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

Topic 17264 | Page 4

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Johnny 3's Comment
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Day 21:

Everything is starting to feel routine.

This is a good thing!

Our class has an odd number now & as a result, 1 student ends up with 1 on 1 trainer attention during the road portion of the day.

Today, it was me & I got to drive the same route twice. My road drives went very well today. I did kill the engine once. This was due to me accidently bumping up the selector switch while I was accelerating in the lower gears. 2 Weeks ago, I would have been really flustered but this & needed an instructor's help to recover. Today, no big deal. I just started my engine again, popped it into 2nd & quickly recovered after instantly realizing what caused it. The instructor even praised me for how quickly I was able to recover even though it would have been ideal for that to not happen in the 1st place.

The rest of the route ( both times) went pretty smooth & the instructor I had today commented on the fact that I made his work minimal. He was able to just watch me drive & listen to my commentary & he was proud of me for making his job easy today.

The afternoon was filled with more concourse backing today. I do still need to sharpen up but I am to the point where I have a shot of passing the d.o.t backing test. I still need to get quicker & try to become smooth enough to do the 90 degree maneuver in a more timely manner with 1 or 2 pull ups as opposed to 3 or 4 that I seem to be doing right now. I am getting it in though & that is better than where a few of my peers are at. We still have almost a week's worth of practice before we have to test out on it. I feel like I will sharpen up enough by then.

This is all I have for now. I will write again tomorrow.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Day 22:

The routine today was similar to yesterday's & most likely will be for the remainder of class ( except for night driving).

This is because at this point, the goal is to have everyone prepared for the testing that the d.o.t is going to conduct to get our licenses next week so the school is trying to make sure that we are all familiar enough with everything we are actually going to test on to do that.

I started with backing maneuvers today & tested out for the school on all maneuvers now :) Yay! I was able to complete all 3 maneuvers within 20 minutes (the d.o.t will give you 30). Had the d.o.t tested me I would have lost 2 points for nicking 1 cone & 3 more points for extra pull-ups, the d.o.t subtracts 1 point for each time you do a pull-up beyond what is allotted (1 time for straight line backing, 2 for offset & 2 for 90 degree). I would have had 5 deducted total. Anything under 12 is passing :). Certain things could disqualify you immediately (driving beyond the course boundary or not completing all 3 maneuvers within 30 minutes are the 2 that come to mind). I am still not perfect at this but I am feeling content knowing that I would have passed if the d.o.t were to have tested me today.

We had another recruiter come in today to give us free lunch. This company was a food service company named Gordon Foods that have their own private fleet. This seems like a really good opportunity. The drivers are not paid by the mile & have a $1000/ week starting salary with opportunities to earn incentive beyond. They also have a generous 100% match on 401k for up to 4% of your salary. This company is regional & also offers home time that is better than a lot of regional positions would as well.

If I wanted to start out doing regional reefer , I would probably go with them, it seems like a great opportunity.

I just have my heart set on the challenges of otr flatbed, but I was impressed by everything this recruiter had to say about what his company offered so I my consider them someday if I decide I need to shake my routine up down the road.

After lunch, it was another city route similar to what I had been doing only with a few extra tight turns thrown in just for the extra challenge. Today went well enough again, though I did catch 1 curb on a sharp right today. I have been doing well enough on avoiding this as of recent that the instructor didn't give me too much flack over it.

Tomorrow is my final school road evaluation before the night driving test on Friday.

Next week will be dedicated to trying to get our licenses. Man this is going fast!..

More to come...

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Johnny 3's Comment
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Day 23 was yesterday. I was worn out when I got home so I decided to relax & wait until this morning to write my journal since I could sleep in today. I still woke up around 6:30 on my own. I guess I have gotten too used to being up earlier to really sleep in. This is probably a good thing for the lifestyle I need to get accustomed to.

Yesterday was a little rougher than ideal. I passed my final school drive evaluation but just barely. The route seemed to go smooth enough but I lost a lot of points on little things that could add up on a d.o.t test according to my instructor (not doing enough commentary when shifting, not shifting down far enough in advance on turns, I rubbed a curb on a bendy road & 1 brief incident of improper lane usage when trying to merge on the interstate).

In the afternoon, I was struggling with the 90 degree maneuver again even though I seemed to have it down the day before. I only have 1 more day where I will have an opportunity to practice so hopefully I work out those kinks. I have no concern on the other 2 maneuvers.

I also need some sharpening on pre trip. I would probably pass it but I want to get myself to where I have the whole thing memorized just to be sure, I'm not quite there yet.

I don't have to report to class until 3 in the afternoon today. This is to prepare for our last graded assignment at the school, our night drive. I will report on this over the weekend.

Interstate:

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

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Johnny 3's Comment
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Day 24:

Yesterday was our night drive. The first hour was spent on briefings & pre trip inspection.

After that, it was time to hit the road.

The rout was a big 240 plus mile route that was a big circle. We were never more than about 80 miles away from our starting point even though we drove the amount of miles we did.

The route was intentionally planned so that each student would run into a list of certain things that were graded. A few examples of this included: road bends, train crossings, 2 lane highways , 4 lane highways, abrupt changes in speed limits, turns that required a button hook maneuver to complete. There are probably more but these are the ones that come to mind right away.

Our group traveled in a mini convoy of 3 vehicles with 3 students & 1 instructor per vehicle.

Our group also had dinner at a truck stop for our lunch break. This stop happened during my driving portion of the trip as I was 2nd up to bat in my group. We ate at the Dennys/ kwik star truck stop right off of I-80 near Brooklyn, IA. I couldn't help but notice that we drew a lot of eyes when we walked into this joint. Our group was probably more eclectic looking than typical for this place.

As far as my drive, it seemed to go well and I passed. The only things I had gotten called out on were occasionally not double clutching on gear shifts &my button hook turn wasn't quite as wide as it should have been. The instructor said that I hit a curb. I could see in my mirror that I hadn't but I had learned already that you want to pick your battles when it comes to instructors and most battles aren't worth it. When it was time to switch to the next driver, this same instructor said "good job".

The last stretch ended up being somewhat interesting . This student had moments of inattentiveness that led to panic moves on curves in the road & stops. At one point I thought we were going to end up in a ditch & I couldn't help but tell him to slow down myself. The instructor backed me up & didn't seem annoyed that I beat him to the punch of saying something. A few seconds later the tactful & warranted criticism from the instructor ended up escalating into a shouting match between the instructor & the student. As a side note, this was the same student that I believe threw me under the bus a few weeks ago, causing me some brief animosity with a different instructor. Oddly enough, during this awkward argument that ensued between him & this instructor, he tried to get me to give my 2 cents on the situation. If I had, I would have done the opposite of what he was looking for. I chose to just say I was staying out of it though. I'm not sure what his grade ended up being at the end of the route but he may have something to be concerned about.

When we made it back around midnight, we still dropped our trailer & did the post trip DVIR. As soon as the instructors signed off on our log books, we were informed that we were done using them for the remainder of school.

The sole purpose of next week is to get our cdls. School is closed for Monday's holiday & we will have one additional day of practice Tuesday. Wednesday we will test for them. Thursday is only relevant for a second attempt for those that don't pass on the 1st try. Friday is graduation.

I will hopefully not have too much more to write in this journal.

More to come in a few days.

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.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Day 25 (27 according to DMACC):

I recently came to the realization that my school does not make up dates for 1 day holidays. Instead, they schedule tasks in a manner which allows them to do what would normally be 30 days worth of schooling within 28 days, mainly by not giving us as much time to strictly practice for the D.O.T exams as other classes that don't run into the 1 day holidays would normally get.

As a result, we got 1 day of ungraded practice today and tomorrow is showtime.

I am still nervous on whether I will pass... I think I know enough about the pre-trip to make it through that test. I won't get 100% but I think I have enough of it memorized to get through. (More studying will happen tonight). There is still a small amount of doubt here.

If I pass that, round 2 will be the skills test 1. offset backing (shouldn't be a problem) 2. Straight_line ( no worries at all) & 3. 90 degree sightside (this is still somewhat iffy)... I have a shot but not quite 100% confident.....All 3 of these maneuvers have to be completed within 30 minutes.

If I get through round 2, my last obstacle would be the road test.

I would like to say I am completely confident here. I have some worry. I have been doing pretty good for the most part but did hit 1 curb today doing my only chance at a practice round. If this were to happen on the test, it will be an automatic fail so I better sharpen up & keep my head in it. My shifting is pretty good 90% of the time also but I occasionally have to recover a gear and have put myself in a situation today where I was in neutral by the time I got to a stoplight, the d.o.t could fail me for that too. I am hoping I was just rusty today from a 3 day weekend. On the brightside, I would have passed the d.o.t test if I drive the way I drove a couple of times last week.

The d.o.t will also be present on Thursday to retest those that don't pass tomorrow. After that, we must make appointments.

On my day off yesterday, I used my time to have one more conversation with the companies I had been considering who were willing to give me contingent job offers & made my final decision. I didn't burn any bridges & let other recruiters who I had spoken with know that I appreciated their time so I have fallbacks if something bizarre happens to cause this to fall through. I now know that I will be going with Melton Truck lines as long as I get my cdl before Feb 13th. This is the orientation date they had signed me up for & their offer is contingent on me having my cdl by then. I am so excited! I will write more about this in the general forum as well :)

I will write more tomorrow, should be either really pumped or a little bummed out by end of day tomorrow....

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.
Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Day 26 (28 according to DMACC):

Well,

Today was a bit of a mixed bag.

The 9 that remain in our class were all supposed to test everything through the d.o.t today.

From what I was told, they usually send 2 d.o.t. examiners to work on a class of our size. We only got 1 today. This lead to a lot of waiting around.

If you don't pass a test, you don't get to take the subsequent tests until you've passed the 1st one. The test order was 1. pre-trip inspection 2. backing skills test 3. road test.

We drew numbers to determine order & I ended up with 7. I ended up taking my pre-trip test right before the d.o.t official's lunch break.

I passed, no more studying that for a while! That's the good news.

2 people in our class did not pass this portion & were disallowed to continue testing for the day.

Next up was the backing skills test. I was nervous that I wouldn't get an opportunity to take this today but I did close to the end of the day.

Unfortunately, I failed it.

I did the straight-line backing & the offset in a quick manner without losing any points. I just got eaten alive by the 90 degree today. My initial attempt at breaking the plain was off & I had to use a couple of pull-ups to fix that and a few more to try to straighten it out.

It seemed to me like I was going to finally squeeze it in though at a slight angle. I was stopped by the examiner just inches away from the marked bumper stop because the front part of my frame was just barely over the yellow line on the side. If my tractor was just 2 inches straighter, I would have been able to back up the additional 10 inches I needed to call it good & I would have passed. I would have done another pull-up if I could have but I knew where I was at on points & the extra pull up would have eliminated me as well.

Nobody got to take the road tests today because there simply wasn't time.

Of the 9 of us only 4 passed both of the 1st 2 tests on the 1st try and I wasn't one of them :/

Anybody that doesn't have all tests passed by the end of tomorrow will have to either make their own appointments to test with the d.o.t (typically appointments have to be 2-3 weeks in advance) or there is also an option to hire a d.o.t approved 3rd party tester for quicker appointments, this will cost $100 per test. I'm hoping I pass everything tomorrow or I will end up having to take that route in order to keep my employment plans intact.

I'm just hoping everybody gets at least 1 attempt at everything, this is iffy if they only send 1 examiner tomorrow with the amount of retakes already built in.

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.

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 27 (29 according to DMACC):

Well, today was judgement day, tomorrow is graduation.

It was my 2nd attempt at passing the backing maneuvers for the d.o.t & it was a disaster for me.

I had a complete meltdown on straight-line backing & lost most of my allotted points on the easiest maneuver which I have NEVER struggled with.

I got to the offset backing and wasn't doing too bad & I normally don't. The 1 extra pull-up I took however, was enough to fail me because of losing so many points right off the bat. I didn't even get another shot at the maneuver that got me yesterday...

It has been a while since I have been this frustrated.

The good news is, I was able to schedule a d.o.t exam Saturday morning & one of the instructors at DMACC was kind enough to volunteer his free off duty time to make arrangements to show up with the test vehicle and insurance information. I am very grateful for this! When I told them this was the only appointment I could get within a decent time frame the head instructor seemed doubtful that anyone would take it on & told me that Saturday appointments were outside of their agreed schedules. Fortunately, 1 of the instructors cared enough to do it anyway.

In total, 7 passed everything today and now have cdls. 1 other person besides me has still not gotten through their tests.

I know I am capable of getting through this because I've done it several times in practice. I just have to learn to relax and think things through when it counts.

If Saturday isn't a success, it will become much pricier as I will have to pay the extra amount to have d.o.t certified 3rd party examiners test me at $100 per test. This is the only way to make it happen within a timely manner. The road test shouldn't be a problem once I get through the backing maneuvers.

Hopefully I will get an opportunity to practice a little bit tomorrow after going through the brief ceremonies for our graduation...I am still expected to participate even though it feels like I haven't earned any sort of celebration.

I will continue to write in this until I obtain my cdl , 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.

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.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Johnny Wrote:

I had a complete meltdown on straight-line backing & lost most of my allotted points on the easiest maneuver which I have NEVER struggled with. I got to the offset backing and wasn't doing too bad & I normally don't. The 1 extra pull-up I took however, was enough to fail me because of losing so many points right off the bat. I didn't even get another shot at the maneuver that got me yesterday...

Johnny, buddy,...NERVES, I think they got the best of you. Refocus and try to relax,...breath. You KNOW HOW TO DO THIS,...straight-line (just fine); set-up straight (no angles), take your time, don't rush, watch both your mirrors and do not over correct. Working from the bottom of the wheel, palms down, elbows close to your sides forces you to make smaller corrections. If you have the time to practice this, try it.

This is a minor setback. Many people do not pass the CDL tests on their first try. You'll be okay.

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.
Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Thanks again for writing G-town, This is definitely what happened. I think I would have still failed at the alley dock yesterday anyhow. I did get a ton of practice today though & I think tomorrow will be a success now. I figured out a couple of things today that will help me :)

Johnny, buddy,...NERVES, I think they got the best of you. Refocus and try to relax,...breath. You KNOW HOW TO DO THIS,...straight-line (just fine); set-up straight (no angles), take your time, don't rush, watch both your mirrors and do not over correct. Working from the bottom of the wheel, palms down, elbows close to your sides forces you to make smaller corrections. If you have the time to practice this, try it.

This is a minor setback. Many people do not pass the CDL tests on their first try. You'll be okay.

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.
Johnny 3's Comment
member avatar

Day 28 (Day 30 according to DMACC):

Well today was it, graduation day. It was a bit anti-climatic for me. They took a picture of the class, gave us congratulations speeches, & provided certificates to those who had earned them. I was not one of those. They offered words of encouragement to the 2 of us that still have not passed everything..

After all this was over, the other student that hadn't passed left... I chose to stick around and ask an instructor permission to practice the backing maneuvers on the concourse, it was granted!

I got the concourse for a full day.. I started off pretty rough like I had been on the test but by the end of the day I was doing all 3 maneuvers in less than half the time allotted & not losing any points even!

Having a full day to practice by myself & figure out what I was doing wrong on my own with no pressure made a huge difference, I am excited to take my test tomorrow now. I am so grateful that they allowed me to do this, it was a bit beyond the scope of their program but it seems to have made a world of difference for me.

Hopefully I can make it count tomorrow now.

More to come!

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.
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