Comments By Larry K.

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  • Larry K.
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Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Thank you Old School! That is appreciated more than you know! Now if I can just convince my wife of the same, as she is shaking in her boots seeing all these people fail. Same goes with numerous new students at school. My wife, myself and one other guy are assigned to the blue Volvo at our school. We were told that all the new students are referring to those of us on the Volvo as the "A-team" as we all appear to know what we're doing. Now they're watching two of us fail miserably and are getting quite nervous. Hopefully my wife learns from our mistakes as she hasn't had her first test yet.

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Unfortunately, if she tells you to stop, it's all over with and you auto-fail. The crosswalk crosses the road and intersects with the sidewalk about five feet prior to the gate entrance to the yard. If the truck were fully on the far side of the crosswalk you'd have missed the entrance, which is why you must stop prior to the crosswalk if there is not a sufficient gap in traffic to make one fluid turn into the yard. I genuinely felt I had more than ample space to turn in without cutting off the oncoming car (and with traffic the way it was, the gap was about as good as it was gonna get). She explained to me that if your turn so much as requires an oncoming driver to lift their foot off the throttle for you, then you didn't have sufficient space. The only correct DMV answer is to wait for one enormous gap! Easier said than done in heavy traffic and certainly not the norm as I can't get through the industrial area of Salinas in a four wheeler without routinely slowing for maneuvering trucks. That being said the DMV route takes a turn around a very congested truck stop. Today it was busier than I've ever seen it and we actually got stuck there for about ten minutes as trucks were literally stopped in the road waiting for others to exit so they could enter. As we sat there she kept pointing out driver after driver who "should be ticketed" or shouldn't have a CDL. A bit disconcerting when in the middle of testing for your CDL. To be completely fair I had to agree with her on one guy who tried to make a left at a light into the completely stopped traffic and ended up stuck at a 45˚ angle across the entire intersection, blocking everyone for two full light cycles until trucks were finally able to move. He also attempted to backup and nearly hit the guy behind him. She made me promise I'd never drive like him. Lol.

As a final update. Got a call from the school right after making that last post. I'll be re-testing Monday as I'm taking another students appointment due to them not being ready. Third time better be the charm as this is getting embarrassing! Taking my private pilots exam wasn't this much of a pain in the butt!

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

If you're testing in California, especially if at the Salinas commercial DMV, you may want to read this one...

Days 25-29 (May 1st - May 5th) ...yes May 5th is actually tomorrow...read on

So training is more practicing all of the above. My wife's test date was set for the 23rd, so not much to say there. This update will be about testing and what has evolved since my first unexpected test opportunity last Saturday.

In the past week I've been tasked, numerous times, with driving the truck to the DMV testing yard for others to use for their tests. Of course, we are not the only school there for testing. Because of this I have literally watched a dozen or more people take their CDL's. Of that dozen I think I've seen ONE pass in a week, with the majority not making it beyond in-cab, and the remainder failing at skills. Each time I've sought to learn from the mistakes of others by questioning as to what happened and storing that as a mental note for my own knowledge. Today was my official "first" test date aside from my "freebie" opportunity last Saturday. Just prior to me today I watched a person from our school fail for a second time, but he made it to the alley dock prior to doing so this time (we've been studying together). Then I watched as a person from another school failed at in-cab. Then it was my turn.

I walked into today with one thought in mind, there was NO WAY I was going to give them even the slightest excuse to fail me. At every step I reiterated what needed to happen and what I was going to do to perform that given test. It went beautifully...at first. In cab went off without a hitch. I made sure to both word things and perform things in such a manner that it couldn't have been judged anything other than passing. Then came the walk-around. I've had this down pat since the first week of school and did the worlds most thorough walk-around. (The examiner even enthusiastically said "good job".) Then came straight line backing. Again, got it down and backed straight through the cones without issue....easy peasy. Next offset backing. Again, I've got it down, I backed into the other lane without a pull-up or any issue whatsoever. Finally I was randomly selected for an alley dock rather than parallel parking. I pulled into position and began to perform the maneuver before realizing that I hadn't judged my starting position properly and would exceed the outer boundary (my perception was a bit different than at our yard). No problem, I took a go-around and started from a little further forward. Pulled it right into the "dock" with two pull-ups (one just to be extra safe) and utilized both my get-out-and-looks, again, just to be safe. All is well I'm thinking as we head out for the on-road portion.

So out we go and I gotta say everything seemed perfect on the drive as far as I was concerned with the exception of the route being all screwed up today! Heavy traffic, construction forcing awkward merges and a standstill on the freeway. None the less I handled it fine. Shifting smoothly, up and down, watching mirrors...all good. Now a couple pre-cursors here. The truck I'm using has had the clutch going out for two weeks! We've repeatedly reported this and it was "adjusted" last week, then again last night. Also, upon returning to this DMV yard there is a crosswalk in mid-road (meaning nowhere near a light) and you must stop before the crosswalk if you do not have a sufficient gap in traffic to make the left into the yard. EVERYBODY knows about this as it is an auto-fail, right at the very end of the course, if you stop in that crosswalk! So on the second half of my drive the clutch is beginning to slip very badly! So badly in fact that I can barely get moving in 4th if starting on any upward slope whatsoever (with a 53', but empty, trailer). The last light is at the top of a relatively steep hill and I'm forced to stop on the worst part of the slope with several vehicles between me and the light. I'm so worried about wether or not the truck is gonna move I debate starting in a lower gear than 4th but decide to do as I was taught and PRAY. Sure enough the dang thing barely moves and I slip my way up to the light at 3mph to catch the red light again. Finally we approach the yard with oncoming traffic so I stop prior to the crosswalk to wait for traffic (it's heavy). I get what I would consider a huge gap and begin pulling forward to turn. At that moment the examiner says "stop, there's not enough room to make the turn", with an oncoming car WAY down the road in a 35 zone. So now I'm stopped in the crosswalk and know that it's over as that's an auto-fail. We stop in the yard and the examiner begins to go over, what I already know, was a failed drive because of that final stop. She also points out that I was "doing some weird lugging while releasing the clutch at several points" and points were lost. Uh NO, the freaking thing is on it's last leg and it had nothing to do with me or my driving! I would have otherwise passed if not for the final turn into the yard. (I swear I had more than sufficient room in that gap!) So, re-test scheduled for 19 days from now with a hope I can slide into an earlier date!

Moral of the story. If you see a school truck sitting in the middle of the road in Salinas waiting for a two mile gap in traffic before making a turn...yeah, that's just me taking my next test. (No school tomorrow as the truck is supposedly getting fixed this time. We'll see!)

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

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Why the Schneider Hate?

I've got friends currently pulling doubles on a dedicated route for Schneider. They've been with them for three years now, since CDL school, and have repeatedly spoken of how well Schneider has treated them and the impact it's made in their lives. They'd be a top choice for my wife and I if it weren't for the fact that they don't offer a pet policy.

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

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Do you fear autonomous trucking technology?

I'll be 44 here in a few months and my wife and I are finishing up CDL school and just about to enter the industry. Honestly, I have absolutely zero fear of being replaced by fully autonomous trucks anytime prior to when I would be done with trucking anyhow.

While I may not have any practical trucking experience yet, I do have plenty of experience driving on US roadways and in other industries which fear replacement by technology. I spent several years as a commercial diver (diver not driver) and the big fear in that industry was replacement by ROV's (remotely operated vehicles...which could be consider semi-autonomous, at best, rather than fully autonomous).

After having numerous opportunities to work with and around these ROV's their limitations become rapidly evident. The last system I had direct experience with was a top of the line system valued at around $20 million. The tasks performed by these ROV's were far more forgiving, far less hazardous to human safety, and still involved remote operation by a human pilot.

While the operators loved to talk big, the truth is they were nowhere near being able to replace a human being. Tasks, which would take a diver minutes, took the ROV hours. Now look at autonomous technology that's out there, such as what SpaceX is doing. While this technology is incredible, the variables faced by the artificial intelligence in that system are far more predictable than that faced by any human being driving a vehicle down a road surrounded by vehicles being driven by other human beings.

An explosion on a launch pad, that costs no human life, sets their launches back months and pushes their future plans out a year or more. They remain constantly aware that if such an event were to cost the lives of multiple astronauts their program will be set back a decade, and therefore they move cautiously towards manned flight. (Bare in mind those astronauts will voluntarily risk their lives knowing the risks.) The variables an AI (artificial intelligence) will need to contend with in order to manipulate a large commercial vehicle down city streets are innumerable! Far more than a vehicle operating in the vast expanses of the ocean or space.

Staying between the lines and following a lane is a no-brainer, but just a tiny piece of the challenge. Then you have to consider the court of public opinion. Right now the attitude is "Cool! Self-driving trucks! We can do it!". Sooner or later though, even if there systems are otherwise flawless and somehow capable of dealing with all the variables they will face on a daily basis, that AI is going to face a scenario beyond the physical abilities of the truck to avoid.

Imagine a van load of teenagers pokes out into the lane right in front of moving, fully loaded, and fully-autonomous, semi. To the right is the Dairy Queen they're pulling out of and to the left is oncoming traffic. It's beyond the physical ability of the vehicle to stop in time so the AI must decide, swerve to the right and take out the Dairy Queen and it's patrons, plow through the van load of teenagers or go head on into a stream of oncoming traffic. No outcome is a positive one.

Were it a human driver it would be yet another unfortunate accident but, if it were a fully-autonomous vehicle there would be a national headline about the unmanned vehicle that just killed four promising young high school students as their photo's flash across the tv. The makers would cry that it was "unavoidable" and provide all the camera footage, but a full and lengthy investigation would still ensue. The general public would very likely become nervous about the technology and face a moral crisis regarding the fact that a computer, and it's manufacturers, are the only ones to be held responsible for the deaths of these children. And just like that you'd have another decade, or more, of job security.

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Another update and a lesson learned!

Days 19-24 (Monday 4/24 - Saturday 4/29)

As far as the training update goes it was a typical week. All of the above over and over. Practice, practice. We both received a significant amount of time out on the road and made several trips to and from the commercial DMV to deliver the truck for other students taking their tests. My wife is doing very well and it has been debatable for a week now as to wether she'd test on schedule or need an extra week or two. At this point it's looking like she'll get a reschedule just to make absolutely sure she's fully comfortable, but I'm blown away with her progress. (Incidentally there are several students, who had previous experience driving manuals and pulling trailers, who are also taking the extra time.) As far as significant events...

Hazmat Security Screening

We drove into San Jose on Thursday afternoon for the screening. The opportunity to finally get over and get it done was not anticipated so, while we planned to fill out the application online in advance, we ended up just being walk-ins. I have to say the whole process was both easier than we anticipated and completely bizarre. As we were making the hour long drive after school we were expecting to get there and find ourselves embroiled in a completely inefficient half DMV, half TSA, mess of a system. We had pictured a multi-hour long wait due to not having an appointment, followed by a 300 pound guy in a TSA uniform rolling our fingers in ink. What we got was something quite different. We arrived to find a small office appearing more like an upscale attornies office. The place was adorned wall-to-wall with sports memorabilia, including cases with signed jerseys, signed baseballs and even Super Bowl rings. Clearly it is a privately owned outfit contracted to perform this service. Adding to the unexpected atmosphere was the fact that every employee working there was a young girl who could best be described as a 12 on the ole 1-10 scale and was dressed to the nines. Yes, even my wife couldn't help but notice this! It was noticeably odd as it seems the management collects sports memorabilia while providing NFL cheerleaders with day jobs! Five minutes after getting there we're called into an office by a young woman dressed as if she were on her way to prom. We provide our drivers licenses and passports, get electronically fingerprinted, answer some questions and off we went. Odd experience but all-in-all, very quick and easy.

The Completely Unexpected DMV Test!! (And the lesson learned!)

So our original DMV test dates have been scheduled for this coming Thursday, May 4th, since starting school. I've been doing very, very well in school and the instructors have felt that I've been ready for a solid week now. Today I receive a call at about 8:00 am from the owner of the school. He tells me that there is a slot open to test immediately! Today! On a Saturday, which I didn't even know they tested on Saturdays! He says that he feels I am "more than ready" then asks if I want to come in and "take a crack at it" and explains that, if it goes south, I can just consider it a "free chance" as I'll still have my Thursday appointment. Next thing I know I'm in the car and on my way. I arrive at 9:15 am and discover that two of us are testing. The other guy is a reschedule and not there yet and, if he arrives, they're gonna give him the 10:00am and I'll sit around and wait till 1:00pm. Needless to say 9:50 rolls around and he's still not there. The instructor calls and the guy says he can't find his permit and won't make it in time (thanks for the heads up!). Just like that...I'm testing right now! My only concern was doing something stupid on the drive that would be an auto-fail, like stopping in a crosswalk or shifting on train tracks. The rest of it I've had down pat for two weeks, especially in-cab and pre-trip. So, as instructed, I'm to do the in-cab first and, of course, there can be no mistakes on this part. I begin with compressor/governor cut-out test...no problem. Applied pressure test...no problem. Low warning light test...no problem. Spring brake test...no problem. I then run through all equipment/gauges as I build pressure for the compressor/governor cut-in test...no problem. I then say "my compressor and governor should cut-in at 100psi and the needle should begin to rise" and then perform the test. Afterward the examiner say's "what pressure?". Thinking she actually didn't hear me I say "100psi". She then says "is that what the instructor taught you to say?". CRAP! Now I know somethings wrong! I think for a moment and, knowing damn good and well it's 100psi, I repeat "my compressor and governor should cut-in at 100psi". She says "is that what the manual says?". At this point I'm thinking "Great! I must have been taught the wrong psi!" because I've studied this a million times and I know it's 100psi. I say "yes, I'm pretty sure it says 100psi" to which she replies "okay, let's go talk to your instructor". Of course I know that's examiner speak for FAIL! My instructor comes over and she tells him my answers verbatim and then explains that I failed to say "NO LESS THAN"!! I said "at 100psi" rather than "at no less than 100psi". Auto-fail and, of course, I knew that all along! I simply got nervous and screwed up my terminology. So just like that I'm back to my Thursday test date! Don't get over-confident! (Won't happen again!!)

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

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"IdleAir" systems at truck stops? (Or Similar systems)

My wife and I have our DMV tests coming up shortly and are about to head off to a company. We have still been speaking with several companies that may be potential options. Today when speaking with a recruiter about their idling policy she told me that their idling policy was loosely enforced and that alternatively their drivers always had the option of using the "IdleAir" systems which could be found at "most, if not all" truck stops and is free of charge for their drivers. I hadn't heard of this system and had to look up the IdleAir website to see what it was. Seems like a cool system but I'm wondering if this is actually readily available and all it's cracked up to be. Is this something truly available at most truck stops? Is it something available at all parking spaces within the truck stops that have it or simply one or two spaces that are always occupied? Is it something you have to reserve ahead of time? Are there alternative brands of this system? (If there's not then I can view the company map to see which truck stops have it and clearly it's not "most" or "all".) In general I'd just like to know if this is something you guys are using daily out there or if it's a rare convenience (or if it's a junk system for that matter).

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

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The Mysterious Split Sleeper Berth Rule

Ok, as a student who has a month before heading off to a company, I'm not fully wrapping my head around this just from the thread. I do however want to have a full understanding how best to manage my time out there so here's a question before I waste a bunch of time studying this. My wife and I are going to be running as a team, is this applicable for teams or is it something that will just never be a factor for us?

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Time for another update (days are flying by)...

Days 14-18 (Monday 4/17 - Friday 4/21)

We continued practicing all the skills we've learned up to this point. To this we added parallel parking to the passenger side as well as training on coupling and uncoupling trailers. Neither of the new skills turned out to be any big deal. If you can parallel park to the drivers side it's an easy transition to the passenger. Coupling and uncoupling is cake and simply one of those things in which you want to be dang sure you're diligently performing all the steps, as failing to do so may turn out ugly! We also got out on the road several times this week. I'm already feeling ready for the DMV test and the instructors agree. My wife, who had a much bigger nut to crack, is right on my heels. Boring as the training portion of the update may be there actually were a few major things to report this week.

Hazmat

My wife and I went into the DMV yesterday (4/20) and both took, and passed, our hazmat tests! As it turned out the horror stories we had been told were completely unfounded. The test was actually quite straight forward, had no surprise questions we hadn't studied for, and was actually relatively easy in the grand scheme of things. Unfortunately, we did end up with a bit of drama from later in the evening. The schools office lady calls us up, somewhat panicking, as apparently another student had taken an endorsement exam and the DMV cancelled the students skills test and forced him to reschedule. For those who don't know, in California you can not take the DMV driving test for a CDL within two weeks of receiving your permit. When you receive your permit the school immediately schedules your drive test as the appointment must be booked way in advance. Our test is exactly two weeks from yesterday morning and we took our hazmat yesterday afternoon. Our office lady was implying that this two week requirement applied to endorsements as well, and that our test may now get rescheduled. This could potentially throw us off by a month as appointments are difficult to get scheduled. I was pretty sure this was BS as the lady at the DMV was made well aware that our drive test was two weeks out and that we intend to go in next week for doubles/triples and tankers. Her response to this was simply to inform us that we needed to get them done prior to the drive test or we'd have to pay for them again. The clarification, as of today, is that I was correct, however the school is still tripping about this other student and requesting that we hold off on doubles/triples and tanker till after we obtain our CDL's. We're debating but at this point I'm thinking we'll go in next week as planned, verify one more time that this has no effect on our test date, and just get them done!

Employment

Our preferred employer changed this week! For months now, well prior to school, we thought we'd identified our top choice of companies. This was a very personalized decision based upon our wishing to drive as a husband/wife team, the type of trucking we're interested in, the obvious criteria such as pay and home time, and even the fact that being able to take our little fourteen pound dog was non-negotiable. This week we received yet another pre-hire from a company we were interested in. They fit all of our criteria and are offering better pay, guaranteed weekly minimum pay (essentially an advance but it's something) AND they will train my wife and I together as a team rather than separate us. (More about that when the time comes). Most importantly I'm getting a better vibe from them. They are far more responsive than the other companies we've spoken with and seem genuinely eager to have us on board. Don't get me wrong, this is a recruiter and I get that, but if a company can't manage to hire recruiters who aren't rude and short with us when their trying to sell us, then how will the company themselves or the fleet manager be down the road? (Pun intended) They also have generally better reviews. Again, don't get me wrong, EVERY company we've looked at has ten bad reviews online for every good one, giving one the impression that this industry is as shady as one that advertises "management positions" and turns out to be door-to-door knife sales! This particular company just happens to have a few less bad ones per good one. You'll have to take my word that my wife and I have zero background issues, zero drug/alcohol issues, we have a strong work ethic and we understand the concept of paying our dues. With that being said our greatest fear is that the horror stories will prove true and we'll end up stuck in a truck somewhere with no available loads and being financially starved for weeks or months. Short stints are anticipated as just part of hauling freight, but long term would obviously be an issue. Online chatter gives one a genuine concern for just such an outcome and gives the sense that this whole venture is a major gamble. If that's a concern for you...then stay tuned as I'll be telling you how it goes.

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

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Help from those knowledgeable in California CDL testing procedures

Thanks ChosenOne! That's the way we understood it from the DMV as well, that we can take endorsement tests the day before the driving test if we wanted. We'll call tomorrow though just to be sure. Regarding the HME clearance, I asked the same lady from our school, prior to having even started school, if we should just go ahead and get that process started so it would be ready upon taking our hazmat tests and receiving our CDL's. She told us to wait till we took the hazmat test. Low and behold we took our hazmat tests today and passed and now will be heading into San Jose next week for the HME. As I understand it that can take a long time to process so our hazmat endorsement will likely be held off till well after we're in company training just because of the HME. I love this school in the sense that I feel they're truly teaching us to drive rather than just pass the CDL exam, I'm beginning to have my doubts about their administrative end however!

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

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Help from those knowledgeable in California CDL testing procedures

My wife and I received our permits here in California, are currently in CDL school, and received a date of May 4th for our DMV driving exam. Apparently there is a California requirement that you may not take the driving exam within two weeks of obtaining your permit (that date has already passed for us and our scheduled date is well beyond 2 weeks from receiving our permits). Today we went in and both took, and passed, our Hazmat endorsement exams. The office lady from our school just phoned us, slightly freaking out, to caution us that another student (presumably from one of their other schooling locations) went in and took an endorsement test and it pushed his date out another two weeks. This did NOT happen to us today and our earliest date in which the driving test is allowed was unaffected. In fact the lady at the DMV even made it a point to state that we needed to do our other endorsements (we're going in for doubles/triples and tankers next week) before our driving test or there would be a charge to add them after receiving our CDL.

So, my questions are: Has anyone ever had the DMV cancel and reschedule their driving test based upon the dates they took their endorsement tests while being a permit holder? Anyone familiar with any such situation in which you had to wait two weeks from taking the endorsement tests rather than the permit tests?

(We will be calling the DMV tomorrow to insure this is not actually an issue as I'm relatively sure the office lady has absolutely no idea what she's talking about. My wife is freaking a bit though as the DMV is currently closed and, if we were forced to reschedule, appointments are booked way out and it could throw us off by a month.)

Posted:  2 years, 4 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Yes, ChosenOne you are absolutely correct, sorry if I wasn't clear. The EDD does not handle WIOA. You have to go to your county career center and, in my area, that will be the same place in which you would go to meet with EDD or perform any of the required things necessary for your unemployment benefits. Multiple agencies within the career center.

Posted:  2 years, 4 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

So this update is likely rather boring. Due to the holiday weekend we were informed prior to beginning training that this week would be fairly lax as a couple trainers would be out for the entire week. This was already factored into our training schedule. Since we had a limited number of instructors nobody could go out on the road and all training was simply continued practice in-yard.

DAYS 9-13 (Monday 4/10 - Friday 4/14)

Continued practicing all in-yard skills. Straight line backing, offset backing, 90˚ alley docking, parallel parking etc. Also continued working on both our in-cab and exterior pre-trip. My wife and I really nailed down the in cab portion this week and are pretty confident we could pass the whole pre-trip DMV exam without issue at this point. (I should mention this was all pretty overwhelming prior to training, so don't sweat it!)

As we had lots of study time this week we hit the books pretty hard for our hazmat endorsement. We're now able to pass virtually any online hazmat practice test we can find and are thinking that we'll go take the real deal at the DMV at the end of next week. Still nervous about it as we've heard many folks say they were doing great with practice tests and then went in and failed miserably due to receiving numerous questions they'd never seen before!

The big event this week was further confirmation from our chosen employer. Up until this point we've had a pre-hire from our prefferred company but it was solely based upon verbal communications. This past week they finished reviewing our applications and completed all the necessary background checks. Good news! They're still eager to have us join the team and will have us in for orientation shortly after obtaining our CDL's! (In the meantime we are still continuing to research and speak with other companies. Options are good!)

Posted:  2 years, 4 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Glad to see some folks are interested! I have an update for the past week but will begin by addressing Lynn's WIOA question.

When my wife and I began researching the possibility of a WIOA grant I honestly thought we didn't have a prayer. I'd read numerous stories about what a nightmare it was and how easily one can be turned down (many from states other than California). My wife and I ran our own company for years and honestly made dang good money, probably more than we can hope for from trucking, and I thought that would be the end of it. Unfortunately, without WIOA we were in a position that paying cash for school would have exhausted the vast majority of our resources and left us in a situation of making one heck of a gamble. As far as income, it seems clear to me that, at least in California, what matters is the income you're currently making now. They don't care what you made in the past or what you have in savings/investments (in fact we were specifically told they didn't want to know), they do however care if you're currently unemployed and what you're qualified to do. In our case we ran our own business for over seven years and had to shut down in December 2016 due to the industry being regulated nearly out of existence. To them the key point was that there was not much for future opportunities within the industry we had experience in. My work history immediately prior to that was commercial diving (diving NOT driving) which has extremely limited opportunities within the state of California. My wife had been a long time homemaker raising three children. These factors combined designated us as "displaced workers", which is exactly who WIOA is designed to help. Worth noting is that nearly every one of the younger people at our school are also attending on WIOA, so if you have not yet established career skills then you are clearly also a prime candidate. The key is to start the process and ASK! In general I believe that issues would really only arise if you possessed experience in a field that currently is in high demand. I'm guessing that if you're currently employed the key would be to stress that you are under-employed and can't make a living without a full blown CDL. Again...ASK! (IMPORTANT NOTE: We were told about two weeks ago by our school that we got really lucky. Apparently WIOA was frozen for a couple months in our county and won't begin giving grants again till July. From what we're told this only applied in our county but it's worth knowing that it can happen.)

So the process: You'll go to your local county career center (typically the place where your unemployment EDD office is). You'll tell them that you're interested in CDL training and inquire about a WIOA grant. (CDL training is a prime educational choice for WIOA). You'll begin with a brief interview with an office assistant type person who will just get your basics. If you appear to be a potential candidate they'll schedule you for an interview in the next few days. The first interview is essentially just someone asking you questions as they electronically fill out the application for you. You'll then be scheduled for a second interview. This individual will be the top-level person who will go over the details of that application. They will then schedule you for the Work Keys Assessment Test. This is a 3.5 hour test which includes math, reading comprehension etc. and is designed to measure your aptitude and ability to be trained. It's important to know that we were told that your score on this test had no effect on wether or not we'd be accepted for WIOA, in fact it seemed rather pointless and I think it's primary purpose was to make sure we'd show up. At that point you'll wait about 3 weeks for processing and, if accepted, you'll start school. After that you'll have a "case worker" of sorts who will check up on you and the school to insure you are showing up for training and fulfilling your end of the bargain.

One last note. We actually identified, and spoke with, the school we wanted to attend FIRST. They pointed us towards the career center and after the whole process we immediately began school at our chosen institution.

Hope that sheds some light on the process for you!

Posted:  2 years, 4 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

I think it's safe to assume that at some point a potential husband/wife team is going to be very interested in this thread. In the meantime however I'm not sure this level of detail is worthwhile, so if you're following along...let me know!

Days 6-8 (Wednesday - Friday)

We continued with practicing our straight-line backing, offset backing (what I was calling "reverse lane change") and alley docking as well as practicing our pre-trip. To this we added parallel parking to the drivers side and began learning our in-cab inspections. By Wednesday my wife had still not fully mastered the straight-line backing, which was of course effecting all other skills, so she spent the latter part of the week working to master that primarily. By Friday she had it down to science!

I got to ride rear seat on one of my wife's on-the-road outings this week. I'm utterly amazed that the girl who couldn't drive a manual car last week is able to drive a semi this week! She even pulled us into a truck stop to get fuel.

By the way, the young man who disappeared on us after having a rough first drive was called by a fellow student and convinced to return to training. Glad to see him return!

Posted:  2 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Day 4 (Monday)

Practiced 90˚ alley docking and pre-trip. Learned that the young man who had no experience driving a stick did in fact get a chance to drive last Friday and apparently did so poorly he was booted from the driver seat until he could get more practice in the yard. He took it so hard he hasn't shown up at all this week. I can't understand why people think they should just know something automatically and get so down on themselves. Don't quit! (Especially on your 2nd or 3rd day! At least give yourself a chance to learn.)

On the bright side, my wife was actually encouraged knowing that it was in fact possible to be booted from the drivers seat as she wasn't. Now she realizes she must have done alright for a first timer. (Again, she also has never driven stick or backed a trailer.)

Day 5 (Tuesday)

Practiced reverse lane changes, straight line backing, pre-trip and went out on the roads for the second time. Awesome drive today! 100% improvement over my first drive! Actually felt as though I was just driving the truck and not hyper focused on every little mechanical aspect. Wasn't enough time for my wife to drive so it will be her turn in the morning. She's doing great with all the in-yard maneuvers though!

Posted:  2 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Hi ChosenOne. Ours was just the 18 question renewal test. Relatively easy however my wife got a few of those famous DMV oddball questions that you have to answer the way the DMV wants rather than with common sense. She easily passed on the second attempt. Something for folks to be aware of though as we had no idea it was required.

Posted:  2 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

DAY THREE (What a day!)

We arrived at the yard early as always and were told by one of the other students we were heading out on the road today. Neither my wife or I could believe it as, after all, it was only our third day! Our instructor arrived, got everyone working on their pre-trip and brake tests, and told me to hop in as we were headed out. Bare in mind that while I've driven stick for years the concept of double clutching and the process of downshifting is completely foreign to me. Thus far our yard maneuvers simply involved 2nd gear and reverse. I also have to admit the most nerve racking concept to this whole adventure has been the idea of driving a semi on tight intercity streets in traffic. Somehow I managed to drive that dang truck for over an hour, first on farm roads, then on the freeway and then right through downtown in heavy morning traffic! Left turns, right turns, through construction...you name it! Missed a few gears here and there but all in all it went relatively smoothly...especially towards the end. Then it was my wife's turn. I was told to tell her it was easy so as not to freak her out. As I said she's never even driven a manual car. He had her start in fourth and she immediately killed it as she never had to accelerate in second or reverse. Then, after a moment of sitting there, off she went. As she drove out of sight I think I was far more nervous for her than she possibly could have been for herself. The instructor took extra time with her and they ended up being gone for about an hour and a half. In the meantime I practiced my pre-trip and tried not to dwell on how unbelievably stressful this had to be for her and just hoped she didn't completely freak. Low and behold though the truck returned with her still at the wheel. She had gone everywhere I had gone and more. She admitted to killing it a few times, some at very inconvenient locations such as right in front of a cop, but she did it! It was then that a young man in his mid-twenties ran up to us wanting to know how she'd done. Turns out he's never driven stick either and was nervous as could be. His final words to us were "I can't even back up yet, I can't believe he's gonna have me drive!". Turned out he just rode along on that one.

So that's it guys. That's where we're at. Tomorrow is Monday, day four, and I'll try to give you an update at the end of the week. Sooner if something particularly interesting happens. So far we're loving this school as it's a trial-by-fire and then they give us all the behind the wheel time we need to practice. Perfect training method for us. I'm blown away by how much we've learned in three short days and especially impressed by how quickly my wife is taking to it. We have a pre-hire from our chosen company so hopefully, with a lot of hard work and a little luck, we'll have plenty to document here as the process roles on.

(Incidentally, I will purposely be withholding the names of our school and the company we eventually hire on with so that nothing I say here has the potential of jeopardizing our careers.)

Posted:  2 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

YARD TRAINING

DAY ONE

This past Tuesday, March 28th, we were called by the school and told we were starting the next day. Now a little background is required here. I have done plenty of things outside my normal comfort zone. I worked as a commercial diver in the Gulf of Mexico for a few years, received a pilots license at seventeen, I've driven just about anything that doesn't require a CDL, I've been skydiving, rock climbing, spent years scuba diving, and we routinely captain our 44' sailboat up and down the California coast and even make night passages. I'll pretty much try anything. My wife, on the other hand, has been a homemaker and an instrumental part of our company for the past seven years but has never driven a stick, never backed a trailer and certainly never driven a semi! Day one we were given a basic run through and immediately placed in a 10 speed with a 53' trailer and began straight line backing....alone! All of our training at this school will always be with a 53' trailer. The instructor simply had us alternate from 2nd to reverse as he walked alongside the truck instructing us how to turn the wheel. I was blown away to see my wife accomplishing this as this was WAY outside her comfort zone! She was utterly stunned when the instructor did not get into the truck with her! When it wasn't our turn to drive we practiced the exterior portion of our pre-trip inspections. By the end of the first day we were both successfully managing to perform a straight line back all the way through the cones without the instructor anywhere near us. Having some experience at backing trailers I was able to quickly get to the point of accomplishing it successfully on each pass. My wife still required a pull up here and there but I find her progress far more impressive as she had never done anything even remotely like this!

DAY TWO

The second day we were thrown in the truck and walked through the process of a 90˚ alley dock. As with the day prior the instructor would walk beside us telling us how to turn. Initially we began from a position about 30' out from the cones but were moved into the DMV required distance after we had the basics. Once I had successfully performed this a few times with the instructor I was cut loose to practice. I nailed it the first time and then proceeded to completely pooch it the following three times. I then got out and allowed a 23 year old guy, who is now in his second week, to practice as I watched what he was doing like a hawk. After that I nailed it four times in a row. My wife and I had been separated for this and she was over practicing her pre-trip. Afterward we swapped out and she began her alley docking as I headed for the pre-trip. Occasionally I would get a moment to stop and watch and she was doing it like a pro. Later she told me she actually found the 90˚ alley dock to be easier than the straight line backing. -Continued-

Posted:  2 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

The Beginning

My wife and I have done a considerable amount of research into the possibility of becoming a husband wife OTR team over the past year. In doing so we have come to greatly appreciate those who chronicled their journey in almost diary like ongoing threads, wether they were solo or team, as reading them has shed a great deal of light on the whole process for us. In keeping with that I thought I would do one of my own in the hopes it may be equally as helpful to future readers. I will continue to add to this thread throughout our training and into our future in the industry. (This will be the first and therefor lengthy as I'm catching up.)

We are in our early forties and for the past seven years have owned our own company. Unfortunately we found ourselves seeking a new career and shutting our doors as of December 31st 2016. As we had seen this coming in advance we had been looking into trucking for quite some time. We've been accustomed for nearly a decade now to being joined at the hip 24hrs a day, both in our working life as well as home life, and actually live aboard a sailboat together, so the concept of life and work within the confines of a truck was not much of a stretch. In late January we began the process of obtaining CDL school financing through a WIOA grant (Workers Innovation and Opportunity Act) here in California. For those who may have questions regarding this process I'd be happy to tell you our experiences or answer any questions you may have. We had already looked into the school we wished to attend and had even begun speaking with recruiters regarding potential employment upon obtaining our CDL's. As the process of obtaining our grant continued throughout the month of February we continued communicating with both the school and recruiters. In early March we were informed of our grant acceptance and began school on March 6th.

CLASSROOM AND PHYSICALS

Upon starting school our first order of business was to begin studying the CDL manual to obtain our CDL permits. Due to needing to obtain and schedule our DOT physicals, and the scheduled yard time for the school, we were given until March 23 to complete the process. Considerably longer than normal, and considerably longer than we had hoped for that matter. On the morning of March 23 we each took and passed our physicals and drug test and received our two year cards. That same afternoon was spent at the DMV where we each took, and passed, our general knowledge, air brake and combination vehicle tests. Unfortunately, the school never informed us that we may be required to take a class C renewal test. I passed all four and received my permit, unfortunately my wife missed one more than was allowed on the class C renewal and had to go home that night and cram for a retake. Needless to say she was not to happy to have been given a completely unexpected test she didn't know to study for. The fact I had passed it didn't help. The next afternoon she went in and passed 100%, receiving her permit as well. -Continued-

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