Houston Community College CDL School

Topic 22303 | Page 5

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Yuuyo Y.'s Comment
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For some reason, doing the 90 degree backing isn't part of our learning or testing here for the CDL. Only straight line, offset, and parallel. I have a suspicion they only told us to focus on the left mirror to get us used to straight line, and when we start doing the other types of backs we're going to be told to pay attention to both mirrors.

At least fortunately, as compared to you, we have all the time in the day to back. We might have only three trucks and 9/10 students, but they leave us in the trucks to decide how to divide up our time. We had been doing 3 attempts, then switch and repeat for hours yesterday.

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.
Old School's Comment
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For some reason, doing the 90 degree backing isn't part of our learning or testing here

Yuuyo, in Texas they do not include the 90 degree backing maneuver in their CDL testing. You can learn it when you're working with a company trainer.

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.
Yuuyo Y.'s Comment
member avatar

Today was an interesting day. First thing in the morning at around 08:30 she had one of the students in the truck (We were only two) get on 610 and then take 69-N for about one exit. Then she had him get off the highway and drive the frontage road all the way past the beltway to practice his downshifting. We stopped at a valero up there, and she had me drive all the way back, using mostly the frontage road. When I got up on 69-S and was taking the interchange to 610-E, I had to slow down to 35 mph. And I did that, but for some reason in that curve I wasn't following it sharply enough, so I started heading straight into the shoulder. She yelled at me to get it in my lane, and I did way to fast that they could both feel the trailer in the back tip a little bit.

And while I was on 610, I was so nervous that I couldn't get into 10th gear by myself. The other guy even knew that with him being on the highway, she'd made me take it back and he knew how nervous I'd be. She had me take two U-turns on the road down there, and something was up with the clutch. I noticed it was up way too high, and then when I had went into 4th gear, I heard it pop like it was stuck at the bottom and came up. I tried to tell her, but I wasn't loud enough or she was focused too much on telling me how to turn.

Then I drove it around the route near the college, and let the other dude drive it to the college. I drove for about 90 minutes. After lunch, she took him out towards San Jacinto college past the beltway, where we stopped to get gas at a valero. Some dude was hogging the fuel island we parked into. He was inside buying (or eating) himself a lunch and it took him about 20 minutes to start moving his truck. By that time, we had fueled in the adjacent spot. (There were only two).

Now it was my time to drive and I swear someone was looking out for me because I would've gotten all three of us killed had the clutch not been stuck to the floor when I was about to pull out. I told her that, and sure enough that clutch was going OUT. She nearly had a heart attack taking us the 10 miles back to the college. She had to float every upshift, and wasn't going to use that clutch to downshift unless she had to because she had to drag it back up with her foot.

When we finally got back to the entrance of the college, she was in 5th gear and couldn't get it out into neutral. She was pulling on it with both hands, and it just would not go. Shifting was completely messed up at this point. But we made it back to the college, and parked. The problem was that there wasn't any break fluid in the truck. (I didn't check that because it's not part of the pre-trip inspection for some reason?) After that I had to drive it around the range a few times to get the clutch to work again.

It did, but this is where I learned that the truck we were using was really different than the others. I think it was a hydralic clutch or something. Anyways, my habits for the other trucks weren't working for shifting this sucker. And on top of that, it doesn't like shifting at 1500 rpm. It likes 1600-1700 or somewhere around there. Everything the down or upshift was about in that range, it would shift perfect. But when you had it at 1500, it would be a coinflip if you were stuck in neutral for a bit or not.

Another thing I think I got fixed was on my downshifting. When downshifting, in neutral, I thought I would have my foot hovering above the clutch while I revved the rpms back up. Apparently I wasn't. So now, everything I downshift and go into neutral, I'll stomp my foot on the floor as I'm revving the truck back up. That, combined with 1600 rpms made the gears go in nice and smooth.

She said to me while I was out that I must be less nervous because I'm driving better. Well hell no - I was actually way more nervous than Wednsday. But I was driving better! If I can actually fix that nervousness, then I'll have been doubly better than I was last time.

I'm still pretty apprehensive about driving the truck out, and I don't know why. I know it has to be done; I know that's what I came here for, but I'm just dreading it every time. I should love it, not hate it. I kind of wish I had an automatic, so that my attention could be focused on everything that's important - not shifting. We're not built to multitask. We just aren't. Our multitasking is really just attention on one thing, then another, then back on the other thing, and repeat - one at a time.

But what I also think is that if I just quit or get an automatic somehow at this point where the going gets hard, what does that say about me? That I'm going to quit when it's hard? That's just a bad indicator for the future OTR , so I'm not going to quit.

One of the dudes from our class isn't showing up anymore, so that makes nine now.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

OTR:

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Jeremy C.'s Comment
member avatar

While I'm so happy that I don't have to mess with shifting, there are still a dozen other multitasking issues to deal with while cruising down the road (or down a mountain, as was the case yesterday.) There's always going to be something that sucks more than anything else - and the only thing that will alleviate it is something you already excel at... Not giving up!

As long as you are more stubborn than that clutch, more stubborn than that shifter, more stubborn than everything else, then you're going to keep kicking ass!

You've already been stubborn enough to get in to that program at the college, been more stubborn than 9 other people thus far, so just keep on being yourself!

You never know who might read this diary of yours and be inspired by the example you're setting. You are awesome and that is why you are still succeeding. There's no multitasking anything that will ever stand in your way. Just keep on keeping on!

Yuuyo Y.'s Comment
member avatar

Well I'm getting a lot better out there. In the beginning of the day I drove on the street. It wasn't really that hard anymore. Also, Jeremy. I remember I heard someone say "They can't read or look or listen? Who are they gonna work for? CRST?" rofl-3.gif

What WAS hard was when we went all the way out to Dayton, and I had to Drive TX-146 to I-10 and back. I really really really for some reason can't get the truck into 10th gear. While I was on I-10, I made it so much harder on myself driving that highway going 55 mph in 9th gear in the right lane where I have to watch all the merging traffic and deal with them. She's making fun of me for that though - about always going to be late on my deliveries driving that slow. We got one student who drives too fast (He was going 70 on US-90), and I drive too slow.

My biggest issues right now are just being able to stay in my lane (For some reason I keep being on the line on the right.), and just being fearful in general. If there was no one else on the roads, I don't think I'd have any issues making all the mistakes I want on this truck. But there are. When we got near the school I wanted to exit mercury instead of taking the 610 North exit because I knew I was going to have to downshift in 8th. I didn't upshift into 10th because I sure as hell did not want to mess up the shift like I had been doing and get stuck in neutral, and the same thing for that curve. Well I got it into 8th just fine.

I drove probably a good 50 miles today. I even took the test route in the morning which isn't too terribly hard even with all the construction BS we got around here if I can just calm down.

I remember when I was learning to drive a car I felt the same way. I hated it, every time. The first time I was in the highway (On I-10 Katy Freeway nonetheless), I was stuck in traffic. Even though we weren't moving, I still had a death grip on the wheel. And now, I love driving the car. It doesn't freak me out one bit.

What I want to know is, how do I stay in my damn lane without being on the lines. If I look at my right mirrors to check, I know I'll start drifting right if I do that too long. And I still always feel like I'm too far to the left that I'm going to hit somewhere. Are there any indicators with the front mirrors or something? I tried looking at the left steer tires compared to the lines on the hood mirror, but even that seemed to only help barely. And it's also doubly challenging when she's telling me not to get the passenger steer tires in the damn storm drains on the sidewalk. It feels like a catch-22. Can we have 15 feet lanes or something?

Tomorrow is more driving. Horray!

Jeremy C.'s Comment
member avatar

Also, Jeremy. I remember I heard someone say "They can't read or look or listen? Who are they gonna work for? CRST?" rofl-3.gif

OUCH! Well, I'm learning that we do have a reputation out here...
wtf-2.gif

What I want to know is, how do I stay in my damn lane without being on the lines. If I look at my right mirrors to check, I know I'll start drifting right if I do that too long. And I still always feel like I'm too far to the left that I'm going to hit somewhere. Are there any indicators with the front mirrors or something? I tried looking at the left steer tires compared to the lines on the hood mirror, but even that seemed to only help barely. And it's also doubly challenging when she's telling me not to get the passenger steer tires in the damn storm drains on the sidewalk. It feels like a catch-22. Can we have 15 feet lanes or something?

While I don't have an exact answer to this, I think it's something everyone sort of works out on their own.

Personally, on the highway I've come to love those two front mirrors because I've found a comfortable way to keep my lines on either side of me just inside of those two mirrors. As long as I can see 'em both in those mirrors I know I'm about as centered as I'm gonna get.

For city driving it usually works pretty similar for me. Sometimes I can't see any line on the right, but keeping the left line where I want it in just the one mirror seems to work fine for me.

Hopefully someone else has some better advice for ya on this. Rainy or Susan are both great trainers, so maybe they can offer you some insight on this (if they find this post...)
good-luck-2.gif

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Yuuyo Y.'s Comment
member avatar

Man, today was a great day. This morning while I was driving, I was doing a whole lot better - I could feel it. Then one of the students in my truck left at 11 because we weren't backing today, so I had it solo and I still did well. While I was out driving with her, there were a few times where I had to make a real sudden stop for a light in 8th gear, but everytime I got it stopped safely and before the crosswalk.

And then after lunch I went on the truck with 2 other students and another instructor. He's really calm and speaks softly and calmly. I did so well with him too hardly having any issues, and the ones I did have I was able to recover. I even got the truck in 10th gear. Hell, he taught me that I could shift from 3 to 4 at idle speeds going into an intersection turn. He even had my clutch work get better because before I would be going halfway. But with what he said, he told me to (in 5th gear), find the point on the clutch where the truck stops shaking. And that's the point I need to be on when double clutching.

When we were on I-10 going back near the school, I had slipped my mouth about the shipchannel bridge and he was like, well you're going on it now. So that scared the hell out of me, but I got up and then down that bridge. I don't know what grade it was because I never saw that. Then we went on 225 for a bit, and had some directional confusion about the Flying J. I had to make some very unorthodox, spur-of-the-moment turns underneath 225. I did clip that curb, but there was actually no way NOT to. He even complimented me about how I handled it. Over there in pasadena there's lots of one ways and no truck routes and no truck turns that we had to pay attention to because the cops were out there watching and waiting.

I'm doing just fine as it is right now.

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Army (not yet retired)'s Comment
member avatar

Congrats on your progress!!

Splitter's Comment
member avatar

Glad to read your diary. It showed how much I was lacking in my PSD training here at Prime. I could feel your confidence gaining ground the more seat time you get. That’s all it takes to get the butterflies to settle down in your stomach. They’ll be plenty more “pucker” up moments for sure but each one is a lesson to learn from. I miss my manual transmission but it feels good not hearing that dreaded gear grinding. Lol. Good luck & stay safe out there!!

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.
Yuuyo Y.'s Comment
member avatar

So today was backing. Offset backing. I don't need to include straight line because that includes it. Well, it's really not that hard IF everything is set up right. My major problem has been when I get the truck straight and watch for my rear trailer tires to get to the line. Sometimes I won't have it straight so I can't see where the line is supposed to be. And then when I get it straight I'm way too far out.

The few times that has happened it was a big headache to get the trailer ready to straight line back because if I have the truck and trailer straight, I'd be basically at a 45 degree angle to all the lanes. But they let us work it out on our own, and I managed to get back where I started with a really long straight line back. I'm not complaining - it's problem solving skills AND straight line backing practice.

With offset I did well then bad then okay then meh then good then bad. The first time I did it I was working the clutch way too damn hard so I tired the hell out of my left leg. I had to stop and park the truck in neutral with the brakes halfway into each back until after lunch when I figured out how to better work it.

Next week is the week. We gotta practice more offset. We gotta learn parallel. We sure as hell should know our pre-trip, and whatever time left to brush up on our driving. Then after that week is the finish line.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

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