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

Topic 17264 | Page 2

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G-Town's Comment
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Really good diary Johnny. Best of luck next week,...keep your focus and try not to let any frustration distract you from the prize.

Johnny 3's Comment
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Thank you for the encouragement G-Town!

Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Day 9:

Class begun with the instructor handing back our map reading/ trip planning test grades. Everyone in the class passed this one. I got 100% :).

Our instructor took time to recognize me & said that I was the 1st person he's graded who had ever gotten 100% on it. I felt pretty proud of that.

Though I had an advantage over some as this was a skill that I already had plenty of experience with due to prior military experience & also working as a traveling sales rep for some time in the past as well.

After this, it was time for more videos. Our instructor joked that if we hadn't noticed yet, this week is movie week.

The first video we watched today was in regard to maintaining a professional attitude when dealing with customers, dispatchers or anyone else you may have to work with as a professional driver. It showed several role playing scenarios & how different attitudes & behaviors could produce different outcomes & emphasized the importance of trying to empathize from where the other person is coming from in given situations. I feel that the points made in this video are very useful.

After this, we watched a short video on situational awareness & avoiding crime. Many tips were brought up in this video that are also good ones to think about. some included: -Try to stick to well lit & heavily used truck stops if possible -be suspicious of anyone who is overy curious about you load & don't talk about your load -be aware of your surroundings when talking business on the phone -be aware of people or vehicles that seem to be following you -when parking for the night, try to have your trailer back to back with another truck or in any other manner that makes the cargo doors harder to access when possible.

There was a lot more to the video than this but these were the kind of things covered.

After this it was time for lunch.

A local Fedex recruiter came in over our lunch to discuss what kind of opportunities Fedex may have for new cdl holders.

One thing that really makes them attractive is that they offer local work to those with less driving experience & the pay is fairly decent.

They also have very affordable benefits & a pension plan.

They also stressed that they have limited openings & it may be tough to get hired right now but wanted us to be aware of them so that we could keep in contact when interested (and many in our class seem to be).

Initially when I was looking into this I wanted local but I have fallen in love with the idea of the OTR adventure for at least a while anyhow.. This is likely to change a few years down the road so definitely something to keep in mind later.

After lunch, it was time to review last nights reading assignment on weight distribution & laws regarding gross loads & axle weights...I could go into detail but that would take a while & those reading these are either aware of it or will probably be educated on it soon enough as well.

Class was dismissed early today as well. Tomorrow is our last written test. The real fun starts next week!

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.

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.

Dispatcher:

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

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Johnny...just a word of caution, the local FedEx work the recruiter referred to might be Pickup & Delivery (P&D). I would not recommend this as your first job, lots of backing and maneuvering in very close quarters. Higher risk of an incident.

If you pursue a local FedEx opportunity ask if it's P&D and how they will "finish train" before turning you loose solo.

Good luck and keep up the good work.

P&D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

P & D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Johnny...just a word of caution, the local FedEx work the recruiter referred to might be Pickup & Delivery (P&D). I would not recommend this as your first job, lots of backing and maneuvering in very close quarters. Higher risk of an incident.

If you pursue a local FedEx opportunity ask if it's P&D and how they will "finish train" before turning you loose solo.

Good luck and keep up the good work.

Thank you for bringing that up G-town. They did go over that. It sounded like most of the city driver jobs were more along the lines of taking freight from the main terminal in Des Moines to smaller hubs within a hundred mile radius ( not final delivery). They would have me pulling doubles quite often and wouldn't have me go anywhere where I needed to do any backing. I just was trying to avoid writing a whole novel for a 1 day journal entry. Even after graduating cdl school, I would still have to start out as a driver apprentice & go through a finishing program. Even during that phase, they would pay 18.70/ hr plus time & a half after 40 hrs.

Once you complete their program & start solo, the pay would bump up to $20 & change/ hr.

That said, this seems like something I would be more interested in down the road anyhow.

I've decided that I really want to give OTR a shot & am set on doing that to start. Most likely, I will want to be around more for my kids when they get into adolescence and will want to be able to get a job more similar to this type of arrangement. I've got the support system in place to make OTR work right now & the more I think about it, the more I want the adventure.

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.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.

P&D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

P & D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Day 10 has been completed.

Today was a significant one as it was our last day of classroom studies. Next week starts the hands-on portion of our class.

The day started with a couple of videos again. They were both public service videos of sorts. The 1st one was regarding maintaining a healthy lifestyle as a trucker( diet, exercise, overcoming obstacles that odd hours and more difficulty in maintaining a healthy diet for those in our given field of work.

The second video was produced by Truckers against Trafficking. Many of those reading this are hopefully familiar with this organization. Those that aren't, really should do a small bit of research to familiarize yourselves in my opinion. This video had some interviews with truckers have seen trafficking 1st hand.

The disturbing part for me anyway, were the interviews of girls/ women who were kidnapped & coerced into engaging in prostitution against their will, some at a very young age. I actually teared up a couple of times listening to their tragic stories & thankful that they eventually got out of that lifestyle. To me, it is shocking that there are enough truckers out there that are apparently ok with this and help create the demand for it. It's one thing for grown women making the choices on there own, though disgusting, but it disturbs me that young girls can be put to that kind of work against their will and whoever is coercing them can get away with it....enough about that..

After the videos, it was time to take our final written exam.. I got 85/100. It was a passing grade, I'll take it.

It was lunch time after that.

After lunch, we watched our instructor do a full pre-trip inspection of a semi & were informed that we all would be doing one every day from this point for the remainder of the class. In my opinion, this is great as I will need this much hands on practice to have the routine down when it is time to test for my license.

After this, some of us got to do some shifting practice on the simulator. I didn't get to simply because I had already gotten to earlier & classmates who just got their permits this week hadn't had the opportunity yet. I did watch them to see if I could pinpoint anything that may be helpful when I get an opportunity either on the simulator or a truck & I felt that what I saw today helped a little bit anyhow.

We were also given our partner assignments. Starting next week, more instructors are joining our class and it will be a 2 students to 1 instructor ratio for everything we do from this point. That was it for the day, no homework this weekend :)

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Well today was the day...My 37th birthday & more importantly....My 1st day ever driving a semi, just a fun coincidence.

We started off with introductions from the rest of the instructors. The rest of them introduced themselves & presented short biographies detailing their driving experience.

After this, it was time for our pre-trip inspections. The instructors walked us through those again today. Starting tomorrow, we will be attempting to do them ourselves with the instructors their to correct us as we go.

After this, it was time to familiarize ourselves with actually trying to drive the vehicles. As expected, it was intimidating when it was my turn to hop in the driver's seat.

I had to hesitate a bit on even the simple task of figuring out how to release the parking break to get started.

Personally, I'm the type that can ace every test on paper & memorize the sreps a thousand types... but the first time i try to actually do something i freeze until I get a feel for it.

Once I finally got the vehicle rolling though, it wasn't that bad...The gears are definitely a lot more forgiving on the actual truck than they were on the simulator(I never want to touch that thing again!)

Yes, I did grind a gear here & there but I got the idea down & the instructor me & my partner rode with felt that I did pretty well for someone who has never done a manual transmission before....I must say, I believe the unforgiving simulator did cause me to do better today than I otherwise would have.

We did also get a couple of cracks at straight line backing, that was no sweat...will probably be much more challenging when we start doing angles.

Our lunch was brought in by a recruiter from Schneider today.

There really wasn't that much of an opportunity for a question and answer session simply because he spent all the time we had trying to sell us on Schneider.

During this, he answered some of the questions I would have had & I was able to write down a lot of their pros:

-a lot of variety with types of freight (van, reefer , flatbed, tanker, intermodal) & types of routes (otr, regional , dedicated) -They have a terminal about 15 miles from home & I can park personal vehicle there. -tuition reimbursement -I can have family members 10 or older ride along after 6 months of safe driving -They work with the va apprenticeship program

No real cons that I noted, but I also have some questions that were left unanswered.

I am definitely interested in them & plan on reaching out to them to get more information & fill in the blanks...

Not much more to say about today, other than I am content with how it went...will type more 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.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.

Intermodal:

Transporting freight using two or more transportation modes. An example would be freight that is moved by truck from the shipper's dock to the rail yard, then placed on a train to the next rail yard, and finally returned to a truck for delivery to the receiving customer.

In trucking when you hear someone refer to an intermodal job they're normally talking about hauling shipping containers to and from the shipyards and railyards.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Well, day 13 is now in the books,

Day 13 was also the 1st day we were given the opportunity to drive on public roads. Fortunately, I'm not superstitious.

Today did feel rough but I learned from it & didn't hit anything so it seems like it went well enough.

Another student wasn't as fortunate & hit a concrete barrier on DMACC's concourse. From what we were told, He is fortunate that it happened on DMACC property & not a public road. This is because the school keeps this information private as long as it happens on their property & no damage is done to property that doesn't belong to the school

As far as how my day went :

The morning started with the usual pre-trip inspection. I am getting more accustomed but still probably wouldn't pass it if I were to be tested on it right now. Hopefully the amount of practice I get over the next couple weeks will get me there.

I spent the rest of the morning practicing parallel parking on the concourse, definitely some work to do there! This was followed up by lunch..

After lunch, my partner & I were driven out to a rural area by our instructor so that we may get a feel for actual driving, lots of practice on upshifting & downshifting today....I am at the point where I can generally find the right gear & can recover if I don't...a lot better than I thought I'd be at this point.

I did inadvertently float a couple gears today & the instructor informed me that I'm not supposed to know how to do that......yet.

He just wants me to get it used to double clutching more consistently so I don't fail when being evaluated by the d.o.t.

He also joked that riding with me is hard on his back because I bounce the trailer more than ideal but stated that I was doing well for day 2 of driving in the same sentence.

After an afternoon of driving out in the farmland, we made our way back & called it a day (once we updated our log books & had an instructor sign off that is..)

That's it for the day, more to come.

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.

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

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.
Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Well I am flawed at counting, Today is day 13 & not yesterday.

Day 13 did start off pretty rough...

I was a few seconds late for class because I had to deal with some last minute stuff at home that caused me to leave later than normal. No sweat as my name hadn't been called for attendance yet & they were still doing that when I walked in. No harm done there but will try not to make a habit out of that...

After that it was time to do pre-trip inspections, I am starting to get a bit better at it but still a little rough, would be in trouble without the cheat sheet still, but I at least know what all the parts look like & know where to look & what to look for with the help of the sheet, more than I could say a few days ago!

After this was done, some of us were tested on our parallel parking ability & this test was graded.

Even though my skills here aren't adequate yet & I only got a small amount of practice on this yesterday, I was one of the ones chosen to test on it....... and I failed.

I didn't hit anything or take out any cones, but I couldn't quite get myself quite right & never made it into where I was supposed to park before my time ran out.

Fortunately I will get more opportunities to re-test, though I am a bit nervous about whether it will sink in, I'm trying to be optimistic though.

This afternoon.... I was selected to do city driving already since I did well enough with shifting & squaring off turns in the country yesterday.

The fact that I was chose to do this is a compliment since a good portion of the class were told they weren't ready for this & were taken out in the country again by different instructors.

I drove 21 miles through a populated area, crossed 3 or 4 train tracks, made about a dozen turns at city stop lights, stopped for a couple of school buses, drove through a roundabout & reacted correctly to a driver that cut real sharply in front of me & had to hit their breaks shortly after.

I never imagined, even a week ago that I would be at a point where I could accomplish this so quickly, and I was nervous going into the day as well, so I am very content!

Though I am proud of what I was accomplishing this afternoon it wasn't perfect, my downshifting is still a lot rougher than ideal and I ran into a couple moments where I had to stop the vehicle in a higher gear than I deal & start over from 2nd but the afternoon was a success overall. I was also easier on the instructor's back today than yesterday :)

Now if I can only get parallel parking down and memorize more of the pre-trip inspection!

Hopefully, some of this syncs in tomorrow.

More to come!

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Day 14:

I had a new instructor this morning & was given the opportunity to get more practice on city driving. The route was similar to yesterdays but with more turns.

Today didn't go quite as smoothly as yesterday. I ran into a couple situations where i got stuck in neutral trying to shift gears. It took me longer than ideal to recover a gear and probably had some ****ed off commuters wondering what the helI was doing.

After the city drive, it was time for lunch. To my surprise, a Werner recruiter came in & brought us lunch. This was not announced in advance like the previous recruiters were.

I hung out & gathered more information on Werner & was able to also ask all the questions I had for them. These aresome of my perceived pros & cons for Werner based on information I gathered today:

pros: -run all 48 states -variety of freight types & scheduling options (flatbed, van, reefer) (otr, regional , dedicated) -tuition reimbursement -va apprenticeship -reasonable cost for health benefits -good rider policy

cons-

-during home time i would either take the truck home or find another place to park on my own (closest terminal or drop yard is 100+ miles away -trucks not equipped with inverters & having inverters that hook into battery installed is prohibited.

In conclusion, they would be a suitable option but they aren't at the top of my list either.

Now to the afternoon, more practiceat parallel parking....I'm still a little slow but I can successfully parallel park after getting out & looking a few times.

I'll take it! I feel enough has sunk in that this won't be a real obsyacle to me pulling through.

After this, I turned in my log book & got to leave school for the day on a high note. Tomorrow will be a short day to winter break for the whole community college...Class will be delayed from resuming for all of next week. Hopefully I retain everything that was crammed into my head this week.

More to come!

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

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