tickets and/or rental cars to get to jobsite are paid, as are any required overnight lodging expenses. Time spent traveling to the site is unpaid and it seems like there would be a LOT of unpaid travel time. Also no company subsidized benefits/ retirement & you'd have to do your own taxes.

This seemed interesting but more ideal for somebody who is semi retired and wants to do a job here & there for supplemental income than for somebody trying to get a dependable position to make a decent living....something I may consider MANY years down the road.

The recruiter left shortly before the start of the new class. When he left, our instructor was kind enough to explain to the class why that position is better suited for someone who is semi-retired. Though he did throw in the disclaimer that those were his personal views & not the schools.

After this, we watched some videos geared toward knowledge needed to safely drive a tanker truck & pass the tests to get the endorsement.

One other thing I forgot to mention earlier, everyone in the class actually has to maintain a logbook starting today as well. This includes logging it in any time we went on any break or lunch. This will continue for the duration of the course.

The majority of the class was dismissed early by our instructor.He expressed that his hopes were that a lot of them would use this time to come back with permits tomorrow.

Despite what we were told yesterday, the rest of us with permits were given time on the simulator after all..and boy do I need it!!!

We did more simulations today that were designed to familiarize us with 10 speed manual gearshifting....The machine really humbled me today...

Though my instructor assured me that it is a struggle for everyone & that the shifting in the real trucks aren't QUITE as touchy when we get to those...I guess we'll see but I definitely have work to do there...The rest of us were dismissed at normal time after doing some simulator work..

More to come tomorrow....

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Yesterday was day 5 of training at DMACC. It started with going over our logbook to ensure it was filled out correctly the previous day. No issues there as I have this down now.

After this, our instructor wanted to know if anybody else had their permits yet & a few more of my classmates were able to succeed at getting them :). Now about half of the class has them. Just about everyone who appears to be putting an honest effort into them has gotten their permits at this point.

It was also brought up that not only should we be attempting to obtain our permits but the more endorsements (hazmat, passenger, tanker, double/ triple, school bus), the better & we were all informed that we can test for them whenever we'd like & then we can just add whatever endorsements we are willing to pay for to our licenses after we pass the d.o.t inspection & road tests.

I was delighted to hear this as I had already put plenty of effort into studying this in advance.

After this, most of the rest of the morning was dedicated to how to do required inspections (pre-trip, en route & post-trip). There was a combination of video & lecture in regard to this prior to lunch. We were also advised that this was going to be practiced on a daily basis when we begin driving the vehicles. This makes me very happy to know since I don't think I will have all the necessary parts of this down without plenty of hands on practice.

After lunch, the rest of the afternoon was following up on the previous nights reading on hazmat. We went over our reading, watched an hour long hazmat video &took a practice quiz followed by a graded test. I almost aced it, missing 1 question, good enough for me!

We were also given a copy of the FMCSA rulebook along with an open book test regarding safety rules which has to be completed this weekend.

After all of this class was dismissed about 15 minutes early.

I decided to go to the d.o.t to take a stab at passing all the written exams for all of the various endorsements one can put on an Iowa cdl. This trip was a success as I have now passed all of them & can now apply every endorsement available once I get to where I can pass the driving portion & pre-trip inspection graded by the d.o.t. My instructor will be glad to hear that I did this when I go in on Monday.

I feel accomplished after the 1st week of school is behind me. I am now anxious to get to the more hands on stuff that I will probably struggle with.

More to come next week.....

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Gladhand's Comment
member avatar

Keep at it. When you finally get in a truck it will be nerve wracking, but remember none of us were born driving a truck. I was nervous as hell when I first started now I am calm even in crazy city traffic. You are doing well and it goes to show because you are trying to get everything you can out of the schooling. I noticed some people lacked interest when I was in school and those were the same ones who were sent home for failing straight line backing..

Good luck on the rest of the schooling and keep us updated. I loved reading these diaries when I first got interested in trucking. It may not feel like it at times, but they are really encouraging!

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Rhank you for the encouragement Gladhand..I started this so that I can have something to look back on...It is cool to know that I'm not th only one reading it too though:)

Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Day 6:

A new week has begun...

and it started with safety videos then some safety videos followed by more videos on safety.

Defensive driving was the theme for the day & other than taking a moment to look over our log books from last week & do a short quiz, this is what filled the entire day up until a few minutes before we were released.

There was 1 more student in class today that showed up for the 1st time.

I was wondering about this but didn't say anything. This student was also dismissed shortly before the rest of us.

Someone else in the class decided to aak about this & it was discovered that this was a person who was required by court to do a 1 day defensive driving course to reinstate their drivers license & my school apparently has an agreement that they are able to fulfill this by allowing people to pay to attend on "defensive driving day" of our cdl class. This would explain why they were so intent on stretching this part out to a full day.

Before class was dismissed, we were assigned a few chapters of reading tonight & were told of a couple of recruiter visits this week.

Tomorrow, we will receive a visit from Westside Transport & Fedex will be visiting on Thursday.

Our instructor also advised us that prior to recruiter visits, we should do as much research as we can on the companies that will be visiting & try to come up with some follow up questions to make best use out of these visits. He had also provided us with useful charts that we can use to fill in to help us weigh pros & cons for the companies we may decide to work for & compare them.

This concludes my journal for today, more to come....

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Today was day 7.

Today's class & last night's reading assignments were focused on driving in adverse conditions & specialized circumstances (winter driving, inclimate weather, night driving & mountain driving). Our class begun with a non-graded quiz over yesterday's reading. The rest of the day was a combination of video & lecture regarding the above.

During lunch, we had a visit with a recruiter from West Side Transport & the lady was very nice.

To me these were the pros & cons. (My pros may be cons for some other people & vice versa).

pros: -minimum pay guarantee of 1k week for new otr drivers(must not turn down loads, take unusually long breaks in transit or be late to any properly planned appointments) -good rider & pet policy -good equipment (fairly new trucks equipped with apus & inverters) -better home time than most otr companies (full 48 hours home after 10-14 days out where i live) -does not seem as likely to micromanage as some other companies that will hire new drivers(no driver facing cameras, casual dress code, no grooming policy for hair length, etc.)

cons- -it would be tough to earn too much more than the minimum pay guarantee at their starting pay rate of .35/ mile. You would have to average over 2800 miles a week to get above their minimum -the company is more regional & does a lot of shorter hauls, presumably making it tougher to rack up too much mileage above this as well.

-even otr positions do mostly midwest runs with some east coast, does very little West of Iowa where I'm at (I'd like more variety) -only does dry van (I'm interested in doing flatbed but am open to others) -no tuition reimbursement -no partnership with VA apprenticeship program (this is something that would benefit me specifically that some other companies offer) -cost of benefits are pricier than some of the other companies I'm interested in -they also don't match as much on 401k as other companies I am considering.

In conclusion, they would be a decent option...there are other options that appear to be better for me though from research I did & companies I have sought out on my own so far. I did keep some notes & hold on to the recruiter's information though. I also thanked her for her time before & after the visit. I think it is important to keep your options open.

Most of the class was dismissed early today. The instructor kept some of the other students who just got their permits this week to work on the simulator. I would have liked to have gotten sone time in but I understand the need for everyone to get their fair share.

More to come tomorrow......

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APUs:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Day 8:

Class begun with reviewing last night's reading (1 chapter on all of the different semi backing maneuvers).

We went over our reading, took a quiz & watched another video. After this our instructor took the time to emphasize that a lot of this will not absorb until we start doing it hands on. This will start happening next week. This took up approximately the 1st 2 hours of class.

The rest of the day was dedicated to trip planning & map reading. We were supplied with copies of the latest version of the Rand Mcnally truck atlas & the instructor went over some key features of importance that we will need to utilize from it to plan routes.

We were then given an open Atlas trip planning quiz & it was lunch time after that.

After lunch, we reviewed the quiz and then.... more practice exercises... These continued throughout the rest of the day until it was time to take our graded map reading/ trip planning test. We are not getting the results of those back until tomorrow....I am not losing sleep on this as I am fairly confident that I did pretty well on this.

We were also informed that our final written test for the class is Friday. The remainder of our class days will be dedicated to driving practice & vehicle inspection (except for students who end up having to retake tests they have failed). So far I am in the clear in that regard :)...The real challenge for me will begin next week.

We were given a few chapters to read tonight & a recruiter from Fedex is visiting our class tomorrow.

More to come...

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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