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CDL Training Has Begun For 'The Blue Hills Trucker'

by BlueHillsTrucker

Hello everyone. Welcome to the first entry of my trucking blog - Grabbin' Gears.

bluehillstrucker.jpg

To be honest, I'm not a real trucker - yet. I'm actually a 45 year-old, substitute teacher who's finished week 12 of a 16-weekend truck driving program at a technical college in northern Wisconsin. Though I've been behind the wheel of my rig for only a few weeks, I already have 1,200 miles in my log book. When class is finished I expect to have nearly 2,000. Not too bad for 16 students sharing five trucks.

As my CDL test date nears, it's hard to believe how fast class has gone by. Giving up 16 consecutive weekends for 10 hour classes (not counting my two hour round trip commute) seemed like an overwhelming commitment. Now, with the end in sight, I can look back at how far I've come.

The first day of class I found myself in a computer lab with 18 other students who were just as apprehensive as me. Expecting to see a bunch of rowdy, 20-somethings, with way more bravado and trucking experience than me (I had neither), I was surprised that most of the guys were mild-mannered, middle-aged husbands and fathers like me. Only two of us had college degrees. As we introduced ourselves, I heard stories of lay-offs, stagnant wages and an overall dissatisfaction with dead-end jobs. Each of us was at a career crossroad and we'd come together to do something about it. In my case, I left a comfortable sales position with a Midwestern newspaper to become a stay-at-home dad with four, young children. After five years of diapers and dishes, and all the kids in school, I got a substitute teacher's license and began teaching at our local high school. Work was steady, but the pay was low. So I started looking around.

Most employment websites and classified pages had numerous listings for medical field positions and truck drivers. I lamented to my wife that if I only had a background in health care I could get a job anywhere. She looked at me like I was a moron (I know the look) and said, "What about truck driving?" She encouraged me to apply - and here I am.

After spending six years earning my college degree, and hearing that several of my classmates have never even used a computer before, I figured there might be a good chance I could be at the top of my truck driving class. The first day we took a simple, five question sample test to familiarize ourselves with the on-line testing process. I casually browsed the reading material, then took the test. The auto-correct screen indicated I scored four out of five - for 80% - or a B minus. I glanced around, hoping no one saw my screen. I realized I better actually study the material and not worry about where I placed in the class.. I'm happy to report I completed the classwork several weeks later with an A minus.

Thanks for looking at my first blog post. I intend to post frequently, so please check back. Next, I'll go over the classwork process and then go into getting behind the wheel. Feel free to ask questions or comment if you'd like.

Waiting 'til I'm runnin' heavy, The Blue Hills Trucker

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.
by Brett Aquila

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