Dreams Coming True. Minnis B In Training.

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Minnis B.'s Comment
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Hello all, I have been a lurker here for a bit over a year now and this is an absolutely fantastic site. I've recommended the High Road training program to everyone in my class.

First off let me give you a bit of history about me. I'm 27 and have driven in some capacity my entire working career. Most was non CMV work. I held a class B license and drove a school bus for a while but it just wasn't for me. I live in WV right in the heart of the coalfields so seeing trucks roll by is a daily occurrence. Since I can remember I've always been in love with trucks and the trucking lifestyle, even more so now that I've had an in depth look but for one reason or another the timing has never been right for me to start a career in this field. A few months back I was driving a 1 ton Dodge dually delivering gravely tractors on a 22 foot trailer and was let go for refusing to break speed limits (to an unsafe degree, 10+mph over is where they wanted me to run) so there I sat jobless and the economy is still very poor around here. I did some soul searching and talked to my mom and stepdad and decided it's now or never. I contacted the local WIA case manager and set the ball in motion. Fast forward a few weeks and I received the funding to attend a local accredited trucking school. This is going to serve as a sort of diary for everyone including myself to see my progression as I practice maneuvers. Now if I've held your interest this long I commend you and truly hope you enjoy the rest of the show.

Monday 6/5/17 This morning was filled mostly with filling out all the obligatory paperwork. Emergency contacts etc.

After finishing up all the legal paperwork we jumped straight into the CDL manual and began highlighting certain portions the instructor was certain would be on our written tests. We made it most of the way through section 2 before the end of class.

My class is comprised of 6 students so things move along pretty quickly.

The instructor is a veteran who started into trucking directly out of the service and has been on the road since the early 80's and was leased on with Mayflower for many years. He came off the road for about 7 years and taught this same class. At some point he and his wife began longing for the road so he bought his own truck and all that goes with it and went on with Landstar as an owner operator before finally retiring from the road in 2010 and began teaching this program again.

We have 3 Volvo trucks and a Freightliner plus 2 flatbed trailers, a reefer , and a dry van.

Tuesday 6/6/17 This morning we spent about an hour going through the remainder of section 2 in the manual followed by a 50 question General Knowledge practice test. I missed 3 questions that I absolutely knew but read too deep into the question and tripped myself up. There was several students that missed 13+ questions so though by comparison I did very well I was disappointed in myself.

After lunch, we worked out way through the air brakes and combination sections of the manual which pretty much carried us to the end of class.

Wednesday 6/7/17 This morning we got to do a surprise quiz on Air Brakes followed by a quiz on Combination Vehicles. I am proud to report I missed Zero out of 30 on both tests.

After lunch we had a small lesson on trip planning. We broke up into 2 groups. On the first exercise my group was one mile off of the company mileage and the other group was around 45 miles over. On the second exercise my group was 38 miles over and the other group was over 300 miles off. They missed a turn in Salt Lake City and had to go the long way around.

Tomorrow we will start off with General Knowledge, Air Brakes and Combination Vehicles practice tests which should take the majority of the morning then after lunch we are supposed to go into logbooks.

On a side note I'm very happy I went with this school because upon graduation I'll be leaving with every single endorsement you can get including hazmat and will also have a TWIC card. I've also been getting several prehire offers from Werner, Swift, TMC, TransAm, and a few others including a somewhat local company hauling sand in a tanker for the natural gas fracking sites in the northern part of the state near PA.

Sorry for the long winded post, just wanted to be as thorough and detailed as possible. Stay tuned for an update tomorrow.

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.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

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

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

Combination Vehicle:

A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

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.

Prehire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

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.

Sweet Jimmy's Comment
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Congrats! Just pay attention and work hard, and keep a positive attitude. Several in my class don't seem to take it seriously and it's starting to show.

Minnis B.'s Comment
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Everyone else seems to be taking it seriously but there are a few that don't grasp a few concepts. Like one guy today asked why we should be checking for clearance between the bottom of the trailer and top of the tractor tires. He couldn't grasp the concept of driver error where perhaps a driver wasn't paying attention and dumped his airbags etc. He's getting there though.

Minnis B.'s Comment
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Thursday 6/8/17

This morning we started off with quizzes on General Knowledge, Air Brakes, and Combination Vehicles. Missed one on General Knowledge and aced Air Brakes and Combination Vehicles. After all that was done and we discussed the questions everyone missed we went straight into trip planning again. Yesterday we only covered the map reading portion and today we planned a 5 day trip and included fuel stops, 30 minute breaks and 10 hour breaks, it was a bit more complicated but everyone seems to catch on quickly and did well on the quiz. I made the mistake of not checking an available city map where I was to change roads and missed a "truck friendly shortcut" and ended up taking the scenic route lol. After lunch we got into the HOS regulations and it's much more complicated than I thought but at the same time it's very simple. The Split Sleeper Berth is a bit tricky but I'm getting there. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Tomorrow we will be doing practice tests most of the day and test day is Monday. I feel I'm well prepared. My only concern is my blood pressure tends to run a bit high around doctors. When I got my.class B license I only qualified for a 1 year med card. Over the weekend I plan to relax, lay off the salt and Mountain Dew and drink plenty of water. Hopefully this will make enough difference to get me the 2 year certificate.

That's it for today. The instructor says he has a surprise for us tomorrow after all the quizzing is done so check back tomorrow and we will see what that's all about.

Combination Vehicle:

A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Minnis B.'s Comment
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Friday 6/9/17 This morning was filled with practice test after practice test. Everyone passed them all with flying colors. After lunch we had a recruiter come in from AFI Freight throwing the usual game. To his credit though I had compiled nearly 2 pages of recruiter specific questions and he answered every single one in great detail without missing a beat. After his presentation we filled out all the necessary paperwork for the DMV and dismissed about an hour early. Monday is permit test day and physical day. I'm concerned about my blood pressure as it's been running a bit high lately.

Monday 6/12/17 Met up with 2 guys at the school today and carpooled the ~50 miles to the physician. Over the weekend I cut way back on the fried food, salt and Mountain Dew. When I went in the back and they took my blood pressure for some reason (nerves most likely) my BP was too high to even get a 3 month certificate. Well the nurse was super nice and said we could check it again after my vision test. Well we go through the vision test and find out I'm.color deficient but it's no big deal. During this time I got a grip.on myself, calmed down, and when he checked my BP again it had went to 128/84 which got my 2 year certificate.

After all 3 of us finished our physicals we grabbed a quick bite at a Burger King and headed to.the DMV. After standing in 3 lines we finally get to test. Being as I already hold a class b license I only need to take the combination test to get my class A permit. The other 2 guys I'm with have to take general knowledge, air brakes and combination all. Well I went in and did mine, passed with 19/20. Missed 1 question. The other 2 passed as well. Tomorrow we are supposed to climb behind the wheel for the first time and I cannot wait.

Check back in tomorrow to see if I killed any cones.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Minnis B.'s Comment
member avatar

Tuesday 6/13/2017

Well I started in the truck today. Ended up in a 1 year old Volvo. Very nice truck. Well after going through the pretrip, I got under the wheel and took off through the driving range. Had absolutely zero problems upshifting and zero problems maneuvering the truck and 48' trailer through the course but when it came time to downshift I was terrible, never did it successfully in a 45 minute time frame. I kept getting flustered and messing up. My brain understands exactly what to do but my body just won't comply. Oh well, practice makes perfect I suppose. All I can do is get over it and try again tomorrow.

Minnis B.'s Comment
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Well things got super busy super fast so I really haven't had time to update. I've been studying my hind end off, researching companies, practicing my pre trip inspection, working on offset backing, parallel parking, and the alley dock. My shifting has came a long way, it's like I've been driving this sucker for 20 years now. I'm still having a little trouble with my alley dock but only maybe once out of every 4-5 attempts and I've never completely failed to get it in. I can almost do the parallel and offset in my sleep. When I first started, my pre trip took roughly 90 minutes. Yesterday I did everything in just over 29 minutes. My trainer feels me and one of the other guys on my truck are ready to test out at the end of next week. I'm a little nervous about that one. I don't feel ready yet. On the other end of the spectrum, the third student on my truck religiously shows up a minimum of 30 minutes late if he shows up at all, during our pre trip he sits there on his phone not paying attention, when me or the other guy is driving and he should be paying attention he's fast asleep in the bunk. He's been in classes 2 weeks longer than me and the other guy and this is also his second time in classes as he was dropped last time for attendance. For anyone that may be reading this and considering a career, this is not some college class you can blow off, this is valuable training that will get you into a career that if you work hard it will reward you for life. Learn all you can in training, ask questions even if you think it's a stupid one, I GUARANTEE someone has asked it before, that's how you learn the little tips and tricks. If your trainer gives you a suggestion, don't take it with a grain of salt, try it at least once or twice, he's only trying to help you, if it doesn't work then go back to what you were doing that was working. Perfect example was yesterday I hit the alley dock almost perfectly twice in a row, my trainer made a suggest he thought would improve my setup and make it so I wouldn't have to fight as much to get it in the hole, I tried it a few times and every time it messed me up terribly, went back to my system and slammed it home first try. Now don't get a big head because every student is different and it's hard for someone to learn the way you think in the course of 6 hours a day for 2 weeks so even if it messes you up or you don't think it will work, try it anyway. Worst that can happen is it doesn't work and you go back to what you were doing before. Personally, I like to know all the options I have available to perform a maneuver. Every single backing situation will be different in some way and you will have to compensate for that difference, maybe that trick your trainer showed you didn't work in the practice situation but now that you're at a shipper or receiver it might be the difference in an easy back or a difficult back. Always pay attention and that puts you miles ahead.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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.

Han Solo Cup (aka, Pablo)'s Comment
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Glad you're back, Minnis. I've enjoyed your posts and this one is another great one. In all industries, not just trucking, we should have an open or at least somewhat open mind like you've suggested. It's unfortunate about your "always late" classmate. I always tell my kids (and myself) "life is about choices, dealing with those choices, and how we react". He's made his and he will have to deal with it. Keep the posts coming; I've read every one and I'm excited to hear how you're progressing.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Han Solo wrote to Minnis

Glad you're back, Minnis. I've enjoyed your posts and this one is another great one. In all industries, not just trucking, we should have an open or at least somewhat open mind like you've suggested. It's unfortunate about your "always late" classmate. I always tell my kids (and myself) "life is about choices, dealing with those choices, and how we react". He's made his and he will have to deal with it. Keep the posts coming; I've read every one and I'm excited to hear how you're progressing.

Funny thing how so many elements that require zero skills are necessary to succeed in this business, yet elude so many; focus, effort, attitude,...and of course being on time. Without those key ingredients, waste of time attempting this as a career path.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Minnis B.'s Comment
member avatar

Sorry I haven't updated for a while guys. Been extremely busy and extremely tired.

My trainer wants me and another guy on my truck to test out Friday. He already scheduled the appointment with the examiner. I'm on week 4 now and the other guy is on week 5 so we're pretty excited.

Most of the week has been spent honing my skills. I can do the parallel, both offsets, and the straight back with my eyes closed, so no worries there.

My shifting has come a looooong way. I've gotten to the point my trainer can put me on flat ground, upgrade or downgrade and I can pull out, manage my speed efficiently, upshift or downshift with only a slight growl from the transmission here and there. Perfectly acceptable. NOBODY is gonna shift every gear every single time every single day without even a minor grind once in a while.

The dreaded alley dock. I was having trouble all last week. Something just clicked in my brain like a switch over the weekend and Monday morning I was doing great with no more than 3-4 pull ups on the first attempt and remained consistent until today. Today, my trainer put a dollar bill in one of the traffic cones and said to put the trailer in the hole without using more than 2 pull ups. Well I'm VERY proud to report not only did I get it in with 2 pull ups, I got it in with ZERO pull ups. I took his dollar and I think I may frame it. Now I wasn't in the dock perfectly straight but as my trainer has said many times, right now I need to focus on getting it in, making it pretty will come with experience. This afternoon my trainer decided to mess with me and laid another dollar in the cone and I knew something was up, why bet me I can't do something I just proved I could. The stipulation was the same as before, no more than 2 pull ups. Challenge accepted. Again. The difference was this time he caught me going around the back of the building to come in for my setup and he moved the cones 1 foot inside where they previously we're and I didn't notice. I set up and kept having issues. I was thinking "have I just had a massive brain fart or did I botch my setup because something isn't quite computing right" well much to his surprise I still managed to get the trailer in but ended up taking 3 pull ups. After I discovered what he did I said that was at least worth a $5 bill for his entertainment. So yeah we make it fun but I also got a chance to impress him and my other 5 classmates and another 2 trainers that we're sitting there watching me, all of which told me they never thought a student could get in a "dock" that tight. Needless to say I'm still stoked lol.

Yesterday on my road trip it was pretty uneventful except for a crazy 4 wheeler with a death wish. I was sitting at a stop sign with my left turn signal on preparing to turn onto a busy 4 lane highway. Now I have only been at this stop sign 2 minutes max waiting for a hole big enough I could pull out into. There's a 4 wheeler that pulled up behind me and had been waiting about 30 seconds. A hole opens up and I begin letting out on my clutch when the 4 wheeler decides he's waited enough and comes flying around on my left side while I'm clearly preparing for a left turn (turn signal was on so there was no excuse there) he cuts in front of me to make a right turn. Now being my nervous self I saw him in my mirror before he even made it to the back of my tractor and came to a complete stop so he could go on with his foolishness. Other than that it was pretty quiet.

Well there ya go, that's been my week for the most part. We are going tomorrow for our fingerprints for our hazmat endorsement and TWIC cards. Kinda puts me in a spot as they waited til the day before I test to start my fingerprints. Maybe they weren't expecting a couple of us to test out this soon. Been doing a lot of research on here for the right company for me and depending on the responses I get in my other thread I will most likely be going with Paschall Truck Lines.

Will try to update tomorrow and I'll definitely be updating Friday to let everyone know how I do on my tests.

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

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.

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