Profile For Verminator

Verminator's Info

  • Location:
    Lafayette, IN

  • Driving Status:
    Rookie Solo Driver

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    2 months, 4 weeks ago

Verminator's Bio

I'm a 54 year old male, married with four kids (ages ranging from 9 to 18). I'm originally from the People's Republic of California, but I currently reside in Lafayette, Indiana. It was nice to escape from the socialist utopia for somewhere a bit more sensible.

I tell people I'm a 'recovering aircraft mechanic'. My other past work experience includes poolman, construction work, customer service rep, former crew member for Rare Bear (Unlimited air racer), real estate agent, test driver for VW and BMW, and insurance inspector.

My hobbies include firearms, model rocketry, motorcycling, and reading.

I'll be starting with Roehl under their GYCDL program at the Gary, Indiana terminal at the end of August 2020. I will be joining Roehl's national flatbed fleet.

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Posted:  1 week ago

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Roehl Phase 2 training – Sept - Oct 2020

My Phase 2 training is complete. I tested out on Friday, 10/16/20, and will go out with a flatbed day cab on Monday and Tuesday, in order to get some tarping and chain securement experience, as I have been on a curtainside rig for the last three weeks. On Wednesday, I should be assigned a truck, and get started with my first solo load!

Testing out at the Gary terminal was straightforward, consisting of coupling to a loaded flatbed trailer, performing a thorough pre-trip, walking the instructor through an in-cab brake check, driving around Gary on both surface streets and freeway, followed by a return to the terminal for a backing maneuver into a tight spot between two trailers (took me a couple of tries), and ending with de-coupling from the trailer. I passed without issues, other than allowing my tandems to cross a double yellow for a moment on a tight left hand turn. As I said to the examiner, “not my finest moment!”

I had intended to post regular updates during my Phase 2 training, as I did for the Phase 1 Get Your CDL program, but I had underestimated the amount of free time I would have available. Like, big time. The pace of operations during Phase 2 training was definitely the most unexpected factor for me. I had envisioned that we would be given relatively simple loads, with long timelines, allowing plenty of extra time for practicing load securement, backing, learning about operations such as logging, workflow processes, company paperwork, etc.

Oh, my goodness, no. I was quickly relieved of this misconception.

We ran at a frenetic pace, and it was not uncommon for me to drive my full 11 hours each day (or very close to it), with my trainer taking over to push on for another hour or two before shutting down for the night. I often thought that I should post a quick update at day’s end, but I valued those few extra minutes of rest too much to even dig out the PowerBook.

We hauled a variety of product, including solid & hollow core doors, steel racking, huge Cummins industrial engines, OSB sheeting, Aluminum coils, and concrete pavers. As my trainer operates a curtainside, we secured using only straps.

Our travels took us through Indiana (my home state), Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa. I had never been to several of these states before, and the constantly changing scenery was a real thrill. At one point in Kentucky, driving down a rural highway through rolling verdant hills interspersed with red barns and white rail fences, I said to my trainer "THIS is why I wanted to be a truck driver!"

My trainer was great, and was very patient. We had no serious conflicts, although tempers ran slightly high on one occasion when we were behind schedule and I was making mistakes regarding workflow on the DriverTech PC. No big deal. I knew from studying posts here that living with a stranger in a phone booth for a month would be no picnic, so I actually expected more conflict, and was prepared to muddle through as necessary. We shared similar senses of humor and tastes in music for the most part, and got along very well. Although he did have a predilection for banjo music. Now, don’t get me wrong - I love a good banjo tune or two. But all day?!?

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Overall, I have no complaints regarding Roehl’s Phase 2 training. I do have some suggestions that I think could improve efficiency of operations, but they are minor. Once I have a couple of days tarping and chaining experience, I feel confident that I’ll be ready to hit the road solo.

I hope to meet some of you TT members out there soon! Drive safe!

Posted:  2 weeks, 2 days ago

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Roehl Phase 1

Congrats Mike!

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I completed Phase 1 with Roehl at the Gary terminal last month.

I’m currently on the road in Phase 2 with my trainer.

Best of luck going forward, and hope to see you out here soon!

Posted:  2 weeks, 2 days ago

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Game: Perfect Driving Song

China Grove by The Doobie Brothers.

Also a great takeoff song for air travel.

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

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Roehl/TMC/Maverick

Thanks!

I'm home now. Went to the BMV and got my temporary class A license this morning.

I'm scheduled to roll out with a trainer for Phase 2 next Thursday 9/24.

We were advised after Phase 1 that we could take up to six days at home prior to starting Phase 2.

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Congrats! Will you go home or go straight into phase 2?

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Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

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Roehl/TMC/Maverick

Today is my last day in Roehl’s GYCDL program. I passed my CDL exam on Wednesday.

My experience here has been very positive. All staff and instructors are friendly, helpful, and patient.

I’m looking forward to my Phase 2 training starting next week.

As far as training goes, I can heartily recommend Roehl.

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

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Roehl or CFI?

I am on my last week of Roehl’s GYCDL program in Gary, IN.

My experience has been overwhelming positive.

I am very glad I chose to come to Roehl.

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

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Start date with Roehl GYCDL program - Gary, IN terminal - 8/24/20

Test day – 9/16/20 – Let's get this over with.

Finally, test day has arrived.

My two classmates and myself were driven to the test site by our instructor. The first in our group passed his test (total test takes about 1.5 hours). I was next.

I missed a few items on the exterior pre-trip due to nervousness, but the examiner was very helpful, and would ask questions to help get me back on track.

My in-cab and air brake tests went fine.

My backing exercises went fine, although I came close to going out of bounds on the parallel, and the rig was a bit "catywampus", and wasn't straight as I had done many times in practice. Regardless, it was inside the box, which is all that matters for the purposes of the test.

My road test went well, although I read every single sign except for the two that the examiner asked me about. Ug. Oh well. She joked that "I had to get you on something!"

In the end, I passed the exam.

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A huge weight off my shoulders, and I can now relax for the last two days of class, which will consist of cargo securement (I'm a flatbedder). Then I will proceed to Phase 2 training next week, which will entail sharing a truck with a driver trainer for about three weeks.

Roehl did an excellent job of preparing me to take the CDL test, and I am very happy with my choice.

Hope everyone is staying safe, and I will provide updates on my Phase 2 experience in a new thread.

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

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Phase 2 Training Roehl

Best of luck, BadgerLand! I hope you get a great trainer.

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Stay safe & have fun!

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

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Start date with Roehl GYCDL program - Gary, IN terminal - 8/24/20

Week 3 - 9/6/20 to 9/12/20 – Practice & more practice.

This last week consisted of more repetition of the three backing maneuvers, along with road trips around the Gary area.

My backing skills were noticeably improved by week's end, and I am able to consistently get the rig into the box for the parallel maneuver, which had been the most challenging for me. I still occasionally screw up my initial setup or entry into the box, but our instructor has shown us how to correct each mistake and get the rig where it needs to be.

On Wednesday, we took a practice CDL exam with a different instructor. I aced the exterior walkaround, then confidently climbed up into the rig to start the in-cab portion. I went through the initial in-cab pre-trip, tug test, and service brake test without issue. Then came the four-part air brake test, which must be completed perfectly - any item missed or performed out of order results in an automatic fail for the entire CDL test. I had been practicing this portion daily, and was confident. However, I guess I attempted to rush through, and completely forgot to release my parking brakes prior to applying the service brake for the applied leak test. I explained each step as I proceeded through the test. Then I stepped on the service brake. My instructor immediately said "That's a failure right there." I was stunned, and thought for a moment he was joking. He obviously read the bewildered expression on my face, and asked "What did you forget?" I began mentally retracing my steps, and my eyes fell upon the parking brake controls. Both were happily set where I had left them - in the applied position. Dammit. I couldn't believe it. I was seething with anger at myself that I could be so careless.

Anyway, I have since been practicing the same procedures, but am making a conscious effort to slow down, and take my time. I guess I'm subconsciously rushing in order to just get the test over with quickly. The instructor called it "The Magic Of The Clipboard." He's not kidding. I performed that pre-trip with my classmates many times over, with no problems. First time I have an instructor with a check sheet sitting next to me, I blow it! Grrrr...

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We are scheduled to test next week on Wednesday 9/16.

I know I'm ready, and several different instructors have told me I'm ready and should have no problems. I just can't help worrying (a bit) that I'll pull some bonehead move such as nailing a curb or forgetting something on the airbrake test. I'll just have to take my time, and make sure that doesn't happen!

Posted:  1 month, 3 weeks ago

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Start date with Roehl GYCDL program - Gary, IN terminal - 8/24/20

Day 11 - Fri 9/4/20 - Better!

Today was a better day.

Shifting was back to 'normal' for me, which means an occasional grind or missed gear, not on every downshift. I think I figured out what my problem was yesterday - seat position. I didn't adjust my seat further back (I'm about 6'2") when taking my turn at driving, and I think I was clutching deeper than normal, probably hitting the clutch brake just enough to foul things up. Only thing I can think of.

Our instructor took us to a new area today, featuring some very tight turns, including a 180 degree right-hander. I had oncoming traffic on that one, and cut back a moment too soon instead of staying wide, and kissed the curb with my rear tandem. Will remember to hold out longer next time on that corner.

Backing practice after lunch went well. I managed three repetitions of all three maneuvers just fine, both right and left side.

Both my co-students had difficult days yesterday, so I could certainly empathize.

I also heard that I probably won't be testing next week - the staff and management agreed that they want to avoid having students testing at different times, and so I will likely test the week of 9/14 along with the rest of my class, which is fine with me. More practice = more experience = smoother.

Hope everyone is doing well, and stay safe!

Posted:  1 month, 3 weeks ago

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Start date with Roehl GYCDL program - Gary, IN terminal - 8/24/20

Day 10 - Thurs 9/3/20 - I knew this was too easy...

Well, today was my first 'bad' day.

Our day began with backing practice. I had no problem with the straight back, but struggled a bit with the offset. My initial setup was off a bit, and rather than pulling up, I tried to correct, which resulted in some pretty big oscillations. I managed to complete the maneuver after a few minutes. The parallel backing maneuver, however, completely defeated me. My initial setup was perfect, but I initially backed too far before straightening out, and even with two pullups, I couldn't seem to get a feel for how to get inside the box. My instructor then came over and said 'go ahead and pull back out, set up for a sraight back, and let's go to lunch.' So I didn't get a chance to finish. I did worse on backing today that I did on my very first day.

After lunch, we went out driving. Today we took a new route through unexplored territory around Valapariso and Michigan City, IN. When my turn came to drive, I began having trouble with downshifts - specifically coming down in the higher gears. Shifts that had been coming easy for me over the past week were now mysteriously uncooperative, with me grinding almost every downshift, and sometimes drifting along for several seconds in neutral (a big no-no) before getting into a gear. I took my time, thought about my clutch engagement, RPM, and road speed, but couldn't figure out what I was doing different. I got so discombobulated that several times I forgot my current gear position - something I previously hadn't done. My instructor was very supportive, and said, 'sometimes you just have an off day'.

The weather was quite windy, with gusts up to 30 mph or so. Even with a flatbed trailer, the rig was noticeably affected, and it took constant corrections to keep centered in my lane. I had two lane departure warnings during my drive time, which were the first I've had.

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On the way back to the terminal, we were waiting for a train at a crossing. I was so frazzled by my inability to downshift that I forgot NOT to shift while crossing tracks, and did so. I couldn't believe I did it, but I did.

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I didn't hit anything during my drive, so that is some consolation. All in all, it was my worst day so far. Very frustrating and concerning, as I still don't know what my issue was with the downshifting.

My instructor remained positive, and said 'Don't worry about it - just come back tomorrow, and have a better day!'

Here's hoping tomorrow will go smoother!

Posted:  1 month, 3 weeks ago

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Start date with Roehl GYCDL program - Gary, IN terminal - 8/24/20

Go getem Verminator. Just passed my road test up in Marshfield today. Hope to see you join the ranks next week!

Thanks, BadgerLand!

Congrats on passing your tests! dancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing.gifdancing.gif

Posted:  1 month, 3 weeks ago

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Start date with Roehl GYCDL program - Gary, IN terminal - 8/24/20

Day 9 - Weds 9/2/20 - Unexpected News

Today we were each allowed to drive the CDL road test course. The course itself is not difficult, consisting of about 3 miles of freeway and the remainder made up of city streets & local highways. There are two tight right turns which are challenging, but manageable.

After lunch, we practiced our backing maneuvers. After backing practice, my instructor asked how I was feeling about everything, and I told him I felt good and was enjoying training. He then announced that he has decided that I should take my CDL test next Tuesday, which is a week ahead of schedule. He says I’m ready. I was surprised at this, and a bit concerned about the minimal amount of practice I’ll get between now and then. He advised me not to worry, as he was pretty confident that I could pass today. That made me feel better about my chances.

This was an unexpected development. Over the last few days, I had been running over in my mind the things I wish to improve upon before taking the exam… now I’ve got just tomorrow and Friday to make whatever improvements I can! No pressure!

Anyway, I’m excited, terrified, joyous, and worried.

Who knows what tomorrow may hold?

Posted:  1 month, 3 weeks ago

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Start date with Roehl GYCDL program - Gary, IN terminal - 8/24/20

Day 8 - Tuesday 9/1/20 - Forward, backward, rinse & repeat

Our day began as usual with practicing our pre-trip inspections. I have the exterior portion memorized and am at about 95% on the in-cab and brake checks - just need a bit more repetition and practice.

Our instructor yesterday told us that he had pretty much showed us everything necessary in order to pass the CDL exam, and that from here forward, it will be lots of repetition in order to get comfortable with all the techniques we have learned.

The final student in our group had his 'training wheels' taken off yesterday, meaning he was directed to leave the industrial park area where we began our street driving, and drove to a truck stop a few miles away. He had a few rough patches, and stalled the truck once (which led to some frustration on the instructor's part), but made it there OK.

After lunch, our backing practice included the three maneuvers (straight line, offset, and parallel), with each of us getting several turns at the wheel. During backing practice, the instructor and the other two students are out of the truck, so it's kind of fun to be solo for a few minutes, if only in the yard.

Along with the instruction received during the day, Roehl uses a web-based video-centered instructional system from J.J. Keller, consisting of about 35 'chapters', each of about two or three hours. The first half of the course consists of information already covered in obtaining your CLP, so it's a bit redundant. Frustratingly, the system occasionally crashes, losing your progress, and forcing you to start the chapter over from the beginning - most annoying - happened to me twice and at least once to my roommate.

Feeling more confident with my driving each day. I actually look forward to my turn in the seat. The only nerve-wracking times for me are left turns, where you really have to watch that trailer on any cars waiting to turn left from the street you're turning on to. Our instructor is very good about reminding us to take it slow, slow down during turns, and monitor our tandem's progress through the intersection.

Looking forward to tomorrow's drive time!

Posted:  1 month, 3 weeks ago

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Start date with Roehl GYCDL program - Gary, IN terminal - 8/24/20

Day 7 - Monday 8/31/20 - Pushing a chain

Saturday's class (Day 6) consisted of all classroom time, discussing trip planning, and an introduction to the DriverTech ELD system used in Roehl's trucks.

Today's class began with a trip out to the industrial park for driving practice. I was selected to drive us out to the area, which I did with no incidents.

I don't think I mentioned that our training truck is a 2013 Freightliner Cascadia in fire engine red. Good shape overall, and well maintained for the most part. Knowing the abuse these poor training trucks get, she is in remarkably good shape!

After some practice for the other two students, one of them was selected by the instructor to drive us to a truck stop, and then back to the Roehl terminal for lunch. His training wheels are off! Our instructor advised that the one remaining student will be "kicked out of the nest" tomorrow, meaning his training wheels are coming off as well.

After lunch, we began backing training on the backing range. Our initial lesson consisted of backing in a square pattern of four turns around the backing range, while our instructor walked along side the rig and talked us through it. It was easier than I expected, with the biggest challenge being to understand the need to make small adjustments in trajectory and to catch any undesirable trailer movement early, so as to avoid large oscillations back and forth.

Later, we proceeded to the strait line backing area, and were required to back the rig through a line of cones (about 75 feet long) with approx. two feet on either side of our wheels. I managed this without too much trouble, and only had to pull up one time out of four exercises.

Towards the end of the day, we performed our first offset backing and parallel parking exercises. These were again done with the instructor walking alongside the rig and providing instruction.

I have heard backing a trailer compared to "trying to push a piece of chain". I didn't find it too difficult, having some experience moving aircraft with a tug - the principles are similar.

All in all, I am happy with my performance, and know from reading many similar threads here on TT that it will all become easier with experience. Our instructor advised yesterday that he has pretty much shown us everything we're going to need to learn, and from now on each day will be repetition and more repetition in order to hone our skills.

Talking with the other six students in our class, I think we are all progressing at a fairly even pace. A few still have their training wheels (have not yet left the industrial park area for city driving), but they should be moving on Tuesday. Everyone seems pleased with the program so far, and I have heard no significant complaints from anyone.

Again, I'm very happy with my choice to join Roehl, and am looking forward to my next turn in the seat.

Posted:  1 month, 4 weeks ago

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Start date with Roehl GYCDL program - Gary, IN terminal - 8/24/20

8-28-20 - Day 5 - Turned loose upon an unsuspecting public!

Today after completing our pre-trip inspections, our instructor took us out of the terminal to a nearby industrial park in Prospect, IN, about 10 miles east of Gary.

There, we each took turns driving on city streets for the first time. We each would complete several loops around the area, each loop consisting of two right turns, and totaling about 2 miles. It was a great area for new drivers, as there was minimal traffic and good visibility, with a 30 mph speed limit.

I missed a few gears, but did well with lane positioning and offtrack control. Towards the end of the day, about halfway through the loop, my instructor asked how I felt. I told him that I felt good, and he said "OK, good. At the stop sign, I want you to make a left turn." This would lead us out of the industrial park. I calmly said "OK". Inside I was thinking "Oh, man. Am I really ready for this?" However, I had faith that my instructor would talk me through anything I needed to do, so I took a deep breath and made the turn. Slowly and carefully.

He directed me through several left turns and about 10 miles of driving, until we reached a truck stop, where he had me park. He said I had done very well, and said "Your training wheels are off." That felt pretty good!

On my return from the truck stop back to the industrial park, I did kiss a shoulder (not a curb) with my tandems during a right turn, but that was my only mishap. My instructor mentioned that any shoulder or curb contact during my drive exam would be an automatic fail, so I will have to make certain that my first one is also my last one.

When we reached the industrial park, we realized that there was not enough time remaining in the day for the other students to drive again (we had been delayed earlier in the day by needing to have a trailer tire repaired at the terminal). My instructor said "Guess what... you're driving us back to the terminal."

The trip back consisted of a mix of streets through Prospect and Gary, followed by a stretch of Interstate 94. Traffic on I-94 was heavy at first, but eventually I was able to get into tenth gear (briefly). Practicing what I was taught under the Roehl Safe 7 system, I continued to be amazed at how absurdly close many truck drivers follow other vehicles. During the brief 15-or-so minute drive on the Interstate, we saw many trucks following perhaps two or three car lengths behind other vehicles, often at speeds over 40 miles per hour. I had always noted that some trucks seem to follow others rather closely in my own driving or motorcycling, but now that I have actually driven a truck, it is so much more apparent at just how much these poor driving habits are needlessly endangering the drivers themselves as well as others on the road.

All in all, it was an exhilarating experience to be in control of such a mammoth machine. It is an almost indescribable feeling of immense power to have at your control. I fear it may be addictive.

I cannot wait until my next turn in the driver's seat!

Posted:  1 month, 4 weeks ago

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Start date with Roehl GYCDL program - Gary, IN terminal - 8/24/20

8-26-20 - Day 3 - Trailer day!

Today was our first day driving on the range with a trailer. Before driving each day, we start by practicing our pre-trip inspections.

After about a half-hour of pre-trip inspection practice, our instructor demonstrated how to couple to a trailer (in this case, a dry van), and we took turns driving around the practice pad and yard. We will practice with a dry van for several days, then once we head out on the road, we will be using a flatbed trailer.

Things went pretty well overall. Each of the three of us had some challenges, but nobody hit anything - so it was a good day!

We also spent some time in the simulators, practicing backing maneuvers. One scenario involved one of my (and probably most rookies') biggest fears - having turned your rig down a rural highway, you soon realize to your horror (after a eighth of a mile or so of twists & turns) that you are on a route prohibited to trucks. The simulation started with a police car with all lights rolling positioned across the road directly in front of you, blocking both lanes of a two lane road. Another police vehicle then drives slowly past you on your left, who will act as your escort as you back down the road, returning to the main highway. It was challenging, but I completed it with only a couple of pull-ups. Slow and steady.

We had a bit of free time afterwards, and the sim instructor let us have a bit of fun driving around offroad and running into trees.

Another very good day. I continue to be very happy with the program and the quality of the instruction at Roehl.

Tomorrow, we will be leaving the yard, and driving our rig with trailer on city streets for the first time. Should be exciting!

Posted:  2 months ago

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Start date with Roehl GYCDL program - Gary, IN terminal - 8/24/20

8-26-20 - Day 3

First day of driving!

My group (three students, one instructor) were directed to the practice range, where we took turns driving our tractor bobtail. Our truck is a fire engine red 2018 Freightliner Cascadia which has been modified to have three bucket seats in the sleeper section, rather than a bunk. Two students observe while one student drives, and the instructor rides shotgun, offering instruction and advice.

Things went well overall. One student in our group had a very difficult time with shifting in the beginning, but with continuous instruction, he was shifting much smoother by later in the afternoon.

Later in the day, we were directed to bobtail around the yard, which introduced the added factor of traffic - from virtually every direction!

I had some problems with downshifting (grinding or unable to locate a gear), but am learning to rev the engine a bit higher than I would think necessary in order to get the downshifts to drop in smoothly. Our instructor encourages us to "kill that spider" - imagine a spider is beneath the accelerator, and to stomp it good! I also have a bad habit of deep clutching and engaging the clutch brake, which I am working to overcome.

Between driving times, we are also practicing our pre-trip inspections.

Tomorrow we will be driving with a van trailer. Looking forward to it!

Posted:  2 months ago

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Prospective New Driver...plz help!

I don't pull either due to possessing a higher IQ.

I resemble that remark!!!

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Posted:  2 months ago

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Start date with Roehl GYCDL program - Gary, IN terminal - 8/24/20

Day 2 - 8-25-20

Today was all classroom time, spent on learning The Roehl Way, and the Roehl Safe 7.

The material was presented as a mixture of live instruction, video, and slideshow media. The instructor (Will) was entertaining, knowledgeable, and kept the class very engaged.

Today's classes really drove home to me the gravity of the responsibility all CDL drivers hold. Particularly moving was one video from the VP of Safety, who asked each of us to imagine that in the next few minutes, someone came to the classroom door, pulled us out of class, and gave us the worst possible news we could imagine. He then paused for several seconds to allow each of us to think about that situation, and to imagine what that news would be. Noting that most of us probably envisioned that the news would be regarding the death of a loved one, he asked us to then imagine that WE were responsible for someone else receiving that kind of news.

I'm not attempting to be dramatic, but for me at least, it was a very emotional experience. The instruction today made me even more determined to be a safe driver, and to never allow myself to become complacent about safety. My long term goal is to join the Million Mile club on the terminal wall.

Much of the Roehl Safe 7 is (as the instructor indicated) common sense, and the seven individual concepts have been used before in many different driving systems such as the Smith system, various defensive driving schools, etc. I was previously a test driver for BMW, and was put through their B2 advanced driver training, which incorporates several of the Safe 7 ideas. The Roehl Safe 7 simply brings all these critical behaviors together in an easy to remember system.

Later in the day, we began completing paper logs for our training time, and discussed HOS rules & regulations. We also received our photo ID badges and gate cards.

At day's end, we were provided with hi-viz safety vests, and had a brief tour of the yard, including our first look at the practice driving areas, and at our training trucks.

Our instructor advised that tomorrow morning we would begin by performing our pre-trip inspections on our training tractors, followed by our first trips bobtail driving around the yard.

I can't wait!

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