Topic 17677 | Page 1

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Jason G.'s Comment
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This question is for drivers.

So I think before getting into trucking everyone probably feels a little nervous about the idea of driving a big truck for the first time. I'm not too nervous about driving forward once I learn how to shift gears and everything. But probably more nervous about learning how to back up the truck. So I know I'll be outside my comfort zone and thats fine. That's part of life and part of this job. But my question is, were you more nervous in your head before your training, or more nervous when you were actually sitting in the driver's seat for the first time learning how to do everything?

My other life experiences have led me to believe that it's all in my head and that when I actually get to school next week, it's gonna be cool and I'll find my comfort zone in these situations that take me out of my comfort zone. It's all mental right?

I start with Wil-Trans and recruiter told me they have simulators we get to practice in. I was excited to hear that because that's how I learned stuff in the Marines before actually going on a live fire range and doing stuff for real. Simulators are really cool for getting some muscle memory before actually getting into the real thing.


Darrel Wilson bought his first tractor in 1980 at age 20, but, being too young to meet OTR age requirements, he leased the truck out and hired a driver.

Through growth and acquisition, Wil-Trans now employs over 200 drivers, and has a long-standing partnership with Prime, Inc. to haul their refrigerated freight. The family of businesses also includes Jim Palmer Trucking and O & S Trucking.

Kurt G.'s Comment
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I wasn't really nervous before getting in a truck. I was a little nervous out on the road because for me at least it was kind of an overload with shifting and worrying about traffic, etc. At least with backing you can take your time, as long as you don't let anyone make you feel like you have to hurry.

G-Town's Comment
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It's normal to be nervous. Fact is a loaded semi is an incredibly intimidating beast, requiring wit and skill to master. Much of this is because you are about to be challenged with a multitude of first-time experiences. Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD factor) will occur with frequency.

Too much nervous energy can create a distraction. The trick is channeling the nerves into positive energy the heightens you awareness, concentration and focus. By doing this you will conquer your FUD.

I was only ever seriously nervous thrice in my career; tackling the Grape Vine as a trainee on my 51st hour, blind-siding at a very busy truck stop somewhere in Cali (again first time) and the first time I drove in a snow storm (I-40 through Flagstaff).

Errol V.'s Comment
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Jason, my thinking is similar to you: I had a bit of experience driving large tour buses (long vehicle, double clutching) before going to truck school. But semi-trucks are different so I expected I would be learning new stuff.

But I was really bowled over finding how difficult backing that trailer was. I got so frustrated I started rethinking my choice to drive trucks. Yes, I did pass the school exam, and got my CDL-A. Over the next several months I did get better.

A suggestion: get a small toy truck and practice on a table. You can see how the tractor and the trailer work.

toy semi tractor-trailerMy first truck was 11"long


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.

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Tastebuds's Comment
member avatar

I know you asked for the opinion of drivers. I just passed my test today, so I don't really consider myself a driver yet, BUT having recently learned all this for the first time more recently than the two salty veteran drivers before me, maybe my experience can help you.

The first time I sat in the driver's seat was to learn how to uncouple and couple the trailer. Was I nervous? HELL YES! I kept thinking of the possibility of dropping the trailer and got really nervous. I got over that quickly, though. On the backing pad, I really wasn't nervous because if I did anything wrong, the most I'd damage are some cones. (An act I later phrased "conedozing"!) With that being said, there's always the chance of hitting a fellow student or instructor that unknowingly wandered in my path, but I used that as an exercise in situational awareness. When we first drove on the road, I was really nervous again. It really hit home that I was driving a huge monstrosity of a vehicle that could cause a lot of damage if I messed up. That, and the two students before me did some real gear grinding and bucking on there turns! Honestly, I think the bucking of the truck scared me more than the grinding did.

Now that I look back at it, I realize that if someone is getting into this job for the first time and are NOT nervous at first, then something is wrong.


Operating While Intoxicated

David D.'s Comment
member avatar

Man if you were in marines getting shot at and watching stuff explode you should be cool as a cucumber learning to drive a truck.

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