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PJ's Comment
member avatar

Day 7: Start of week 2

Woke up and got ready for another fun filled week. I looked out the window and the snow was coming down. My truck had about 1 inch all over it. Oh boy I knew this was going to be interesting. Temp was 20 degrees.

Got to the terminal and out to the truck. We did our morning pretrip ritual and got it started to thaw out. As it got to be daylight and we finished up the pretrip guess what, it quit snowing. The ground and everything else was frozen. Roads weren't too slippery in most places, just some select ones.

Bob showed up and was very pleased we were done with the pretrip. He asked how Saturday went, and if we enjoyed being off on Sunday. We discussed the pretrip exercises and I explained the difficulty I had with the routing matching the miles they gave us. He asked if my miles were somewhat close. I told him they ranged from 18-25 miles off. He asked if I got the math right on travel time, driving time, and where to take my breaks that were needed. I told him that part I had down, it was just the route selection I thought since the miles didn't match up.

He looked and me and grinned a bit. He said I was fine, and not to worry about it as long as I understood how to do the math. I was a bit puzzeled. He said everytime we get a load assignment we will get directions with it. He admitted a few years ago the routes were very lacking, but they have solved the problem. The past couple years they have been pretty good. He told me the only thing we will have to do is verify the computer didn't make a mistake against the atlas, and he strongly suggested we use a gps as another check and balance. He told me its sounds like I'll do just fine.

We went out for a bit and got to drive around on the somewhat slick roads in town, back to the yard for a alley dock and straightback. My partner drove first, then me. It felt like I was starting all over again this morning, only difference was this week I knew the difference between the dipstick and gearshift....

After being away from the truck for just 2 days I found myself doing stupid stuff. Upshifiting late, grinding gears on downshift, and turns were a total pain.. They turns did seem to come up much tighter than last week, and a lot of these routes were different. My backing was terrible I thought, although I did get in the box. It just felt akward at first.

We got 1 run each before lunch.

After lunch we repeated the process again and this time I was able to settle in and did much better in all areas. We told Bob no more days off for us...lol...He agreed and promised we would have no more days off before our cdl exam...It's Friday...

This is definitely the stress week knowing it's make it or break it on Friday. I'm not going to dwell on that now though, cause I have to focus on getting a few things smoothed out.

It's going to be cold again tonight, somewhere around 13 degrees. Starting wed. though we will get up to the mid 40's and dry.....Yay....

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.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Yeah it started snowing at my house yesterday evening and now I woke up to 4 inches of snow and 18 degrees! I wasn't expecting it to get that cold. I live 45 miles ESE of Buffalo, NY. So it's a winter wonderland here.

Looking forward to hearing how things go for ya later this week! smile.gif

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PJ's Comment
member avatar

Day 8:

Cold this morning, (13 degrees) but no more snow or ice. Was cloudy over night and things at least stayed dry. It warmed up to 22 degrees for the high today. Tonight more of the same, but tomorrow weather man says a warming trend is coming for the rest of the week. High's in the mid 40's. Never thought I would say I welcome 40 degree's, but I'm there.

Today we got to the terminal and continued practicing our pretrip. We got it to about 40-45 minutes start to finish by the numbers. Bob has moc tested us twice now and he's being very very picky. Today he said we're making his job very hard because we are doing so well.

Went out and drove and drove and drove. Every city street in Marshfield we could and some long country roads, and some freeway. Again Bob was being picky, with his comments.

Did some backing in the morning that went very well both straight and alley dock. Late afternoon got back and tried again and this time a struggle. Bob said this is very common at this point and said he is not worried at all.

Got our post trip done and plugged the tractor in for the night. Bob could tell we were beating ourselves up over that last backing exercise. He told us to stop that as of right now. He said we are doing fine, and even with the hiccups he feels we could test tomorrow and smoke the test. Tomorrow we'll give it another round and see where we are at for Thursday, which is typically fix it day and the big dance starting at 0700 hrs on Friday.

As long as things go well, next week on Monday morning we'll pickup our new cdl's and then the rest of the week will be refining and prepping to go out with our otr trainers.

All for this update. See ya'll tomorrow evening. Stay safe!!!

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.

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.

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.

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.

PJ's Comment
member avatar

Day 9:

Woke up and was hesitant to look out the window, but I did. It was perfectly clear and very cold. But to my delight no snow or ice anywhere. Figures since I just bought an ice scrapper.

It was about 13 degrees with a brisk wind blowing. Got to the terminal and pretriped the tractor and got it unplugged and fired up. Sitting there waiting for Bob to arrive. All of a sudden Brian, our other class instructor opened the door. He pointed to me and said "follow us down to the trailers and don't hit nothing". He promptly closed the door. Well we had no idea where Bob was, but we followed Brian's instructions. We hooked up to our assigned trailer and started doing our pretrip on the entire rig. Right after we started Brian came over and followed along, never saying a word. After listening and watching for about 5 minutes he went back over to the other truck, simply saying "carry on". We finished the pretrip outside and then did the cab. We were just about done when he popped back in and asked how we were coming. We told him we would be done in less than 5 minutes. He looked amazed. He said ok then remember the route on the range for the cdl backing exercises. Yes sir was the reply. He said good, go get started.

We drove over to the area for the backing and got busy. I went first. We had no instructor to lean on, and felt a little abandoned. I did my alley dock and with 1 small pull up got it perfectly centered and in. Pulled out and did my straight line, and pulled to the staging area. Brian's truck was still in the dock so we waited. We discussed amongst ourselves about Bob's not being there. Very unlike him. Came our turn and switched drivers and my partner took her turn. She did ok too. Brian came over and by now I was curious and couldn't help myself. I asked where our Bob was. He laughed and said he was test driving a new truck, he would be there shortly. We were relieved. Another fun round of backing and Bob arrived. We were glad too have him back. He asked how we did. We told him how it went and he said "okay enough for now". He instructed me too drive up by the gate and park. I had noticied he had a new clipboard with him, but didn't really think much of it. He said okay from this point I'm not your instructor, I'm your cdl examiner. I immediately felt anxious. He described the procedures we were going to use for the road test.

Then he told us the company had another grading criteria and we would be completing that at the same time.

We took off and as my luck would have it I ground a gear. I was a bit upset with myself. I followed the route as laid out. I have driven these streets several times, same truck, but before I would get feedback from Bob on my success or failures. This time I got nothing. A few turns later I ground more. I had a farm tractor in the way in a bit of traffic and I grind again. Wow how the decisions had to come quickly, and without any hints. I stressed myself enough my back was sweating like crazy. I kept taking deep breaths and tried to relax. We got all through the test route and he instructed me to do an emergency stop. Done. He said test over.

Throughout the route I knew immediately each time I messed up. I tried each time to learn from it and put it behind me. But easier said than done. He started going over his grade sheet. He told me he was grading me very hard, because he had faith in me and wanted me to see what the real world grade would be. I accumulated a total of 19 points. I was not at all happy. He covered each item and explained the reason for the mark. He also told me several things I did very well. Passing the cdl in Wisconsin you can have up to 25 points, so I actually passed but it sure wasn't pretty. He told me if I fixed the downshifting issues I was having and just relaxed I would have scored a 5. That is much better news. I know exactly what I have to work on before Friday. My pretrip and backing isn't a problem, at least at this point.

Then Bob got out another multiple page document. he said ok, this one is the company driving skills assement test, and oh by the way it's the real one. My heart about stopped. He filled it out and signed it. The problems areas were the same as we had already discussed from the cdl sheet. He handed it to me and asked me to sign it. He told me I did very well on it, and we was proud of me. That one actually goes in my file.

My partner went next. She did a awesome job throughout the test. I noticied 2 small grinds, and 1 turn signal issue. Wow she's done really well. We get to the next to last turn and she rounded it off, jumping the curb, and almost collecting a light pole. Oh crap....Automatic fail...

We went to the truck stop that has been our daily ritual, and took a break. Regrouped and my partner tried again. This one wasn't graded on the cdl sheet, but the company sheet was graded. She passed also.

I drove again working on my down shifting and I actually found if I narrative drive I do much better with the shifting. I asked Bob if I could do that with the examiner, and he said sure, do what you gotta do. I felt better after the afternoon tuneup on the shifting.

We went back to the backing range for a bit more practice, and I stuck it 2 more times without any pullup and pretty centered. Bob was smiling from ear to ear. My partner worked very hard on it, and was able to get back to back acceptable scores.

We ended the day on a high note at least.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

It sure is different when you feel you're being tested, even though you know it's a practice test. It's great you guys are doing that. It will certainly help you relax for the real exam.

Keep in mind that the CDL examiners are going to grade you not only on your driving, but on your demeanor. They want to see that you can handle the pressure. They want to know you can make a mistake and recover quickly without having an anxiety attack.

One of the things people will do when they get nervous is stop looking at the gauges and mirrors. The examiners will be watching for that. They don't want to see people "lock up" where they get tunnel vision and lose their awareness of the gauges, the road signs, and the vehicles around them.

So actually practice staying calm and relaxed while you're driving. Make sure you're always reading the road signs, scanning the gauges, and watching your mirrors. And when you do make a mistake, try to kinda brush it off like it's nothing. Focus on the moment and plan for the future. Forget anything that happens quickly and move on.

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.
PJ's Comment
member avatar

Day 10:

Well nice weather today. I never thought I would admit 40 degrees is nice weather. But it sure beats 13 degrees we had for 2 days.

We went through the cdl tests again today from pretrip, drive test, and backing. I was able to relax, take deep breaths and I did much better today. We got 2 mock runs today. So we are at 4 total and Brett your so right it has helped me too relax and just drive the way I know I can. Bob, stressed very hard the concept of recovery for the examiner. He said things are bound too go wrong, but keep your head, make a good recovery and he has even seen examiners that didn't mark the problem because the student did so well at the recovery and took care of business in a safe and effective manner.

We cleaned the truck up and pretriped it again to just be sure a light didn't go out, or something happened while we were driving this afternoon. Truck is staged and ready to roll tomorrow bright and early.

Bob is very confident we will both do fine. He even started explaining some of the company in and outs he says we will need to know shortly. He told us we have been a joy to work with and thanked us for our hard work. He is very dedicated to training good drivers.

Well Tomorrow's update be the biggie!!!!!

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.
Zen Joker's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the detailed entries PJ. This future Roehl hopeful is cheering you on from 2 1/2 hours north from you in Eagle River, WI. Keep up the good work!!! good-luck.gif

PJ's Comment
member avatar

Day 11:

Woke up to nice weather. Only 28 degrees. A little icey in select spots, but not as bad as it could have been. Got my pickup warmed up and some coffee. I gotta have it to start functioning somewhat normal....Got to the terminal and our trucks were staged and ready.

Met in the classroom ay 0645 hrs. and our examiner walked in smiling from ear to ear and greeted us. He handed out some paperwork, gave us the instructions what we needed to do and gave us a pep talk about he knows were nervous, but he assured us he's been doing this along time and he can spot nerves from driving problems. He told us as long as we could control the 2 so they didn't meet in the middle we would be fine. He was actually kind of a jokester and made us all feel at ease pretty quickly. He went over the process and order we would be following and was ready to roll. I was last on the list.

The company told the instructors to park us for a bit due to some icey conditions. The examiner seemed a little bummed. He then offered a solution. Do our pretrips up to the point of the lights and incab, that should give mother nature a chance to fully cooperate. Then I realized since I was the last driver, I got to go first on the pretrip.

We walked out to the truck and got right down to work. He gave me his instructions and away we went. Got through the mechanical inspection and went back to class. We cycled through everyone and the sun had come out and we were ready to drive.

While we were sitting around we took our week 2 written test and graded it, watched some perception videos and answered the questions. Killed off as much time as we could. Got down to the first 2 finishing and doing well. The company decided to take our pictures for our company ID's and get a little paperwork in order for next week. If we screwed up and didn't pass just shred and hit the delete button I guess.

I finally got my turn at 13330 after sitting around since 0645. Ah well all part of the job. No biggie. Went out finished my pretrip, and we got rolling. Went out and drove around nice bright sunny day. After about turn 3 things were going well, but I felt my back sweating like crazy. I had left the window down after checking my steering wheel freeplay, but damn it was getting hot in there. I told the examiner I had been talking to myself to keep me on track when I was nervous, and it was normal for me. He smiled and said there was nothing wrong with that, if it helped to go for it. I was doing ok, but then a car cut me off and I reacted to it, but I didn't talk to myself and I ground the transmission down shifting and that caused me to not be very smooth. I got a little miffed at myself and took a deep breath and but it behind me. My whole problem has been grinding a little here and there.

We got almost to what I found out later to the end of the route and had 2 lights flip yellow on me at the last moment. I was covering my brake and stopped alright. Both times the front bumper was just slightly across the stop line. Damn I didn't like that, but I really didn't know what elese to do, cause running the yellow was sure a worse solution.

We got done, and I even remembered to hit the button after my emergency stop. I felt okay with the trip given the events that occurred, but knew I was going to get dinged on the stop lines and a few grinds.

We headed back into the terminal and to the backing area. The backing was the one single thing coming into this that I knew I would struggle with. I have worked very hard the past 2 weeks on it and felt pretty confident.

We got down to the backing range and I was able to keep my mind on the goal and my backing was dead on perfect. I was still nervous but saw the end in site. As I was finishing the straightline backing the examiner told me it was just about over. I saw in the mirror I was about 50 feet from the end. I replied "yes sir and in about 50 feet I can start breathing again". He found the humor in it at least.

We got done and he told me to drive back to the staging area. He said Congratulations, unless you do something very stupid between here and the parking area, you passed. I felt like a heavy weight just got lifted from my chest. it wasn't the best in the world, maybe not even the best in the class, but I didn't care. I did my best given the situation and I passed.

After we parked he started doing some paperwork and going over my results. He pointed out each mistake and why he marked it. Nothing suprising I already knew, then he told me he was impressed with my backing results. He told me a lot of people in my position that have trouble it is most often in shifting and backing. He said it was very clear to him I could safely handle the rig, and knew when something was amiss, and he was very satisfied I knew what to do about it.

I scored a total of 11 points, 9 related to shifting, then the 2 stop lines. This wasn't pretty but well within passing guidelines, so all is good.

I PASSED!!!!!!!

I feel good with it simply because I know I did my best and was able to show I know what to do even if things don't always go the way we would like.....

Zen I am glad to hear your looking at coming onboard. I am very happy and pleased here. The trainers are all awesome......

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brian's Comment
member avatar

Congrats PJ! I've been reading every post and I must say it was very detailed. Glad you made it through, now you'll be on your way to the next phase. Hopefully you get a great trainer for phase two, it'll be a different time actually being out there on the road. I'm sure you'll do great though!

Look forward to hearing from you on the rest of the phases!

PJ's Comment
member avatar

Thanks Brian, got 1 more week here with some more driving, and actually trading in the paperwork for the actual CDL. Since I'm out of state I'll have to swap my license when I go home, No issue at all. This last week will be meeting and greeting some key people, some more driving, and getting us ready for the OTR trainers, that will pick us up at home. They say that is Phase 2, which is all performance based and can last up to 13 days. This week we will also be assigned to a fleet training manager. I will be sure to keep the updates going through the entire program for sure. I haven't had this much fun in along time...

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.

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.

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