My Journey Via A Private School

Topic 19032 | Page 1

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ChosenOne's Comment
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I should have started this last week, but didn't. I currently have a Class B Commercial with a slew of endorsements, which you would think would be less hassle at the DMV , a bit about that later.

I am 55, have been unemployed for a significant amount of time, long enough where I no longer receive unemployment, or much else. My wife works, but her salary won't cover the bills, much less the groceries, car payment, etc. We are living off our emergency savings. I am glad we had saved, it is saving us.

I have always traveled for work, and most of my family have driven at one time or another and I used to spend my summers out and about with them. Long story short, I applied for a WIOA Grant, took a few months, but week before last it was approved, and the voucher sent to the school I had chosen. I signed up and started school last week. The school I chose is a 180 hours, and their behind the wheel time is 1 on 1, no other students, just you and the instructor. The school has their own online testing, as well as some other study materials which are state specific. I also used the study materials here and 1 other site. They log the time we spend online with testing materials.

I studied for my CLP for 2 days, the school only requires you have a combination and air brakes, but they encourage you to get all the endorsements you can. I thought I would just test for what I needed to get started, and go back to DMV for the rest in a few days. I make an appointment at my local DMV Office, go in, stand inline for hours, only to be told because I have a Class B Commercial with endorsements, I can only make changes at a Commercial DMV Testing Facility, and they are not one. I look online and the next available appointment is 3 weeks, the clerk at the local DMV called and was able to get me an appointment for this morning.

I walk into DMV, still had to wait, but only about 20 minutes, the line out front went almost completely around the building for those that chose not to make an appointment. I fill out the application, they take my picture, thumbprint, verify I am who I say I am, DOT Medical, I am thinking this is a breeze, I should be out of there within 1 or 2 hours. I pay the application fee, and walk over to the written testing area. I am shown to a computer, told no electronic devices, and my thumb is all I need to authenticate for the test, and when I am finished, just let them know. I put my thumb on the reader, the screen has check the box I read this and under penalty of death, maiming, and whatever else they threw in there, I am thinking, let me take the test, no one reads that anyway. The first screen has a list of tests, Class C 18 question Test, Commercial General Knowledge, Commercial Combination, Air Brakes, Tanker, HazMat , Doubles\Triples, and Passenger. That is 8 tests, I had only planned on 4. I take the first 4, pass them, let them know I am finished. Test monitor tells me I am not finished, I have 4 more to go. I explain I will just come back at a later date. I am being told I cannot, because the endorsements are listed on my B, I have to complete them before they can issue me a CLP for an A. Then they tell me if I want to drop the endorsements, I need to start the process over. I find out I am allowed a break between tests if I choose, I can leave and come back on another day, however, my Class B Endorsements are no longer valid until I complete the written tests. I take the break.

I go to the local Wendy's for the free WiFi, pull down the Commercial Drivers License Handbook and will just cram real quick. See if I can knock them out today, I want my permit. I spend 45 minutes reading, the HazMat alone is 25 pages, the passenger is another 10, and of course the others while not long, I had not planned on taking them today. I cram, hope my old mind still has room. I also had a baked potato and chili, I felt I needed to buy something, it was quiet in there and I did use their WiFi.

An hour later, back in DMV, and I tell the Test Monitor I am ready to go. She tells me about the rules, yada, yada, I hear a guy behind me, his 3rd attempt to pass the written, not what I want to hear. I walk up, login with my thumb, and 30 minutes later I was finished.

The good news, I passed all 8 the first time around, wish I had known about the other tests I had to take the same day, live and learn. Now for what I should not have done. I had until Friday to get my CLP, I should have told the School I would have it by today, so now I have the rest of the week off from class and won't star again until Monday. Because of the issue I ran into last week, I was not sure what would happen this week. I have not named the school here, until I finish I can't say if I would or would not recommend them.

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

WIOA:

WIOA - Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (aka WIA)

Formerly known as the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the WIOA was established in 1998 to prepare youth, adults and dislocated workers for entry and reentry into the workforce. WIOA training funds are designed to serve laid-off individuals, older youth and adults who are in need of training to enter or reenter the labor market. A lot of truck drivers get funding for their CDL training through WIOA.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

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.

ChosenOne's Comment
member avatar

It has a been a bit since I updated this. The first week was all CBT's, FMCSA Regs and HOS , and Cali Specific Reg's and HOS Exceptions. Talk about a way to confuse someone, if you are Intrastate this applies, but if you are Interstate forget those rules, use these. Good news is, I tested and passed both, now that is behind me.

This week is shifting and backing week, I have 3 days (Mon, Wed, Fri), 2 hours each day behind the wheel scheduled. I thought I would need longer, but 2 hours is long enough, and since you are 1 on 1, the time flies. He said he has no worries about me picking up what I need to for the test, he said I will find myself bored at times as we have a minimum numbers of hours I have to have before I can graduate, and I will prbably have the skills I need before then. Today was introduction to shifting and double clutching. I did so well, we started on Wednesday's straight backing for the last 10 minutes.

The truck is a 10 speed, and in an hour I was up-shifting and downshifting going around the block. It is an industrial area with a lot of truck traffic, but everyone was patient, no stalls, no one honked at me or gave me the finger. Now that I had the pattern down, it was off to the big lot, which is a distribution warehouse parking lot, looks like a football field in length (Probably less, but when you are backing down a long alley, it seems like it is). You drive down to the end, put it in reverse and straight back while correcting for what seems like an eternity, with the clutch out, no braking allowed until you reach the imaginary dock/cones, and in high reverse. Before you know it you are aiming for the cones. The reason they have such a long straight back, I was told one day I will be in a place where I have to backup, and will be a long backup, and he said you get the feel for corrections, and there were many. The good news is, I didn't jackknife or have any pull ups, but it seemed like the cones were a mile back. Did that 3 times and ended between the cones each time.

Wednesday is more straight backing, and if I nail it at least twice, we will go to offset backing.

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

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Intrastate:

The act of purchasers and sellers transacting business while keeping all transactions in a single state, without crossing state lines to do so.

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.

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.

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.
ChosenOne's Comment
member avatar

This week has been just amazing, straight backing, check, left side offset, check, right side offset check, shifting up and down check. Now the problem, I have driven trucks with 5th wheels before, it has been 32 years, but as they say it is like riding a bike. The instructor said I need to slow down, while he likes to see progress, there is a minimum number of hours they require, and to stay certified as a Post Secondary, they have to follow the curriculum. So he said the rest of the week will be backing, I can choose which I want to practice on, I just need to finish the hours off for it. He said not to worry, it is a good thing, and at some point I may need additional time on a driving skill, and he said I will probably be ahead of schedule for each module anyway. He said to make sure I pace myself, even if it is slower.

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.

ChosenOne's Comment
member avatar

It has been a bit since the last update, and today was not a great day for me. More on than towards the end.

Last Friday I finished my left and right offset parking, able to do it without stopping or any pull-ups consistently. This moved me to Monday, which was parallel parking, left and right. Took me all morning to do get the hang of it, but I was sure I had it.

Today was a bit of a change, I went from a 10 speed Freightliner, which was in for service, to a 7 speed International. shocked.png What a difference the 2 trucks are. I could not offset or parallel to save my life, the truck should not make a difference, but the old saying, it is all in the setup, is 99% right, but using the same truck is 1% of it. The 7 speed only has 1 range in reverse, the 10 has 2, which makes speed more manageable, and I think the FreightShaker is a bit shorter than the International is, so it turns better, or at least I think so.

So today ended with me finally figuring out how to get the International in and out of the hole for the offset, but the parallel parking, I am not sure how much more I will need to do it. Had I started out in the FreightShaker and done the offsets and parallel correctly I would have been off to alley docking. Sometimes it is 2 steps forward and 2 steps back. The other piece of not so good news, the Freightliner most likely won't be back until Thursday or Friday. Tomorrow is a new day, and a new start.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Try not to be too hard on yourself. You are learning and have developed a comfort zone with the Freightliner. Not to worry, as you gain experience, adjusting from one truck to another won't affect you as much. In all likelihood you will have an assigned tractor.

ChosenOne's Comment
member avatar

This week has been a week of trial and errors. After struggling with a new truck, the Freightliner shows back up yesterday. I was asked if I wanted to stay in the International, or go back to the Freightliner. I chose to go back to the Freightliner. The good news was, it was not as much of a struggle getting the offset backing and parallel parking back to where I was. I now understand why no one wants to change to a new truck once they get theirs, no 2 are the same. I could have moved on to alley docks, but I was given the option to run back through the straight backing, offset, and parallel parking to make sure I was comfortable in the Ferightliner and we would move on when I was comfortable. The other good news is, the School said while the course is 180 hours, if I need 200 or more, they have no issue with it, and there are no additional charges. They want to make sure I pass on the first attempt, and I can do the test flawlessly.

You are never sure if you chose the right school. After researching schools in the area, probably beating a deadhorse more than once and dragging around to make sure, I am happy I chose the place I did. This morning on the way over I passed my 2nd choice, there were 5 CHP Units there, and a few unmarked cars. Rumor has it the State served a search warrant for their training records, not sure what they are looking for, but the school was closed for the day. It may not be anything, but there is enough stress and strain trying to get through training, I would hate to be going there wondering if the school will be open Monday or not. I hope no one had a DMV Test cancelled on them, it takes weeks to get one. I pray all turns out well for the students.

While I was taking a break and rehydrating, I ran into a driver from Pride Transport out of SLC. I had not heard of them, but they mainly run refer and will take CDL Graduates with zero experience. They do not have a company school. The guy liked Pride, had been there for 7 years, was only making .40 cpm , but every dock you bump is $30, detention is $25 an hour, paid by the quarter hour, and after 2 hours. He said he has no issue getting it, and they have fuel bonuses, and the usual safety bonuses. He is trainer and said you spend 100 hours and do all the driving while he sits on the other side, and if he feels you have enough skills, he will call safety, and you will team. He said the teaming sometimes does not work out as teaming, especially during bad weather, he said anytime you do not feel comfortable, even when teaming you can stop and wait for your trainer to get his clock back and have him/her sit back next to you. This is 300 hours in length, but he said rarely does anyone finish in 300 hours, most go 400 hours or longer. Once you and your trainer are satisfied you can go solo, you are routed back to the terminal and safety then evaluates you. If safety ok's you after a test run, you are upgraded to solo. They also use Trip Pak and from the time you deposit it at a truck stop, it takes 2 days for Pride to process it, and it is deposited in to your account. He said you are paid by the trip, not every Friday. While I have a list of where I want to go, if for whatever reason they decide I don't fit their culture, I am open to other options.

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.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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