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Our First Day Driving

by JakeCat22

Well, after all the paperwork, presentations, videos and homework, we finally got to get behind the wheel of a truck today. Nothing major, we learned how the company wants us to do pre-trip inspections, how they want us to couple and uncouple, and then we went for a little drive. They split the class up, half of us went out in the morning, two students to one truck, while the other half stayed in the classroom. My trainer has been with the company for 20 years, he is a great guy. He took us for a drive, basically showing us how the company wants us to drive to be safe, how they want us to turn, what to look for when driving, and the proper way to shift.

Learning Things All Over Again

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Now, let me throw this out there, not to scare anyone, but so you know what to expect. I had to learn some things all over again from cdl school. The company wants us to do things their way, not the way we learned in cdl school. It was explained in cdl school, by our instructors, that a "button hook" turn is not only dangerous, but also illegal. They taught us to drive straight out, use all of the lane and swing it over, if we needed more space "intimidate" the cars in the turning lane to back up so we could complete our turn. At the company, "intimidating" other drivers is a no no, and we are to "button hook" any turn we feel is sharp enough to warrant it. According to our trainers, if done properly, this is the safest way to negotiate a tight turn, and we will do it that way.

Another thing I have to learn over again is shifting. Not up shifting, but downshifting. In cdl school they showed us the finer points of the double clutch while upshifting, which is the same way the company wants us to shift. Where my problem lies is in downshifting. In school I was not to double clutch while downshifting, at the company, that is how they want it done. So I have to work on my downshifting. All in all, my trainer said for the first day, I did good and was right on track, but he expects it to be better every day, and we must be proficient by the end of the week.

Back To The Classroom

Once we were done driving, it was our turn in the classroom so the other half could go drive. We got to learn all about trip planning and using our new Qualcomm system. Our company is on paperless logs with the Qualcomm , but they still want us to back them up with paper logs, "just in case" the system were to shut down. So we learned all bout our new Qualcomm and all about trip planning. The trip planning I picked up on rather easily, but I am a numbers guy, so I think it came a little easier for me. I think some others were struggling just a bit, but in the end I think everyone got the basic concept.

Information Overload

I will tell anyone out there thinking of becoming a trucker that it's not just driving across the country. I knew, after doing a lot of research, that there was a lot to learn as far as regulations and paperwork, but today I think a few of us got information overload. At one point I actually thought to myself "Self.....how are you gonna remember all of this??" Then I took a step back, took a deep breath, and just continued on. It can get very overwhelming, but thousands of truckers do it on a regular basis, so I know I can too. Just keep that in mind when making your decision. If you don't like paperwork, eh, you better think twice about it!

Uh oh, I have to finish my trip plan from Green Bay, WI to London, KY for my homework tonight, so I better get going!

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.

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.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

by Brett Aquila

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