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

Topic 17264 | Page 3

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Johnny 3's Comment
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Today was the 15th day of training. The end of today marks the halfway point for this class. Today was a shortened day as DMACC was dismissing all classes by noon. There were 6 of us on the concourse today with 1 instructor & today was focused on us passing parallel parking evaluations..I failed....

I also appeared to have made a new enemy today that I certainly should have avoiding making an enemy out if I want to succeed. I had already elaborated on this situation in great detail in the general discussion thread but the short version is that I spoke out in frustration to somebody I shouldn't have & I said something that got misinterpreted to sound worse tham what I was trying to say....

I now have to pass parallel parking on the 1st day after a 10 day break & if I don't....I will apparently be recommended to be dropped from the course....though I've done well on everything up to this point & had limited opportunity to pick up parallel backing.

My eye is still on the prize & I plan on doing everything I can to stay positive and do what I need to do to get through this, hopefully I get a fair opportunity to do so....

More to come after the new year....

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
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Well day 16 arrived today, finally.

The wait was much anticipated. The last day I was at school was 12/23/2016 , so 11 days ago.

The last day I was in class I had to go into the extended break on a somewhat sour note... I was failed on both blindside & sightside parallel parking and had also had a personality conflict with an obnoxious instructor who had me believing I was in serious jeopardy of being failed out of the class due to 1 bad day.... That is the short version. There is a much lengthier version of what happened in the general discussion thread....

Anyhow, fast forward to today..... I was overly eager to arrive today and face whatever was needed to get the situation behind me. I was under the impression that I was going to have to deal with the same instructor again when testing on parallel parking....

As it turned out, this particular instructor had requested an extended leave & a new instructor (who seemingly had no knowledge of my issues with the prior instructor, was assigned) to retest me & 1 other student on sight-side parallel parking....so no reason to bring up the issues I ran into prior to break the way I saw it.

After a couple of rounds of practice to shake off the rust, I passed, with a perfect score even!

I still have to test on blindside parallel parking again but I no longer see it as an issue. This will happen tomorrow & I will be working with the same instructor as I did today. If all goes as planned tomorrow, I will be all caught up with everyone else.

The previous instructor will still be back on the concourse again next week so I will probably have to deal with him again at some point. I plan to forget our issues ever happened as long as he shows no obvious negative bias towards me in a way that hinders my progress.

Oddly enough, one of the main reasons I chose to do private schooling over company sponsored training was the belief that I would be less likely to run into instructors with personality disorders that could be a roadblock to my success.....I have read a few horror stories of company sponsored training online that lead me to believe this was a stronger possibility if I took that route...but I can now tell you, private schooling is not 100% immune to this either.

That said, the rest of the instructors I have dealt with (7 total) have all been wonderful up to this point, so the one I've had issues with was the exception & he had been fine to deal with up to that point as well...

Back to how the rest of the day went.... The parking practice & test took place before lunch. After lunch, it was more in-town driving practice. I was afraid I would be a bit rusty with my gear shifting after going 11 days without being in a semi & only 4 days of experience in a semi prior to that. Somehow, I wasn't and picked up right where I left off. The instructor that rode along today was the same one who had me on my 2nd day driving & he complimented me on how much better I was at upshifting than the last time he rode along. I drove a 17 mile in-town route with multiple turns with no real issues. I did manage to kill the engine once when I had a hard time finding the right gear downshifting but that was my only real hiccup & I reacted well enough to make the traffic delay I was causing fairly minimal once I turned the engine back on. Overall, today was the most satisfying day of schooling I had so far & really helped pick up my confidence again.

That is all I have for now, hopefully another positive story comes tomorrow!

http://www.truckingtruth.com/truckers-forum/Topic-17264/Page-3/dmacc-des-moines-area-community-college-december-5-2016-january-20-2017-

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.

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Congratulations on passing the parallel parking exam. I know at this point you may not see the need for parallel parking, however the concepts, specifically the set-up will be necessary in numerous real world situations.

Good luck with the remainder of your school.

Johnny 3's Comment
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Thank you for taking the time to write G-town... I do see value in learning to parallel park. I think it help you prepare to learn orher backing maneuvers & it is good to have some competence so that on the seldom occasions it might be used, it can be done .. I was just frustrated at how the test was administered before...but it's behind me now :)

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

Day 17:

Today was a bit unlucky...nothing that made me look bad but a few equipment hiccups that were no fault of mine caused some delays throughout the day which shorted me on much needed practice...

The day was supposed to start with in-town driving with my partner & an instructor... We had a vehicle specifically assigned to us that we did a pre-trip inspection on...It was discovered during this time that this vehicle had a newly faulty air compressor which deemed it unsuitable to operate. As a result, we had to wait for another vehicle assignment to be determined & do another pre-trip & got started driving anout an hour & a half later than anticipated. This made for a condensed version of the route I was supposed to drive... I was also having some issues with the new vehicle, it had a tighter shift pattern than what I had become accustomed to & as a result, I started off a little rough. I had a hard time distinguishing 2nd gear from 4th & 7th from 9th due to the tightened shift pattern.....causing me to kill the truck a couple times right out of the gate...I adapted & the drive went smooth enough after the 1st couple miles that were rough...Today was a graded road evaluation & I did pass even though it seemed to me like I did brutal.

After lunch, it was my turn for concourse backing maneuvers again. I discovered today that it was decided that I passed the other evaluation that I thought I would have to retest on again (blindside parallel) I guess I performed well enough yesterday on sightside parallel that the instructor overseeing the concourse this week thought allowing me to catch up on angle parking would be a better use of time.

There were other students who were already testing on this. This was my 1st day practicing it due to last week's setbacks & I was having a hard time with it. After my 1st miserable attempt, another instructor who was helping the one overseeing it walked me through what I was doing on & how to correct it. I was also having some perception issues due to large amounts of cones in a small radius, some behind the ones I was aiming for & on courses setup for different exercises, this was really throwing off my ability to focus on my target...

Anyhow, I did think I about had it figured out & was attempting it again.....Along came more equipment issues.....this time with a trailer that wouldn't hold air causing the combination vehicle to stall. I had to show this to an instructor who agreed that it was a faulty trailer connection and decided we should drop the trailer...this was time consuming. it took several minutes just to lower the landing gear because it was so cold out & the grease was partly frozen. By the time this was done...it was time to call it a day. Hopefully tomorrow I have better luck with equipment & master another backing maneuver... 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.

Combination Vehicle:

A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Johnny...you actually got some real OJT today. Everything you experienced, including the newer gearbox happens and usually at the worst time possible.

smile.gif

Johnny 3's Comment
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Agreed.. These were still useful experiences even though the day didn't go quite as planned.

Johnny...you actually got some real OJT today. Everything you experienced, including the newer gearbox happens and usually at the worst time possible.

smile.gif

Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Day 18:

Today was an interesting one & a mixed bag of results.

I got off to a shaky start.

After our routine pre-trip inspections, It was time to go over 45 degree backing maneuvers again.

Today I did get functional equipment to work with :).

On my first practice run....I didn't get it lined up very well & instead of repositioning myself, I opted to make an overly aggressive effort to correct it. This was the wrong move.

What ended up happening as a result, was me briefly jacknifing the trailer. which caused a slight amount of cosmetic damage to one of the gap reducers on the back of the tractor.

As a result, I was asked to take pictures and fill out an accident report form which was given to me on our next break. I was also asked to email these pictures to the school's senior instructor.

After I did what was asked of me, I was told in short that since it happened on school property & the damage was negligible, it wouldn't have any real impact on my schooling unless I made a habit of damaging equipment & wasn't learning from my mistakes.

The day did improve after this break.

I was given a little bit more time to practice 45 degree backing when I returned from break. I started to get the hang of it & was asked if I wanted to try to test out on it after a couple of practice runs. I said yes & passed on my 1st try :)

I was then shown a demonstration on blindside backing & given the opportunity to practice...I backed it in on my 1st try after getting out & looking and doing a couple of small pull up adjustments. I also noticed that there was a straight line in the pavement that stretched clear across the concourse. The passenger side parking cones just so happened to be placed right on this line. I decided to make a mental note of this so I could use it to my advantage.

After a successful blindside angle practice park, I was asked if I wanted to try to test out on this as well, I decided that I should go ahead & do it since I had a visual observation I had made that I could use to cheat a little.

During the test, I had a near perfect set up (with the help of the pavement lines) I got out & looked once and backed it right in & parked it, boom another test passed.

All of this before lunch & all of a sudden, I went from being behind the majority of class to being ahead of schedule.

After this was an afternoon of road driving. This went so-so. There were some quirks but I am getting better at downshifting, I did stall the vehicle once due to difficulty finding the right gear & am still grinding some gears here & there but the instructor seemed content with my progress & I have gotten pretty good at taking tight turns & watching my mirrors. I am getting to the point now where I am not frightened by the thought of driving a semi & can actually see myself doing the job with a little more polishing. I'll take that with 2 weeks to go still.

This is all I have for now. 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.

Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Day 19:

Today was designed to be fairly routine. The 1st half of the day was somewhat interesting....

Another student that had a challenging day yesterday (an instructor pulled the yellow knob on him while he was driving, apparently to keep him from hitting a pole) was a no call no show today... He had been doing pretty decent in the class up until that point....Hopefully he gets it together next week & is still able to catch up. This school does not take absenses lightly & they especially don't like it if you don't call in 1st. This point was driven home on day 1.

After the inspections, it was time for another city drive. My partner & I were assigned to a new instructor who only works on a part time fill-in basis& this was the first time I have ever seen him. He has a full time job as a driving instructor for a larger trucking company based nearby so we probably won't see much kore of him either.

This instructor was kind of difficult..He had a fraction of the patience that other road instructors I had been working with had & had a tendency to overreact if you didn't shift exactly when & how he wanted you to & was very handsy as far as trying to physically make you do what he felt was necessary. This approach made me feel extraordinarily nervous & caused me to fumble a lot more than I probably would have otherwise. I did have my poorest daily write up to date (not counted towards grades but notes on what is needed to work on). but I didn't let my frustration show &the instructor & I were still on good terms after the route. I was not the only students who had to ride with him today & I overheard other students express their concerns about this instructor's approach to other instructors later in the day...I was glad to know I wasn't the only one who had these issues & also that I wasn't the one with a personality conflict this time....

This afternoon, It was time to get some practice on the backing maneuvers that the d.o.t will test us on (90 degree sightside, offset & straightline). The instructor who was in charge of this was the one I had issues with prior to Christmas break & has just come back from vacation.

Since today was practice anyhow, I was actually kind of eager to work with him so I could gauge whether there was still any tension I should still be worried about.

Another student was asked to practice before I was so I ended up standing with him while watching this student... He engaged me in a friendly conversation & it seems that our issues from a couple weeks ago are completely irrelevant now & that he was making an active effort to get rid of any animosity there was.

When the time did come, I did well on the maneuvers I had an opportunity to practice on & this same instructor went out of his way to give me positive feedback & congratulate me on my improvement.

We had a group clean up task during the last hour of the day. This involved going through the trucks & looking for trash and sweeping up the shop. I didn't stop sweeping out corners of the shop until the staff wanted to go home. The concourse instructor was in charge of this as well & thanked me for my efforts.

This course is now 2/3 finished & this week though not perfect, was a good one....my skills have improved, I seem to be on good terms with ALL of the instructors & I am caught up with where I am supposed to be on my progress.

More to come next week.

Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Day 20:

Today was good!

I started off on the road right away after the pre-trip inspection. Today's route which I had to drive took me on the interstate , through downtown Des Moines & an industrial area on our way back to school using city streets.

Today wasn't completely free of mishaps. I waited too long to square off a tight turn & as a result, ended up needing to allow my instructor out to ground guide me back a few feet so that I could complete the turn without running into the center median. The top bunk of the training vehicle also fell down while I was driving & fell on top of the other student who was riding along (the bottom bunk was converted into passenger seats w/ seat belts). There were no injuries & it was due to faulty equipment & not something I did wrong so no accident report :). Besides these 2 mishaps, the rest of the drive went real smooth, I am getting very decent at shifting up & down with little grinding. I also did not stall the vehicle once today due to bad shifting & made it to the appropriate gear for all stops & turns.

The instructor told me that if I were to take the final road test today I would have passed :) but that's over a week away so hopefully I get a little better still.

After riding along for my partner's turn, it was time for lunch.

Today's lunch was brought in by Maverick transportation.... I had already researched them on my own because I am strongly interested in doing flatbed after I obtain my cdl. They really do seem like a solid option except for 1 thing that is a big deal to me. Their rider policy does not allow anyone to ride along until the age of 13. This means I would have to wait 4 years to take either of my twin sons along with me. The company I think I am most likely to end up working for (Melton Truck Lines) will allow this starting at 10, so I would only have to wait a year. Everything else is pretty equal on paper between these 2 companies based on my own research and conversations I had with both recruiters. The recruiter seemed to target me specifically due to conversations in class & I told him that if it weren't for this they would have a better shot of me strongly considering them.

After lunch, our class was informed that one of our classmates officially dropped out & would not be returning. This is the person I mentioned in my previous entry who had a rough day last week. It is pretty unfortunate, he seemed like he was taking the class seriously enough but 1 bad day just rattled him too much I guess. He was not forced out of the program, he just decided on his own he couldn't do it after the bad day.

In the afternoon it was time for more concourse practice for the 3 d.o.t backing maneuvers (straight line, blindside offset & sightside 90 degree). Today was not necessarily supposed to be graded, it was just practice. However, the concourse instructor did decide to go ahead & write down my efforts on straight line & offset backing as my final grades. This is good since these were passable :) . I still have some work to do on the 90 degree but I will get there. It's not that I can't get it in, I am just taking more time & using more pull ups than the d.o.t would give time for so I need to sharpen up on that one. I'm not quite there yet but I am getting close to where I need to be to pass the cdl tests. I feel confident that I will get there by the end of next week as long as I keep my mind focused on improving....I'm not at the finish line yet but I feel good..

There have been times during this class where things seemed very challenging & I have had my doubts but I hadn't given up & I won't & at this point I am confident that I will pull this off :)...I am closer to where I need to be than where I was a few weeks ago when I had no idea how to even begin to drive a semi.

I am excited for what the next few days have in store, 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.

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.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

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.

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