Swift Edwardsville CDL School And My Journey Through OZ.

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MyNameGoesHere's Comment
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Day 8

What can I say. Nothing out of the norm. Everyone practiced. The head instructor spent the day helping the guys on the range that needed it. He is a really great instructor, patient and goes through every detail to help you. He spent a day with the guy I thought wasn't going to make it and now he's mastering his maneuvers.

I spent most of the day working on pre-trip. Verbage is going to be the death of me. Everyone else worked on maneuvers. I did get a little road time. My shifting feels a lot better. Downshifting, especially when I have to stop quicker than I personally can downshift and work out the gears I can skip, gets difficult for me.

918Girl's Comment
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Thanks so much for the updates!

MyNameGoesHere's Comment
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Day 9

Something I may have not mentioned. After you're taught to pre-trip, they send everyone out to do a pre-trip every morning. Each person gets sent out to a different truck.

After my pre-trip (feeling a little more comfortable with it), I then went to practice my parallel for DMV. Trying to find my reference point for my start in correlation with the maneuver.

I was then sent back to practice the 90 some more for DMV. They needed the truck that was setup at that station to do maneuvers eval for the kid I originally didn't think would make it. He passed. Don't know his score, don't need or want to know his score, he passed. He's super stressed about money and wanted to move forward in his training. They wanted to get it done first thing. If he passed then he was coming out on the road with us.

The instructor did a demo to instruct him on shifting and maneuvering that giant beast so as not to hit anything. Once the demo was done I was thrown in the hot seat and sent through a traffic light heavy area of town. With small hills. My shifting WAS getting less grindy until moments of panic set in to throw a wrench in to the system and help me to mess up. It wasn't pretty but I made it through it.

We then stopped at a Walmart and took a break. It was not time for the kid to be thrown in the hot seat for first time shifting. He did pretty well.

We had made our way to the Edwardsville terminal for some free lunch for driver appreciation. I had witnessed some terminal rats. Doubt it was at its worst but, just the comments from a couple of the drivers. A couple of the first week guys had started to wonder around and look at some of the arcade games. "To bad they don't pay us enough to be able to play them", one guy had said. Another chimed in, "not that you would have time to play them." I didn't really speak with them, only over heard them. They may not be disgruntled. Just didn't think those were the type of comments needed saying to a couple of new guys. Way to really make them WANT to work here.

After lunch we made our way to the DMV to see the lot for maneuvers and drive the road course. Road course was actually a lot less intimidating than I thought it would be. A little more intimidated by the maneuvers. I know cones will be set up the same. It just looks and feels different than I'm used to. A little nervous about the 90 since setup looks like it'll be different. Maybe I'll get lucky and won't have to do it. Maybe I'll do just fine on it and worry for nothing. Only time will tell.

The two first week'ers, spent the day practicing maneuvers. One of them may be good enough at them he might be able to pass his eval. I k ow he was doing really good on his 90.

Next week will bring more road time and probably a DMV exam for me. Possibly another group of first week'ers. More practice for the other guys. For now, weekend is here and day 9 finished out my week.

To be continued...... .......next week.

Queue ominous music. Dramatic pose. Slow fade out.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
MyNameGoesHere's Comment
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Since I only live a few hours out, I have come home a bit over the weekends. First weekend my wife came up and we spent the better part of Saturday at Worlds of Fun. Word of advice, if you do go to Worlds of Fun, I highly recommend not riding the Paint Mixer, a.k.a. Timber Wolf. Wooden roller coasters have a very rough shake to the ride. I felt like a gallon of paint in a mixer and any time I'd start to somewhat enjoy the coaster my brains and body were shaken apart. The other coasters (didn't ride the Prowler since it is also wooden) were awesome and worth it. I then drove back home with the wife and came back Sunday evening with the car.

This weekend I just spent the weekend at home with the fam. I really enjoy the time but, I find it difficult to want to leave. Alas, all good things come to an end and lead to other good things.

On that note, I'm off and I'll see you on the flip side.

Greg H.'s Comment
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90° alley dock (eh, this is my trouble area). I still need practice on that 90. I struggle with putting the trailer where I want. Either I hold the turn to long or not long enough.

hate 'em, hate 'em, hate 'em .... I had to think about my angles, ha ha, 90 degree, 180 degree ... and I was like, wait, he means a *jack knife back* .... or as I'd refer to them as the *dreaded, jack knife back*.

It's amazing enough, but I only had to jack knife back 2 times, in a year I drove over the road. Once I actually had to jack knife back up to a dock.... what was a real party pooper is that some moron put this stopping post on the blind side of the cab of the truck ( like one of those post that keeps you from hitting fuel pumps at stations ) What was at all the purpose of putting this post there? I mean, really ... I don't know ... As far as I could tell, it served no purpose whatsoever... it was just there. I wasn't aware that it was there until I got backed up to the dock after 2 or 3 tries, and noticed that I'd missed the post by an inch or two. (Note to self, always do a walk around when things may not be completely visible). I generally always did, you have to get out and open the doors before you back anyway, but still, this one time, that post was hidden from my site of view, without a complete walk around.

Anyway, 2nd time, I had to 90 degree back into an alley.... this is where the embarrassment stepped in. I was like, oh crap, because I had to do it on a narrow 2 way street with cars lined up on either side, traffic, and there was no stopping point... I had to literally jack knife it into the alley and then straight line back to the receivers back door.... I MADE IT, I MADE IT.... ha ha , yaahh me!.... I was shocked.... and relieved.

But, brother, you're not alone on that one....

I was also going to mention though. The test are evidently a whole lot more difficult now days. Not the written part, that still sucks, but passable. The road test, wholeee different story. I can barely remember my road test. I think I remember having to parallel park. But, I can do that.... I was a champ at all backing, and driving, it was only the jack knife that would bite me. But, we didn't have to do that.... they weren't even part of the test. We had no cones. I remember him asking me about how many seconds (something to do with the air brakes), and I was like, uh, I forgot.... and then I guessed at it and got it right. I think I did anyway.... then we drove around the block and that was it.... well, you know what I'm saying, we drove down the road and back. And we were done.....

Whew, this all sort of scared the crap out of me.... :) I'm good... chaaallenge! chaaallenge! ha ha lol

Even though, on the shifting... I disagree with G-Town.... knowing how to shift a 4 wheeler did most definitely make it easier and gave me an advantage in learning how to shift a truck.

Anyway, this is your story.... :) live long and prosper.

Over The Road:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
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Greg disagrees;

Even though, on the shifting... I disagree with G-Town.... knowing how to shift a 4 wheeler did most definitely make it easier and gave me an advantage in learning how to shift a truck.

Please explain, offer some tangible reasons why you disagree Greg. Realize you are on a very small minority in this s belief.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

MyNameGoesHere's Comment
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double-quotes-start.png

Even though, on the shifting... I disagree with G-Town.... knowing how to shift a 4 wheeler did most definitely make it easier and gave me an advantage in learning how to shift a truck.

Anyway, this is your story.... :) live long and prosper.

I think I mostly agree with G-Town. I think knowing how to shift a 4 wheeler only benefits in a sense that it's easier with clutch control for the backing maneuvers and starting thr truck from a stop. It becomes more difficult to break the habit of pushing to deep on the clutch when actually shifting.

As for the road course, I actually got to run it and it really wasn't difficult. As for the maneuvers, I'm a little more nervous about. I think the sooner I can get it over with the less I can over think it.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

MyNameGoesHere's Comment
member avatar

Day 10

New week, new students.

3 new driver trainees. They were on paperwork day. The other new guys took their trip planning and HOS test. They all passed. Then the rest of us spent the day practicing backing maneuvers.

It was kind of a slow day. One instructor had some stuff he needed to take care of in the morning so we only had the one instructor. We were sent out to do pre-trip. After that it was classroom time since we didn't have a second instructor to be on the range with us. This is when the other guys took their test. I got to spend some time with their training books or classroom books. Eventually we made range time and spent the rest of the day practicing.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Greg H.'s Comment
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Greg disagrees;

double-quotes-start.png

Even though, on the shifting... I disagree with G-Town.... knowing how to shift a 4 wheeler did most definitely make it easier and gave me an advantage in learning how to shift a truck.

double-quotes-end.png

Please explain, offer some tangible reasons why you disagree Greg. Realize you are on a very small minority in this s belief.

:) ah well, I guess I'm more comfortable driving a stick... and you generally don't have to push the clutch all the way to the floor on a 4 wheeler to shift gears. Ask Brett, you can almost shift without using the clutch at all. You really just have to play with it. Besides, pushing the clutch all the way to the floor can really be a pain, and I don't believe I ever have.

And I guess what Mynamegoeshere said, ' it helps with basic start, and backing.... general knowledge of how a clutch and stick works.

And some of the guys that were in the truck with me had real problems with learning how to drive a stick, much less having to learn the whole truck gear changing process.... they would freak out... ha ha, not really funny, but we all had our little moments. Not laughing at, but with....

And thanks for the info.... good to know the road test isn't that difficult.... The officer that went on the road test with me was really nice. I remember him well....

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Greg wrote back to G-Town:

ah well, I guess I'm more comfortable driving a stick... and you generally don't have to push the clutch all the way to the floor on a 4 wheeler to shift gears. Ask Brett, you can almost shift without using the clutch at all. You really just have to play with it. Besides, pushing the clutch all the way to the floor can really be a pain, and I don't believe I ever have.

And I guess what Mynamegoeshere said, ' it helps with basic start, and backing.... general knowledge of how a clutch and stick works.

And some of the guys that were in the truck with me had real problems with learning how to drive a stick, much less having to learn the whole truck gear changing process.... they would freak out... ha ha, not really funny, but we all had our little moments. Not laughing at, but with....

And thanks for the info.... good to know the road test isn't that difficult.... The officer that went on the road test with me was really nice. I remember him well....

Thanks for the reply Greg.

Not exactly a compelling endorsement for your point of disagreement with me...

It is much easier for most people to learn how to drive a manual transmission class 7/8 truck with zero shifting experience. Because there is no need for a student to "unlearn" what they know about shifting a car or light truck. It is like night and day. A 4-wheeler has a fully-synchronized, single-range transmission that is moving a light weight vehicle with far less force and torque load on the power train. A heavy truck transmission is multi-range, un-synchronized and can only be shifted smoothly when the engine RPM and gear ratio is properly matched to road speed. The matching requirement is especially unforgiving under a heavy load, ascending a grade requiring quick downshifts to prevent stalling. Although I totally agree, absolutely possible to shift a heavy truck by NOT using the clutch (called "floating"). However it is recommended (actually required in many states) that a student effectively use the double-clutching technique to enable the relatively smooth shifting necessary to pass the state CDL road test. "Floating" is a skill best mastered, left to experience while road-training or solo.

The de-facto, predominant line of thinking and experience with instructors and trainers is 99% of the time having manual shifting experience with a light vehicle can be more detrimental than beneficial while learning how to drive a semi. If your learning experience was different, well then good for you. You are clearly the exception then. Ask Brett...

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.
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