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Fresh out of school, and about to train: How do you suggest getting ready for long hours?

Topic 20703 | Page 1

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September I.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello everyone,

So last week I finally got my CDL , and I am waiting on a trainer to take me out on the road. I'm really excited but I am also sort of nervous. I have been in a vehicle before for 10+ hours but the longest I have ever really driven is about 4 hours with a break here and there. some I am curious, about how long did it take everyone to get used to driving long hours? What are your suggestions for getting better at distances and how often do you make a stop to stretch out? I want to do a good job, but im also worried about not being physically/mentally able to go 10+ hours a day just yet. That and I don't want to risk hurting anyone on the road.

I want to thank you in advance for any tips and suggestions you have encase I forget to reply!

S.I

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.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi, Sept.! And you'll soon but the road for the first time. Yes, everyone reacts differently. On my Swift road training, I'd take that 30 minute stop, then start up again. I look at the Qualcomm , it shows 6:53 of driving to go. Seven hours!! How can I survive this?

Yout first "defense" is that you are driving in a new territory. The newness factor should keep you focused. Also just the excitement of the new job kept me going. True, the ol' butt gets a bit sore, but the driver seats are very comfortable and adjustable.

Again, everyone's different. I had no problems working day, night, or even 0 dark 30. Finally, you'll get used to it.

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.
Susan D. 's Comment
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I love driving so much and the excitement of getting out here kept me going. Oh but at the end of a drive shift, I was so mentally and physically exhausted I was often too tired to eat or shower even and would go to bed, wake up before my trainer, get my shower, a quick breakfast, and was ready to do it again by the time he woke up.

I can tell you this, as a trainer, I am to give my new trainees a break and have them do about half the driving the first few days and within the end of week one, they should be running out their clock. Obviously as a new driver, there will be times when you are just too tired, but you will gradually build up your endurance for driving.

Having your seat, steering wheel, and mirrors properly adjusted, will help tremendously. Keeping the cab cool also helps.

New drivers (especially the ladies) for whatever reason tend to have their seat way too high. The proper height will have your feet firmly planted on the floor with the backs of your thighs/knees very slightly elevated off of the seat. Doing that will allow you to drive more hours/miles, because if your seat is too high, it will put pressure on the backs of your legs, cutting off circulation, which will not only be uncomfortable, but cause your lower legs/ankles to swell.

Aim your mirrors straight back and outward enough to where you can just barely see the sides of your trailer, and can see the entire lane/shoulder to your left and right. Typically I find new drivers will have the mirrors aimed down and too far inward. I've never figured out why lol.

Your steering wheel should be adjusted close to you and where you can see all the gauges, but not so close that it's practically in your face. Me personally, I like keeping it at an angle and distance that allows me to barely rest my forearms on the wheel. On my Freightliner, for me that happens to be tilted all the way down, and the wheel not quite fully telescoped out. Have it where you can easily change the position of your wrists, because they're gonna get sore at first.

Staying relaxed will help too. If you're doing a death grip on that steering wheel or just hyper tensed, you will tire much faster. Oh and being relaxed doesn't mean being inattentive.. just has to do with your body posture.

Stay hydrated. Stop for restroom breaks and to stretch as necessary but remember the more that driver's door stays closed, the more miles you're going to turn.

I hope these tips are useful for you.

Parrothead66's Comment
member avatar

Susan it never fails (hardly ever anyway) a trainee gets in the seat and first thing they do is raise that seat to the roof (it seems).

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

Yes they sure do lol and then aim the mirrors downward. I really try to teach them to be "low riders" like I was taught. At my CDL school every instructor was a retired O/O (and the school had purchased their trucks from them too) and my favorite instructor, an extremely tall older black man, made sure we knew how to adjust everything for maximum productivity/miles. It was "his" long nose Kenworth I drove the most. We also practiced most our backing in an old long wheelbase red freightliner that had belonged to Dale, a white bearded Vietnam Vet. Sadly he passed away soon after I got my CDL. Dale was the one who told me to steer with short crocodile arms when I oversteered while backing the first 2 days on the training yard. Good times.

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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