Just Another Trucker Training Diary?

Topic 20450 | Page 5

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Paul's Comment
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Thank you! I sure was hoping to have more time to talk to you, but I got swept up in the moment. Hopefully we will meet up again in the future. Keep up your diary--I enjoy reading it.

Paul's Comment
member avatar

Home time was wonderful, but I absolutely understand the policy to not allow students to go home at this phase. The desire to quit was the strongest it had been to this point. Getting on that truck with my three girls crying and begging me to stay was tough, but I did it.

We left the truck stop in Oklahoma City at 9:00pm and I immediately started my ten hour break and slept. My trainer delivered, waited for the unload, then headed toward Cactus, Texas to pick up our new load.

I expected that drive to be a max of five hours, so we should have arrived at 7:30. But he stopped a few times, and every time I woke up and was up for a while before sleep hit me again.

He finally woke me at 6:30 and told me he couldn't drive anymore, so I shook out the bleariness and got going. Even with the stops I expected to be there no later than 8:30, but it was a guess. The Rand McNally gps was not working and so I was using the Qualcomm gps...not that it would have made a difference. I have been told to not worry about trip planning and to not play with the gps, so with no instructions and no ability to figure it out myself I have no idea how to work the things.

So I drove. Made one stop--the trainer stuck his head out and admonished me to be very quick--and kept driving. About 10:00 we finally arrived. It was a drop and hook and I had to slide my tandems. I really did not want to wake my trainer up...for my sake, not his...so I googled it and performed a successful tandem slide. He woke up anyway and took over.

I had put myself into on duty, despite his prior instructions to go off duty every time I am out of the truck without exception. When he woke up I was halfway through the drop and hook and he chided me for not being in off duty, changed it, then corrected the logs. So my 30 minute break was spent working. Then he proceeded to finish the coupling and slid the tandems forward.

He then set the Gps and told me to follow it before heading to sleep again. I spent the next five hours driving a two lane highway. Occasionally he would emerge to sarcastically comment on something or tell me to make as few stops as possible. I told him if I needed to stop I would stop, and he would grumble then disappear again. But I couldn't stop, the back roads of Texas do not have shoulders to pull over on nor are there trucker friendly gas stations. So I pressed on.

He came up to smoke a cigarette and told Me again how much we needed to hurry, so I questioned him on our trip. Apparently he was under the impression that we had to deliver on the 19th (it being the 18th). I told him our delivery date was the 20th, so he looked and said "Oh!" And relaxed. Then he looked at the gps and said, "why is this thing taking us the long way? We should have been on 40 a long time ago!"

I have dreams of getting a big map book and plotting my drive for the day and beyond. Gosh I'm looking forward to that!

I had no idea where I was, a constant state of affairs it seems, so when I emerged on i40 forty miles from Oklahoma City I was surprised. I stopped at a flying J on the outskirts of the city, as instructed, and asked what our plan was. He said to be quick so we could get on the road. I had two hours left and was beat, so I planned on grabbing and Red Bull and pushing the rest of my clock.

But a heartbeat later he said to take a couple of hours and have dinner with my family. Right then my wife called and it so happens she was in the car on her way to something. She canceled that and detoured to get me. Before she got there my trainer called and said to take the night and be back by seven. He would take the first shift.

I'm grateful for the extra home time and frustrated as well. Trip planning would have eliminated so many problems yesterday and given us even more time At home, which could have been pre arranged. And on top of that I drive all day while he slept, and yet because he wants to sleep all night I have to stay awake all night--eating into my ability to enjoy my extra home time(kind of a zombie)--so I can sleep while he takes the shift that was to be mine.

I know I'm venting. I question if this is an appropriate entry into this diary. But a real view of what training is like is good I suppose. As others have pointed out countless times, training is very hard. I have wanted to quit every single evening. When I'm tired it's by far the worst. I have to stop, rest, and regroup...and every time I find the desire to press on. Life will improve dramatically when I upgrade.

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".

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

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.

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.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Geez Paul, this is getting messy. Two questions:

- why isn't your trainer teaching you and allowing you to practice basic trip planning?

- why isn't your trainer teaching you Qualcomm communication?

Those are the two biggest things that stick out to me. I know how difficult training can be, however you clearly understand where his lack of instruction is leaving you deficient in two important areas. Will you be prepared once solo?

In addition, logging off-duty the entire time at a shipper/receiver is totally wrong and asking for trouble. 10 minutes of on-duty time at a shipper/receiver before going off-duty is adequate and will satisfy most DOT officers reviewing your logs. In addition if you are moving your tandems while off -duty, what is going to happen if you are injured during a time you are logged as "off"? I never mess with that sort of thing...play it safe.

And that 30 minute break? Dude that's yours, not his.

Not sure if it matters or you can at this point, but a reset of boundaries and expectations might be in order with this guy.

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.

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".

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Paul's Comment
member avatar

I know it may seem that I've complained a lot about my trainer, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Most sounds petty when said aloud so I leave it alone. Training is hard for everyone involved, I get that.

GTown I always appreciate your wisdom. This helps narrow down what I should speak to him about. In truth I hate confrontations, drama, etc., would far prefer to not rock the boat. But the boat is about to capsize, so now it's time to begin righting it.

In my view I have three options: 1., talk to him about the big three issues (trip planning, doing everything by the book, and reassessing boundaries and expectations) in hopes of coming to an understanding. 2., talk to my fm and transfer to a new trainer. Or 3., study what I am missing on my own time and let him do things as he pleases.

1 might lead to 2, but 2 can't be done without 1, and 3 will only lead to more frustration, an inadequate training and future students who are poorly trained.

So I guess I have my answer.

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.
Paul's Comment
member avatar

Geez Paul, this is getting messy. Two questions:

- why isn't your trainer teaching you and allowing you to practice basic trip planning?

- why isn't your trainer teaching you Qualcomm communication?

p>

To answer these questions, as for trip planning--he doesn't trip plan. It appears that he gets a load, accepts it, puts the address in his GPS and then begins driving. I've watched him and can't figure any qualification for the acceptance of the loads and I can't see any other planning involved in the trip. As you can imagine, this leads to problems. Our first trip was impossible for us to complete, so we had to repower and switch off with a different driver, which took us west--a lot of miles for very little money (yes, he's a lease operator), a fact he complained about often. The trip out west was fraught with difficulties, a reason they typically do not send PSD students out west (or so I'm told), but as that first load was going to be extremely late the dispatcher did the best he could. Now, that first load should not have been offered to us, but if he had properly planned the trip he would have realized that it was impossible immediately, rather than ten hours after we picked it up.

This load we're on now is another example. If I were on it I would not have stopped at home so soon after having hometime simply because I was a day ahead of schedule. Understand, I loved the extra time and appreciate it, but it is indicative of larger operating issues in my eyes. Yesterday afternoon the dispatch sent a message saying they would speak with the receiver to get our appt pushed up. This morning the dispatcher sent a message saying, "Well, I guess you didn't want to deliver early after all." I would have pushed hard, gotten there early while negotiating an early delivery and continued on down the road.

So, double standards, which goes to the Qualcomm issue. I don't know why he doesn't want me learning the GPS, but he does show me the macros and insists I enter my own logs--but just enter them they way he wants them done, which is often against policy. He bends the rules on the logbooks, among many other things, in an effort to make more money, but doesn't plan ahead to really maximize his potential revenue. I don't get it at all.

And I feel guilty talking about this dude behind his back, so possibly I'm in the wrong by mentioning this stuff. But advice is always good. I appreciate it very much.

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.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

I don't often say this, but I think you need to request a new trainer. He can't teach you something that he either doesn't understand and/or doesn't care about. Considering we only know the tip of the iceberg, the situation likely won't improve.

This is your training, you must focus on what is best for Paul.

Good luck!

Strongman Trucker's Comment
member avatar

Hey Paul, yeah I agree with G town.. might be time to request a new trainer. He sounds like he is a horrible trainer. You deserve someone better then that.

Interested in knowing what you decided to do.. I think you posted this a few days ago.

Hope everything is going better now!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Paul's Comment
member avatar

Thanks, G-town and Ed for the advice. I have been so tired over the past few days after my shift that I haven't been up for much more than sleep. I'm getting used to the long drives, though!

I had something of a come to Jesus talk with my trainer on Tuesday and things did improve quite a bit afterward. Still no trip planning--will get to that in a moment--but he's doing things by the book finally. It hasn't been flowers and candy canes, unfortunately. Today during my shift I had to drive what he said was 480 miles to get to the receiver, and when 525 miles later my clock ran out and we were still 80 miles away he asked me sarcastically what we should tell the FM when we're late. I told him that he could tell him whatever he chooses...doesn't matter to me. But I'd suggest that you start with your poor trip planning skills.

It didn't go over well. And it didn't help that today when stopping for my thirty the Petro didn't have a sign directing me to the proper entrance, so I had to go miles outside of my way and eventually into a farmer's field to turn around...the farmer was cool with it, but my trainer woke up and oh man all hell broke loose. He ended up cussing me out, and I ended up yelling at him, and he quickly apologized. I never yell, ask my wife...I just don't ever get angry. This guy, though...

So, shoot, yeah it's easy to say get another trainer, but I'm just west of Chicago. Yesterday I was in New Jersey, the day before in Tennessee. I don't understand the logistics of switching so far from the terminal , and in truth I don't know what I'd tell the FM my reason was that didn't sound childish. "He yells at me. He didn't keep his word. We don't get along." In truth, I have moments where I like the guy, and the reality is I have zero desire to use the things that are more serious as reasons to trade trainers because I do not wish to get him in trouble.

But, hey, I hate that this diary has taken such a negative turn. The reality is, hardships have two possible outcomes: They tear us down or build us up. My trainer doesn't determine those outcomes, I do, and I'm using this to learn patience, kindness, forgiveness, self control, and so on. I think if somebody who is considering getting into this industry is reading this, I hope that's what they'll take out of it -- sure, my training experience has seriously been rocky, but man I've been killing it out here. I navigated the New Jersey Turnpike by myself yesterday, saw NYC in the distance, drove through the outskirts of Chicago today...and just a few weeks ago I knew absolutely nothing about driving a truck! Training is brief and fleeting, though it certainly doesn't feel like it in the moment. Soon things look up.

And I have a sleep study scheduled on October 5th in Springfield. If I can find a way, I may try to peacefully part ways for the remainder of my TNT phase.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Paul's Comment
member avatar

This past week has been a blur. We have been back and forth between the mid-west and the east coast. We were in Chicago one moment, Atlanta the next (Chicago traffic beat LA, but Atlanta took the cake), then down in Florida. I blinked my eyes and we were in Schenectedy--a name my kids had no end of fun with when I told them on the phone--and now I just drove through Des Moine. Some time or other a few days ago, or longer...man, how do you keep time out here?...we made it to the Pittston terminal and I thought of you, G-Town. It's a nice terminal, much nicer than Salt Lake, but of course nothing like Springfield.

My trainer and I are getting along better, primarily because I stay out of his hair and he stays out of what little hair I have. I have realized his communication skills are lacking and when he tries to communicate it is in the manner he would communicate to one of his friends--I was the same when I was 22 years old. Rude, crude, crass, offensive. I never meant offense, and I realize he doesn't either. I also realize I lost all respect for him some time ago and my reactions to my misinterpretation of his intent while communicating are based off of this disrespect.

So I'm working on it. And things really are improving. His biggest issues were my logs and macros...I keep forgetting. But I'm improving in leaps there. I put in 580 miles last night and only woke him up once when the construction zone merged into a rumble strip. He actually complimented me this morning.

We're stretching our hours pretty dramatically. The hope is to get to Salt Lake City, drop off our load at the terminal, and have just enough hours to squeeze a load in going toward Sprimo for my sleep study on Thursday. My wife and kids are coming up and we're renting a room. If we get in on the 4th, which is the current plan, I'll have that evening, most of the next day, and then some of Friday with them. I'll take it.

Home sickness is incredibly hard in this phase, and there are times when I wonder why on earth I'm out here away from my family. I have frequent dreams where I'm driving a city bus and am so happy. Now, there's no way I'd ever be happy driving a city bus, so that was more of a nightmare. But, still--yeah, it's hard.

I am smart enough to understand that home sickness will be worse during this phase due to all of the emotional/physical stresses that comes with it. Training is hard...hard's not adequate. It's brutally hard. It's torture sometimes. Yesterday due to the load schedules I stayed up all night after working a full shift then slept all day so I could drive all night. I was seriously exhausted, but two coffees and two red bulls later, I got through. I pulled over every fifteen minutes to answer the call of nature, but I made it. When you get tired and stressed emotions rage. The temptation is to think the storm will last forever, and if you believe that you will make a decision to exit the storm. But the reality is, it will pass. It always does.

And, if you're wondering, I never was so tired that I was out of control. I know enough to pull it over. :-)

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.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Thanks Paul. I have delivered to the Pittston Pa Walmart many times, often pulling into the Pilot for a coffee afterwards. It's an hour north of the D.C.

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