My CDL School Experience With Hunt's Heroes.

Topic 20338 | Page 1

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Papa Bear's Comment
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Just finished CDL training with JB Hunt through their Hunt's Heroes program in Springdale AR. In no particular order, here are my observations for those waiting to go to school:

As expected, the clutches on the trucks have very heavy springs. My first road trip, I actually put the truck in neutral at an intersection and held her in place with the service brakes while I waited for traffic to clear. Instructor was not impressed. After a few days of holding in the clutch for traffic, my left leg actually got stronger and by the end, it was no big deal. If you are currently waiting for school, some leg presses and extensions would be a good idea.

Brakes: the air brakes are very sensitive and take about 1/2 second to kick in when you press the service brake. Very common learning step for all of us was to press the brake lightly, not get any response and then press harder. The lag and hard press would then catch up with each other and then the truck would lurch to a hard stop. Press it in lightly, wait for it to kick in and then adjust your pressure. The truck and and will come to a stop in 500 feet at 55 mph just fine. by the end, I was able to pull a 200 foot stop at 45 in tenth gear on a short yellow light. Air brakes are truly powerful things and it takes time to learn how to use them with finesse.

Do not worry about learning anything fast. You will be overwhelmed by instructions and your environment for the first week or two. This is normal. You will get more wrong than right - do not expect to be good at anything at first. During a turn, the instructor will tell you to watch your trailer so you don't hit the curb. Just as you get proud of missing curbs, he will tell you not to turn so wide and keep your lane closed. Just as you figure out how to track the double yellow line in a turn without hitting the four-wheeler sitting in the turn lane, you will grind sixth gear because you forgot to flip the selector. Then you'll hear: "Don't coast." Lots and lots of input from the truck, environment and instructor that will seem to overwhelm you at first. The absolute most important thing to do at these times is this: stay calm. You will get frustrated, angry, flustered and irritated. One of the most important things about driving a truck is your mental game and your instructors know this, which is why they hassle you so much. I struggled with keeping my emotions in check and the instructors worked very hard to cure me of that. The sooner you work on that for yourself, the better.

You will miss gears. Let me repeat that. You will miss gears. Even after you have your up shift pattern down pat, are able to put on a clinic for the 7-5 downshift and can grab three gears on a short yellow light, you will miss gears. The important thing isn't missing them: it's recovering them. Every time you miss, recognize it as an opportunity to recover. It's a critical skill. Missed gears are part of the game - learn to deal with them. (So you don't coast!)

Never again will you be in a hurry when driving. Dealing with traffic, negotiating intersections and executing safe turns is all about planning ahead and configuring your truck well in advance. For example, if you're coming up on a right hand turn at an intersection, you will start that turn at about 1500 feet or so. First, you will note the light condition and timing. Then you will slow down and gear down, most likely from 9-8. You'll put on your signal at this point (or even earlier.) Then you'll brake and gear down to 7th at about 500 feet. (a little less when you get the hang of it.) While your instinct from driving a four-wheeler will be to "keep up with traffic" as you approach the turn, you will actually let them run on ahead and slow down even more so you can grab 5th gear for your turn, a good 100 feet or more in advance. At first, it is an unnatural act to go slower than everyone else as you approach your turn, but slow turns are safe turns and you absolutely want to have it in the right gear *before* the turn. Then you'll sweat the light as you approach the intersection at a whopping 5-10 mph because you know it's going to turn yellow just before you get there. Then you'll crank through it real slow, watching your trailer, watching traffic and closing your lane without hitting the curb. And you thought driving a truck would be easy. :)

It took me a full two weeks to figure out my offset and I was at the end of my third week before the alley dock finally came together. Here is my best advice: Go slow. Slower. No, slower than that. It is not a race. Stop and adjust as much as you need. Get out and look. My test allowed me two free GOALs for my offset and another two for my alley dock. I used them. A lot. It is *not* about impressing anybody with your mad wheel turning and mirror-watching skills. It's about getting the truck in the slot without going out of bounds. Be humble. Go slow. Get out and look. It takes time to figure out your mirror picture and how it relates to the actual position of the truck.

More to come...


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.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
NuJeruz The Trucker 's Comment
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I appreciate this post in gearing me mentally for whats to come for my 3 week training

Phillyfan13's Comment
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Papa Bear,

Thank you for your post. It sure answered a lot of questions I had on the ins and outs of training.

Hope all continues to go well for you!


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