In Training, I Need Advice.

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Derrick B.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey everyone. Running into an issue here while training and looking for advice. I just started two weeks ago with my trainer. Came to prime with my CDL but with probably about 13 hours of drive time under my belt. Just enough to pass the test. I started with my trainer and was really raw at first. Downshifting was a struggle for sure because it was nothing like the truck I was used to. My trainer recognized that I wouldn't be ready for teaming right away and wanted to do solo runs with me at first to coach me up. We drove for 2 days like that. Once from PA to NC, then NC to OH the next. After that they gave us a load to Cali that required us to team. Since then I have been to Cali and back and then out to Oregon again.

So the problem I run into now is I had an issue in Portland on a very tight overpass where I rubbed the tires of the trailer on the curb and last night in Utah going up a hill I missed a gear and came to a stop on the road. I did not get over to the shoulder. By time I missed 7th gear the truck just came to a stop. I recognize this is dangerous and I should have been more aware.

My trainer at this point though says he has lost trust in me and seems to be one more incident away from giving up on me and says he doesn't know if trucking will be for me. It is over just these two instances. Not trying to sugarcoat it or hide anything else I've been doing.

From my point of view I feel like I have come very far in feeling comfortable in the truck given the little time I've been in it. My shifting has improved greatly. I guess I just feel a little thrown to the wolves? Is it fair that I had 2 days of him up front with me and then just boom lets hammer down out west and good luck? If this is just the way it is and I'm being soft let me know, but damn I thought I was doing good for how little experience and training I've actually gotten. Already been over donners pass, the three sisters, cabbage patch, I70 in Colorado over vail pass and all that. the mountains in Mojave in California. All while he has been asleep basically teaching myself how to get it done.

Just had to lay it out there and see what the deal it because it's tough to know if this is exactly what it should be. I know everyone here is very honest and will give it to me straight. I feel like I am improving and want to learn, but I feel like any slip up from here on out with him is going to result in him telling prime I'm not fit and they're going to send me home which sucks. A side note is my trainer doesn't seem to have the best track record from what he's told me. He's had 2 students get off the truck on him, another fail the PSD and 2 pass TNT , but by the end one of them wouldn't talk to him for whatever reason.

I want to make this work.

Derek

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.

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.

Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

Usually when teaming with a trainer, their is an agreed upon signal or way for you to wake him when you need help. That is part of training. Rubbing a curb with a tire is a non issue. Stalling or missing gears is normal. It's how you recover that's important. When you're in the driver's seat it's your butt and license on the line. Talk with your trainer about the areas you feel you need some extra help. Hopefully Rainy will pipe in with some Prime specific info. Good luck.

Pete B.'s Comment
member avatar

Doesn't sound like anything you've described should get you tossed from the program. Like Big Scott said, scraping a curb is minor; running completely over one is something else, but that's not what we're talking about. Stalling out/stopping the truck while shifting during a steep mountain climb, that's just inexperienced slamming you, and should be regarded as a learning opportunity, from which you gained experience and lessons, not an indication that you don't belong behind the wheel of a truck. Mountain driving has been the most challenging driving I've yet experienced... he's failing you as a trainer if he's letting you tackle mountains solo while he's in the bunk. Keep your head up, sounds like you're doing great based on your limited time behind the wheel. Stay positive; before your next stint driving, study your route, and if you see anything that makes you uncomfortable, tell him in advance and ask that he make himself available to you for guidance. He is supposed to be training you, right?

Lucky Life's Comment
member avatar

Derrick B, I am not really qualified as I am still researching the industry but I will give you my 2 cents worth. I have looked into all the Trucking Company School Sponsored Training Programs and thought some just throw you out there and expect you to be a Pro. A good portion have a program that have some rigid guidelines just like Prime where you do 10K Solo with the Trainer running shotgun and teaching you how to be a Safe, Effective and Professional Truck Driver. Then move onto a 30K run as a Team so get the upgrade needed in order to to go Solo. IMHO this should be the Industry Standard, Hey Man, you only had like 13 hours to get your CDL and that's why I will not opt in for a Private School. You need that 10K before you should get your CDL not 13 hours behind the wheel. And I have to say if you have driven more or less Solo over Donner, and the I-70 corridor from Denver to Vail well that's impressive even during the Summer, even in a 4 Wheeler it can be very intimidating, trust me I lived in CO and NV and it always deserved a bit of a "pucker". So my advise would be to do a "Reset" and let your Trainer and Prime know that you are no different than one of there Students, and need the proper Training to be a Safe and Professional Driver that will become an asset to them if given the chance. But what do I know, my tail ain't never been in the seat of a Big Rig roll'in with 80K.

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.
Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

When your trainer was in the bunk, were the curtains open?

I say this because, as a trainer, if I think I may be making a new driver more nervous, I might go in the sleeper, but still be watching without them realizing lol.

I can't really say because I wasn't there. Sometimes a trainer will see things that you simply "don't get" with your very limited experience. Did he specifically tell you he doesn't trust you? No biggie really because trust is never automatically given and definitely is something that you must earn.

Only 13 hours? You had way more road time before obtaining a CDL than many. Don't use that as a crutch or an excuse. Don't attempt to "justify" screwups. Sure they're going to happen. Youre going through training for a reason. Just accept that and learn from them and move on.

Steering the truck down the road is the easy part. How's your lane control, cornering, can you do a thorough pretrip.. are are you paying attention to every road sign, can you read a map and generally find your way? What are you doing when he is driving? Hopefully not playing on your phone, because that shows disinterest in learning... To me anyway. Those are a few things I would personally focus on initially. Shifting for new drivers is almost always quite rough at first and improves as you drive more.

Just talk to your trainer. Chances are there's a list of specifics he must discuss/train you on along with an evaluation sheet he must fill out on you on a regular basis. Ask him what he thinks you need the most work on and where you can improve and take his advice. Be a help, be considerate and ask appropriate questions.

I think you'll find he's most likely a real person that has quite a bit of knowledge to pass on to you if you're willing, interested, and a motivated learner. And if he tells you to do something, just do it. He'll have a good reason, trust me.

Training time is way too short lol. It can be stressful for both the trainee and the trainer too, so just remember that.

Good luck.

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.
Dan R.'s Comment
member avatar

It's important to remember there's a reason for the training. You're going to mess up. It's going to happen, and if your trainer doesn't realize that he probably shouldn't be training.

That said, as Susan said, talk with the trainer. You could be missing something, it could be how you react to situations that has him nervous, or it could be that he's just a bit jaded. It happens. But none of this sounds like an unrecoverable situation. Frankly, save for the reaction from the trainer as you described it, it just sounds like training.

Derrick B.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the replys guys, I appreciate it. I guess I just wanted to know if I was crazy or not because I'm working really hard to improve, and the way this guy was talking to me today he made is sound like what's happened is just unexceptable and he's on the verge of calling our dispatcher and calling it quits on me. Like Jesus man we've put in 13000 miles the past 2 and a half weeks and just the past day and a half I had a few missteps please work with me here. I felt good about going across the country and back twice unscathed but that knocked me down a peg.

Finishing up my 30 here in Iowa talk to you soon!

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.

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.

Derrick B.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you Susan for that well thought out post. I won't let the 13 hours thing be an excuse for me. Can't be anymore anyway since I've got a decent bit more now. I'll focus on improving myself in all aspects like you said not just holding the wheel going down the road. As far as the trainer in the bunk, tonight is the first night the curtains are open after our talk today. After he woke up after the Colorado mountains I was like thanks for the warning about what to expect last night lol. Just got a well learn to expect anything. Which is true I just thought it was funny. No more excuses just forward progression then.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Derrick, one of the most important things about driving a big rig is the discipline it takes to keep our composure during "who knows what" we are going to face from day to day. You may not have the greatest trainer, it's a little pre-mature for us to tell just yet, but hang in there, and you can still learn a lot just from the exposure that you are getting to this whole career while you still have someone there in the tractor with you that you can get some help from if you really need it. Keeping your composure with a less than stellar trainer is quite probably just as good a lesson learned as many of the things that you might have imagined you should be learning from them. There are going to be plenty of things in the future that will make you want to throw up your hands in despair. Now is a great time to learn to deal with frustration in a positive and helpful way.

I say all of this because I had a trainer who was a lot like yours. I drove one day during the daylight hours, and he told me after about five hundred miles, "Well you already know how to drive, we are going to concentrate on turning some miles now." After that we were team driving all our loads and I was on the night shift. Whenever I did make what seemed to me like a minor mistake, he would tend to scream and yell, and tell me that he was going to have to take me back to the terminal and drop me off for another student! It was actually his method that he thought would motivate me!

When we finished up our training and went back to upgrade he sung my praises to the guys in the office, telling them how hard a worker I was, and other things like that which I had never had even a slight clue that he felt that way about me. Some of these trainers ate quite quirky, and they may not be the best material for being trainers, but that is sometimes what we end up with.

Hang in there. Most of us have unrealistic expectations of what to expect. We think our trainers are going to really be actively teaching us certain things, when the trainer may just be thinking, "I'm going to give this guy a lot of exposure to every type of driving he can stand - mountains, deserts, big cities, little skinny country roads, and everything else imaginable. That way he will be prepared for whatever may come his way." Exposure is important. I had much the same experience as you, and I turned out to be a successful driver. You can learn a lot on your own with the way your trainer is approaching this, but you can't let your mind convince you that they are not doing a good job with you. Trust your instincts, not just your thoughts. Anything blatantly unsafe or illegal would cause me to question my trainer, but so far it sounds like you are doing fine, and you have just had a few minor typical rookie mistakes. Maybe your trainer over reacted, but that really isn't that big of a deal.

Sounds to me like you are doing well. Hang tight, those first three months are troubling at the least for all any of us. Try to improve on the things where you feel weak, and try to enjoy yourself while out there driving that Big Rig!

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Wow, Old School, thank you so much for that! I don't want to turn this into a dumping on my trainer type of thing. I know none of them will be perfect, and all things considered I do believe this guy wants me to succeed. It just troubled me how he was ready to throw in the towel after what I assumed were mistakes I should learn from.

In any case I'm certainly not giving up on him over this as long as he's still teaching me because I do believe I have a lot to learn from him as you said. In the exposure aspect at the very least. Thanks again guys, I'll keep you posted.

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