End Of First Week At CDL School

Topic 21892 | Page 1

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Jim S.'s Comment
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Just finished my first week at CDL school. I'm going to Smith & Solomon in Philadelphia. This week was entirely classroom based in preparation for the written test, which I passed on my first attempt. Next week I start driving in the lot to get used to the big rig.

My experience - I'm 55 years old, college educated and a former computer programmer. It's becoming increasingly difficult to get programming jobs with advancing age, so I'm turning to trucking as it can supply a decent (or even good) income. My hope is to land a local or regional position after I'm finished with school. Driving a tractor trailer won't be completely alien to me. Although I haven't been behind the wheel of one yet, I have driven a bus before (learned while in the military a number of years ago), can drive a stick, and have towed my car behind a large U-Haul several times (which makes me familiar with backing a trailer - same principle). We'll see how quickly I take to it.




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.


Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

G-Town's Comment
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Welcome Jim. I'm a Philly guy myself. Waited 57 years for the Eagles to finally win the big one. Wasn't that a treat...

A couple of things in response to your thread; I urge you not to expect the experience with manual shifting and backing a tag-along trailer to equate to what you are about to learn. It's not the same, like comparing apples to oranges.

Shifting a class 8, multi-range transmission is nothing like a manual in a car or light truck. Heavy truck transmissions are unsychronized and require matching RPM with road speed. They will teach double-clutching. Polar opposite of your experience; try NOT to equate what you have experienced with heavy truck transmissions.

Although there are some similarities with backing a tag-along trailer, the primary differences with a tractor trainer are a closer pivot point, 53' in length, slower response time, and far more limitations on your site line.

So.. your best bet is to go into the driving, backing and shifting part of your training with zero preconceived notions of familiarity. Let the instructors teach you how-to shift and back. You will be less frustrated and better off.

If you haven't aleardy reviewed these,here is some valuable reading material:

Truck Driver's Career Guide

Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving

Good luck!

Jim S.'s Comment
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Thanks for the heads-up! I'll go in forgetting everything I know and let them teach me.

And yes, great game and great victory. It's great to see the city happy.

Han Solo Cup (aka, Pablo)'s Comment
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Great Jim! I'm also a computer programmer and finding it harder and harder to land new jobs. I'm close in age to yourself and this layoff cycle that happens in DoD contracting has gotten old for me. When I was younger, it was bad because I needed to work to feed mouths. Now the stress is different, the mouths are more independent but all these employers seem to want the young kids fresh out of school with the current technology. I can't wait to hear about your experience as I will be following your lead (and reading your thread) if and when this next layoff cycle hits (which is hopefully not for another year).


Operating While Intoxicated

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