School Update

Topic 1915 | Page 1

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Julian Ellison's Comment
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Howdy all!

Been a while since my last post, but trust me, I've been reading up on this forum. Very helpful, as always.

I am in my 11th week of a 16 week program at Alexandria Technical College in Alexandria, MN. I've driven everything in our fleet at least once. This includes Straight Truck, Dump, Cab-over Dual-Axle, Single Axle Day Cab , and Dual Axle sleepers. I like the sleepers the best, which is good, because that's what i'm going to end up in! I've pulled every trailer except the double drop flatbed. Dry Vans, Reefer , Step deck, Tanker, etc.

A few weeks back I got my permit in the program, after we went over the MN manual in class of course. Passed all my tests. One of them I had to take twice, but I passed them all in the end. I have a Class A Permit with Hazmat , Tanker, and Doubles/Triples Endorsements. I also have a Class B License with a School Bus and Passenger Endorsement. I got that separate from the program because I got a part time job driving school buses for the local school district, and the depot just so happens to be right across the street from my program! Convenient, eh? But the way I see it, when I'm done with the program, i'll be able to drive damn near anything on the road! It's a good feeling.

So after we got our permits we went out on the road with our instructor. He has an older Kenworth that he took the sleeper out of and put in 3 seats with seat belts in the back, so he has the capability of taking 4 students on the road at a time. When it's time to switch, we'd just pull over somewhere safe, flip on the 4-ways, and switch. Let me tell you this, even though we spent a LOT of hours on the private one-mile track we have on campus, practicing turns, shifting, coupling/uncoupling, backing, etc...There was NOTHING that anyone could have done to accurately prepare me for how full your plate is when you're driving on the road. You have to focus on everything around you, shift, watch your trailer, position your rig for turns, make turns so that you're safe and not endangering the general motoring public. Probably things that Brett and starcar and all the other seasoned drivers on this forum don't even give a second thought to on the road, but DAMN!! It's nerve wracking!

I have been out with my instructor 4 separate times now. Both on the country roads, and in town. We've made lefts, rights, up shifts, downshifts, gone on narrow roads and wide roads alike. He expressed to me last week that he felt I was ready for my road test. I think I am, to a certain extent, but I'm just nervous as hell! My pre-trips are good, backing maneuvers are good, but the confidence level just isn't there yet while we're driving on the road. That being said, I've taken multiple road tests in my life. Class-D, Motorcycle, and Class-B. All three, I've gone through this same feeling. All three, I passed with flying colors. Plus, my instructor holds me to a MUCH higher standard than the state will.

That being said, My road test is tomorrow morning, 11/13/13 at 0800 CST. Wish me luck!

I really just can't wait to get out on the road :) I've actually made the decision to haul flatbed. I think it will be a healthy challenge for me, what with load securement, tarping, etc. I think I would get bored with Dry Van sooner rather than later. Anyone know of any good companies out there for skateboarders?

To those of you that made it this far down, Good job for reading all the way through! I certainly didn't intend for it to be this long :P

Keep on Truckin. Stay safe out there!


Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Day Cab:

A tractor which does not have a sleeper berth attached to it. Normally used for local routes where drivers go home every night.


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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.


A refrigerated trailer.


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.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
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Hey that's an awesome update Julian!

Best of luck to ya on the road test! And don't sweat the fact that you don't feel 100% confident in being ready for the test. Nobody ever thinks they're ready. But the instructors know what the State expects. If they say you're ready then you're ready.

And keep in mind that what the examiners are really looking for is to see if you understand the basics. They know you're just beginning the process of learning to drive a rig and they know you'll have more training as soon as you get started with your first company. So what they really want to see is that you have the ability to keep your cool under pressure, you have an awareness of everything going on around the vehicle, and that you understand the basics of shifting, backing, and driving on the roads.

So don't feel like you have to "nail it" once you get on that road test. You don't. They expect you to grind gears and take some corners a bit too wide. They don't expect you to drive like a pro.

We have some great article called Passing The CDL Road Test - What Are CDL Examiners Looking For? for anyone interested.


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.


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.
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