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Started Class at CNM for Truck Driving. Hopefully this is the start of a new career!

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Tinker's Comment
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Hello all, My name is Valentin. I signed up for classes at Central New Mexico community college to obtain my class A cdl. Currently, I own a small plumbing and drain cleaning business. My business has done well, and there are no real problems there. My wife and I talked it over and decided that it was time for a change. I have been in plumbing for 17 years. I chose CNM over another local cdl school because of the flexible schedule that will allow me to continue to run my business. It is also PTDI accredited, that may help me later on. The course I am taking is a hybrid online/classroom course that began today, January 17. A lot of my reading assignments are sent via email. On weekends is the Lab. That is where we learn pre-trip and skills. If all goes well, I will complete the course on April 29. The end goal of all of this is for both my wife and I to have our cdl's so that once our two boys are grown we can run team. I will try to keep this diary updated at least weekly.

Val

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Joshua J.'s Comment
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Awesome! Im finishing up my college semester then starting driving school in may, I look forward to following your journey and progress!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Tinker's Comment
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The first week of my training is complete. During the week my training is mostly in the form of reading assignments, videos, and participating in the various discussion boards that are on the school online program. Most of the reading covered regulations concerning drug and alcohol use, disqualifying offenses, and serious traffic violations. I did note that the High Road Training program here is very close to what I am learning in my class. There are some differences in wording mostly. The textbook we are using is Delmar's Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver Training. It has loads of information! We also got in our book packages a copy of the FMCSR Saftey Regulations Handbook, 4 driver logbooks, HazMat Transportation Driver Training, a 2016 Emergency Response Guidebook, HazMat compliance pocketbook, and a Rand McNally Motor Carrier Road Atlas. This is a 15 week course that is broken in to three separate sub-courses. The first being basic theory and skills, the second being advanced, then the final part is mostly perfecting everything we learn. That will include driving several different 5 hour shifts over the road. The different shifts cover every hour of the day, and the last one is from 9pm to 3am and will be driving to various places around the city to dock at different buildings. Our driving skills are learned and practiced, during these first 2 courses, are done over the weekend from 7am to 3pm. No breaks. This weekend was very cool. The first day was bitterly cold and snowing. We met our range instructors inside then took to the field. There they set up 10 stations and split the class in to smaller groups having each group rotate through each of the stations. There were 7 pre-trip stations and 3 straight line backing stations. Each of the 7 pre-trip stations covered a different area of the truck and trailer. For straight line backing, it was backing the combination vehicle 100 ft, then pulling it back forward to the cones. Skill levels were all over the board there. I did my backing without issue, many others did as well. Some could not seem to keep straight to save their lives! The instructors were very patient and helped them figure out what they were doing to cause it. Mostly over thinking, over reacting, and things like that. The pre-trip stations were very effective, by the end of the day we had all done each station at least once. That brings us up to today. Today was out on the range, warmer weather. Again, no breaks. We have limited time and need to use every minute. We can of course bring food with us and grab a bite in between stations. We had 1 station that was straight backing, 2 doing offsets, 2 doing drop and hook , and 4 pretrip. My group started with offsets. We were to pull up to the cones, then offset to the right and back to the end of the course. After that we were to pull up to the cones again ad offset left. I did surprisingly well, only having to pull up once on the left side offset. Then we did pre-trip front of truck. We each had to do the inspection starting by walking up to the truck and covering front, right and left sides including under hood. Next station was pre-trip cab to fifth wheel. I see how they are slowly bringing it to one pre-trip slowly. How do you move mountains? One rock at a time. Then it was off to straight line. One in our group was struggling with it for a bit, she was ready to give up and walk out. We talked her out of it and after another attempt, she got it! We then moved to offsets again, each of us taking 2 turns. Then drop and hook. We had to learn the proper way to drop the trailer, then how to reconnect. We each got a turn at that before going on to another pre-trip, in cab. Then another drop and hook and one more pre-trip, from the truck back. It was a great day! This week will be lots of reading, videos and quizzes. Next weekend we are starting alley dock and perfecting the offset. That is Saturday. I am not sure what Sunday will be, but once I know you will too. The assignments this week cover driving safely, shifting, and vehicle systems from what I have read so far. Until next week.... Keep On Trucking!

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

Over The Road:

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.

Combination Vehicle:

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

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.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Tinker's Comment
member avatar

My intention was to update this diary each week after the weekend driving range. I didn't update last week, just was too tired at the end of the day. So let me get this caught up. Weekly studies have been covering several topics, including communication on the road, hazards, extreme driving conditions, and of course pre-trip. Since I am in a hybrid online/classroom learning most of the studying is done on my own at my own pace. Each week we have quizzes to prove we have retained some of the information. Last weekend driving range was 2 days of backing up. Straight back, offsets, and sight side parallel. Of course there were pretrip stations as well. We were spending 45 minutes at each station. There was 4 pre-trip stations. At each of these the instructor would pick a student from the group and say, "ok, if you have been studying this should be easy, pre-trip this truck" I was chosen twice out of my 4 times at pre-trip stations. I missed 2 points on the first one, and one on the second. Not too bad! Hopefully I can remember it all at crunch time. It is all fun and games on the range, but with the state examiner? Parallel turned out to be a little more difficult than I expected. I was able to complete the maneuver without gathering too many points on the first try with the instructors help of course. Second time around the instructor would only step in if we got ourselves in a bind. I needed two pull ups and a get out and look. I am pretty happy with my progress. I do credit our instructors, they are really good at demonstrating and explaining the maneuvers. Not to mention they have much patience! I did notice that the class size was smaller this weekend. Our lead instructor simply said that it happens and this isn't for everyone. Week 3 Study was focused more on getting us ready to test for our permits. We are expected to take and pass the written exams for general knowledge, combination vehicles, doubles and triples, and tanker. We get extra credit for the class if we take and pass the passenger and school bus exams, but have been told to hold off on HazMat for now as that will be covered later in class and just before we test for our cdl. We have been taking practice tests daily, studying the manual and textbook, and discussing the exam. Laser focus this week. I test for my permit tomorrow 2/5/17. I am confident that I will pass. At the range this weekend we were introduced to blind side parallel and alley dock. There were two pre-trip stations, two offset stations, one of each parallel stations, and one alley dock station. We used to have 9 stations, but the class size dropped another 7 and the school had to lower the number of instructors to match, budget issues. We were told that one student tested positive for drugs, one was dropped for immigration status, and the other 5 just quit. Our instructors sais that they don't like seeing that many students gone, but that the lower number will benefit those of us still here. Blind side parallel seemed easier than sight side to me, maybe because it wasn't so foreign of an idea. Alley dock is tough to master. By the end of today, I was only needing one pull up to get it in the box. While I seem to be doing ok on my backing skills, I really wish we had more range time to practice. I just don't have the confidence that I fell that I need to pass the state exam. Our instructors said that while it seems our time is short, they are certain that each of us will do great on the exam. I want to believe them. If anyone can get these skills drilled in to us, ,its these guys. While on the range, us students when not driving are sharing tips we learned about each maneuver, or drilling each other on pre-trip. One student in my group was having a really hard time on offsets, though getting alley and parallels easy! We let her take a couple of extra turns on offset so she could get used to it. By the end of the day, she was doing great. I forgot to mention that on the alley dock station there are two trucks. While one is docking the other is pulling around to get ready to set up. Once the first truck pulls out, the second is right on their tail setting up and starting to dock. This way gave each of us extra turns at this amneuver and a chance to drive FORWARD!!! Wooo! anyway, that is all I have for now. Until next time...

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.

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

Combination Vehicle:

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

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Just a quick update. I took and passed all of the written exams. I have my paper permit in hand and am waiting for the hard copy. Now I just need to focus on honing my driving skills and learning all of the things that aren't on the test like hours of service, trip planning.....

Joshua J.'s Comment
member avatar

Congratulations on getting your permit!dancing-banana.gif

One thing I would recommend for formatting and readability is to press 'enter' twice when you're done with a paragraph or description. This helps with spacing, and will break up a wall of text to make it much more manageable for your audience.

That said, the High Road Training Program covers items like HOS and is a great tool for studying.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Thank you for the tip on formatting. I will try to break up the text so it isn't a wall of words Week 4 update: All of our reading and discussion assignments were preparation for taking the written exams. We covered all of the material that we will be tested on and took several practice tests. As I stated in my earlier post, I passed the tests on Monday. We were told by one instructor to wait on taking the HazMat test since we would be covering that next week and there is plenty of time. Another instructor said that it would do no harm to take the test early. I did and passed. We get extra credit for passing the Passenger and School bus written exams, so I took those as well. With all of the studying we have done, the tests seemed very easy. I have to say that this course prepares you very well.

This weekends driving lab was reduced to 2 pretrip stations. This made it possible to have an extra backing station. SO we had two alley dock stations, two offset stations, one blind side parallel and one sight side parallel. One of the alley dock stations was using a day cab with an automatic transmission and a short pup trailer. The other alley dock station had two trucks and trailers so that as one student was pulling out another could be ready to set up and dock. This made it so we each got to alley dock several times. I have to admit I am struggling with this maneuver this weekend! The other maneuvers went very well, even though last weekend I did not feel confident about my parallel.

Today being Sunday, we were supposed to be out on the range again. Unfortunately we have high winds and the head instructor felt that it was too dangerous to be out. We spent the day learning how to slide the tandems on trailers and the fifth wheel on the tractors. We also watched videos on how to chain up and had a discussion about when you should/if you should chain up. We also went over the different shift patterns we will encounter and watched videos on double clutching and shifting techniques.

In two weeks we will be tested on our pre-trip. We will also be tested on our backing. These are not the state tests, but for the school. After that we will be passed to the advanced course. That means we will get to start driving forward. Class size seems to keep shrinking and we still have 10 more weeks to go. One instructor told me that out of all the students we started with, he expects about 4 to actually become career truck drivers.

Until next time...

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

Day Cab:

A tractor which does not have a sleeper berth attached to it. Normally used for local routes where drivers go home every night.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
John C.'s Comment
member avatar

This is great. Thank you for the details.

Congratulations on passing all the tests.

Gladhand's Comment
member avatar

Good to see another New Mexican on the forum. Just keep at it and take your time!

Tinker's Comment
member avatar

02/18/17 Update

This weekend is our last weekend of practice in the first section of this three section course. We are working on all of the 6 required backing skills over and over, as well as pre-trip. There are only 7 stations set up this weekend, two of which are pre-trip. The reduction in stations is due to the fact that more students dropped out. The class started with over 40 students, and we are less than half of that number now. This is not for everyone. I knew some would be dropping due to their lack of dedication. You can usually spot those that think that it will be an easy course and everyone gets a participation trophy for showing up.

So, this week for study material we covered Hazardous Materials. This was a very interesting week of study. I had already passed my written exam prior to studying. We went over loading and unloading, where we can and cannot park, and safe havens. We also had to look up several Hazardous Materials and show if they could be loaded together or not, and what if any special procedures must be followed. There was too much information to post it all here. I definitely have a different view of what the drivers of those trucks with placards are putting themselves through. I am also much more aware of how dangerous it can be. I did notice one tanker truck with flammable placards driving down the interstate today that really made me nervous. The driver was smoking and flicking his ashes out the window with one hand while holding a beverage in the other. That is something I would have never paid attention to before learning all that I did this week.

On the range today was great. It was the same maneuvers we have been working on, offsets, parallels, and 90 degree alley dock. To make sure we still have our straight back down, we had to complete each offset with a 100' straight back before starting our offset to the other side. Parallels are getting easier. That blind side parallel is still messing with me. I am doing well enough to pass the state exam according to the instructor, but needs improvement. I surprised myself on that alley dock. Nailed it with no pull ups, no points, it was clean. Hopefully I can keep doing that! Getting set up correctly is a big part of it from what I can tell. On alley dock we each had to back a 48' trailer and then a 53' trailer.

Next week is the test for this first section. We finished all of our written tests already. So will be tested on our pre-trip, straight back, right offset, and left offset. We will be scored using the same point system that the state uses. Our in class test allows one pull up. They expect us to do more than the bare minimum required to pass the test. From what I am seeing out there now, all of the remaining students will so great. Then we can start the second section of study and skills. Looking forward to that!

Until next time...

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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