I Need Some Advice, Please!

Topic 22461 | Page 4

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Kayak's Comment
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Colin, greetings from a 'rookie' who just completed his first year OTR! Woo-hoo! Experienced, but still learning something new every day! I wanted to throw in my 2 cents worth.

Growing up, we had a Gravely walk-behind mower. 0262993001526057536.jpg

We had a sulky (seat) that attached with a trailer ball. 0142388001526057687.jpg

And, we'd occasionally add a trailer (but behind the sulky, not shown in this picture), again attached with a trailer ball. 0839327001526057771.jpg

So, I learned early on how to back the equivalent of a double semi trailer as far as which way to 'push' the tractor handles to get the single or double trailer to go the way my father wanted it to go. It got a bit tricky but came in real handy when I went to truck driving school. Just remember, if you have any experience backing a boat or utility trailer, etc. it is basically the same, just with a different pivot point. Instead of equal length car/trailer combination and a pivot point in the middle, the semi trailer is a lot longer than the tractor. "SWIFT" = swing wide, it's a freaking trailer!

I went to a private, 3-week school only because my State Govt. had a program to teach new skills to laid-off (my situation) and/or underemployed workers. (This is an option you may not have known about.) They paid for everything, including my three endorsements and license fee. After 40 some years of working and paying my taxes, I didn't feel the least bit guilty asking the Government to throw some back my way! The student/teacher ratio was 4/1 at each backing 'station' so it wasn't individual instruction per se, but it was low enough to be effective.

I was having difficulty, as most new students do, at trying to figure out which way to turn the wheel. In the midst of the backing maneuver, with the added pressure of onlookers, etc. it was hard for me to instinctively know which way to turn the wheel. My pea brain couldn't 'do the math' quick enough to follow the instructors' mantra of 'proper' hand placement, turning into trouble, etc. So, I resorted to what my father had told me as a kid backing up different types of trailers. Put one hand on the BOTTOM of the steering wheel and, while looking in either mirror, simply push your hand in the direction you want your trailer to go! Simple! No extra thought involved, none of the "ok, if I turn this way the trailer goes that way, so I have to turn the opposite way", etc., freeing you up to concentrate more fully on what is happening outside your tractor. Also, I didn't have to stop the maneuver to think about it and backing always seems to go better in one fluid, slow, motion rather than starting and stopping continually. It immediately made everything fall into place and I shared it with some of the other guys in my group who were really struggling with their backing and it seemed to help them also. I have used it throughout for my first year of driving, never felt guilty about not doing it "the proper way" and now thoroughly enjoy challenging backing maneuvers at tight shippers! I enjoy the challenge, the sense of satisfaction when completed, and it breaks up the boredom of a day spent rolling forward!

One more word of advice.... the school I attended had weekday students (3 weeks, 5 days-per-week) and weekend only students (I don't know how many weekends it took them) but I took the initiative and showed up at the school at least 1 extra weekend day for three consecutive weekends. I used the time to go over and over and over my pre-trip inspection on the driving test trucks that were parked off to the side. Recognizing my initiative, the various instructors (who had to work weekends!) also managed to let me jump into rotation and take an extra turn or two on several of the backing maneuver stations. This helped me develop the muscle memory and familiarity necessary to pass the exams. I am proud to report that I was the only one, out of a class of 14, that passed pre-trip, backing maneuvers and road test on my first try! Got my plastic the first day and attribute it to the extra effort I put in. These initial driving/clutching/backing skills are difficult to master at first, but become second nature as you move on in your career to the advanced challenges of time management, winter driving skills, trip planning, etc.

I hope that helps and best of luck moving forward. You seem to have the drive to succeed so keep plugging!

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.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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

Splitter's Comment
member avatar

Colin, I don’t mean to sound pushy but I wish you had called Vanessa Waters at the number I posted earlier. I ran into a similar issue when I initial called Prime. I was initially told I didn’t qualify for their program either. I called Vanessa a month later & was told I did qualify. Your recruiter should have told you the reason for disqualification. If you’ve given up, I completely understand but if you’re still interested, give her a shot. I already told her about your situation.

Colin K.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello Splitter.

I just left a voice mail message for her. I will call again Monday afternoon if I don't hear back. I had wanted to hear from my original recruiter first before calling Vanessa. I appreciate what you have done and will keep you posted. I'm also hoping to hear back from Wil-Trans.

Best Regards, Colin

Wil-Trans:

Darrel Wilson bought his first tractor in 1980 at age 20, but, being too young to meet OTR age requirements, he leased the truck out and hired a driver.

Through growth and acquisition, Wil-Trans now employs over 200 drivers, and has a long-standing partnership with Prime, Inc. to haul their refrigerated freight. The family of businesses also includes Jim Palmer Trucking and O & S Trucking.

Splitter's Comment
member avatar

Hello Splitter.

I just left a voice mail message for her. I will call again Monday afternoon if I don't hear back. I had wanted to hear from my original recruiter first before calling Vanessa. I appreciate what you have done and will keep you posted. I'm also hoping to hear back from Wil-Trans.

Best Regards, Colin

It was truly no trouble at all Colin! I just happened to be in her terminal the day I read your thread. I had my own issue to resolve with her as it was. I'm really pulling for you! I hope & pray you will get through this hurdle ASAP!

Best regards to you as well.

Terminal:

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.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Wil-Trans:

Darrel Wilson bought his first tractor in 1980 at age 20, but, being too young to meet OTR age requirements, he leased the truck out and hired a driver.

Through growth and acquisition, Wil-Trans now employs over 200 drivers, and has a long-standing partnership with Prime, Inc. to haul their refrigerated freight. The family of businesses also includes Jim Palmer Trucking and O & S Trucking.

Colin K.'s Comment
member avatar

Great news. I will be starting training on May 28th at CR England in Fontana, CA! The recruiter promised me that I could have extra time to practice my backing and get some one-on-one guidance. I don't think I'll need much but I do need to understand what to do and why before I can practice doing it.

They use automatics in training so I won't be learning on a manual transmission. However, the recruiter said that some divisions do use manual transmissions and, if I wanted to, I could learn manual if I wanted to switch from OTR later on.

I've been applying various schools since I left Swift but received few responses. CR England phoned me for my first telephone interview ten minutes after I applied. I had my second telephone interview within an hour after that. I'm grateful that they are giving me this chance and intend to make the most of it. The recruiter stressed that I'm welcome to put in extra time backing.

Splitter: Thank you for everything that you did in speaking with your recruiter. That was kind and I am grateful. My voicemail wasn't returned but that is okay. I'm sure it was because I wasn't eligible. I have no hard feelings and am ready to start fresh. I'll keep a diary once I start my training. Thanks for the advice, everybody!

Best Regards, Colin K.

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.

Splitter's Comment
member avatar

No worries Colin. Glad you are on your way. So long as you making headway is all that counts. All the best to you at CR England!! .

Old School's Comment
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Congratulations Colin!

Listen, I want to warn you about your expectations. I know you're excited because of the things your recruiter said, and of course we are all glad to hear you're moving forward, but... recruiters are known for ad-libbing stuff just to get you in the door - that's kind of their job.

The reality of learning enough to get your CDL is usually a rush job at best. It's a costly maneuver for these companies to undertake when only about 5% of the people they do this for ever really go on to being productive members of their team.

Listen to this Podcast on The Boot Camp Approach To Trucking School, and prepare yourself for a fast and furious time at CR England.

I want to see you succeed, but I think for you to put as much stock in that recruiters comments as you seem to be, is naive at best. Get in there and do your best. Work within the framework of their program. If you can get some special attention or extra time one on one then that is great. I just seriously doubt it's going to be anything like what you are envisioning.

When you start backing maneuvers, try to pay special attention to what is happening at the rear of the trailer in relation to what you're doing at the wheel. Whether you get one on one time or not is not ultimately what is going to help you figure this out. You have got to get a feel for this inside your own head - as it's taking place. If all you're doing is turning the wheel this way and that without trying like crazy in your own mind to make a connection with the results, you're going to be headed back home again. I don't want to see that.

A lot of this stuff about driving a truck has to be learned while doing it. Backing is one of those things that develops over several months and maybe years for some of us. Remember, you don't need to be an expert at it to pass the test, you don't even have to make it look easy or pretty. Just put it in the spot that is marked.

Expect to feel rushed. Expect to feel stressed. Expect to be nervous. But also expect to succeed. Ninety percent of this is going to be mindset, and maybe ten percent skill set. If you have no confidence, then there goes 90% of what you need to pass the test.

Good luck Brutha! Listen to that Podcast as many times as it takes to get those concepts established in your head.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
KevinK's Comment
member avatar

1. Recruiters are known for ad-libbing stuff just to get you in the door - that's kind of their job.

2. Backing is one of those things that develops over several months and maybe years for some of us.

3. Expect to feel rushed. Expect to feel stressed. Expect to be nervous. But also expect to succeed.

1. I learned this the hard way.

2. I am STILL learning this the hard way.

3. I hope I NEVER stop learning this.

Thanks, Old School

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Colin K.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you, Old School. You have a way of saying what needs to be said but with kindness and sincerity. That really makes what you say resonate with me, whether it is in a general post or in one of your great articles.

I've already experienced the "over promising, under delivering" of recruiters, so I am not expecting puppies and unicorns. Whatever I get, I know it will be up to me to make the most of it to make it through the program and do well.

I bought a toy truck at a truck stop and am using it to observe how the trailer responds to the tractor while backing. I know I will do well with this once I get the concepts down in head. Though I would have liked to learn on a manual, not having to focus on double-clutching and shifting while learning to drive will make it easier for me.

Thank you for your words of wisdom and encouragement, Old School.

Best Regards, Colin K.

Jeremy C.'s Comment
member avatar

As someone who's only been in training for two weeks, let me give ya some advice from the student side... You will never get enough practice at backing to feel like you "got it" finally. None of us do. And that is pretty much every place out there.

I'm sure they will teach you about safety, and I am sure they will teach you to pass the CDL exam. After that, most of us will get our real training and real practice from a trainer-driver, the person who is actually supposed to teach us these things in detail.

It might seem very challenging at first, and maybe even intimidating, but we all feel that same stress everywhere we go to train. The thing is, these folks training us know what they're doing and are usually pretty good at it. So just listen good and study hard and you will find yourself on the road very soon with exactly the skills you need to get started.

Congratulations on finding training you are comfortable with! Now go make the most out of it!

dancing-banana.gif(And don't forget to start a training diary here on TT so other people like you can come get answers about training at CR England.)

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.
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