Truck Driving Trainers And Instructors, What They Do And Don't Know

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PR aka Road Hog's Comment
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You would think that being with a CDL school that sends you out with an instructor and a trainer, that the 'teachers' would know what they are teaching, right? Not necessarily the case. For instance, I had an instructor that tried to tell me that HOS rules, were merely 'guidelines' and didn't need to be followed. He was under the impression that being parked for 34 hours straight constituted. 34 hour restart, and that if it didn't he could simply call dispatch and have it fixed on the qualcomm. I tried to explain to him the need for 2 consecutive 1a-5a periods, but that simply incited him to think I thought I was better than him because I read something somewhere.

On another occasion, I had a trainer tell me that legal limits on a tandem is 35,000 pounds, instead of 34' and that on the steer tires, 11k was recommended, but 12,500 was allowed. This same trainer also has me going down 7% grades that are 5 miles long in 10th gear, than chew me out for smoking the break pads. He is under the impression that the jake breaks running at high rpm's is bad for the transmission. Silly me, i tried explaining that the the higher rpm's are Actually what made the jake breaks more efficient, and for that I got a 15 min lecture on how he has been running this way his whole life (10 years) and the jakes work just fine in 10th.

This same trainer is under another impression that I am hoping someone, or several folks can help clear up for me. When it comes to tandems , Indiana says you can be no more than the 7th hole. My trainer is telling me that ONLY refers to deliveries being made within Indiana, whereas I am under the impression that simply running through the state of Indiana requires my tandems to be in the 7th hole or less.

Can somebody clear this up for me? Thanks

Finally, watch out for yourselves out here, and learn all you can from this website, it is full of good information that can save your life, and keep your record clean. Had I not done my research here, my trainer would have had me running into California with a load that was 200 pounds over weight in the sixth hole. My trainer was going to ride around the weigh stations in order to get the load delivered.

I told my trainer I was more that happy to drive all the way to California, but would leave driving in California to him. Oddly enough, when I stuck to my guns on this point, we turned around, went back to the yard and had the load redistributed. Again, thanks to what I learned here, I assumed we were heavy because of too much weight past the rear tandems, causing a leveraged effect. Sure enough, when they popped the doors, the load was pinwheeled, or loaded in an "X" fashion, 2 pallets, 1 pallet, 2 pallets, etc. the last 2 pallets were all the way to the rear. When the shop reloaded, the last 2 pallets were inside the red line, and we weighed out perfectly.

I learned real fast that this is MY license on the line out here, and as a professional driver, it is up to me to watch out for me, this includes not being taken advantage of by my instructor or my trainer. There is no doubt in my mind, that if I had not stood up for myself, my trainer would have arranged it for me to go over the line over weight, and it would have been my license under fire and my wallet that would have paid the very expensive fine for a very expensive lesson. Drivers, beware, and be prepared !!!

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar
Best Answer!

This thread has been on my mind the past few days, and I've wanted to re-visit it with just a few more thoughts, but I've just been so darn busy I haven't even had the chance to catch my breath. Fortunately it looks like I'm gonna catch a break for tonight and tomorrow, so I jut wanted to jump in here and say a few more things about this subject.

Ending up with a really good trainer is just the luck of the draw, but I think whatever type of trainer you get you should do just like RedGator said and "suck it up". Sometimes in life we just have to accept what we get and not "rock the boat". At the beginning of your trucking career is one of those times.

As rookies, we think that it's real important that we get the best trainer that we can. But in the grand scheme of things it's not that critical. I've chronicled my experiences with what I have termed a "crazy" trainer, and it had absolutely no negative effects on my ability to prove myself a worthwhile and hard-working professional driver to my dispatcher.

Here's my thoughts on what you need to be picking up from your trainer. One of the main things is how to use the qualcomm and how and when you are to send in certain macros so that your dispatcher is kept well informed of your progress on the loads he's providing you with. Another thing is your companies procedures for fuel stops - how and where you get fuel for your truck. And maybe a third thing is how you send in your paperwork for completed jobs so that you can get paid. Oh, and how to get a shower at a truck stop. Also just learning company procedures in general, like how to contact break-down or what to do in case of a flat tire, those types of things. These are the things that you really don't have a clue about and will make your life on the road much more productive and efficient when done properly.

Now, if you noticed nothing in that list has anything to do with actual driving skills.

When you are out with your trainer you are going to be learning about different techniques and skills such as maybe how to set up for backing your truck, or using the jake brakes, and various other things like that. Someone more experienced please correct me if I'm way off, but all of these things will actually be developed and perfected over time while you are out there running solo. You are not going to finish up with your trainer and be considered an expert, nor should you really be expecting for them to finish you off so that you are polished and ready to face the world.

My experience taught me that really that trainer is there to just kind of be a buffer between you and the harsh realities of being out there on the road at the beginning. There are so many new things that you are not going to be aware of until you experience them first hand and that time with the trainer kind of helps ease you into the transition without it being a disaster. I liken it to a little kid taking his first steps. His parents are right there with him at the beginning to keep him from seriously hurting himself if he falls, but once he starts to get the feel for it they begin to back off and what he learns he learns on his own by broadening his comfort level with more new experiences that challenge him but don't damage him.

So, what I'm saying is take what you get, and don't sweat the details. More than likely you will have to use your own filter when with your trainer. If you think he's teaching you something that's off the wall, then it probably is - just nod politely and carry on. You can always come in here and we can set the record straight for you if you're really concerned about something. You'll probably never see that person again in your lifetime, learn what you can from them, but realize that when you are running solo in your own truck that is when you will really be learning a ton of new stuff. When you are out there and doing your own thing it is very rewarding to have those "light bulb moments" like Steven mentioned the other day in his diary on training with TMC. Those are the teaching moments that begin to transform you int a professional, and those are the lessons that you will retain.

I've been out here for six months now and there's not a day that goes by that I don't learn something. Skills get polished, confidence gets under girded, and patience gets tried. But, all in all, the road is going to be your best trainer. The person they call your trainer is really just a buffer to keep you from killing yourself or someone else until you are ready for the real training which comes from being out there on the road making your own decisions and living with the very real consequences of those choices.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

Dispatcher:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PR aka Road Hog's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

I appreciate all the input from everybody, it's comforting and at the same time a bit scary. Like what you said old school, my trainer is supposed to be a buffer from getting myself killed, yet, I feel like what he is teaching / telling me is going to get me killed. The same with "suck it up buttercup" lol. But seriously, this guy is dead serious on going down 6 and 7% inclines in 10th gear, telling me I'm going to tear up his transmission going down in a lower gear because the rpms are so high. I've tried to nicely explain that the engine and jake breaks are BUILT to function PROPERLY at those high rpms, but he threatens to extend my training time, or have me ousted from the program if I don't do it his way, so, I really have no choice but to "suck it up" if I want to complete the training program. And yeah, I hear you guys when you say its a short period, and then I'll never see this guy again. Still, It's just amazing that this is a TRAINER encouraging this type of action.

And your right old school about my trainer being about learning the qualcomm , handling fuel stops and doing paperwork to get paid. He has been good about those things.

And thank you again Brett for this website, It is really scary that there are people like this, training. I am so thankful that I found this website, that I can watch out for myself, and also thankful for all the great folks on here for me to bounce ideas off of, so that I can learn whats right and whats wrong. At the end of the day, I want to be alive and on time.

On the bright side, I have learned how to go down a 6 mile long 7% grade in 10th gear ... not that you'll see me do that when I get my own truck.

I am finally at home for some much needed home time, after being away nearly 8 weeks. I have almost 20,000 miles of training time, and only need another 10K before upgrading to 1st seat. I filed for my passport today, and tomorrow need to swap my CDL over to my home state, and take the written for my HazMat endorsement. I may have to retake my endorsement - again- for double triples and tankers. Apparently they don't carry over. Maybe I will get lucky and my home state will have my original scores on file, and all I will need to do is the HazMat. I will update you tomorrow.

Also, I will be starting another thread for eating and nutrition on the road. I have learned a few tricks these past few weeks for eating well, and will share that along with a few recipes. For now though, I have a cold beer and some warm arms to attend to....

Peace all

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

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

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PR aka Road Hog's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Well it has been awhile since my last update and I am back on the road with my trainer. Just a few short miles from being ready to upgrade to first chair. Perhaps I am getting wiser and learning to deal with my trainer or perhaps I have just learned to keep my mouth shut, but my trainer and I had a "discussion" on HOS. Which is to say it was a one way discussion haha. P Seems my Instructor is under the impression that the 34 hour reset rule has been replaced by the 48 hour reset. Meaning in order to reset your clocks you must be out of service for 48 straight hours.

I asked if I was misinformed when I was taught that the 34 hour reset was still in effect with the stipulation that those 34 hours include TWO periods of 12m-5a. No no he said. The old rules gave you a reset after any 34 hour reset but now you are required to take a 48 hour reset.

Huh, I said. Then why does the main terminal have all those signs up about 34 hours and 2 periods of 12m-5a, I inquired. Those are old signs and the company hasn't changed them out he says. He doesn't k ow why the company is so stupid and misleading the drivers. Gonna get some drivers in trouble. Stupid company. Oh I say and then I sit quietly while I get a 15 min lecture on the new 48 hour reset rules. Of course, he also reminded me of how I was wrong in my understanding of the split sleeper berth. Apparently that is a fallacy. The split sleeper berth doesn't exist he explains.

Afterwards he tells me I gotta be real careful out here. These HOS rules are tricky and if you don't understand them you can't maximize your time and you could even get a ticket

Whew. I sure am glad I had a trainer set me straight on all that. Otherwise I might wonder just how in the world he became a trainer. LoL

Boy I sure am grateful Brett set up this site and I sure am thankful that I found it.

Otherwise I might actually believe him

Peace

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Tracey K.'s Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Brett has really touched on something very important. WAIT, until you are solo for a while before you go to anyone with this. You have notes, so keep them.

You don't wan to rock the boat right from the get go. Give it some time. Focus on you right now. You may step to the new guys that he is training and give them a heads up. But, be careful with that too. You never want to come off as a know it all or a "snitch". Believe me this is a cut throat business and their is more politics involved than most see.

Think about what you have said in other post. The most important was how TT has helped you. Let the new trainee know about us here. We welcome all new drivers and are here to help. You can do the company a great service by sending trainees here and it will help you later down the road when you are ready and the time is right to let someone know about this trainer. CYA. But more important is to look at what YOU can do in the best possible way to help you fellow drivers.

This is a great post and a insurmountable amount of information given. Thanks for taking the time to let everyone know just what has been going on.

THE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH.

Starcar's Comment
member avatar

Pr...thats how you will have to handle this trainer, it seems. AND, he may be testing you, as the other one did. But in the end, it IS your license thats swingin' in the wind...so take care of it any way you have to to keep it clean. Now get out there and continue your adventure !!!!

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

I don't think hes testing you. I think that hes just a legitimate dumba$$. They do exist.

Sounds like he has no idea what a transmission even is.

Personally, I think you're doing the right thing so far. Be professional in everything you do and remember its your license. If you feel unsafe about anything then don't do it. And coming from a person who burnt his brakes on a downgrade before - don't ever go down a hill fast. I'm on a 9 speed tranny and I use 5th for 6% grades. I use 4th for 7% grades so that if anything fails I still have the ability to stop myself before I go out of control.

Its my life and I don't play with downhills. You shouldn't either no matter what your trainer says.

Tracey K.'s Comment
member avatar

Great job, Road Hog!

Thats what I'm talking about. You have learned a great deal and you put it to use. And you have done it very well. I am impressed.

I will check on the 7th hole for Indiana. There was a rule once that if you delivered you had to follow State rules, but if you werepnly traveling through the State you are o.k. I will let you know. But a good question. With rules changing everyday we have to stay on our toes. It is OUR license and OUR money at stake.

Great post!

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Road Hog, you're absolutely nailin' it out there! Thank God you did the research and knew what you were getting into. It's gotta be going through your mind what a catastrophe it often is for people coming into trucking with no preparation whatsoever. They would be clueless about how to handle any of this. This is why thousands of careers every year get ruined before the driver ever even gets out of training. They wind up with lousy trainers or they make bad decisions and wind up getting tossed out of trucking before they ever really had a chance.

for that I got a 15 min lecture on how he has been running this way his whole life (10 years) and the jakes work just fine in 10th.

I wish I could say that I'm shocked a driver with 10 years experience has no idea how the most basic life-saving safety equipment works, but I'm not. I've seen it many times before. I used to pull tanker and I spoke with a driver once that was the same way. She had been driving for like 5 years and said the Jake Brakes were just a waste of money because all they did was make noise. I explained to her how they actually work and she was thrilled. She had no idea how they worked. Well, no big deal I guess. You're only pulling a tanker which is loaded to 79,000+ pounds on almost every load!

wtf-2.gif

Keep doing whatever it takes to keep your license clean and get through training. Once you're solo you'll never have to deal with that clown the rest of your life.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Road Hog, hang in there and don't rock the boat too badly. It's really crazy how we can end up with a trainer that we are having to train ourselves. It's just a temporary stepping stone to better things. You will learn so much when you are out on your own. I had the same kind of experience, I mean I had to show my trainer where his brake shoes were! No kidding! I had warned him that they were looking thin on the front, and he wanted me to show him what I was looking at that made me think his brakes were thin. After ten years of supposedly doing his pre-trips he didn't even know where his brake pads were!

My trainer tried to teach me that when going down a mountain you were only supposed to use the trolley valve for braking. That way you didn't burn up all your brakes, and you'd still have some left if you burned your brakes up! wtf.gif

RedGator's Comment
member avatar

I guess I really lucked out. My school instructors were awesome and Well informed and my trainer was good with helpful tidbits. But overall what got me through my first 6 months was a friend who knew alittle about alot. He knew where all the truck stops were, the best food, best routes and all that helpful stuff. I might not have made it through without him. I really do encourage all solo rookues to find a mentor. Id be happy to help anyone.

HeavyHauler's Comment
member avatar

Tandem slide in Indiana is EVERY time you cross into their state, not just delivering in their state. He's sounds like a Grade A Dumbass.

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Danny S.'s Comment
member avatar

My question is this, if you get a trainer like this do you just stick it out or should you talk to someone to request a different trainer? Most companies say you can do that or is it best as a rookie not to rock the boat? It would seem to me that a person like that should be reported and should not be allowed to be a trainer. I can't believe that a company would allow someone like that to be teaching drivers such unsafe procedures maybe I'm just too naive to understand this but if a company allowed this type of trainer that would make me wonder how if safety is a high priority with such a company and what else would they expect me to do that might be wrong or unsafe. I hope I would not end up with someone like that.

Starcar's Comment
member avatar

Well, it really comes down to SAFETY for you. If you don't feel safe, or he insists that you do something unsafe, or illegal...Then, yeah...I'd be callin' someone at the company to come tie up their loose cannon. But also, sometimes the trainer is just testing you, so its really hard to tell. So safety is ALWAYS a safe marker to go by. The company doesn't want anything unsafe or illegal to go on with their truck, freight, or drivers.... If its anything else...I'd have to say, you need to ignore it, put vicks in your nose, pray for mercy, chew the inside of your mouth til it bleeds, and just remember that it WILL END.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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