CDT School In West Babylon, NY

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Michael A.'s Comment
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First of all, I'd like to say I have been lurking on this site for the better part of a year, and it has been immensely helpful and interesting to read the stories of others. I have been wanting to enter a driving career for more than a year now and this site (along with others, including some of the popular trucking YouTubers) helped me to decide that, yes, this is what I want to do next. Plus, with utilizing many of the practice tests on here, a bit of help from my dad who is a former truck mechanic, and reading the CDL manual more times than I'd like to admit, I was able to pass all of the written tests on my first try. I don't say that to brag because that is not really an impressive feat to me, and certainly not to those who have been doing this for a long time, but to show that I want this that badly.

I'm writing this blog (I guess, I don't like that word but that's really what this is) because I have a few friends and family who are also interested in what I will be doing and this will be a good way to document it. They all know how excited I am to finally start this after chewing their ears off about it for long enough!

Actually, I was originally signed up to go to a technical school for CDL training last month, but unfortunately there was low enrollment so the program was cancelled. I was referred to this private school, CDT, and they have been extremely accommodating and helpful in getting me into their program and it was quite easy to get my info switched over. It's a 160 hour program so there is not a whole lot of time but certainly more than I assume I would get in company sponsored training. Regardless I will do everything I can to make the most of those 160 hours. Tomorrow is the first day of the class and I don't know exactly what will be in store for me but I will try to update this at least twice a week. For now I will be relaxing and watching the NASCAR race that is about to start!

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.

Dm:

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.

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

TWIC:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Big Scott (CFI's biggest 's Comment
member avatar

Welcome Michael, good luck with your training. I am from Long Island. I look forward to your posts.

Michael A.'s Comment
member avatar

Welcome Michael, good luck with your training. I am from Long Island. I look forward to your posts.

Thanks! Lots of LIers moving to North Carolina these days, especially the Raleigh area. I'm sure you fit right in, haha!

Day 1: Well, it was interesting to say the least. We arrived at 7:30AM and got started a bit later. Although I have a permit already the first day was all permit prep. I know a good amount of this stuff but since we will have a final exam at the end of the classroom portion of training I can’t skip this part.

Essentially we went over section 1 and most of section 2 in the CDL manual word for word, mixed in with videos regarding some basic theories of driving and some interesting stories from our instructor, Mike, plus a few breaks in between.

There is an interesting group of people here to say the least, everybody has their own story of how they arrived here. I feel like I’m already starting to become friendly with some of the other guys. Half of the group is made up of linemen from PSE&G, the local power company, and they have a different schedule than we do in the career training program. Also I am the only one that is doing a 160 hour course, everybody else is doing a 300 hour course minus one other guy who is getting a Class B license. My assumption is because of this my driving training is going to be one-on-one since nobody else will be on my schedule.

I am glad I got my permit now because this is a lot of info to learn in just a few days. If I hadn’t looked at any of this before I got here I feel like I would’ve failed the written tests. One of the other guys has definitely been studying hard and I think he will do fine on the written tests but I think some of these other guys might drop out, moreso those who aren’t paying to attend themselves since they have nothing to lose.

Overall it was an interesting day and while I won’t actually be getting behind the wheel for a couple of weeks I am definitely looking forward to going back tomorrow!

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Michael A.'s Comment
member avatar

Day 2: Today consisted of finishing section 2 and completing section 3 of the manual for the General Knowledge test. We also watched more videos in regards to safe driving, particularly on grades.

Following lunch we completed a practice test. I “passed” this unofficial test but had some troubles along the way. It seemed like most of these guys had the same rude awakening that I had when I took my permit test - that many of the questions in the manual aren’t covered on the test. One example: the manual never stated anything about off tracking, but one of the questions somewhat vaguely asked “what is a commercial vehicle’s habit of swinging wide?” I knew the answer because I had it covered it on my own before but most in the class didn’t. There were quite a few questions like this on the practice test and I have my own opinion as to why the DMV does this but most people probably wouldn’t like the answer…

Finally the day ended with a conversation regarding the reality of the jobs available to us once school is over. Most of the guys in my class want to do local work, I’m one of the few who wants to do OTR. Now I’m not trying to buy into the whole “rookies MUST start OTR” deal, I do actually want to do it. As were told though many of these smaller local companies will not hire us without the experience. Mike did recommend ABF Freight as an LTL company to look into who might hire out of school. --- Day 3: Today was the Air Brakes and Combination Vehicle portion of the CDL manual reading. Honestly this part seemed a lot easier than the General Knowledge. I aced the air brakes practice test and only answered a few questions wrong on the Combination Vehicle practice test. The ones I got wrong were mostly because of the wording of the questions. It’s a moot point since as I stated earlier, I have my permit already.

Tomorrow we have the day off as we’re supposed to get our permits then. I also have Friday off but I don’t think the guys doing the 300 hour courses do. I kind of wish we could actually start some driving practice then but it’ll come in due time I suppose. So now I get to be bored for the next 4 days until next week!

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.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Combination Vehicle:

A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.

Dm:

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.

DMV:

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Michael A.'s Comment
member avatar

Week 2 - Day 4: Today was the defensive driving course. I’ve never taken a defensive driving course before but it was pretty much just common sense stuff and more videos showing graphic images of accident scenes basically. I could really use the 10% off of my insurance though since I currently pay $155 for just my pickup (it was $182 before I turned 25 last year!). I assume it’s only 10% off of liability though, whereas I have full coverage.

We have a new instructor named Lenny, I believe he is the head instructor and will be in the rest of the classroom time. We filled out some more paperwork after the defensive driving was over, and the 300 hour guys have to fill out log books to mimic the process of logging while driving.

The most exciting part of the day was when I had to get a jump from another student because I stupidly left my headlights on before heading into the classroom. I’ve never done that before but I don’t think it’ll happen again!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Michael A.'s Comment
member avatar

Day 5: Today we went through the HazMat and Tanker sections of the CDL manual. Apparently you can pay to take the HazMat course separately and it showed, there were a LOT of people there today! The parking lot was jam packed, and with the tight aisles and spots I had to pull in and out of the spot I wanted about 6 times and I still wasn’t totally straight, but I was late as it was so I simply said to myself I’d fix it later. (which I did)

Now I have been trying to study for the HazMat test on my own but it has been my biggest hurdle so far. There is less common sense type info in the manual and practice tests and more questions regarding forms and paperwork it seems than anything else. I did learn some new things like what “non-ferrous” meant and how waste manifests are supposed to be organized but some things I still get confused by. I answered 41 out of 50 questions correctly on our practice test so I would’ve passed but I know the real test will be harder and I’m not totally confident in my test taking abilities. Thursday is the day we’re supposed to go and try to pass the test but it’s not needed to pass the class nor can we actually get it until we get our CDLs.

On another note, I found it interesting that people in other states say “I walked into the DMV and passed all the tests at once,” because you can’t do that in NY. You have to have a permit to take the HazMat test here and you don’t actually go to TSA until you have the CDL. You also can’t get doubles/triples on a permit here as of last year.

The tanker test seems pretty easy. The section in the manual is only a few pages long so that gave away the fact that it’s easy right there. I messed up a bit on the practice test but still got 25 out of 26 correct.

That was done by 2pm though, the rest of the day was just watching videos, including the episode of Modern Marvels on truck stops. Now to review my notes for the HazMat test.

Also is there a way to edit posts on this site? The organization of the Day 2 and Day 3 posts is bothering me. Irrational I guess but I'm a bit OCD when it comes to stuff like that.

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

Manifest:

Bill of Lading

An accurate record of everything being shipped on a truck, often times used as a checklist during unloading.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Dm:

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.

DMV:

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.

Michael A.'s Comment
member avatar

Day 6: We did a few things today. First was the air brakes adjustment course. Now most of us know pretty much all air brakes today are auto adjusting and have been for a long time, but I guess this is still important to know in case of an emergency.

We started out with a “match” quiz, where 15 parts and pieces of the air brake system were listed next to a blank description, and you have to match each piece to its description. Following that was some more videos about how to adjust the slack adjusters properly. This was shortly followed by using the real life air brakes demo on the wall, with a brake chamber on a dolly attached separately. Finally some hands-on work!

This was pretty simple honestly. We actually had a special tool to pull on the slack adjuster for this that you stuck around the slack adjuster and under the collar nut. I’ve never seen a tool like that, I always assumed everybody just pulled on it with their hands. Anyway, you set it up, pull on the slack adjuster, tighten the collar nut all the way, test the slack adjuster again to make sure it doesn’t move, back the nut off ¼ turn, pull on the slack adjuster one more time, and finally hit the service brakes to test it.

Finally was the written test, and if you pass it then you get the certification. It was only 10 questions and it was multiple choice, so it was pretty easy. I passed with a 90%.

Following lunch we were handed a copy of the DOT safety regulations book, and went through some parts of it word for word. A lot of this stuff is covered in the general knowledge of the CDL manual, so needless to say this was the most boring part of class so far. We got about halfway through our required reading material and that was that.

Day 7: More DOT regulations. More boredom, not much to talk about here. Again most of this stuff is covered in the general knowledge.

What I was nervous for was to come after lunch. That was when we were supposed to go take the written tests for HazMat and Tankers. We had a half day in class, so after class I went home for a snack and re read the parts of the manual I highlighted for both of those sections. I made sure to go to the DMV after the lunch hour rush and sure enough the place was pretty empty. The Tankers test was first and I aced it, perfect score. Everybody said it was the easiest test so I wasn’t surprised. The HazMat test was immediately after that and even though there were a few questions I hadn’t seen before I answered 28 out of 30 correctly. Easily passed that too. I was surprised by this because I remembered the tests for General Knowledge/Air Brakes/Combos I took a few months before class being much harder than what was in the manual, and certainly harder than the HazMat tests I just took. Admittedly I didn’t read the entire manual when I took those tests but I did know enough to pass and that’s all that matters I guess.

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

DOT:

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.

Dm:

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.

DMV:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Michael A.'s Comment
member avatar

Day 8: Today was all about log books. We covered some more ground in our Safety Regulations book before discussing the hours of service a bit as well as e-logs. After a break we had a visitor: a Werner recruiter. He had some interesting info about Werner and showed us a few things including pay and benefits, info about the trucks they have, special programs, and even some accounts that are currently available. They’re not my first choice but I might apply to them as a backup plan.

After lunch we got our own log books and we went through how to fill out both the graphs and the front page summary. The first couple I messed up by not understanding when they wanted us to right on duty not driving or off duty based on the scenarios they gave us. I still don’t think I totally understand but I did get a bit better. Our final exams will have this so I have to study it.

Big Scott (CFI's biggest 's Comment
member avatar

Week 2 - Day 4: Today was the defensive driving course. I’ve never taken a defensive driving course before but it was pretty much just common sense stuff and more videos showing graphic images of accident scenes basically. I could really use the 10% off of my insurance though since I currently pay $155 for just my pickup (it was $182 before I turned 25 last year!). I assume it’s only 10% off of liability though, whereas I have full coverage.

I just caught up on your posts. Glad to hear you are doing well. Years ago when I first took defensive driving you could get points off your license or 10% off your insurance. My dad needed to get the points off. I wish they had that here in NC. My folks told me that the course is now online. In NC you have to have your TSA check done before you can take the hazmat test. Good luck.

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

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Michael A.'s Comment
member avatar

Yeah it's interesting to hear how different states work in regard to all of this stuff. I'm surprised to hear the 10% off of insurance thing isn't a nationwide thing, I wonder why. As for the endorsements it's a bit different too because you can't get doubles/triples on a permit either, but tankers is just fine. I don't suspect anything will go wrong with the background checks and fingerprinting since I have no criminal history or mental illness history, but I have to get the CDL first.

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.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

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