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Frustrations training with Prime on the road

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Adam B.'s Comment
member avatar

I've been on the road with my trainer for a month now with Prime (TNT phase) and it's been rocky. Sorry if this will be long.

Feedback is almost non-existent. He talks on the phone (hands free of course) alot while driving and I swear he talks more about me to his friends than to me about me. The only way I found out how I was doing was by overhearing his conversations. When I ask him, he provides almost no feedback other than what I'm doing wrong. He also doesn't do a pre-trip inspection either.

I've frustrated my trainer alot. I was terrible entering his truck. Forgot how to shift, not know how to drive in the mountains, and completely forgot what trailer off tracking was until about a week and half ago (He told me to steer away from the problem, something I will never forget now). I've improved a lot since then. He's very comfortable letting me drive on the roads while he sleeps, that is until it comes time to park the truck.

My backing is terrible and I'm not sure what to do about it. The other night I tried to back into a spot at a truck stop and nearly hit the trailer next to me. Yes, I was using my mirrors but apparently not using them good enough. My trainer told me (after he had enough and did the backing himself) that it was a straight line back and wondered why I couldn't do it. Then what he said afterwards, I was ready to blow up. He said he had PSD students do backing better their first time than me and questioned how I ever got my CDL. He wondered why Prime didn't do a backing skills test before sending me out with a trainer. I know I'm bad at backing and I'm already frustrated. You don't need to tell me and bring me down even more. Afterwards I sat behind the wheel and cried a bit. My career at Prime won't make it past training if I can't back. My trainer still has yet to let me back into a dock, and he handles all backing at shippers & receivers.

Related to backing, my brain does seem to shut off when I'm at a truck stop or rest area. While on the road my focus is clear as day. I'm watching the speed limit signs, low clearances, road construction, and any other obstables, hazards, etc that I potentially have to deal with but at truck stops all bets are off. Don't ask me how, but I somehow get lost at truck stops almost every time I stop at one. I can find the fuel island, and that's about it.

My trainer says my terrible backing and how I drive at truck stops is because of lack of paying attention.

l sit here at home now getting some needed hometime (my trainer went to go do another load). I don't know if I'll come back to his truck or not. He had me get all my things and give him the keys back. I'm extremely frustrated with myself though and don't know what to do. I've thought about requesting a new trainer but I'm not sure that'll fix anything.

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.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

Old School's Comment
member avatar
Best Answer!

Adam. I'm thinking it sounds like you are going through all the familiar frustrations of any newbie at this career. There were times when each of us felt like we were not going to be able to make it through our training. You are exhausted at times from lack of sleep due to the new experience of sleeping in a moving truck. You are running on adrenaline half the time because of the excitement of the whole experience of commandeering a big rig across the country. You are probably not eating right, nor sleeping enough. You're having to meet some crazy dead lines. You are wanting to hear your trainer tell you that you are doing good, and all you ever hear is what you are doing wrong. It is an all out stressful time - that is the only way I know how to describe training for this career.

There is actually a good reason why training is soooo hard. It tends to separate out those who can't dig deep enough to make it through. We tell people all the time to look at it like "Boot Camp." That is what it is at times, It can be demoralizing, or it can be something that makes you dig deep and find out what it is that you are made of. Breaking into trucking is not easy, if it were we would have a lot of folks out here wanting these jobs. You are embarking on a really difficult journey that only gets better the longer you hang in there and practice doing the things that make for success out here. Some days it can be like forcing yourself to get in that seat and keep going, while other days you will be quite content to roll on down the highway clocking off the miles.

Driving on the interstate isn't all that trying, it is all the little stuff like maneuvering in and out at the shippers/receivers, backing into docks, or parking at truck stops that can take all the joy away from a rookie's experience. I was just speaking to a person the other day who quit trucking while in training, and here's the reasons he gave me for why he decided against it.

- It is too difficult trying to find parking at night when I am exhausted.

- I can never seem to get my truck backed in once I do find a parking spot, and I am too tired to put any effort in at that point.

- I'm stressed out all the time when I get to a new place to pick up or deliver, because I don't even know where to go when I get there.

- I'm never comfortable because everything is totally new to me, I can't deal with all this stress.

Absolutely all of his reasons were things that every rookie faces, and somehow he thought they were special to him, and he was beating himself up over all of this as if he were a loser with no skills to be able to do this job! Heck, we all went through all of that, and occasionally still do! If you need a different trainer, Prime will accommodate you, but I say your focus needs to be on developing as a driver, and putting your will into this whole exercise in tenacity. It will pay off, but you have got to have something in you that pushes you to succeed at it.

Take the time and listen to this Very Informative and Inspirational Podcast, I think it will help you understand what you are facing. Right now you are focusing on your trainer's shortcomings, and there may very well be some, but I think the source of your stress is just a regular experience that all of us faced.

By the way, all trainers are not equal, and I had one who never pre-tripped his truck either. Heck I had to show him where his brake shoes were and that they were getting thin! You can still be a successful driver when you have a less than stellar trainer - I am living proof of that. In fact I wrote a little article about my training. I don't know if you'll find it helpful or not, but Click Here and you can read it.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

I'm not with Prime, but here's my comments on things that are common to nearly all new drivers:

Trainer feedback: this varies among trainers. Not all trainers are truly teachers. And some are worse than what your describe.

Shifting: assuming you're new to stick shifting, as a newbie to the concept, it takes some experience before you will be comfortable getting into "just any" truck and drive off like that.

"My backing is terrible and I'm not sure what to do about it." What you do about it is be patient, practice, and work to learn from every back-up & dock you do. This is the only way, and, I repeat, it's a common situation.

Truck stops: the parking areas are all different. My trainer often accused me of going "the wrong way", yet I rarely saw any direction signs. Relax, just keep looking for a spot you can back into (though you hate to do that).

When you're off duty, and really trying to get some rest, first do some book work. At Swift we did have reading and other assignments. Spend some time doing that. Or start up an innocuous game on your cellphone. This will help shift your mental gears.

Let me help with your frustration: you just might get frustrated, even wondering if you made a big mistake about getting into trucking. I was like that, too. But focus more on your goals and less on beating yourself up. You are in a learning situation. Think about the stuff you are doing and think about how you can do better next 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.

Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

You should have Primates jump in soon to tell you to talk with the trainer or call Prime. Prime is know for handling problems quickly. They want you to succeed. Good luck.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

I'm not with Prime, but here's my comments on things that are common to nearly all new drivers:

Trainer feedback: this varies among trainers. Not all trainers are truly teachers. And some are worse than what your describe.

Shifting: assuming you're new to stick shifting, as a newbie to the concept, it takes some experience before you will be comfortable getting into "just any" truck and drive off like that.

"My backing is terrible and I'm not sure what to do about it." What you do about it is be patient, practice, and work to learn from every back-up & dock you do. This is the only way, and, I repeat, it's a common situation.

Truck stops: the parking areas are all different. My trainer often accused me of going "the wrong way", yet I rarely saw any direction signs. Relax, just keep looking for a spot you can back into (though you hate to do that).

When you're off duty, and really trying to get some rest, first do some book work. At Swift we did have reading and other assignments. Spend some time doing that. Or start up an innocuous game on your cellphone. This will help shift your mental gears.

Let me help with your frustration: you just might get frustrated, even wondering if you made a big mistake about getting into trucking. I was like that, too. But focus more on your goals and less on beating yourself up. You are in a learning situation. Think about the stuff you are doing and think about how you can do better next 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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar
Best Answer!

Adam. I'm thinking it sounds like you are going through all the familiar frustrations of any newbie at this career. There were times when each of us felt like we were not going to be able to make it through our training. You are exhausted at times from lack of sleep due to the new experience of sleeping in a moving truck. You are running on adrenaline half the time because of the excitement of the whole experience of commandeering a big rig across the country. You are probably not eating right, nor sleeping enough. You're having to meet some crazy dead lines. You are wanting to hear your trainer tell you that you are doing good, and all you ever hear is what you are doing wrong. It is an all out stressful time - that is the only way I know how to describe training for this career.

There is actually a good reason why training is soooo hard. It tends to separate out those who can't dig deep enough to make it through. We tell people all the time to look at it like "Boot Camp." That is what it is at times, It can be demoralizing, or it can be something that makes you dig deep and find out what it is that you are made of. Breaking into trucking is not easy, if it were we would have a lot of folks out here wanting these jobs. You are embarking on a really difficult journey that only gets better the longer you hang in there and practice doing the things that make for success out here. Some days it can be like forcing yourself to get in that seat and keep going, while other days you will be quite content to roll on down the highway clocking off the miles.

Driving on the interstate isn't all that trying, it is all the little stuff like maneuvering in and out at the shippers/receivers, backing into docks, or parking at truck stops that can take all the joy away from a rookie's experience. I was just speaking to a person the other day who quit trucking while in training, and here's the reasons he gave me for why he decided against it.

- It is too difficult trying to find parking at night when I am exhausted.

- I can never seem to get my truck backed in once I do find a parking spot, and I am too tired to put any effort in at that point.

- I'm stressed out all the time when I get to a new place to pick up or deliver, because I don't even know where to go when I get there.

- I'm never comfortable because everything is totally new to me, I can't deal with all this stress.

Absolutely all of his reasons were things that every rookie faces, and somehow he thought they were special to him, and he was beating himself up over all of this as if he were a loser with no skills to be able to do this job! Heck, we all went through all of that, and occasionally still do! If you need a different trainer, Prime will accommodate you, but I say your focus needs to be on developing as a driver, and putting your will into this whole exercise in tenacity. It will pay off, but you have got to have something in you that pushes you to succeed at it.

Take the time and listen to this Very Informative and Inspirational Podcast, I think it will help you understand what you are facing. Right now you are focusing on your trainer's shortcomings, and there may very well be some, but I think the source of your stress is just a regular experience that all of us faced.

By the way, all trainers are not equal, and I had one who never pre-tripped his truck either. Heck I had to show him where his brake shoes were and that they were getting thin! You can still be a successful driver when you have a less than stellar trainer - I am living proof of that. In fact I wrote a little article about my training. I don't know if you'll find it helpful or not, but Click Here and you can read it.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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.
Tim E.'s Comment
member avatar

OS, was a good read for me as a wanabe! Thx!!

Tractor Man's Comment
member avatar
Heck I had to show him where his brake shoes were

What are Brake Shoes? rofl-3.gif

Adam, just trying to lighten things up a bit. Hang in there. Ask Prime for a new Trainer. You won't be the first one! Old School just gave you some great advice ( others did as well). I am 56 years old. I have been through some tough things in my life ( work related and personal). Driving School and Road Training, not to mention my first several months Solo, was one of the toughest things I have been through in my life. You CAN do this!

smile.gifgood-luck.gif

Isaac H.'s Comment
member avatar

There's a couple things that can help you with the layout of truck stops.

First, you can sit tight and watch where the other trucks are exiting. Second, you can google map and use satellite view. Third, you can ask any other driver. Fourth, you can ask the cashier.

All these are acceptable to do and you shouldn't be ashamed. What will bring you shame is if you can't figure it out, refuse to ask for help, end up circling the lot and hitting something because you're going the wrong way.

Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

By the way, all trainers are not equal, and I had one who never pre-tripped his truck either. Heck I had to show him where his brake shoes were and that they were getting thin! You can still be a successful driver when you have a less than stellar trainer - I am living proof of that. In fact I wrote a little article about my training. I don't know if you'll find it helpful or not, but Click Here and you can read it.

Thanks Old School, that is my favorite training story. I have tried to find it many times.

Tim H.'s Comment
member avatar

Adam I had a similar experience years ago when I was a rookie millwright and one of the more senior guys trashed me every chance he got yet made big blunders costing lots of machine downtime. I hated the way this made me feel. Losing confidence in myself. I discovered later in life his behavior was really a symptom of his insecurities. Then I was able to feel sorry him. He didn't know that by encouraging and helping he would have gained far more in return.

I hope things do get better for you.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

The best I can say is to just hang in there. Sure, you can request a new trainer, and Prime will certainly accommodate you. But this may delay your training some.

I'm currently 23k miles into my TNT , and I've experienced some of the same feelings as you. But I'm geared to just make the best of a difficult situation.

As the others have said, this is perhaps the most difficult time you will face as a driver. Push through my man. You can get by this.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

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