Just Another Trucker Training Diary?

Topic 20450 | Page 10

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icecold24k's Comment
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I just read this entire journal in one sitting. It is very interesting. You have an amazing knack at writing. I am happy you decided to come back to Prime and take another shot. I am pulling for you 100% and can't wait to read your future updates.

Old School's Comment
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Wishing you much success sir!

Glad to see you back in the saddle.

TruckerSpeir's Comment
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Man, thanks to all of you for the positive reinforcement! It has been helpful to read them the first few days back. I can't say the readjustment period has been easy because it hasn't. The biggest problem? I don't think anybody has talked about this, but it should be discussed. One's behind does not just go into this deal without a fight. It hurts to sit for so long, even in these really nice air-ride seats! After a while I think your butt just gives up and gets used to it, but the struggle is real at first.

I really fell upstairs with my new trainer. He is kind, patient, extremely flexible, hands-off, and yet knowledgeable and always willing to help. Whereas my last trainer would cuss me out just about every time I even accidentally woke him up, Randy will wake up an hour into his sleep shift with a smile if I need anything. One time he saw I bought crappy truck stop coffee and said, "Why didn't you wake me up? I would have made you a pot!"

I had my first taste of winter driving today. I ended my sleep shift just as we pulled into Prime's Pittston terminal with 190 more miles to our 90 in Schenectedty, NY. It was early and just above freezing, and we still had 12 hours before our delivery time. Randy gave me the choice to stay in the terminal until 4 AM or get going and take my time driving up there. 0195873001518095668.jpg As it was above freezing, and knowing at 4 the snow and slush on the ground would be ice, I opted to get going. He promptly went to sleep and I took off. About forty miles in on HWY 81 at exit 219 I found the highway closed, so I headed back to the Flying J a few miles back, sent in a message to dispatch letting them know our predicament, then downloaded the Pennsylvania DOT app --511PA--and found a major wreck had caused the highway to be closed. Three hours later I saw it had finally been cleared, so I set out again. The highway was slick almost all the way there and I took it slow and easy. 0897984001518095503.jpg Four hours later I pulled up into Price Choppers, got a dock and backed the truck in. They unloaded us early and all is well with the world. I have to say I'm not fond of Peterbilts in general due to lack of room compared to the Freightliner, and as this is my first time driving an automated truck I'm really struggling to adjust to the way it reverses. I got it in the hole quickly enough, but for some reason find the truck just doesn't react as I think it should while backing. It'll take some adjustment, but I'll get there. 0412573001518094104.jpg Now, off to Illinois! Y'all have a great day. :-)


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.


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.


Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
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I like the fact you are straight as an arrow on the dock, appearing to be aligned properly with the door. Professional job. Well done.

I take a lot of pride in this myself and appreciate others conducting their business in a like manner.

Good luck.

000's Comment
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Paul, this is the part we were all warned about. Now the real schooling starts for you. Take your time, watch that wagon, stay safe always!!! Really enjoy reading this diary, especially how you lucked out with Randy, your new trainer. Continued success out there & God bless!

Han Solo Cup (aka, Pablo)'s Comment
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I've read every word you've written and I'm excited to keep reading. Good luck and make smart choices, from one Paul to another Paul.

TruckerSpeir's Comment
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Well, it has been over a year since updating this thing. For posterity I need to finish it, don't I? I wish I had more time, but time is so very short and I don't hope for more in the future, so I will do the best I can.

I did go back to Prime, as my previous post stated, and completed 28,000 of the 30,000 miles of training...and then backed into somebody in Utah while parking! confused.gif Of course I take responsibility, but even my trainer took a big portion of the blame--he called safety and tried to reduce the 10,000 additional miles of training, but it was a no-go. We were on our way in to Springfield to get the transmission repaired, in fact, as it would not engage when put in reverse. Sometimes it would engage immediately, other times it would not -- and then suddenly it would and you would jerk backward. This happened, and I was not lined up correctly, and the fender of the next truck over was damaged.

So, 40,000 miles of training later I got into my own truck and took off for a successful solo career. A few months later my brother joined me and we team drove until December 23rd, when we turned in our keys and called OTR trucking quits. I got a nice coffee table book out of it -- Dashcam Trucker -- but I found that the lifestyle did not agree with me. I could not shake the depression while away from my wife and children, and when I was home I found myself struggling to enjoy my family...seems all I could think about was the fact that I had to go back out. On top of that I found it impossible to not be destroyed physically by the job. Finding exercise was incredibly difficult, but more than anything the intense loneliness and depression led me to stop caring about eating healthy and trying to get in shape. I ended up in a very dangerous place physically, mentally and spiritually.

Is this a condemnation of the trucking industry? Should somebody with a family not get into this? Should somebody who is already in a bad place physically think twice before going for their CDL?

First, it is not a condemnation of the industry. Trucking is an incredible career for those suited to it. I deeply admire truckers. The other day I was at a Wal-Mart and a huge condo truck pulled in. I stopped and chatted with them and offered to take them down to get some food or coffee. Truckers are undervalued and I find that to be a tragedy.

But if you have a family, think twice. I missed a year of my children's lives, and a year is a very long time in the life of a child. I regret it immensely. I wish I had taken the advice of those older and wiser in this regard, but I did not. I put my children through hell. When I left they were heartbroken. When I came back they were overjoyed, but suffered immense conflict knowing I would leave again soon. On one hand, going through these things is a part of life and it toughened them up. On the other hand, childhood is short and brief...why not protect their innocence when possible? Adulthood comes rapidly and brings with it enough trials of its own. There is time enough for that later. In my opinion.

And, finally, if you are physically on a bad path, I think it wise to correct it first. Solo I worked 14 hours a day, every single day for three weeks. When I had a break I used it to shower, eat, use the restroom, or sleep. Was there time to exercise? Theoretically, sure. In practice, I couldn't find the desire. Why? Because at my weight and physical level the cost to exercise was so taxing that it became insurmountable. To exercise would have hurt me and made doing my job the next day or later the same day almost impossible. In order to get to a point of fitness where I had the stamina to work so much and still exercise I would need time, and time is something I never had.

Team driving seemed better, but in truth although I worked less--at 12 hours a day--the truck was rolling nearly all of the time. I had less down time with the truck parked than when solo. Simply put, I recommend to get to a good place with your health first, and then make a realistic plan on how you will stay there and even progress while in the midst of such a demanding profession.

So now I have given up trucking, possibly for good but at least for the immediate future. I did try a local gig, but it didn't pan out. The company I was with paid hourly at first, but suddenly shifted to a different compensation when the hours became too great and overtime too much. I felt it dishonest, and that issue along with immense communication issues, and a desire to have time to get my health in order, led me to quit. Now I primarily work on my health. I document all of this on a blog and through Youtube Videos -- check it all out when you have time.

Thanks for being with me on this journey!


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.


Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.


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.


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.


Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
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Good luck Paul! Don’t be a stranger.

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