Profile For Jim W.

Jim W.'s Info

  • Location:
    Toms River, NJ

  • Driving Status:
    Rookie Solo Driver

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    7 months, 4 weeks ago

Jim W.'s Bio

Hi all!

I'm a middle aged guy from NJ setting off on a new path in life.

I spent the bulk of my career in an oil refinery and am formerly a volunteer firefighter / EMT. I have a bit of experience driving Class B between the FD and working for public works, but have always wanted to learn to drive the big rigs.

So my boys are grown and I'm separated, so I figured there's nothing holding me back and it's time to get on the road.

Jim W.'s Photo Gallery

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Posted:  2 months, 1 week ago

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What Company Sponsored CDL School has a Truck Simulator to train on?

Used them for a couple of training scenarios at Roehl. They were a little glitchy and caused motion sickness in a couple students, me being one of them.

Posted:  2 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Best Trucking company to get your CDL

Unfortunately when you’re just starting out you don’t know enough to really make an informed decision. I looked at a bunch of companies and they each structure their training differently enough that it’s difficult to make hard comparisons. I actually made a spreadsheet to compare all the differences. I chose the one or two points that were most important to me, but in the end it was a gut decision. I went with Roehl and started my training in March. So far they have been living up to my expectations. I’ll see where I’m at when I hit my contract obligation of 120K miles. By that time I should have enough experience to decide if I want to go elsewhere, but I’ve talked to a few drivers who have been with the company for years and they’re still happy.

When it comes right down to it as a new driver, the choice is probably six of one, half dozen of the other. But as stated elsewhere on these forums, do your best to stick with the company for at least a year.

Posted:  2 months, 2 weeks ago

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Company driving school wants me to hitchhike to get to class

I went through the Roehl program in March. Company paid for the hotel. Breakfast was on the house in the hotel cafe and lunch was provided on weekdays. Transportation from home as well as between the hotel and the terminal for class was the student’s responsibility. I did not bring my car (I wish I had), but getting a ride from another student wasn’t a problem. There are some companies that are more liberal with what they provide, but I chose according to what company I thought was the best fit.

Posted:  2 months, 3 weeks ago

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Getting ready to go Roehl

Seems I fell off the face of the earth for a bit there, but I'm still rolling along.

I had a great time with my trainer. Luckily we got along well and I learned a bunch from him. He is an O/O based out of the Atlanta area. Spent the bulk of our time in Georgia, the Carolinas and Florida. Two people who are strangers in this small space can definitely be stressful but we did pretty good. Since he liked to be home whenever possible I got many nights with the truck to myself. Got plenty of practice backing at truck stops and docks, and he was able to balance the real world training with the book training. All in all a great experience. I spent three weeks with him and tested out in Conley Ga. Unfortunately that was the week of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown so I was stuck in the terminal for an extra day and a half. Finally got home for a few days and then I headed to the Gary Indiana terminal to pick up my truck. Did one more check out ride and they set me loose.

First solo load was from the terminal to just north of Detroit. Ride up there went fine, dropped my trailer off, and lo and behold, no empties there. Not unheard of but of course on my first time out. Took three phone calls to convince weekend FM there was no trailer there. That's when they started trying to figure out what to do with me. I had looked at the parking situation, and any dedicated spots were quite a ways away. Couldn't overnight at the consignee. Watching my clock dwindle as I checked in every so often. With 45 minutes on my clock they told me to bobtail to a safe parking location for the night. Ran out of time still 20 miles from the rest stop I was trying to make. Ended up in a mall parking lot for the night and luckily no one hassled me. Chalked it up to a learning experience. The rest of the next couple weeks was fairly mundane, but still learned a lot on my own.

Until I went home the first time.

My son talked to the manager of a local flooring store and got a handshake agreement so I could park there for the weekend. Not an ongoing thing but I wanted to be close to the house so I could set the truck up and such. So my last load was a live unload about 20 minutes away and all was going well. While I was being unloaded, FM calls and says safety just got notification that my license has been suspended. Several calls back and forth to safety and no one has a solution to the fact that I can't move the truck so we now own the dock. Eventually gave up and oh so carefully moved the truck and parked on the street in front of the building. Luckily it was legal for me to park there.

Finally got an answer from DMV the next day. Turns out a truck I sold back in January wasn't re-registered and my insurance company told DMV I no longer had insurance on the vehicle (because why would I). Took nearly a week of round robin phone call tag with DMV to finally get it straightened out.

Got back on the road finally and it has been going good since. After a couple weeks on my own I went back to a terminal for my close quarters training and test. After that they transferred my to my permanent FM. All in all everything has been going well. Small glitches here and there but nothing that isn't typical or part of the learning process. Still dialing in clock management and parking, but again, as long as today I know a little more than yesterday, I'm fine.

So since I'm getting better a catching my breath I'm gonna be able to keep up on the forums a little better.

See you all on the road. Roehl truck 6301

Posted:  2 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Roehl Transport GYCDL Training - Phase 1 start date: 2021-07-06

Don't forget to check out the zoo. It's only a few minutes walk from the hotel and its not bad. Also the Mexican restaurant out by the Menards is way better than the one near the hotel. Good luck!

Posted:  5 months ago

View Topic:

Getting ready to go Roehl

Hello from Ohio!

So I had my appointment at DMV set for 4/20. Got an email on the morning of the 19th that my appointment was canceled. Checked online and the local office was closed down due to Covid again. Luckily I was able to get an appointment later in the morning about an hour away. Drove down there and I was in and out in 20 minutes. Got home and uploaded my info.

The only trainer they had available was an owner operator in a manual, so not having the restriction is already working out. They put me in a plane from Atlantic City to Atlanta two days later where I met my trainer in the afternoon on Thursday. Friday morning at 3:30 we were on the road to Ohio. Dropped off the trailer, found an empty, then spent the night at Loves.

Left this morning for a live load 2 miles away. Appointment was 7am but the woman in the shack says it probably won’t be ready til at least 6 pm. So back to the Loves it is and here I sit, waiting.

Good time to practice trip planning.

Posted:  5 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Getting ready to go Roehl

Back in New Jersey finally. Got me a good night's sleep after a day and a half on the bus. Put my clothes in the wash, organized my paperwork, and headed out to the DMV. Turns out they changed the rules while I was in Wisconsin. Now you need an appointment for everything. So made an appointment for the 20th (first available), and put in a call to my FM. Still waiting for a callback.

The other students from my class are getting on their trainer's trucks towards the end of this week, but they also got home a couple of days ahead of me and I think they were all able to get walk-up appointments at the DMV.

Looking back it was a rough few weeks but I'm glad I went through the standard transmission training. The rumor is that by July the training program will be all automatic transmissions.

Posted:  5 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Getting ready to go Roehl

Well I got through the training and took my test this morning. After the driving portion, when we were back at the terminal, the tester asked how I felt the drive went. Told him I felt like it went like crap because I can do better. He said I shouldn’t beat myself up because I passed. We talked over the couple of issues I had (mainly cleaner shifts and consistent head checks) and he assured me it was nothing a bit of experience won’t cure. For as anxiety ridden as I was about testing, the examiner was great about putting my mind at ease.

So now I’m on the bus back to New Jersey to visit the DMV and wait for the OTR trainer’s call.

Posted:  5 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Getting ready to go Roehl

So here we are at the end of week two and things are coming together.

For the most part all of the classwork is done and we've been spending all day on the trucks. Pre-trips, coupling practice, brake checks, and backing take up our mornings and road practice takes up our afternoons. The planets aligned this week I had the truck to myself for a whole day. Feeling more confident each day and able to drive around town without any major corrections from the trainer. Passed my mock CDL exam yesterday (without the backing) so yay for me. I have been doing pretty good with the offset back, and we spent some time this afternoon practicing our 90s and that's getting dialed in as well.

We also spent some time with the atlas trying to get from Marshfield to San Antonio.

While I am amazed at how far my skills have progressed in just two weeks, I look forward to building my skills over the next weeks, months, and years.

Don't forget to breathe.

Posted:  5 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Local driving: new trends

That's great to hear Andrey. Positive vibes!

Posted:  6 months ago

View Topic:

Getting ready to go Roehl

Thursday we started the day in the classroom with demonstration and discussion of backing techniques and hazards. Finished up the computer questionnaire that's supposed to match us up with our OTR trainer. Then out to the range for pre-trip, brake test practice and coupling practice. After lunch backing practice with trailer, going around the outside of the range. Our trainer took us on a familiarization ride around town so we know how to find the Kwik Trip

Friday came and there was more pre-trip and brake checks. Then we hit the road. I was the first one up and ended up driving around town for about an hour and a half. I also backed into a parking spot at the Kwik Trip. It was definitely a blast. Really nerve wracking at first but got a little smoother as time went on. It’s going to take a few more miles to coordinate the setup and approach of turns and yields with the downshifting, but I signed up for the manual transmission training for a reason and I’m going to get there. After lunch it was one of my fellow trainee’s turn to take us for a spin. In the afternoon we were able to practice offset backing and 90 alley dock. Although a trainer talked us through the exercises, I think we did pretty good for a couple of noobs. At the hotel I was able to finish all of my computer based training, so I can concentrate on studying to test out.

Saturday we had a half day in the classroom with videos and PowerPoints going over operations and keeping logs etc. And just like that, week one was over and a third of the way through the program.

I had heard, and they stated on the first day of class, that those without experience driving a manual transmission car can have an easier time learning the tractor manual trans. Boy ain't that the truth. Going against the muscle memory of that car rhythm, is taking some time, but I'm getting better each time I get behind the wheel. Also I finally figured out that I've been using way too much of the clutch pedal to shift.

Here's to improving every day.

Posted:  6 months ago

View Topic:

General Knowledge Test Question

I took the knowledge test in NJ a few weeks ago and I was able to skip a question. It did not show up again because as soon as you have enough correct answers to pass, you're done.

Posted:  6 months ago

View Topic:

Getting ready to go Roehl

So it is the end of day 3 and they've been keeping us busy.

I took Amtrak to Tomah, about an hour South of Marshfield WI, and got in Saturday evening. After the long trip, I didn't feel much like eating and just went to bed in my room at the Econo-Lodge. There's a Denney's next to the motel and that's where I had lunch the next day. I met a couple of drivers there, one of whom works for Roehl, so I had some company for my meal. Right afterward, the shuttle showed up to bring me and one other newbie up to Marshfield. Turned out he was to be my roommate at the Hotel Marshfield.

The next morning we carpooled with some other trainees over to Roehl, about two miles away, to begin our new careers. Day one was mostly administrative stuff, company history, and some other basic stuff in the morning. In the afternoon we started safety information and introduction to equipment and the industry. The morning of the second day was about situational awareness, road safety, stopping distance, etc. In the afternoon we started practicing our pre-trip inspections on the range and started driving bobtail around the yard to practice shifting/clutch control. There are three trainees per truck and seat time is pretty much evenly divided. On day three we continued with our pre-trip practice after punching in, then into the classroom to go over proper turning setup and execution. There was also a demonstration of the workings of the fifth wheel. Back out to the range for some more bobtailing before lunch. After lunch, we coupled up to a trailer, went over trailer pre-trip, and drove around the practice field for a few hours.

There is a bunch of computer-based training that needs to be done and I've been knocking it out a little at a time in the evenings. Hopefully, by the end of this weekend, I will be able to knock it all out. So far so good. The instructors are all great and at nine trainees, we all seem to be getting enough attention.

Random thoughts so far: If you're coming to Marshfield, bring your own car if you can. There are plenty of restaurants and fast food as well as Walmart, Target, and Menards but they are a couple of miles away. There's a taxi service in town though if you need it.

The Hotel Marshfield has a free laundry room. If I had realized that, I would have packed a little lighter.

The practice field here is a dirt/red clay mix. If it rains for more than three minutes, it turns to sludge. Bring your booties. My recruiter told me to bring steel-toed boots. My roommate says his recruiter told him boots were optional. Guess who got his sneakers muddied?

There is a fair amount of computer-based training. You can do it on your phone, but it's much easier on a laptop.

The terminal has a couple of computers and a laundry room. Since you are an employee from day one, you are allowed to use them.

Posted:  6 months ago

View Topic:

Which Lane is the Proper Lane to Turn Into ?

According to my trainer this morning: Turn left into the inside lane, and once your tractor and trailer are straight, signal and move to the right lane when you can.

Posted:  6 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

On my own

Good job Dave. Congratulations on going solo!!

Posted:  6 months, 1 week ago

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Roehl training: phase 3 (solo)

Gratz!!!! dancing.gif

Posted:  6 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Getting ready to go Roehl

From the beginning to orientation.

After doing some research and experiencing some crappy events, I decided to take the plunge and train for an OTR job and lifestyle. My first decision was that I wanted to move fast and get training in the winter. I wanted to be able to see as many varied road situations as possible while I’m with a trainer. After that, I started researching companies. I started at 22 companies and eliminated the ones that didn’t train, or didn’t hire from my area. After that, it was a matter of weighing the pros and cons of each. And yes, I made a spreadsheet. While I am interested in flatbed, I wanted a company that had multiple divisions, preferably with a lot/terminal close to home. It got down to Roehl, Prime, or Veriha. While Veriha looks like a good choice, they only run dry vans. The choice between Roehl and Prime came down to the training setup. I liked that Roehl did the CDL skills prep fully out of the training facility and the TNT phase runs as a solo truck.

During this phase, I was also studying a ton. I went and got my physical done. It was company paid, but the prices around here run the gamut from $50 to $140. If you're planning on going for company-paid training, check to see if your choice pays for the physical. It sounds to me that even if you have your physical done, they might send you to the one they provide anyway, so save yourself the hassle.

So I passed my physical and went to the MVC the next day. I got my permit processed for $125. In NJ, because of Covid restrictions, they are only doing knowledge testing by appointment. You have to schedule your test online and the earliest I could get was 4 weeks later. Went back for the test and passed everything on the first shot (Thanks Trucking Truth!). I just told the woman at the testing center which endorsements I wanted to test for and they popped up on the computer screen one after the other.

I told my recruiter I had passed and things really kicked into gear. I sent him whatever forms or paperwork he needed either through email or through the Driver Pulse app. We agreed on a start date of March 22. With Roehl, you have to provide your own transportation to training, but if you take mass transit, they will send a shuttle to pick you up at the nearest station. I’ve gotten a phone call or email from my recruiter every couple of days so far, and he has been great about explaining everything.

Timeline so far: Feb 8, DOT physical - Feb 9, Scheduled knowledge test - Mar 9, passed knowledge test and got CLP - Mar 22, first day of orientation

As I write this I am T minus 22 hours to get on a train in Trenton NJ and head to Wisconsin.

Posted:  6 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Trucking Schools/Training in Michigan

Clare, There is a ton of information on this site that I used extensively to research the type of training and company I wanted to go with. Also, It's probably one of the best resources to study for your permit and endorsements. There are plenty of companies that train in the Midwest, and many provide transportation. I'm heading out myself in a few days to orientation and training with Roehl in Wisconsin and will be doing my best to keep updating my journey in the CDL Training Diaries section of the forum.

Posted:  6 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Tips for proper seat adjustment

While I'm only starting my career as a driver, I do have several years experience as a massage therapist. As Old School mentioned, take your wallet out of you pocket. Sitting on that brick is probably the number one preventable cause of sciatica. Not only can that cause pain in the glutes and shooting down the affected leg, it can also cause lower back pain. The wallet can also cause your pelvis to be mis-aligned, giving you lower back and hip pain. Also take Errol's advice about lumbar support. If you don't have proper lumbar support, you put too much pressure on your tailbone. I tell clients who drive a lot to at least put a small pillow between their lower back and the seat back. You just want to maintain the natural curvature of you lumbar spine, so you don't have to overdo it. If you try to work with the natural posture of the body and reduce the pressure/pinch points you'll be well on your way.

Posted:  6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Getting ready to go Roehl

The ticket is paid for and Friday morning I'll be on the train headed for Wisconsin. Orientation starts March 22 in Marshfield. I could have gone to Appleton on the 29th but they train on manuals in Marshfield. I know manuals are becoming less common each year but I figured if I can my CDL without the restriction, what the hell, just gives me more options.

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