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FMCSA publishes proposed HOS rule changes 8/16/2019 Fleets, drivers coming to like automated manual transmissions 8/14/2019 CVSA asks for new truck crash study 8/12/2019 Friday Short Haul - HOS revisions delayed, AEB mandate proposed, Koch sued for sex discrimination 8/9/2019 Kodiak Robotics takes lead in autonomous truck industry race 8/7/2019 New York City combats rash of cyclist/truck clashes 8/5/2019 Friday Short Haul - CRST wins lawsuit, OOIDA opposes insurance hike, UPSNav 8/2/2019 Mechanics shortage equals driver shortage in intensity 7/31/2019 DOT announces almost 1$ billion in grants to fix infrastructure 7/29/2019 Friday Short Haul - DOL on sleeper pay, UPS drone delivery, Geowiz ELDs 7/26/2019 FMCSA takes a look at assault, harassment of female and minority drivers 7/24/2019 It's hot out there, what's a trucker to do? Can't idle. 7/22/2019 Friday Short Haul - Utah truck rollovers, aging truckers, lifetime CDL bans 7/19/2019 Truck-mounted LED billboards coming under fire 7/17/2019 Trucker 'drones on' with unique approach to teaching driving skills 7/15/2019 Friday Short Haul - Rhode Island tolls, human smuggling, contractor vs employee status 7/12/2019 ELD mandate deadline looming, many still not compliant 7/10/2019 New "boot" device being deployed to threaten Walmart overnighters 7/8/2019 Friday Short Haul - Prime Inc vs Amazon, mother fights HOS changes, truck drivers appreciation week 7/5/2019 Proper way to fly the American flag on your truck this Fourth of July 7/3/2019 Roundabouts are becoming popular; but are they best for trucks? 7/1/2019 Friday Short Haul - Skills test proposal, driver shortage, hemp sentencing, driverless trucks 6/28/2019 Experts warn of active wildland fire season 6/26/2019 More states signing on to enlist truckers against human trafficking 6/24/2019 Friday Short Haul - Shippers of Choice, insurance rates, wheel spikes, WIT award 6/21/2019 Freight numbers not holding up to 2018's highs 6/19/2019 Truck safety group urges purges of drug abuse drivers 6/17/2019 Friday Short Haul - Self-driving certificate, truck platooning, trade war stacking up cargo 6/14/2019 HOS waiver coming soon for fireworks haulers 6/12/2019 FMCSA takes a further look at detention time 6/10/2019 Friday Short Haul - Autonomous delivery, HOS rules changes, CDL retest 6/7/2019 Roadcheck 2019 in effect this week 6/5/2019 Hemp arrest prompts USDA memo 6/3/2019 Friday Short Haul - Waymo big rigs, Move over sting, Under-21 comments 5/31/2019 Severe weather prompts renewed emergency declaration 5/29/2019 Memorial Day holiday is prime time for cargo thefts 5/25/2019 Friday Short Haul - Hauling hemp, road rage fatality, new rules for autonomous vehicles 5/24/2019 Autonomous trucks on USPS test run 5/22/2019 Future era of cab-less trucks will be the end of HOS rules 5/20/2019 Friday Short Haul - FMCSA under-21 comments, Tesla autonomous car crash, 24,000 drivers sign contract with YRC 5/17/2019 Under-21 interstate drivers getting serious look by FMCSA 5/15/2019 Trucker Buddy program matches drivers with a classroom; everyone wins 5/13/2019 Friday Short Haul - Driver awarded $80 million, ODFL driver wins, loading dock black hole 5/10/2019 Storm breaks out from Rockies, slams into Midwest, South 5/8/2019 Capacity issues have shippers looking at private fleets 5/6/2019 Friday Short Haul - HOS rules, dark skies, Falcon drivers 5/3/2019 'Bug' permits now required for four eastern states 5/1/2019 Simulator use is catching on for schools, carriers 4/29/2019 Friday Short Haul - Thinking electric, Penske opens charging station, border crossing crisis, railroads taking trucking business 4/26/2019 ELDs might not be the panacea that was hoped for 4/24/2019 Truck drivers may soon see "phantoms" driving yard trucks 4/22/2019 Friday Short Haul - Nikola big rigs, WIT welcomes Peterbilt, Oregon crashes, Border crossings 4/19/2019 Carriers claim financial benefit of putting up drivers in hotels 4/17/2019 Uber's IPO application reveals interesting data about its freight brokerage business 4/15/2019 Friday Short Haul - CDL examiner arrested, tolls proposed for trucks, marijuana use on the rise 4/12/2019 Smart Load Board will get carriers the loads they need 4/10/2019 Huge lines and long wait times greet carriers at Mexico border 4/8/2019 Friday Short Haul - Marijuana, ATA campaign, personal conveyance rules 4/5/2019 Over-the-air downloads revolutionize parameter updates 4/3/2019 Don't get scammed by skimmers 4/1/2019 Friday Short Haul -- New Cascadias honored, motorist survey, U.S, Xpress awarded, rest stop parking 3/29/2019 Legislators address underride collisions, propose more underguards for trucks, trailers 3/27/2019 Motorists soon may encounter a different kind of truck convoy 3/25/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Women in Trucking, irate motorist, FMCSA eases HOS, Safe-Cap 3/22/2019 Recent survey shows cost of roadside repairs is rising 3/20/2019 FMCSA announces drug and alcohol clearinghouse website 3/18/2019 Friday Short Haul - Swift settlement, driver shortage myth, TCA Best Fleet award 3/15/2019 The hidden danger of looking but not seeing 3/13/2019 Accident scammers target trucks for financial payout 3/11/2019 3/9/2019 3/9/2019 Friday Short Haul - Snow on the roof, bypassing toll road, Waze under fire 3/8/2019 Retailers blame driver shortage for price increases 3/6/2019 Drivers' smartphones may be clue to road roughness 3/4/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Freight rates, HOS changes, tonnage reports 3/1/2019 New tax changes hit drivers hard 2/27/2019 FMCSA to implement under-21 interstate driver program for former military 2/25/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Connecticut tolls proposed, hydrogen fuel-cell trucks, cell phone use 2/22/2019 Congress committee looks at state of America's highways 2/20/2019 Number of cargo thefts is down; but dollar value about the same 2/18/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Crossing the border, CA sues FMCSA, Lobbying against larger trucks 2/15/2019 Detention - A problem still in search of a solution 2/13/2019 February Highway Angels honorees named 2/11/2019 Friday Short Haul -- C.R. England announces pay raises, eCommerce impact on trucking, TCA announces best fleets 2/8/2019 Is a guaranteed minimum pay the solution to the driver shortage? 2/6/2019 Long CDL testing wait times cost economy billions of dollars; not helping driver shortage 2/4/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Walmart hiring, Uber Freight App, Speed-limiter Law, America's Road Team 2/1/2019 Cranking -- The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly 1/30/2019 California survives challenge to its low-carbon fuel standards 1/28/2019 Friday Short Haul - Highway robbery ... autonomous trucks ... new trailers 1/25/2019 LithiumHub enters jump-starter market with Jumpbooster JP30 1/23/2019 2019 Looks Good For The Transportation Industry 1/21/2019 Raymond Burt named TMC Trainer of the Month for February 2018 3/28/2018 TMC Transportation Announces Recipient of Prestigious Wheel Master Award 3/7/2018 TMC Transportation Named The Home Depot’s Flatbed Carrier of the Year For Fourth Straight Year 2/28/2018 Pay Raises & New Peterbilts for PAM Drivers 2/26/2018 New DOT Drug Testing Rules Effective Jan 1, 2018 1/11/2018 Amtrak Derailment: Trucks Haul 270,000 Pound Locomotive Engine During Cleanup 12/21/2017 Pepsi Places Largest Order Yet For Tesla Electric Trucks 12/12/2017 Kavin Hallett named Trainer of the Month for October 2017 12/8/2017 Over 100,000 Truck Drivers Likely Have Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea And More Testing Is On The Way 8/10/2017 Drivers Share Their Best Tips, Tricks, And Secrets For Life On The Road 7/18/2017 Drivers Are Losing Money By Taking The Wrong Approach 7/13/2017 Truckers and Guns: What Is and Is Not Legal 7/6/2017 Preparing To Go Solo For The First Time? Experienced Drivers Share Their Best Advice 6/29/2017 The Truck Stop Survival Guide: Advice From Experienced Drivers 6/15/2017 The Worst Cities For Traffic In The U.S. For 2017 6/8/2017 We Ask Drivers How They Would Make The Logbook Rules Better 5/30/2017 Self Driving Trucks Are Not Coming Anytime Soon 5/25/2017 11/30/-0001

Trucker 'drones on' with unique approach to teaching driving skills

Dave Wickenhauser on Mon, July 15, 2019

Last Updated: Sun, July 14, 2019

We all know that for learning truck driving skills nothing beats being behind the steering wheel with a qualified instructor sitting in the passenger seat.

And while there are a number of YouTube videos offering instruction as a second-best choice, none have the thoroughness and realism of those produced by YouTuber David Crowley of My Trucking Skills. He has taken his instructional technique to a higher level – literally.

David's unique contribution to the YouTube instructional video genre is he gives his viewers a drone's-eye view of every maneuver he makes with his truck and trailer. See one of his recent videos below.

And what especially sets his instruction videos apart from any others is his use of added colored guide lines in those drone views showing his trailer's direction of movement, as well as virtual guide lines "extending" out onto the pavement from the parking spots.

Those, combined with the several cameras he has mounted showing every conceivable view, all but puts the viewer in the driver's seat.

A native of Ireland

David, a native of Ireland, currently drives local for May Trucking Company around the Southern California area. He got his start in 2003 driving for Gordon Trucking Inc., of Pacific, Washington, on their long-haul fleet, and then moved to heavy haul throughout Oregon, Washington and Idaho. GTI sold to Heartland Express in 2013, and no longer operates as Gordon Trucking.

In 2008 he signed up with May driving local around Portland, Oregon, and then later began running the 48 states.

He very recently transferred to Southern California, where he continues running local with May.

He says that during his time with May he has trained more than 120 drivers.

"As I trained new drivers I realized that trucking schools left something to be desired. They were only teaching the bare minimum for drivers to pass their CDL, and not teaching them about real life situations," David said in an exclusive interview with Trucking Truth.

"I also saw that one of the biggest problems for new drivers is lack of teaching ability from trainers. Trainers often give very little instruction, and sometimes get lazy --probably due to lack of accountability -- and I wanted to fill in some of the gaps of knowledge."

Viewers of his My Trucking Skills videos will notice that unlike many of the other truck-driving instructional videos that are available David mostly concentrates on one particular aspect of a truck driver's day – namely backing … into docks, into tight parking spots, at truck stops – which he believes is what puts the most fear into a new driver.

"That is where I see many drivers struggling the most because it is the hardest part for most people," he says. "I also tend to focus on different backs because many of my subscribers ask for different types of backing. I think it is one of the biggest areas that drivers lack confidence in."

My Trucking Skills has almost 15,000 subscribers. And, of the 83 videos David has produced so far since starting just two years ago the vast majority of them are for teaching backing skills.

David said he is planning to expand his teaching repertoire into other "obstacles in truck driving" encountered by new drivers, and is planning videos to focus on those other areas in the future.

That's actually part of his long-term goal to do less driving and more video producing.

"I wanted to become a video editor and was looking for an excuse to change careers. I saw an opportunity to use all of my trucking and teaching knowledge, while educating myself on video editing," he said.

That's the short version. In his own words, David further elaborates on his blending of truck driving, teaching, and producing videos:

When I was younger, I did have an interest in multimedia and design, but I do not have a background in communications or video editing. I started watching tutorials on video editing. Then I joined an educational website that had more professional tutorials, and taught myself all the skills you see.

I found that I do have an aptitude for this type of work. I feel like I have unique skills and that nobody can do the same things that I am able to do.

Training, trucking, passion for helping others on a large-scale and video editing don't have a large cross-section. I feel like I have found my purpose in helping new drivers.

In the short-term, I plan on starting my website, which will have a low-cost membership program where drivers can access valuable information that will help them keep their careers. It will be like my YouTube videos on steroids (more content and more professional).

In the long-term, I want to help the trucking industry, and make some much-needed changes, especially as pertains to the safety and retention of new drivers. I want to pass my knowledge on so that drivers don't have to make the same mistakes that I did.

How David creates these unique videos

Because his teaching videos are so well done we were curious how he went about creating them, especially his use of the drone, and how he finds the time to do so much teaching and extensive editing.

"As a local driver, I do a lot of sitting at docks waiting to get loaded and unloaded. While most drivers are on their phones, or watching television or Youtube, I have my laptop with me doing video editing or making videos. I sometimes stay in my truck after my shift and get work done while waiting for traffic to clear."

David explained that for each video he:

  • Finds the time and the place to record. There are a lot of rules when flying a drone. You have to be more than five miles away from an airport.
  • Makes sure all the batteries are charged on all devices. Connects all cameras.
  • Gets the drone around 350 feet in the air, and positions it where he wants it.
  • Presses record on at least five cameras.
  • Backs up into as many spaces as he can before the drone runs out of battery.
  • Lands the drone and turns off all the cameras.

David said he got the idea for the drone while thinking about how to give his viewers a better grasp on what is happening. He says that all the other views are important too, especially the camera pointing at the steering wheel, and the camera mounted to record the steer tires.

But the drone gives students a "holistic view," he says, because it is difficult to show new drivers the whole picture of what is happening just using grounded cameras.

He said the drone, currently a DJI Mavic Air, definitely presented a learning curve, but that he hasn't crashed one yet. "I never do anything technical or difficult. All I have to do is throw it up in the air and, the GPS keeps it in the same place. There is no need to maneuver the drone while I am driving."

Although the GPS does attempt to keep the drone in place, wind sometimes moves it around a bit, so the video is often not perfectly still. David will take the footage and stabilize it using video editing software so it looks perfect.

His video editing workflow involves the following steps:

  • Uploading around 60 gigs of footage to his laptop.
  • Stabilizing the drone footage using Adobe After Effects.
  • Syncing all the videos, using Premiere Pro, making sure that they play at the same time.
  • Cutting clips and editing them into their appropriate places in the video.
  • Doing a screen recording, and then cutting that, and then saving into YouTube.

To make the virtual guide lines in the videos he uses motion-capture software that tracks little black dots that he has placed on the top of the trailer. The software slaves the lines to the dots, even as the truck and trailer are moving.

Viewer response

Here is just a small sample of the generally very positive responses in the comments to David's videos:

Great video I’ve been watching all of your videos a lot my test is coming up in a few weeks you’re vids have been a big help keep up the great work
Thank you for your videos. I"m 100% new to the industry and your videos are the next best thing to real-world practice. Plus, you make that practice more valuable since I have a better idea of what I'm looking for. I greatly appreciate the wide variety of backing videos you do as well. I have two suggestions I'd like to see if you don't mind. 1) a "Behind the scenes" video. What cameras do you use? How do you control your drone?
Awesome! I struggle sometimes to get my trailer pointed in the right direction...I sometimes think I have more space than I actually do! Your videos have helped me a bunch!!
WOW.. This is Perfect and amazing, you are a blessing and and a sent Mercy from God to help us with a beautiful and magical way, this video is like a dream coming true for me, please keep this format or similar to it in future video

Advice for drivers

Throughout his video teaching sessions David emphasizes over and over what we have all heard thousands of times – Get Out And Look.

And he also emphasizes to always prepare your route "regardless of how experienced you are." He suggests using Google Maps to scope out the customer before arriving at a destination in order to know how to get in and out again. He recommends scoping out where turns need to be made.

"Know what the right and left-hand turns look like before making them with a 75' long truck using Google Maps; not every turn is equal," he says.

Sources: YouTube, My Trucking Skills

Tagged Under:

Advice For New Truck Drivers Cameras Gordon Trucking May Trucking Tips For Backing Tips for Parking Truck Driver Training Truck Stops

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