My CDL School Experience With Hunt's Heroes, Part Two.

Topic 20340 | Page 1

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Papa Bear's Comment
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Initiative will win the day. It was in the upper 90's during the entirety of our training. Some students chose to stay in the shadows, hang out in the trailer and sit around until they were specifically called out by an instructor. The rest of us put our boots on the ground and raised our hands when anybody asked "who wants to...?" It did not matter what it was, either. PTI, offset in the automatic with the hard clutch, alleydocks with the beat to hell super-10 - whatever. If I saw an instructor standing around and nobody was getting in a truck, I was asking him if I could do a live brake check. When everybody else sat down because it was 2:30 in the afternoon and we were all drowning in sweat, I walked around a truck and practiced my PTI. After I passed all my tests, I talked to an instructor about this and he admitted that students who show initiative do tend to get more training. It's really that simple. You can be the student on the bench or the student in the truck. Be the student in the truck. And if you really do have it all down pat, get in the truck and do it all again anyway. Because the next day, you may not be all that hot. You will have setbacks. Minimize them by spending time in the truck. Your goal should be to ensure your worst day is good enough to pass the test.

Orbit your routine around your training. Get a lot of sleep. Eat a good breakfast and bring a good lunch. Save the beer for Friday. Everything you do during these four weeks will affect the quality of your training. Keep life simple and focus on your training - it will pay you dividends on testing day. I went to bed every night at 9:00, had breakfast every morning and brought a good lunch every day. Sounds simple, but you will be working very hard. Being hungry and tired will make it all that harder to be that guy who is always in the truck.

"Thank you" is a magic phrase. It may seem silly, but I thanked my instructors after every session of whatever they were teaching me. PTI run - "Thank you." Alley dock session - "Thank you." Road trip on Hell's Highway (as I called it) - "Thank you." It got to the point where they said I didn't have to thank them. I did it anyway. Because here's the thing. When I needed a private chat with the old timer on break about how the transmission actually works, he gave me a complete lesson on how the darn thing actually works. When I needed coaching on how to keep my temper in check, I got it. When I wanted more live brake checks, I got them. When everybody else went on break and I asked for one more shot on the alley-dock, I got it. And I got many private "when you get out there" tips. I genuinely appreciated their guidance and patience and I do believe that it made a difference when they knew that I meant it when I said, "Thank you." Instructors are people too and they like being appreciated just like the rest of us.

When it's all said and done, your CDL training is a series of small triumphs. To my mind, there was never anything too trivial to strive for. From smoothly letting out the clutch without lurching the truck to butter-shifting through the gears as I slowed to a stop - they all meant something. And when you do something really well, then your next challenge is simple. Do it again the next day.

Be a professional. Milk this training for everything it can give you, because when it's done, it's done. Never again will you really have this opportunity to explore the various tasks of driving in detail in a relatively risk-free environment. The next time I get behind the wheel, it's going to count. And even after all the sweat and hard work, I can't help feeling that I'm just now ready to actually start learning what it means to drive a truck. But school's over. Next time, there will be paid freight behind me, miles in front of me and an account trainer saying, "Let's go." How well he is impressed with my first exit from the yard will depend entirely on how much I invested in those long 90+ degree days in Arkansas. I hope it was enough.


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.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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