Lunchbox's Little Adventure

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Lunchbox's Comment
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I am getting ready to start my final week at my current job before getting everything situated. I had mentioned in a earlier post about giving some background and I guess I never did so here goes:

The past 5 years I have been working for a Medical Device Company in Lewisville, Texas. The company I work for manufactures Spinal Implants, External Fixation Devices and Bone Growth Stimulators (if you want a run down of the specifics hit me up and I will chew your ear off for days about some of the cooler stuff we make.) I started as a Quality Inspector, working with optical comparators, Visual Measurement Machines, and other technical measuring devices (yes micrometers and calipers are in there as well but they aren't as cool as the ones I mentioned.) After working there for the first 4 years they "Promoted" me to Document Control where they sat me behind a desk and had me work on the Labeling end of things. Labeling Medical devices is a completely different animal as far as all of the FDA Regulations that must be followed in order to create a label that is legal to put on any given device. It was in this position that I realized something VERY IMPORTANT... I am not a people person. I can interact with people on a limited basis, but when it comes to people who either can't or won't do their job properly or to the letter, it really gets me going. I grew up in a Military Family, and as such, I take responsibility very seriously. If I am told that something needs to be done a specific way by a specific time, by God it will happen. Unfortunately for me, my deadlines never took into account the fact that other people needed to weigh in or even take over part of my work. And once that happened, all hell broke loose. My deadlines weren't met at times because people wouldn't get their stuff done so I could finish my work, or they just thought it was too complicated and gave up.

This is why I am drawn so heavily towards Trucking. My deadlines will be My Deadlines. I can't stand life in a cubicle. I prefer to be responsible for my work and only my work.

This final week will be the longest week of my life it seems...40 hours left in the cubicle (which is bare now) and then I will spend a week at home getting some unfinished projects taken care of before starting my CDL training and taking off on a new adventure. The anticipation for a move like this is both exciting as well a nerve racking. It's the stepping into the unknown that is the scary part, but on that same coin that's what is so exciting. The High Road Training here has been INVALUABLE and all of the people here at TT have given so much advice and information that I honestly feel as though I have a better than decent picture of what is to come.

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.

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.

Joshua J.'s Comment
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Whats it like getting use comparators? Im finishing my Engineering degree at the end of april, and I had an entire course dedicated to measuring devices and metrology but we didnt have a comparator.

I embarked on the whole college thing as a way to take my 'vacation' after getting out of the service, I knew I wasnt going to be an engineer but I enjoy learning and tinkering and uncle Sam pays my rent while im doing it. rofl-2.gif

Now that Ive got my heart set on trucking for the next 5 years, Im sure I wont ever get to use some of those really cool tools;especially some of the PLC Robotics. That said, I don't miss the quality control aspect of it at ALL, I don't know how you kept sane doing it!!! I look forward to hearing more about your upcoming adventures at Roehl, and wouldn't mind getting my ear chatted off about QC/manufacturing/metrology whenever you bring it up.

One quick question though: The FMCSA is supposed to be putting out guidance on hair testing which it hasnt done yet (or is using some form of witch craft to hide it from all of my search queries) that said, did Roehl collect hair samples or Urine? I ask because afghanistan left me bald, and if I gotta hair test I need to start growing out my hair now (and start looking like friar tuck haha)

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

Fm:

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Lunchbox's Comment
member avatar
One quick question though: The FMCSA is supposed to be putting out guidance on hair testing which it hasnt done yet (or is using some form of witch craft to hide it from all of my search queries) that said, did Roehl collect hair samples or Urine? I ask because afghanistan left me bald, and if I gotta hair test I need to start growing out my hair now (and start looking like friar tuck haha)

Roehl has you do the DOT Urine test (part of the DOT Physical) and they pay for their own Hair Follicle test. Depending on who you go with I would ask the recruiter with the Carrier you are planning to drive for about what tests you will need to take.

FMCSA sets the guidelines and like with any industry that's the loosest anyone can go...Individual Companies are allowed to tighten their controls as much as they want. For example, FDA guidelines requires a medical device to be properly labeled indicating the type and contents. The company can go even further and label for the most restrictive items in that container (the Surgery Kit includes implants and instruments, instruments can be reused but implants cannot. The Surgical Kit can then be labeled as do not reuse as they are labeling for the most restrictive even though the instruments CAN be reused.)

Does that make sense?

The FMCSA regulations are the bare minimum that companies and ME's are required to do but they can be more restrictive at their own discretion (hence the big hulabaloo about Sleep Apnea , No official ruling, but an ME can categorize it under a respiratory ailment.)

The hair on your head isn't the only hair they will take. They will take hair from wherever they can get it. Facial, Pubic, Arm, Leg, anything they can cut enough of to get a good sample (about the size of a cotton ball is needed.)

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

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.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

Fm:

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

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.

Joshua J.'s Comment
member avatar

Makes perfect sense, thank you! Im tracking that they can take other body hair (minus pubic) but they require it to be 1.5" long, or so every testing requirement ive seen says.

My issue, is Im not a hairy guy, and don't have any hair longer than 1", so Ill have to grow my hair out on my head and look a little ridiculous lol. I might try growing out a beard, havent tried since highschool and the Army wasn't conducive to one. Its either that or get labeled a refusal, I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Lunchbox's Comment
member avatar

Finished up my last day as a Document Control Specialist. Just got home from my farewell Happy Hour. From here on out it's Trucking for me baby!!! One week for getting my affairs in order (that honey do list the wife has been getting for me while i have a week off.) Then it's time to start my training a Roehl. Can't wait. The anticipation is just murder. I AM SOOOO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lunchbox's Comment
member avatar

Got a call from the Recruiter today just to verify my travel arrangements. Not much to verify as the terminal is about 34 miles from my home. I found out that at this time (5 days before class starts) that I am the only person signed up for the class. This is going to be interesting. I will have 4 weeks of training where I will be the only one learning. It will be good as I will get A LOT more 1 on 1 time with the trainer and loads more time behind the wheel.

The excitement is real at this point...I took this week to get my Honey Do's finished around the house and have been getting a lot done. I have been studying and trying to get as much of the Theory down as I can before class starts so that when it comes to the practical part I will be ready to go.

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.

Lunchbox's Comment
member avatar

Day 1:

Arrived at 0630, and filled out lunch request, I am indeed the only person for my training class (it's going to be a long 4 weeks). Did the Pre-Work Screening (blood pressure, resting heart rate, lift weights from waist to overhead, push 80 lbs, pull 100 lbs, squat and duck walk to the center line of the trailer behind the tandems and stay squatted for 20 seconds, then repeat). Gave the trainer my documents (medical cert card, long form, Social Security Card, CLP , and Birth Certificate.) After all of that I filled out my new hire paperwork and received FMCSR book, Haz Mat book, Truck Stop Directory, and JJ Keller Training manual. We watched 2 safety videos (construction zones and entering/exiting the truck/trailer safely).

After that we broke for lunch at 1200. After lunch we went over Hours of Service and filled out a paper log book.

Once we had the first day mapped out on the paper logs, I was treated to a 45 minute video on Pre-Trip Inspection (not being sarcastic as it was a detailed and very involved instruction of the full Pre-Trip Inspection explaining what to look for and why we look for it) I was then tasked with working through the JJ Keller book (Thank you High Road Training for preparing me) and was able to knock out the first 22 chapters worth of quizzes rather quickly.

To finish off the day, my Trainer and I went out to one of the Trucks and he had me read off the entire Pre-Trip Inspection while walking through it. This is where being the only student is both a blessing and curse, we don't have anyone else to split it up with so I will be in charge of the full pre-trip every time we go through it. Did a little bit of shifting Choreography and I was informed that tomorrow morning as soon as I get in at 0700 (I will of course be there by 0645) we will run through the Pre-Trip again and then head off to do some bobtail driving.

Class was dismissed at 1715 and what was a 40 minute drive to get there was an hour and a half to get home (due to rush hour Traffic here in the DFW area)

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

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".

Fm:

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.

CLP:

Commercial Learner's Permit

Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

Lunchbox's Comment
member avatar

Day 2:

Arrive at 0645, filled out lunch order and then proceeded to finish up my J.J. Keller book questions (have all the chapters done now). After that, we went out and did a full pre-trip inspection on the truck. I am still working off the checklist but didn't need to look at it for a few of the items needed to check. After our pre-trips we went out for a ride with a student and instructor for the class that started two weeks ago. I was able to watch the student and see what i have to look forward to when my time comes (he was pulling a "loaded" trailer while we were out).

Got back to the yard at 1130 and the instructors left to get our lunches so we worked on studying the pre-trip checklist until they got back. Lunch at 1200 (like clockwork I am told).

At 1230 we finished lunch and got our logs caught back up, I was brought out to watch the others do some backing while my instructor explained some of the theory behind what they were doing and how things should line up. Once the backing was done we went back out for another ride with the loaded trailor. My instructor had to go with another previous student to do his driving test, so when we got back to the yard I was told that the other instructor would take care of me for the rest of the day.

1445, we get back to the yard, uncouple the trailer and get back inside the cab. This time the instructor took the wheel and we headed back out onto the road. We went to a very large and empty parking lot where the instructor had me come up to the passenger seat and he explained what he was doing and the route we would be taking. At that point he unbuckled, got out and told me to take the reins.

I have never been more nervous or excited in my entire life, but there I was, double clutching , shifting up, shifting down and did a pretty decent job. Decent enough in fact that after about 20 minutes of up-shifting, down-shifting and turning around, the instructor had me set the parking breaks and the other student took the wheel. We drove a few minutes and the Instructor said to go ahead and make an emergency stop, which he did, and told me to come back up into the driver seat. I then instructed to drive around a 1x2 block area (traffic was VERY light where we were) making stops, turns, up and down shifting (I was getting up to about 7th gear). BOY DID I START MAKING MISTAKES. There were plenty of times where I would grind the gears a bit and have to recover, bring the tractor to a complete stop to get it back into gear because I would miss the shift and get flustered, but overall the instructor said I actually did a brilliant job for my first time in a Truck. We agreed, though, that he would tell my instructor that I did Terribly and that he is going to have his hands full this month just to see how he reacted in the morning.

1715 we get back into the yard and do a post trip inspection, get our things together and head home. Overall, I have to say, it was a pretty amazing day. I did pretty well today and am confident that this is DEFINITELY something I can do. I have a lot to learn and freely admit that, in fact, that's part of the reason I wanted my instructor to be told that I didn't do as well as I actually did. I want to absorb as much information from these guys as possible while I have that resource close at hand. Class finished up at 1730 and we all headed out.

Day 2 is in the books and I am totally looking forward to Day 3.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

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.

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.
Lunchbox's Comment
member avatar

Day 3:

PTI at 0800, left the yard for some bobtail driving and drove for about 2 hours working on shifting and situational awareness. Got back to the yard at 1000 and finished up some safety videos. Took a break and came back to grade the JJ Keller quizzes. out of all the questions in the 33 chapters I only missed 19, which is pretty good since there are a total of 495 questions to answer.

Broke for lunch at 1200 and came back at 1300. Coupled the loaded trailer and headed out for another hour and a half of driving. THAT was an experience. Turning for the first time with a 53' trailer is insane. The ride was much smoother though with the weight in the back, up and down shifting was much smoother with the gravity effect you get pulling a Trailer. I bumped one curb while turning today out of about 15 or 16 turns we made. The instructor said that was less than he expected and told me not to worry about it that much. He seems surprised that I am catching on so quickly. I told it was simply that I was truly listening to what he was saying and not just hearing it.

1430 we got back to the yard and took a 15 minute break, grabbed some water and then worked on straight backs. I was quite crooked the first few times, but after about 4 or 5 attempts with help I was able to start putting it in the hole pretty consistently. For my final back the instructor had me back the ENTIRE length of the yard into the spot and gave me NO HELP. I parked it perfectly straight and got some unexpected praise even from the student who is finishing up his 3rd week. Class is going well and I am getting plenty of time behind the wheel.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Lunchbox's Comment
member avatar

Day 4:

Arrived at 0645 Pre-Trip @ 0700 Drove 50 Miles through city traffic and some highway mileage Took a break at QT after fueling up (15 Minutes) back to the yard Lunch @1200 Straight Line backing Break Straight line Backing and Offset Backing Post Trip Inspection and de-couple the trailer Left the Yard at 1730

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