Took My Backing Tests For The Third Time...

Topic 13041 | Page 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations


Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.


Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.


Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.


Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Sunrise Driver's Comment
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Hard work and determination pays off.

Jetguy's Comment
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Travis- Neat- what a story. Good for you! You should get the TT Gold Star for the week for most inspiring story. I'm serious too. That was fun to read. Honest too.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Congrats on toughing it out Travis!

The instructors knew well of my reservations against automatic trucks, having refused to practice with them out on the pad or the road.

Keep that situation in mind as you progress through the rest of training with your first company. Being bullheaded is not going to help you. You want to keep your mind open, go with the flow, do what you're being asked to do, and most importantly learn all you can. Remember two things:

1) Mistakes can be life or death out there

2) You never know what situations you will find yourself in someday

At this point all you should focus on is learning all you can and doing everything slowly and safely. Right now as a new driver you have this gigantic black hole where the bright light of knowledge would be if you were an experienced driver. You honestly have no idea how little you know at this point in your career and how much there is to learn. As difficult as the schooling has been I can assure you that was the easiest part of the journey. Five years from now you're going to look back and realize 98% of everything that makes you a savvy veteran driver you learned out on the road. In other words, your schooling only covers about 2% of what you'll need to know to be a top tier driver.

So don't make any assumptions, don't close your mind off to different experiences, and don't get a rigid set of expectations in your mind. Just take it one day at a time, go with the flow, get along with everyone, and learn all you can.

G-Town's Comment
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Great story Travis. Congrats! Grit and determination, two traits that will serve you well as you progress forward.

Safe travels!

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