About To Start Training With Roehl

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Dart's Comment
member avatar

After a LONG time lurking and making a couple of posts, I figures it was about time for am introduction and start of my own training diary.

To start off, I've been in love with big trucks since I was a kid. This eas solidified when I was able to take some time and hit the road with my father during my summers in high school when he was driving for US Xpress, PFT Roberson (later bought out by TMC if my research is correct), and an for an independent. So much so that I wanted to get my CDL and drive a yard dog (probably at the nearby Lowe's distribution center) when I turned 18 and graduated high school, then wait until I was old enough and go OTR. However, life had other plans for me and I wound up joining the Army in 2002 and getting out in 2012. I never lost my love and appreciation of the big trucks, though.

That's when things went sour. I was unemployed, married, and living with my folks. I considered trucking and found this site then. At that time, I was trying to take a job in the IT field, where my experience in the military was, or at least something that would keep me home with the wife and pay the bills (my main reason for leaving the service was the deployments, as I had been gone a total of 27 months out of my last 6 years of service, and my wife wanted me home). I thought I had found something when I landed a decent paying job at a nearby proprietary (for profit) college. Unfortunately, while the pay was decent, I liked the people I worked with, and I enjoyed helping veterans better themesvles (I worked as a recruiter specializing in military and veteran students), I felt I was being pushed into forcing vets to enroll (even if it was at the veteran's detriment). I left that job and attempted to get my degree while working retail to improve my shot at getting an IT job. For a while, it was working, but I began strugling, as I couldn't find the right work/school balance. During this time, my wife and I were finally able to get our own place and somewhat on our feet.

Fast forward to late 2015. I take a job at the local TV station because it was A) full time with benefits, B) technical and not retail, and C) offered an entry into a broadcasting career. After a bit over a year working there, I lost that job due to a single mistake that any perosn in my job could have made, but I made it at the wrong time.

This hurt, as I was unable to draw unemployment and it seemed that that one incident had me black balled from ANY job in the area. I took some classes during the spring semester, which helped a little as I was drawing GI Bill money during that time. Alas, it wasn't enough as the classes I need aren't offered in the summer, and without a job that GI Bill money was about all that was keeping me afloat.

During my time at the TV station, I had began to consider trucking again. I researched and drew up a plan, but decided against following through because while things were tight, I was making it and I wanted to be home with my wife and 2 dogs.

As things are about to completely fall apart, my mother calls and while we were talking, she asked if I had thought any more about truck driving. I had, but had some concerns about my wife and dogs (we've had issues in the past while I was gone, so I'd been apprehensive about trucking to say the least). While talking with her, she was texting my father (who is currently following a rail grinder with a high wheel water truck) and we worked out a plan to make truck driving work.

At this point, I need to give them a HUUUGE thank you for their support, as this dream come true wouldn't be possible without them and their support.

That day (June 3rd), I filled out the Roehl Get Your CDL application. I was in tears as the lady in the video said that I meet the basic requirements and had a conditional job offer. I know, it was just a pre-recorded blurb and didn't really mean much, but it was the closest I had been to a job in nearly 6 months. It felt right, I was (and still am) VERY excited, relieved, and kind of in disbelief that I had actually started the process to working my dream job.

2 weeks later, my DOT medical and commercial learners permit is in hand, and I have a tentative start date at Roehl's "Dallas" terminal in Grand Prarie, TX on July 3rd as they only start training there every other week.

I wanted flatbed, which would have put me in Gary, IN. After some discussion with the recruiter, we both felt that dry van would be my better bet to start with (for several reasons).

At this point, I'm pretty much waiting on background check and drug test results to come back so we can get everything finalized. I'm not worried about any of it.

I'll also be participating in their Apprenticeship Program (this will get me some money from the Post 9/11 GI Bill to help offset any potential low mileage months) and Honor Program.

I plan on keeping you guys up to date as things go along. Maybe not to the extent Wine Taster did a few years ago with his Roehl experience, but at least enough to get an idea of what it's like there now (and at the Dallas terminal).

Regards,

Shannon

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.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.

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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Dart's Comment
member avatar

This morning I received my official acceptance into the Get Your CDL Program at Roehl's Grand Prairie, TX (Dallas) terminal and am almost set to start on July 3rd. I'm supposed to be having another chat with my recruiter on Monday to finalize all the details.

Can't wait to get started.

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.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Nate W's Comment
member avatar

that's awesome! I will be starting in Appleton for the national reefer division, no exact start date as i gotta get my official birth certificate from the courthouse and then I go back to the DMV to get my permit. I already passed the test so its all waiting on a piece of paper. Good luck to you

This morning I received my official acceptance into the Get Your CDL Program at Roehl's Grand Prairie, TX (Dallas) terminal and am almost set to start on July 3rd. I'm supposed to be having another chat with my recruiter on Monday to finalize all the details.

Can't wait to get started.

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.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Dart's Comment
member avatar

Awesome news Nate, and thank you.

I just got off the phone with my recruiter finalizing my travel arrangements. They definitely seem to want to make sure everything is right before getting you to school. It's been about a month long process.

Speaking of which, here's a timeline of what has transpired thus far:

6/3- initial application. 6/5- called for a status update and had to correct some things on my application. 6/6- received the e-mail saying they wanted to move forward with the process. 6/7- first contact with recruiter and interview arrangement. 6/8- interview with recruiter, initial contact with their medical provider, and sent in a few documents. 6/9- medical interview and sent supporting documentation. 6/12- medical appoinent set 6/14- medical appoimtment (was actually a walk in at the clinic). Received my DOT Medical Cert, took my CLP tests, and received my paper CLP. Also received tentative start date. 6/20- Officially accepted into the GYCDL program and signed welcome letter. 6/26- spoke with recruiter regarding travel arrangements 6/28- confirmed travel arrangements

I'll be on a bus Sunday to the Grand Prairie terminal to start class on Monday with 2 other students. Looks like the Grand Prairie terminal doesn't have a large influx of students, as they only start classes every other week.

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.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.

CLP:

Commercial Learner's Permit

Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

918Girl's Comment
member avatar

Thanks so much for sharing your background and upcoming journey! Best to you.

Dart's Comment
member avatar

Thank you, Nicole. I hope to share more about the training as I progress through it as well.

Dart's Comment
member avatar

Not much to say, but figured I'd post a quick update.

Made it to the hotel this afternoon (7/2) and have the rest of the day to relax and get ready to get started tomorrow.

Dart's Comment
member avatar

Day 1 down.

Got to class aboug 7 this morning and did our pre-hire screen. This consisted of a blood pressure and resting heart rate check and several tasks, each followed by a heart rate check. 1st task was to get under the trailer for 20 seconds, 2 times, without being on all fours. 2nd was climbing in the back of the trailer using 3 points of contact. 3rd was 10 squats with 1 arm behind your back. 4th was lifting a weighted crate to eye level 3 times. 5th was pulling 180 lbs, and last was pushing 100 lbs.

Once all 3 of us completed these tests, we filled out HR paperwork for the rest of the morning. We also received our Emergency Response Guide, HAZMAT Compliance Pocketbook, FMCSA Safety Regulations Pocketbook, National Truckstop Directory, 2017 Rand McNally Motor Carrier's Atlas, and practice paper logbook. Then came lunch.

After lunch we began intros to company policies, The Roehl Way, a pre-trip video, a video on driving through construction zones, and refreshers on general CDL knowledge.

As "homework" we're supposed to study the pre-trip inspection and shifting patterns.

Tomorrow, we're going to start double clutching and shifting the bobtail around the yard. Our instructor may also take us to a large parking lot to do more double-clutching and shifting practice (the Grand Prairie terminal is pretty small).

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.

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.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

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

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

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.

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.

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Dart's Comment
member avatar

Day 2 complete.

We started off the day with our first pre-trip. After completing the pre-trip, our instructor took us to a parking lot to learn to shift, where we spent most of the morning. The goal of driving at the lot was to learn double clutching and shifting. I was the last to drive and picked it up almost instantly. So much so that my classmates swore up and down that I drove before. I still made a few mistakes, especially when shifting from 6th to 7th and I missed the soft wall causing me to shift to 9th. Recovery from that was quick and the truck didn't stall. When heading back to the yard, I got to drive the bobtail on the road from the parking lot to the yard (about 1/4 mile on nearly empty streets). Then we took lunch.

After lunch, we did the full The Roehl Way course and distracted driving, which took up the majority of the rest of the day. Once those were complete, we took a few minutes to go back over pre-trip, and wrapped up the day.

Tomorrow is supposed to be driving the majority of the day.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

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.
Dart's Comment
member avatar

Day 3 down.

Started this morning with pre-trip and did mostly driving today.

Our instructor took us to a warehouse parking lot to start our driving day off with more shifting practice. I was first in the chute to drive. After a couple of rounds or so around the facility, he had me take the truck on the road. Mostly back roads near the warehouse, with a short stretch on a busy stretch of road. After about 45 minutes of driving, he had me return to the warehouse to switch out for the next driver. After the other drivers got their turn behind the wheel, we went back to the yard for lunch.

After lunch, I was again first in the chute to drive. I drove us out of the yard and onto the access roads off of 360, a major 4 lane divided highway through the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Spent about 30 minutes driving up one access road and down the other, dealing with merging traffic and other hazards.

After my turn driving, the other 2 students got their turn, then back to the yard for a break, more pre-trip practice, and starting on the post trip.

Today's driving was the most stressful and nervewracking driving I've done so far. There's a lot of things I'm having trouble with, but my instructor says I'm doing fine with it and some of the issues will get easier once we get the trailer on later this week (mainly late shifting in low range). I'm also confident that these trouble spots are due to the fact that I've driven the truck for less than 2 hours. These things will come and my nerves should calm with more experience.

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