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New Podcast From "The Road Home" - Why Is CDL Training Done In Such A Rush?

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Brett Aquila's Comment
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Hey folks, we have a brand new podcast about CDL training and it's called "Why Is CDL Training Done In Such A Rush?"

Why Is CDL Training Done In Such A Rush?

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Truck driver training has always been done as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Unfortunately this often makes for inadequate training and a frustrating, exhausting experience for new drivers. So why is it done this way? We'll take a look at how training is done, why it's this way, and what you can expect as a new driver.

Enjoy!

Why Is CDL Training Done In Such A Rush?

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.
MB007's Comment
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Thanks for the heads up on training. Are there any simulator programs, games, we can use to practice backing, unhooking trailers, etc? Maybe even something we can do with a real car?

Benji's Comment
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Thanks for the heads up on training. Are there any simulator programs, games, we can use to practice backing, unhooking trailers, etc? Maybe even something we can do with a real car?

I know it's not anything official, but American Truck Simulator is $19.99 and has good physics but is not designed for training specifically, only a game (although truck/gas prices are accurate, and you work towards O/O which is actually pretty neat, I don't usually like those types of games). I picked it up a few weeks ago when steam finally gave me a refund for a god awful bait-and-switch game and i used it on that.

I didn't think it was realistic enough at first regarding the drop and hook and trailer details, but there is an option for advanced trailer hookup that does require you to be very accurate. Unfortunately you never actually get out of the truck to lift the landing gear or hook up cables, that's all automated (and animated so at least you know what's happening) but I'm sure we all know to do the basic stuff (or will come CDL training).

It's only the west coast region of Nevada, Arizona, and California with the distances condensed by 100x, so a 100 hour trip will actually only take an hour in game - I'm sure nobody wants to play any game consecutively for that long though. Scenery is lacking, even on high settings, mainly the trees and foliage, but there's good detail with the locations you are dropping off/picking up from. Also traffic is decent, although I've ramped up the total traffic to make it more realistic - without it you can merge from an onramp in LA with zero traffic issues, which is NOT realistic.

I know I like to use Peters in game, but they have a few other real life brands as well with fully accurate dashboards, interiors, and exteriors.

With a USB steering wheel it's actually quite nice - you have the mirrors you can adjust, seat positions, and of course collision damage and plenty of backup practice. Multiple viewpoints allow for psuedo-GOAL (top down view of truck and trailer rather than walking around).

I've been using a joystick and throttle cluster as I play a lot of aircraft sims, but they work with ATS too. I borrowed a friends racing wheel to test it out, and it was so much better - although no force feedback.

I looked around for training programs, equipment, and software but these all started at over $500, some going up into the tens of thousands - anything that is more than a month in CDL training school isn't worth it IMO, since you'll likely be provided sims for the school.

For the steering wheel, I've been thinking about ordering either a Thrustmaster T80 or HORI Apex, both at $99.99 with the wheel and 2 pedals. The Trust GXT 288 is $10 cheaper and has a shifter built into the steering wheel base (where it attaches to your desk, not the wheel itself) but I've heard bad reviews for it.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Thanks for the heads up on training. Are there any simulator programs, games, we can use to practice backing, unhooking trailers, etc? Maybe even something we can do with a real car?

Not really. There isn't much that can prepare you for the driving portion of it. The simulators are fun and all, but they're not really going to teach you very much.

In my opinion the best thing you can do is prepare yourself mentally, both with knowledge and the proper expectations of the challenges that lie ahead. As far as knowledge, we have the High Road Training Program which is loaded with important information, some of which isn't covered well at all during training most of the time.

The High Road has everything you need for the CDL permit and endorsements, but goes far beyond that. Our section on Truck Weight & Balance covers all kinds of stuff they may not cover in training, including how to load cargo properly, how to calculate the weight of fuel during fueling and fuel burnoff, the bridge laws (kingpin to tandem length), and all sorts of things you'll need to do your job out there. Our logbook section covers all of the rules thoroughly so you can understand how to maximize your available driving time a lot better out there. And we even have sections for flatbed securement which are quite helpful even if you don't intend to run flatbed.

As far as preparing yourself mentally for life on the road, make sure you go through our entire Truck Driver's Career Guide from beginning to end, and check out my book Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving (it's free to read here on the website).

The truth is that very few people fail to make it in trucking because they can't drive the truck. That's not the hard part about trucking. The hard part is the intensity of the training and the lifestyle of the road. That's what wipes people out. They miss their family and friends back home, the long days and erratic sleep patterns become exhausting, they don't know how to work through the problems they face, and overall they simply don't expect that first year to be so relentless and brutal.

It gets a bit easier as you get better, but trucking is never easy. A lot of people simply don't expect that and drop out far too soon. I know a lot of people that leave the industry early could have and often would have gone on to have great careers, but they simply weren't prepared for the overwhelming amount of information that gets piled on you and the difficult lifestyle you have to adjust to in the beginning.

And of course one of our best resources is right here in the forum. Ask a ton of questions - the more, the better.

Preparing yourself mentally before the training even begins will give you a huge advantage over your peers and a much better chance at success when it's time for the real thing. The driving part you'll pick up easily enough. Pretty much everyone does. It's clumsy and frustrating trying to get the hang of it at first, but you'll get it. The mental part is what will feel like riding a bull.

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.

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.

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".

MB007's Comment
member avatar

OK Brett. That's solid advice. Indeed, that High Road program is fundamental for mental preparation. I have committed to getting 100% on one lesson per day (at least) while I am getting ready for paid CDL school at Roehl. Reading your work—and that of the others—is very helpful. I found some other sites and youtube channels too. Big changes in life require lots of preparation to handle the unpredictable challenges. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks Benji. That avatar is unforgettable!

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.
MB007's Comment
member avatar

Just finished the book, Brett. Quite an eye-opener. The experiences with those different companies really taught me alot. I'm not comfortable with the logbook issue, however. Regardless, I'll keep my mind open to discovering the nuances of the process. Roehl uses elogs , so I'm not sure if that changes the dynamic you described. Hoping I can balance that with keeping living expenses low, taking whatever they give me, being amicable with shippers, dispatchers and keeping up with empty trailer locations.

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.

Elog:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

Elogs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

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.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Mister B wrote:

I'm not comfortable with the logbook issue, however.

Can you explain your concern? Most of the large carriers use elogs...

This might give you a different perspective:

Learn The Logbook Rules (HOS)

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.

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.

Elog:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

Elogs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
MB007's Comment
member avatar

Mister B wrote:

double-quotes-start.png

I'm not comfortable with the logbook issue, however.

double-quotes-end.png

Can you explain your concern? Most of the large carriers use elogs...

This might give you a different perspective:

Learn The Logbook Rules (HOS)

Thanks. Specifically the issues of fudging or not fudging. From what I read, it seems there are many who drive beyond the hours of service. So if I'm 2 hours from arriving at the customer, but my hours run out, I can keep going or stop. If I keep going, get the miles are paid and customer gets delivery. However, that can lead to problems because it is against the DOT rules. It's quite a conundrum.

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.

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.

Elog:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

Elogs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Trip planning and clock management are learned skills and will minimize the likelihood of the "conundrum".

You will not be expected to drive past your available hours.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Don't worry in the least about fudging any rules at all. The purpose of talking about it in the book is because you can't understand the nature of the trucking industry or the prevailing attitudes amongst drivers and office personnel alike if you don't understand one basic premise - everyone wins when you keep those wheels turning.

Everyone makes money in the trucking industry the same way - by utilizing trucks efficiently. That goes for management, dispatch, sales, load planners, and drivers alike. So if a driver really learns to maximize their available driving time and can find a way to squeeze in a few more hours of driving time each week it's going to be good for everyone. The more efficient you are, the better.

Now back in the day everyone had paper logs and we all fudged em quite a bit. It wasn't necessarily to get more miles in per week, it was to drive when we wanted to and park it when we wanted to on our own schedule, not according to some arbitrary rules.

Today all of the large carriers are using electronic logs and they're tied into the truck's computer. So you can't say you were sleeping when you were driving or vice versa. But there is still a fudge factor involved. For instance, some people will log time waiting at customers as "on duty, not driving" and others will log it "sleeper berth". Some companies have policies on this, some do not. Don't let this worry you at all right now, you'll figure out all of this just fine as you go. I'm just giving you some insights into the situation.

So go into it with the attitude that you can turn great miles and make great money by doing everything 100% legal, because you can. Old School, one of our moderators, has been averaging like 3,400 miles per week the past few weeks and he's on elogs. I personally found that 3,000 - 3,200 was the perfect amount of miles for me. I could keep up that pace and make great money, yet still get enough sleep and have some time to spare. And I was using paper logs.

So you can turn plenty of miles legally. No question about it. Just stick to the rules and as time goes on you'll learn your trade at a level where you'll understand how to handle the gray areas within the laws and regulations.

Elog:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

Elogs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

Electronic Logs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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