TruckingTruth's Blog - Over 400 Articles

Sorted By:

Category

Tag

Author

Truck Driver Training Adventures in the Smokey Mountains!

by TruckerMike

Greetings from the beautifulSmokey Mountains in PA! It's a beautiful sight out here. But the trip was a bit interesting. As I traveled down the expressway, my trainer was catching up on some sleep. No problem, I can handle it. So I thought! Apparently, I missed a turn, and the expressway sort of turned into a major road going through a decent sized city. I figured something was wrong when I came up to a stop light! Oh crap! Now what!?

I really didn't want to wake my trainer up, but thought that was probably my best option. He wasn't upset and was glad I woke him up right away. He got out the maps and said he'd navigate. We found a way to get back onto the expressway, but it wasn't an easy drive. Since we were in the Smokey Mountains, there were hills everywhere. This was a challenge because I was still a little sketchy on the shifting. I still miss gears from time to time. Also, starting on a steep incline the truck will roll backwards if you don't do it just right. As we continued down this city street, I see my worst fear. There was a huge hill with a traffic light right on top of it. That's when I began to perspire a little bit. I look over at my trainer and say; "Ummm, that's a huge ass hill over there." His response? "Wow, yeah it is. Glad it's you and not me!" HA! Thanks a lot!

As I began my very slowclimb to the top of Mt. Everest, I saw that the light was green. Yes! Maybe I won't have to stop. As long as I can keep moving it won't be a problem. Things were fine until I got about 100 yards from the light. Then I saw the green light turn to the dreaded yellow. I had to stop. Ohhhhhhhh crap. I look in my mirror and see that the car behind me is right on my bumper. And worse, cars are piling up behind him.I think my heart nearly beat out of me. My trainer said, "Ok, whatever you do, don't roll backwards!" Sigh.

My trainer instructed me to start in third gear, but give it a lot of fuel to prevent a stall. So, with my shaky foot planted on the brake and my other shaky foot planted on the clutch, my sweaty palm grabbed the shifter and put it in third gear. Ok, now I see the light turning green. I'm ready to scream. I give the accelerator a lot of fuel, quickly get the clutch to the friction point, and start rolling forward. Then, the engine dies! I stalled it! I plant my foot back on the brake to prevent rolling backwards and taking out the entire line of cars behind me. My instructor tells me to try it in second gear, but that I'd need to shift almost immediately. Second gear would only get me going, but wouldn't pull the truck up the hill or else it would over rev. I hit the flashers (light was green and we were stopped), started the truck, and put it into second gear. Once again, I quickly let off the clutch while giving it a lot of fuel. We started moving! But my RPM's were super high. I had to shift immediately! My instructor says "Grab another one!" Clutch in! Shifter to neutral! Clutch out! Clutch in! Third gear! Punch it! "Grab another one!"Then I had to repeat the process all over again for 4th, 5th, and 6th gear before we finally got to the top of the hill. Let me tell you flat out - I didn't realize I could shift that fast. It was absolutely insane!

We finally made it out of that town and got back onto the expressway after some sharp curves, more steep hills, and drivers who obviously haven't seen a truck that bigin years. We got onto the turnpike and I found out that the toll booths out here are about 2 inches wider than my truck. I didn't hit anything, but it was quite a challenge for me to keep that trailer from taking out a toll booth. Why are they so narrow!?!

The rest of the trip went without a hitch, and I really enjoy driving down the expressway in the mountains. A lot of the truckers on the CB were talking about how much of a pain it is. But I think it gives me something to do. Downshifting, speed management, taking in the sights, etc. I really enjoy it! The only part I didn't like was going through some construction. There was a cement wall on one side and a narrow lane on the other. I was staying away from the wall and riding the line on the other lane. My instructor said, "You might want to move over a little, that guy is trying to pass you but he's scared to get too close." I told him "Well I'm scared of that wall!" I did move over though and let the guy pass. I just don't like being so close to the wall!

After we finally made it to the receiver, I was exhausted! We dropped our trailer full of 44,000lbs ofKraft Baconand picked up a new one. We were in an industrial park and couldn't find anywhere to sleep for the night. We ended up having to go to a truck stop 40 miles away just to sleep! By then it was about 2am, so the truck stop was absolutely packed. We almost left to find another place to park, but a truck pulled out of a spot and we grabbed it. After being up for 20 hours, driving through the mountains, feeling like I was going to kill a line of cars behind me, and struggling to find a place to park so we could sleep, I was ready for bed!

What an adventure yesterday was. I'm lovin' it! But man, I sure don't want to miss any of my turns again! My instructor assured me that I'm not a real truck driver until I miss a turn, and that I can look forward to it happening many more times in the future.And after he saw me shift the way I did, he decided I'm ready to learnhow to "float" the gears so I don't need to use the clutch unless I'm stopped. This is how most drivers shift, and it'll be nice to take the clutch out of the equation once I get the hang of it. Floating gears is a heck of a lot easier than double clutching!

More stories to come! But since I'll be driving through the night tonight, I'm going to take myself a nap!

Until next time, drive safely!

TruckerMike

Floating Gears:

An expression used to describe someone who is shifting gears without using the clutch at all. Drivers are taught to "Double Clutch" or press and release the clutch twice for each gear shift. If you're floating gears it means you're simply shifting without using the clutch at all.

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.

Double Clutching:

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.

by Brett Aquila

Related Articles:

Surviving A Company Trainer

by TruckerMike

Wow, it's been two months since I hit the road with my trainer. I'll share a few of my thoughts on how to survive your trucking company trainer.

It's Official - My Truck Driver Training Is Over

by TruckerMike

After months of research, a month of CDL truck driving school, and 4 months of company training, I'm going on the road as a solo company driver. Wow!

Dealing With Some Crazy Personalities During Training

by Philosopher Paul

You meet a lot of crazy characters in trucking, and my finishing trainer is off the charts. This guys seems more like someone you'd find in a movie.

The Showdown With "The Colonel" - Handling My Trainer's Tirades

by Philosopher Paul

I'm finishing up CDL training with a trainer who screams in tirades and I've had to try to deal with it. But finally, the showdown between us occurred.

On The Road In Training: There's Been A Lot Of Ups And Downs

by JakeCat22

I've been on the road with my trainer and there's been a lot of ups and downs. We're learning a ton everyday, but it's not easy for me or my family.

Training Time Is Over And It's Time To Test

by JakeCat22

After two weeks with my trainer, I went home for three days to relax and get ready for my company road test. If I pass, I get my own truck and run solo

Trying To Teach Proper Driver Forecasting

by TruckerMike

Being a safe truck driver is never easy. Predicting what might happen next on the highway takes years to learn and is very hard to teach a new driver.

A Driver Trainer's Perspective: Some Helpful Tips And Observations For Student Drivers

by TruckerMike

Being a CDL instructor is a very unique experience. I was amazed at how much I learned myself. Here are some of the highlights I picked up along the way.

OTR Training- Week 1: Patience And Perseverance

by lucky13

CDL training will test you in so many ways, and it will go far beyond your ability to drive a truck. It will also test your patience and perseverance.

Your Trainer Will Test You On Far More Than Just Your Driving Skills

by Old School

As a rookie truck driver you're going to face enormous challenges and be tested continuously. I learned a great lesson about how tough CDL training can be.

Join Us!

We have an awesome set of tools that will help you understand the trucking industry and prepare for a great start to your trucking career. Not only that, but everything we offer here at TruckingTruth is 100% free - no strings attached! Sign up now and get instant access to our member's section:
High Road Training Program Logo
  • The High Road Training Program
  • The High Road Article Series
  • The Friendliest Trucker's Forum Ever!
  • Email Updates When New Articles Are Posted

About Us

TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

Read More

Becoming A Truck Driver

Becoming A Truck Driver is a dream we've all pondered at some point in our lives. We've all wondered if the adventure and challenges of life on the open road would suit us better than the ordinary day to day lives we've always known. At TruckingTruth we'll help you decide if trucking is right for you and help you get your career off to a great start.

Learn More