Profile For Travis H.

Travis H.'s Info

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    In CDL School

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    8 years, 5 months ago

Travis H.'s Bio

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Posted:  8 years ago

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Wasting no time!

After having graduated at Roadmaster's on Tuesday, I called up the recruiter with Werner and begin orientation with them on Monday. I *could* have started orientation today, but decided to punt the ball to Monday so I would have the weekend to get my affairs in order. I am very excited to be starting a new career for once, and not a job (just over broke) like I've been working at for the last decade.

My head is still swimming with questions about my new career. One of my biggest concerns is the electronic logbooks, especially with relation to how I can max out my hours driving and make the most money I can as early as possible. One of the instructors at the school I recently attended, we'll call them B, reminisced of the days when drivers kept three paper logbooks on them, and handed the uniformed authority the logbook that would help them out the most, or at the very worst shoved the incriminating logbook underneath their seat or something and told the bears "Whoops! I just had dinner at the truck stop back there and must have left it sitting on the table.", preferring to pay a small fee than be caught going over hours.

Not that I am looking to break any rules or anything, but how do truck drivers these days maximize their time on the road to get as many miles as possible without jeopardizing their careers and livelihoods? I heard drivers should keep the doors closed as much as possible, avoid eating out to save time and money, and team so that the truck stays rolling. I am avoiding teaming like the plague, because I do not wish to sacrifice my privacy for a few extra cents per mile. But I would like to keep rolling for as long and far as possible.

As always, any and all help is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Posted:  8 years ago

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Took my backing tests for the third time...

This can be said about Roadmaster - they do NOT give up on their students. Both school directors at day one said the only students who do not graduate are the ones that give up or break too many safety rules by not listening to their instructors.

After having failed my second test, one of the directors set me and a couple other students who had failed multiple times with an instructor for a special class last Thursday. This instructor, we'll call him R, is the best instructor that this school has. He had us show him what we know, and then he gave us pointers on how to fix our problems. He worked with us on all of the maneuvers, despite the fact that I had no problems straight line backing or parallel parking. But a little extra knowledge and practice in areas perfected never hurts right?

The second part of that day last week with R, he took us driving on the road. He pushed all of us hard. He said from the get go "Though you're not being graded I'm going to treat this ride like a test. I'm not going to tell you anything, but instead you are going to show me what you've learned." I am dismayed to say that I drove horribly that day. I did so badly in fact, that R had me drive back to the school so that he could speak with one of the directors. He told me that I "scared him, and that it took a lot to scare him". I wasn't checking my mirrors, I had no idea where the trailer was going or what it was doing, my downshifting was horrid, I had this problem where my hand moved the wheel to the right or left while I was shifting gears causing me to weave, I was also weaving all over the place at high speeds. And I even almost crashed into a trailer coming back into the school and almost flipped the truck over when stopping in the parking lot (causing the trailer to rock back and forth).

Truth be told, I thought I was going to be expelled. There I was sitting in the lounge on break, very emotional and about ready to shed tears when R came and told me that my road training was going to be scaled back a few days so I could get back on track. The next afternoon I was paired with a driver I had never had before, we'll call him E. R told E about all of my problems from Thursday, and E told him "If you can't help him, I know I can't. He ain't no truck driver. He's just a ride along." So I got into the truck with E and three other students, and I was first to drive out. Hooked up a trailer and off we went. What E said about me ****ed me the **** off. So much so that something clicked in my brain, and everything R said I had done wrong on Thursday of last I didn't do Friday. E had to remind me of a few things truth be told, but when my turn was up he gave me a fist bump, said that I "Surprised the hell out of him." and that "He wished the rest of his students shifted as well as I did."

Fast forward to today after the weekend off and yesterday full of backing and road practice. Before I took the tests on the pad this morning, I thought I was going to be in trouble. Why? My fellow students burned up the clutches in all of the sticks the school had, and for the straight line and offset backing tests I was forced to use an automatic. The instructors knew well of my reservations against automatic trucks, having refused to practice with them out on the pad or the road. The DMV tester was very patient with me and even gave me a little demonstration of how the automatic truck worked. "There's no clutch. You just mash in the service brake, push in your tractor and trailer brakes, and turn this little knob here. Turn it to D to drive forward, and R to go in reverse. You'll have to give it a little gas to make it go. And that's about it." After that, I was own my own having been read the instructions.

I straight line backed perfectly. Was docked 2 points on offset (the maneuver I failed on my first test). Ran into some trouble before starting my third and final maneuver (parallel). I got into the truck and closed the door. Tried to put on my safety belt only to realize that it got jammed in the door. Tried to open the door only to realize that it didn't have a handle like the other trucks did on the side of it, and I had no idea how to even open the door to it. So I struggled with it for about a minute before giving up. I just sat there like a lemon for about four minutes before the DOT tester did a welfare check on me to find out why I wasn't moving. I explained the situation. He came over, opened the door, rescued me from my self inflicted dilemma, and was even kind enough to show me how the door on that particular truck opened from the inside. (I believe I mentioned earlier that the students broke the regular trucks, and we were given replacements that I had yet to ride in.) So he started my test, I GOALed twice, (I have a depth perception problem), and managed to pass the maneuver having crossed the boundary line only once, again a 2 point mistake. 12 points on the pad is enough to fail you, and I got 4. So I passed and moved on to the road test.

I got several points scattered throughout the test in various areas, but no real issues. Drove out on the highway, demonstrated a HAZMAT railroad stop and an emergency stop. Did several other maneuvers including lane changing, a blind left turn, several regular left and right turns, pointed out speed limit signs and weight limit signs, and hazards I spotted along the way. I need to improve on my traffic checks and gear grinding, but I passed the test and graduated today.

Posted:  8 years ago

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Failed my backing tests again! Ugh!

I made improvements from last week, and almost finished the backing part of the test. I finished two of the maneuvers (straight-line and off set) but failed on the alley dock.

For Florida's backing test, students have to do three maneuvers. These maneuvers are straight-line, off set, and either parallel or alley dock. The straight-line and off set maneuvers are an absolute certainty. You will have to do both of those. The for last two parallel and alley dock, a student has to do one or the other. The student does not get a choice of which one they would "prefer" to do. The DMV computer randomizes the tests for each student, and whichever three out of the four possible maneuvers the computer selects, the student has to perform.

I knew going into the test that I was going to be in trouble if I was one of the "lucky" students to get alley dock. The reason I knew I was going to be in trouble with this particular maneuver had nothing to do with a lack of confidence or nerves, but because I have never been able to complete the maneuver on my own without help before. This isn't for lack of studying or trying either. But rather because I still haven't figured out how to get the trailer where I need it to be for that maneuver. I do realize that you turn your wheel to the left to make the trailer go right, and you turn your wheel to the right to make the trailer go left. My issue lies more along the lines of knowing how much to turn, and when to turn to make the adjustments I need to get the trailer into the hole (or in this case, between the orange cones).

The off set and parallel were easy for me to pick up on, because I noticed a pattern when I did them. For example, to do a left off set or parallel you need to turn your wheel right, left, left, right. The right off set or parallel is the inverse, that is you turn your wheel left, right, right, left. Granted I didn't pick up on how to do these maneuvers the first two weeks in time for my first test, and it was a few days ago before my second test that I had the pattern epiphany and I've done the maneuvers perfectly ever since. Straight-line backing is the easiest of all for me. All I have to do is sit back, let my tractor do all the work, and make small adjustments (12 to 3, 12 to 9) when my trailer drifts to get it straight again.

I'm glad I am going to a great school who is willing to work with me until I pass. The instructors here at Roadmaster's are very slow and patient and work with me where they see I am having issues. That's what I need. I know there are students who catch on quick and test out their first or second times. But I am not going to give up. I am going to retest early next week, and between now and then I am going to continue what I have been doing. That is, I am going to get out there, listen to the instructors, bust my ass, and try try again until I get it.

The reason I made this post in the first place isn't to bore anyone with a long story or to whine about my backing problems. I am making this post for anyone who might be in a similar situation, to let them know that I am not giving up and neither should you. I want to be a professional truck driver more than anything. I truly believe that I am learning something new everyday, and I am making improvements everyday, and as long as I keep at it and work hard, I will become a professional truck driver. And so can you.

I look forward to the day a year from now, or even a few months from now, when I have finally gotten my own truck and am doing solo OTR runs. I want to be able to go back to this post, remember when I was having trouble, and remember that I never gave up and kept at it. That's how I have accomplished everything I have in life so far, and that is how I will accomplish this. With hard work and tenacity.

Posted:  8 years ago

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DDS in Georgia

I'm currently in school and I have to retake backing tests I failed on Friday, and the road test I couldn't take because the school doesn't let you even attempt the road test until you pass all of your backing test. I did get perfect scores on my pre-trip and in cab tests. The advice I have to give others on passing those tests like I did is to get into a routine and try to name the parts off in the same order every time so you don't forget one. Touch every part that you talk about, and explain what those parts should or shouldn't be.

For example, we are taught that all parts need to be properly mounted and secured, not cracked, bent, or broken, have all bolts present and tight, and are not leaking. All belts should have 1/2 - 3/4 an inch play and shouldn't be worn or frayed. All rubber had no abrasions, bubbles, or cuts (ABC). All glass and lights should be clean and clear and free of illegal tape or stickers. Remember to say the lights are the proper color. (Amber, red, clear, etc. depending on the lights). Remember to name your emergency equipment. You would also do well to treat your mirrors like glass (clean and clear, no illegal tape or stickers) but also add that they are adjusted to you (the driver).

I was told by the instructors that regardless of what part of the truck we test on, we still have to do the coupling and fifth wheel and name all the parts and describe how they should be in working order. Unless you physically remove the glad hands, the rubber grommets on the inside are easy to miss and depending on the tester you may lose credit for missing them. In this way you can also accidentally miss the metal prongs on the electric lines.

If you can't touch a part because it is out of reach, the instructor will likely give you credit if you just point to it and describe what part it is and what you are looking for. In my test, there was no way I could reach the front and rear spring mounts, not the springs, without physically getting underneath the tractor (I had front of truck and the engine compartment). So I pointed to those parts (don't forget the u-bolts!) told the tester what parts they were and what I was looking for, and I was given credit for those parts.

On the in cab, the easiest part to miss is the emergency equipment because it is often out of sight. Name it first and get it out of the way. For the brake tests, you DO need to apply the correct amount of pressure for the applied pressure brake test, hold that pressure for one minute, and tell the instructor that the psi didn't drop more than 4 psi in that minute that you observed. Before even thinking of doing the brake tests, make sure that you have enough air pressure to do them. I complete my brake tests in the following order:

1. Tug tests - tractor then trailer, trailer then tractor, doesn't matter just do them together and remember to do both.

2. Service brake tests - Low gear, pull forward at 5mph and then apply service brakes. Vehicle stopped and shouldn't lurch to the left or right.

3. Governor cut out test - should cut out at 125 psi. By doing this now you will have enough pressure to do the next tests.

4. Turn the engine off. DO NOT TAKE YOUR HAND OFF THE KEY! Flip the battery on but don't start the engine.

5. Static Test - Sit like a lemon, watch the air tanks and count for 1 minute. Do nothing else. Vehicle should lose no more than 3psi in that 1 minute.

6. Applied pressure test - Apply 90 lbs of pressure to the service brakes. Hold the pressure for 1 minute. Tanks shouldn't leak more than 4psi in that one minute.

7. Low pressure alarm - Lights and alarms should come on before 60 psi or half the governor cut out. Fan the brakes to make the pressure drop.

8. Buttons - The tractor and trailer brakes should apply (buttons will "pop out") between 40 and 20 psi. Fan the brakes and wait for them both to pop out. Do NOT touch the buttons while performing this test, or you may fail.

I would also say the name of the test and describe what you are going to do to the truck for each test and what you are looking for while conducting the tests before actually conducting the tests. For example, if you are fanning the brakes and the buttons pop out before you tell the examiner that they should pop out between 20 and 40 psi, you may fail the test.

Hope this helps!

Posted:  8 years ago

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Passed

Congrats man! I wish you all the best.

Posted:  8 years ago

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Signs, Signs... Everywhere Signs!

I loved this post. The information here especially applies to my schooling. I was on the road getting drive time with three other students. Another student was driving. He turned on a road and halfway down it the instructor said "You just passed a sign. Do you know what it said?" the student replied "Uhhhh.... no sir which one?" the instructor answered "The one with the picture of trucks on it with numbers beside them." The student replied "I didn't notice it." The instructor replied "Those numbers were weight limits, and in the middle it said the the weight limit for combination vehicles with one trailer is 26,000 pounds. The student asked "Do you want me to turn back?" and the instructor replied "No, you are good. Keep going."

Same instructor, different student (again, not me). Shortly after turning on a road the instructor asked "What's the speed limit on this road?" the student replied "45." The instructor asked "Are you sure? We just passed a sign for it back there." the student replied "No sir, I'm not sure." The instructor told him that the speed limit had dropped to 40 and asked the student to drop a gear and slow down. The instructor went on to say that in the real world the student would have got himself a ticket for speeding had he been caught, but since the student was still in school the most an officer could issue (in our state at least) is a warning for the student, and the instructor would have been sited had he not have told the student to slow down.

By the way Old School, is that last picture of the famous Massachusetts low bridge that I keep hearing about? Just curious.

Posted:  8 years ago

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Question Please

I too am from Florida, and I have someone in my class who had a class B for a few years and wanted to upgrade to class A. He was one of the four students who graduated on Friday. He had to study for and pass the combinations and air brakes test to get his class A permit. I believe he already took general knowledge to get his class B. He then had to go through the school since he never drove a combination vehicle with air brakes before. He didn't even know how to double clutch. 16 days later, and after passing the logbooks, recaps, eTread, drop and hook, pre-trip, in cab, pad tests (straight line, off set and either parallel or alley dock) and road tests the school graduated him (after making sure he put in the required hours and finished all of the online homework). He will take his papers down to the DMV on Monday to prove that he graduated from Roadmaster's, and he should have no problems getting his class A.

I hope this helps.

Posted:  8 years ago

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Don't let emotions spoil your tests like I just did.

I took my DMV tests Friday to get my Class A CDL. I failed the offset backing part, and I am retaking the backing and driving tests on Wednesday. The reason I failed? I lost my **** behind the wheel. I was supposed to watch my mirror and straight line back until my rear trailer tire looked like it touched the marker, then I was supposed to turn my wheel hard in the other direction, watch my mirror, and back until my rear tractor tire touched the other marker. What did I do? I straight line backed until my real trailer tire passed the marker on the previous step. Instead of turning my wheel hard in the other direction to begin the next step, I panicked because I lost sight of the marker in my mirror. So I did a straight pull up, found my marker, and then backed until I couldn't see my marker again. And then I did another pull up. This happened four times before I realized I was too centered on seeing the mark in my mirror and too emotionally spent to remember what the next step was, that I set the brakes, put the truck in neutral, got out of the truck, and told the examiner to fail me because I blanked out.

Damn.

I got a perfect score on both my pre-trip and in cab tests. I even got a perfect score on my straight line backing. But because I was focused on finishing all of the tests within the 2 hour time limit and focused on doing everything perfectly and keeping that cone in my mirror, I cost myself graduating on time with my class and cost myself an award for perfect scores on the first two tests. I retest on Wednesday and I am going to practice the maneuvers again over the next two days (weekday students aren't allowed to practice on the weekend due to large classes and limited truck availability on those two days). But I'm so ****ed with myself that I could spit nails.

Posted:  8 years, 1 month ago

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Just got my CDL. I live in FL.

Congrats! I hope everything works well for you.

Posted:  8 years, 1 month ago

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Another thank you for Brett's endless collection!!!

Started CDL school Monday. Just got my permit this morning. My head hurts from all this learning, but CDL school has been the time of my life so far. Thanks to TruckingTruth I was able to make an educated decision about a new career, and the High Road Training Program helped me study for my permit. That with all of the materials Roadmaster has given me, and now I can proudly say that I passed the General Knowledge, Air Brakes, and Combinations tests on my first try. Didn't get any endorsements. My head hurt enough just studying for the basics. But once again, thank you Brett. I know the material on this website is free, but you'll at least have to let me buy you dinner if I ever see you at a truck stop or something. You guys rock!

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