Profile For Michael A.

Michael A.'s Info

  • Location:
    Fleming Island, FL

  • Driving Status:
    Rookie Solo Driver

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    3 years ago

Michael A.'s Bio

No Bio Information Was Filled Out. Must be a secret.

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Posted:  1 year, 7 months ago

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How long did they last in trucking?

There's no way to know by numbers of course. I look at this site a lot but I mostly lurk even though I haven't driven in a few months. I will say for myself, I gave it a year at Werner like many suggested here and between trying both OTR and regional dedicated I just didn't enjoy the lifestyle after several months. OTR became a grind very quickly as my dispatchers/load planners sent me to the same places over and over with the very occasional run to a small facility or somewhere I didn't usually go. I personally saw a LOT of Ohio and Pennsylvania which was quite boring after a while. The pay was slightly better once I went dedicated on a Coca-Cola account, staying in the northeast and being home every week made things easier but I still didn't have much of a life outside of work and was still quite homesick. So I found I would personally rather work less hours and sacrifice some money to have more time at home. I am glad I tried it though.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Be careful in the northeast in the next few days!

Was scheduled to return from home time tomorrow, but it looks like I'll be staying home another day, lol. Oh well. Hope everybody who must shut down stays warm!

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Game: describe your first solo load experience

I remember my first solo load very well, since it was just under a month ago lol. Anyway I was assigned to my truck (2015 Freightliner Cascadia with the classic Werner blue paint scheme) the previous day at our terminal in Atlanta. Bobtailed 30 miles to the Clorox DC in Fairburn, hooked up and was on my way to Aberdeen, MD, to another Clorox DC. 707 miles. As soon as I got on to I-85 I was greeted with traffic and that took at least an hour out of my day. It was kind of late when I started and felt sleepy after 5 hours so I shut down at the Welcome Center/Rest area in Kings Mountain, NC. Now these Clorox loads in my experience were always heavy and we are required to scale those loads but in my excitement to get going I had completely forgotten. Luckily all the scales were closed so nothing happened, but that was a big blunder on my part. So the next morning I headed to the nearest Love's and scaled, and the load was a bit under 40k but I knew something was off as it felt heavier. The drives were very heavy so I was able to slide the tandems forward and it felt better, which was necessary because my trip plan had me going through I-81...which was another mistake. I wanted to avoid traffic on I-95 but in hindsight I was a bit too heavy and should have considered that route more. Anyway I made it to Maryland on time with no other issues, but that was a nerve wracking trip! I remember thinking I would feel nervous with nobody to help me, but it was quite relaxing actually despite my mistakes.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Frustrations with Werner Enterprises, I'm finished with them

Interesting story. I was hired by Werner a few days after you (Dec. 16th) and also did orientation at Allentown, I believe I may have met you briefly there as I recognize your initials. I can understand the frustration of being stuck at the hotel for so long since I was there (not consecutively) for 2 weeks waiting for a trainer myself. But my experience with them so far has been OK. I think some of the things you stated are not specific to Werner or even large carriers in general, like for example the feeling that you didn't get enough training. I can tell you that even with 250 hours myself I also didn't feel ready but that seems to be normal. I've been solo for a few weeks now and once you're on your own that feeling goes away quickly. I'm glad I had the long training process, I've read of other companies where the training was only a week or less, and I know now I would NOT have been ready in 1 week! Also my trainer and I were dispatched as a solo truck and not as a team truck which made things much easier during that process, you could've asked for a trainer that did it that way. Anyway I hope you find success at your next company.

Posted:  2 years, 9 months ago

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Game: who is where today?

Started in Arkansas near I-55, nasty thunderstorms and flooding there. Dropped the load in Memphis and currently on my way to Ohio following a short deadhead.

Posted:  2 years, 9 months ago

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Dedicated route possibility, for a beginner: how uncommon?

Michael A wrote:

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I don't think a dedicated account for a new driver I'd unusual. I'm currently training with Werner and they have lots of dedicated runs for newbs and actually encourage it for their solo drivers. This account you're being offered sounds like a decent run and you shouldn't hesitate to do it if that's what you want.

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Okay, based on what? The limited information he currently has. Sorry Michael, I respectfully disagree with your opinion.

The operative word in your response is "training". The OP may or may not know how his prospective employer intends to road-train him. Until he can establish a definitive answer to that question and where/how he will be making deliveries he needs to exercise some caution with this.

Yes, some Dedicated Accounts are great for entry level drivers fresh off their trainer's truck. Others best attempted after a few months of experience. I have been running Walmart Dedicated for over four years and at times train drivers on the account for 2-3 days...it's very difficult for a novice driver to adjust. Although they will except drivers with only road-training experience on the account, it has become the exception for the very reasons I previously mentioned. Dollar General or other Dollar account? Under no circumstances would I recommend these for a rookie.

Most Dedicated accounts have Service Level Agreements (SLA) in place that define how the contracted carrier is paid and evaluated. The SLA is usually very demanding and doesn't compensate for high failure rates.

Well of course he should do his own research, I wasn't suggesting to just jump right in, that would be dumb. Also I was not talking about the dollar accounts and I am aware many dedicated positions require experience.

Posted:  2 years, 9 months ago

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Dedicated route possibility, for a beginner: how uncommon?

I don't think a dedicated account for a new driver I'd unusual. I'm currently training with Werner and they have lots of dedicated runs for newbs and actually encourage it for their solo drivers. This account you're being offered sounds like a decent run and you shouldn't hesitate to do it if that's what you want.

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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What did you do before becoming a truck driver?

I haven't ever had a "real" job before this. I didn't go to college because I didn't want to put my parents further into debt only to have a difficult time finding work for any decent amount of time/money like my sister did. I did work at UPS, first as a driver helper, and then as a package handler, but I didn't like it at all and the hours and pay were crap. They would not offer CDL training to me so I left and asked my parents for the money for the school and I'm glad I did.

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CDT School in West Babylon, NY

Thanks! It's really not a difficult test as long as you take your time to remember what you're doing. I missed a few repeated items on the outside pre trip but the point is simply to show that you know what to look for so if you do it once but forget the next time, they might be more forgiving. On the driving part you simply have to show that you're in control of the truck by being somewhat aggressive with your decision making and not babying the truck basically.

Apparently I got lucky with my timing of the course because I was told starting next year they're going to change the nationwide standards to include more highway driving and more backing maneuvers, so it should be harder to pass then.

I'll post some bananas for you: dancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifthank-you.gif

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CDT School in West Babylon, NY

Day 26: The big day is here finally. We started with a mock road test. Nailed the pre trip both inside and out and the road driving. I was reminded to get out and look before I started my straight back, so technically I “failed” the mock road test but my instructor said I did good regardless. We went back to the yard early as a recruiter from a company was expected to come but she couldn’t make it...so I left early to relax.

The road test was in the afternoon. I met up with an instructor from the school that I hadn’t actually met before and he went over what to do. Everything he went over was what I already knew, although he was a bit of a ball buster, but a nice guy nonetheless. Classic Long Island. Suddenly the examiner showed up and we went right into the pre trip. I messed up on the outside a bit but did okay there, nailed the in cab pre trip. When I pulled out to begin the road portion my view was blocked a bit by a pole and I made a bad decision to pull out with a car coming about 500 feet away or so. I believe that was my first 10 points off right there. The rest of the driving portion went okay actually, I didn’t stall, curb the trailer, or any nonsense like that. It was pretty short, I think we were only out for about 10 minutes or so of driving. We went back to the site where the test starts and I nailed the straight backing and parallel parking. That was it. The examiner went over what I did wrong first, which was related to that bad decision to pull out mostly. But…

I passed!!! Those were the only 10 points I accumulated on the test. She handed me the receipt and I simply said “thank you very much,” and that was it. Honestly I could probably name about a dozen different things I did wrong on the whole test if I thought hard about it, but she seemed to be somewhat lenient so maybe I got lucky. Either way, I passed the road test on my first try and I will pick up my temporary license on Tuesday, then off to orientation for Werner on Friday!

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CDT School in West Babylon, NY

Day 23: Pretty much the same as yesterday. This particular truck had a clutch that was very touchy and I stalled it a couple of times, actually everybody did. Anytime I’d come off the clutch the thing was practically stalling for some reason and I know it wasn’t me. It did affect the rest of my driving though and it wasn’t the best.

Parallel parking is not that difficult now, I can do it in one continuous motion. Still have to figure out this in cab pre trip and take things slower to remember it all.

Day 24: More of the same. We were again in a different truck and nobody had any issues with stalling and everybody can turn without curbing the trailer now. We won’t be in yesterday’s truck for the road test so that is a relief. We covered the in cab portion of the pre trip a couple more times and I am getting better but I have to remember to always have some sort of brakes applied, I keep screwing that up. The other guys are struggling a bit with parallel parking but I feel like I am doing it okay.

Day 25: Nearing the end of the class finally with graduation and the road test tomorrow. I didn’t drive today until the afternoon but I did okay again. I drove for almost 2 hours after lunch with only a few minor issues. I’m fairly confident in my skills with the pre trip and backing as well. We actually went to the test site as a private lesson student was scheduled to use the truck for his road test. The instructor took over once we got close to the road test site of course, and we waited for a little over an hour (the other student didn’t start his test until 30 minutes after we got there or so). He passed and man was he happy! I’d love to do the same thing.

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CDT School in West Babylon, NY

Week 7 - Day 22: After 12 days off I’ve returned for the final week of training and my road test. We started out with some highway driving for about 90 minutes each, it took me about 15-20 minutes to get re-acclimated to driving the truck but I didn’t curb the trailer or stall or anything like that. We’re back in the 6 speed synchro trucks as these are the trucks we will perform the road test on. They’re easy to drive after having driven the 10 speeds.

After lunch we each did pre trip inspections, including the outside and in cab portions. I hadn’t done the in cab before so that was somewhat shaky but I do realize the importance of the brake tests and know how to do those at least. We ended with parallel parking which I had not done yet and it took me a few tries to figure it out. I have to remind myself to make smaller turns with the wheel. Apparently we’ll only be doing straight line backing and parallel parking on the road test, no alley docks or anything like that.

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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North Wilkesboro Speedway....😢

Are Penske fans allowed here? confused.gif

It is quite depressing what happened to both North Wilkesboro and Rockingham, that was about the time I started watching. I guess they thought North Carolina at the time was over saturated and they wanted to add the new tracks in different regions. It was a good plan in the short term but hurt them in the long term as the cars became more aero dependent and the racing at these bigger tracks became more spread out. I would personally like to see the Cup series go to smaller tracks like Iowa or Pikes Peak for that purpose but I don't see it happening.

Posted:  2 years, 11 months ago

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CDT School in West Babylon, NY

Oops, I messed up the order of these posts...

Week 6 - Day 19: Well I finally decided to pick a company over the weekend and I’m going to go with Werner’s OTR division. Orientation is next month, assuming I pass the road test of course. This is happening really fast!

Today started with some highway driving on a 10 speed. It’s a Volvo VNL 670 with a 48 foot trailer and it’s by far the biggest truck at the school, and probably most similar to what I’ll be driving on the job. Our instructor today told us that the transmission on this truck was just recently replaced and it showed, it felt amazing. It shifted smooth as butter and I really did not have many issues driving that truck. It’s by far the best truck in the schools fleet.

Following lunch we spent the rest of the day in the yard. Well it’s been pretty comfortable outside up to this point with temperatures anywhere between 50ºF and 70ºF but a cold front pushed through recently and not only was it cold but ridiculously windy, with 40+ mph gusts. Horrible weather, but we pushed through regardless. We did pre-trips for a little bit and typing it out on my phone helped me a lot, I definitely did better than last time.

After a short break to warm up inside, we did some more blindside backing. It was not my best backing honestly, but I was able to figure it out and get the trailer where it needed to be. I find it difficult to judge where the trailer is going to go just by looking in the mirrors but since we’re doing this in day cabs I’m just waiting until I can see the trailer through the rear window and reacting based off of that. I have no idea how I’m going to that in a sleeper cab but hopefully I won’t have to do it very often at least.

Posted:  2 years, 11 months ago

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CDT School in West Babylon, NY

Day 20: We were in the yard all day. In the morning we went over doubles, including how to couple and uncouple as well as driving them around the yard a bit. It was pretty cold and windy again and standing outside all day was not much fun, and doing this when most of us don’t even have the endorsement made it seem a bit pointless. After that we unhooked the second trailer and did some straight backing with a single pup trailer. It reacts a little quicker but it’s not hard to back up straight at all. We tried some left backing with it and one of the guys had a lot of trouble doing this and actually snapped an air line due to jackknifing. So that ended the pup trailer backing for the day…

In the afternoon we covered sliding tandems. The literature we were handed for this actually came from the High Road training on this site! After we covered it on paper we slid tandems for real, and with some pretend scenarios regarding weight on each axle we had to figure out which direction to slide them and how many holes we needed to slide. We ended with an overview of the in cab inspection.

Day 21: Not as many people in today due to Thanksgiving coming up. There were only 2 of us students in the truck so we got plenty of road driving time today. The truck we were in was an older Kenworth T2000 and it’s extremely fast. I don’t know what engine is in it but it pulls extremely quickly even with a 30,000 lb. load in a 48 foot trailer.

Apparently I tapped a road sign with the mirror but there wasn’t any damage. The steering wheel on this truck was a bit ****eyed and I didn’t realize that quickly enough. After that I was told to hold the wheel a bit lower, closer to my chest, and my lane control was a lot better. Double clutching and shifting, as well as using the clutch in general is really not an issue for me anymore.

We did some more left/right backing practice after lunch and that was it. 2 weeks off now, hopefully I won’t forget everything I’ve learned, haha...

Posted:  2 years, 11 months ago

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CDT School in West Babylon, NY

Day 18: Today was all highway driving. That’s because we drove a 9 speed for the first time and finally learned how to double clutch. Our instructor did a demo of it for us first, then we all got about 90 minutes of driving time each with it. In the morning we basically went on one of the major Long Island highways, east, then west, then east again, then west again, getting a feel for it. I really enjoyed driving this truck compared to the 6 speeds, it is quite easy to get into gear. I struggled a bit with the pattern but no major issues.

In the afternoon we went out again. One guy drove first, and the next guy, well, I’m not any good myself, but this guy’s really bad honestly. His English is pretty poor and I don’t think he understands the directions being given to him because he’s always doing something different. Honestly he scares me a bit with his driving. Well today he lugged the poop out of the engine and the muffler actually loosened itself and was dragging just a couple inches off of the ground. One of the mechanics from the school had to come out and hold it in place with some bailing wire. That cut in to my driving time of course… after that was fixed I drove and struggled more with the placement of 1st/5th but did okay otherwise. Next week I’ll probably get to drive a 10 speed Volvo with a conventional sleeper.

Posted:  2 years, 11 months ago

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CDT School in West Babylon, NY

Day 16: Unfortunately I believe we lost a student due to an issue with his permit. There were only 3 of us in our group today and his name was crossed out on the sign up sheet, so, yeah…

Today we started out with another pre trip, one which I actually got to complete for once. I did okay but I’m going to type out everything I can remember on Google Docs to try to remember it better because I’m still having issues with it. Again, it has nothing to do with actual mechanical knowledge, but saying things in a certain way. After pre trips, I finally did my first uncouple and couple. There were some growing pains during the uncouple but I started to figure it out a bit with the couple part. Don’t pull the landing gear handle too far out, knowing how to hook up the glad hands, etc. We attempted to do some more left side backing before lunch but another student and the instructor began arguing over something dumb...20 minutes later he finally backs it up. Time for lunch.

After that I finally got behind the wheel for a bit. I was more confident today and I felt like I did a much better job of driving than the previous 2 days. Only a couple of wrong gear movements and I was easier on the clutch. Finally I feel like this is starting to come together.

Day 17: More highway driving in the 6 speeds this morning. Again there were only 3 of us in the truck and I went last of the 3 in the morning. Again, getting better at shifting and placement of the truck and trailer in turns, no major drama.

In the afternoon we started doing blindside backing. Our group was down to just 2 of us after this morning. We were back in one of the older International day cabs for this part, except we actually had trailer brakes on this one at least. Seeing the trailer from a totally different angle threw me off a bit but I was able to put it in the hole plenty of times. Later in the day there was a lot of glare in the convex mirror, adding some extra difficulty and I missed it a few times, but fixed it after a couple of tries. That was it.

Posted:  2 years, 11 months ago

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CDT School in West Babylon, NY

Thanks, I'll definitely need it! Haha

Week 5 - Day 14: Time to do some highway driving. They’ve split us up again into groups of 4 and let us on our way. We’ve moved into some newer International Durastar tractors which have 6 speed synchro transmissions, double clutching will come later.

I let the other 3 guys go first and they all had issues of their own to work through. I hopped into the seat and didn’t do too well either. Apparently I was being too easy on the throttle and focusing too much on my right mirror and was drifting. We were driving around a bit when we came up to an intersection that lead to an interstate that was quite busy. Well I had to stop a few times and after a few stops I began stalling. And again. And again. And again...6 times!!! Horrible. Eventually we got going but not before being cut off by an impatient driver. After I came home I talked to my dad (former truck mechanic) about it and he thinks hitting the clutch that many times in a row over caused it to overheat and not grab as well. We can both speak from experience on that end because we both felt the same thing when he taught me to drive manual in a car. I finished with my first alley dock between two trucks where nothing went wrong somehow!

After lunch we went over the pre trip again and began learning left backs. We all did it a bunch of times and I think we all did okay, but it’s hard not to when the instructor is telling you exactly how to turn and when to do it so I didn’t feel like I learned much. That was it for the day.

Day 15: The same schedule as before, but in pouring rain instead of a bright blue sky. I went last and started off with a scare unfortunately, driving through an industrial park and apparently I was close to hitting some trees. My fault entirely because I wasn’t watching what I needed to, but I don’t know why the instructor had me driving so close to these trees that are right next to a 4 lane road, when I could just move over. Didn’t hit anything though and after that I did better, no stalling, less lugging, and my turns are getting better already. Still having a bit of trouble putting the shifter in the right gear sometimes but I think I will get over that soon too.

After lunch, we continued with left backing practice. Honestly the best thing our main instructor could do was leave early, because the guy that replaced him said almost nothing and that was the best I did with backing all day. I was getting it fairly close to the barrels we set up without hitting them once. Now I feel like I understand it more for myself and what to do when things go off kilter as well. I feel much more confident about my skills overall than I did yesterday.

Posted:  2 years, 11 months ago

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CDT School in West Babylon, NY

Week 4 - Day 13: Today is the day I’ve been waiting for - the day I actually begin driving a tractor trailer! This week is not really a week, just one day before a full week of driving next week. During the days off I applied to a few companies and was pre-approved by Werner, and I’m thinking very hard about joining them. I’ll also have an interview with Schneider soon. I also voted for the first time in my life, lots going on over here!

Onward with the day. We broke off into groups of 4 to be shown how to do the pre trip. I realized quickly that this part has absolutely nothing to do with actual mechanical knowledge and a lot to do with memorizing parts and saying what the examiners want to hear in a certain way. That became very clear when the instructor never opened the hood and said “that’s it.” We all did it to the best of our abilities following that.

The rest of the day was dedicated to clutch control and straight line backing. The trucks we are using for this part are 90’s era International 4600 day cabs and they are some very tired looking trucks to say the least. Perfect for us newbies.

The trucks have 45 foot trailers so while they are not full size they are certainly close enough to the more common longer trailers. We each took turns backing across the yard and very few cones were killed. My first hurdle though when I got into the truck was getting it into gear. I couldn’t find reverse or 1st to save my life so an instructor did that for me. After a few attempts though I found the gate for myself and that was no longer an issue. The concept of trying to feel the springs in the shifter is totally new to me so I had to get used to it.

The next hurdle was clutch control. The clutch in this particular truck matched the rusted out body just below the cab, it was totally soft and hard to feel any significant friction. I played with this a lot throughout the day, trying to use the clutch to control my speed. At first it was difficult but the more attempts I had the more I understood what I needed to do. I only stalled once in the beginning, when I forgot to push in the parking brakes. Also, did I mention that these trucks have no trailer brakes? Because they don’t have trailer brakes. Yeah…

The actual backing was not very difficult. I’ve spent a lot of hours on American Truck Simulator practicing backing maneuvers like this and it helped a lot, I was able to put the truck in between some cones 1.5 truck widths wide pretty evenly from the start. After that, they spaced out some of the cones behind the tighter area about 5 truck widths wide and put a couple behind us to see how well we could judge when to stop. I did pretty good until I got past the tight part, then I lost my reference points and started losing the trailer a bit. I realized I have a bad habit of looking in just one mirror and focusing on it, I need to work on that.

The first time I tried to stop just in front of the cones, I barely hit them. The second time I was a bit more conservative and was within 3 feet of them. I did pretty good with that exercise after that. I don’t know how many times we tried this but it was certainly more than I can count on both hands.

On a side note the beginning was extremely frustrating, being totally micromanaged by one particular instructor without him telling us what he expected from us when he started giving random signals. I was actually really ****ed off since he was constantly yelling and pointing us in 5 directions at once, then the guy says to me “dude, you’re overthinking it!” No, you don’t know what the f*** you’re doing, pick a signal and stick to it...luckily I didn’t work with that guy after that and the next instructor was much easier. Proof that you need thick skin in this industry however.

Overall though it was pretty fun to actually drive the truck a bit and I learned quite a bit.

Posted:  2 years, 11 months ago

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CDT School in West Babylon, NY

Day 11: Today was the final exams. They were a bit tougher than the DMV tests but not too much harder. I completed it in about 2 hours with a short bathroom break in between and a lot of double checking of my work. There were a number of questions I was unsure of, and I struggled a bit with the log book portion, but I am confident I passed with more than the 75% required for the school certificate.

Day 12: I received my finals scores back and I averaged an 87% on the tests so I will receive a school certificate once I get my CDL. I should’ve wrote this yesterday but the test included defensive driving (97%), air brakes (90%), HazMat (93%), log books (82%), and “air brakes match” (73%). Frankly I feel like I should’ve done better on the match test because I did better on the practice quiz we received for this than the real test, but a 70% is a passing grade so I’ll take it. I also don’t understand how to do the log book completely but it’s going to change soon and I surely won’t be using a paper log. I understand the hours of service fairly well but not filling out the front page and such, I’m sure I’ll figure it out with the e-Logs I’ll surely use in the real world.

The last classroom day was dedicated to map reading and trip planning. We were each handed a road atlas and we went through many of the informational pages, including what determines a truck route, a certain type of highway, and the other various features of the roads. We looked through some of the states, including NY and the metro area, and compared it to our own knowledge of the area. I think a lot of people had a bit of a “eureka!” moment when the way the interstate numbers were laid out, with the southernmost and westernmost numbers being the lowest and vice versa for the highest, as well as the loop system.

Finally, there was the trip planning part. We looked at how the index pages worked and performed a few exercises in regards to finding the best way from point A to point B. We had to find the mileage, the time required to travel from each point to the next, and the best routes. We did a number of these scenarios until the end of class.

And that was that. Classroom time is over, starting next Friday I’ll finally be behind the wheel.

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