What Should I Expect To Learn From My Trainer? Article By Old School

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Brett Aquila's Comment
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We have another fantastic article from Old School:

What Should I Expect To Learn From My Trainer?

It's staggering to think of the number of truck driving careers that ended during training simply because the student had the wrong attitude, the wrong expectations, or a lack of resolve. Training is the toughest part of this career for many people. You have to have an understanding of what you're going to experience and what is going to be expected of you.

Old School uses his own experiences to demonstrate that no matter how difficult you may have it during your time in training you should stick it out. He had a tough go of it early in his career but he never let it deter him. This is a very important lesson that just may save your career when your time comes:

What Should I Expect To Learn From My 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.
Bran009's Comment
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Awesome article! I will definitely keep all of this mind.

Phil 's Comment
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I am not even half way through this article and I feel less anxious about driving with a trainer. Thanks!

LDRSHIP's Comment
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I am not even half way through this article and I feel less anxious about driving with a trainer. Thanks!

Remember, As Old School wrote, we are not there to make you a polished driver. We are there to teach you the things CDL school probably didn't. Trip planning, HOS , time and clock management, etc... Our other main purpose is a second set of eyes for training and safety. To make sure you are not going to kill someone once you are in a rig by yourself. Once we give you the green light, all we are saying is that you can work the QualComm , you know the HOS, you can trip plan, and you shouldn't murder a couple old ladies trying to cross the street; because, you like to drag your tandems over a curb every time you make a right hand turn.

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.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Dave Reid's Comment
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Another fantastic article by Old School indeed!

I recently became a trainer for Pride Transport. I've done some yard work with folks ready to get into a truck except they were in need of backing help. I've done an "eval" for a driver with limited experience and helped polish her up a bit. Currently, I'm working with my second newbie.

In Pride's program, newbies do a minimum of 100 hours supervised solo driving, then get into team driving until a minimum of 300 hours are reached, and then when they can test out and get a truck, they do so.

There is a lot of bashing of trainers and probably much of it is deservedly so, but I want to encourage students to do all they can to make their trainer's work easy. I have discovered that training is VERY difficult. I've done a ton of training throughout my life...but doing so with a newbie in a semi-truck is a whole 'nuther thing. I've had several close brushes with death during phase 1 and I'm not kidding. In phase 2 "teaming", the trainer has to drive their full shift plus lose a lot of sleep helping the student during their shift. The trainer experiences a complete loss of privacy, loss of freedom, lose of flexibiliy, gives up some space, and gets little sleep. Anytime both drivers are awake, the trainer needs to be teaching. No more TV, no more reading, no more walks...nothing. I usually spend most of any free time that there is providing backing training. Earlier today, I set up a bunch of cones at the back of a largely deserted truck stop and worked with my student on backing for three hours. This is at least the fifth time we've done that this past few weeks, and we do backing for at least a half hour every day as well.

I'm not sure how much longer I can keep this up....I'm about to turn 60....and need more sleep than I'm now getting.

So, God Bless the trainers who do a good job and are able to keep it up year after year. Students - try to help keep us around. You've only got to endure training for a couple of months, but for the trainers, it is their life. For me, my time training will probably be short, but I hope I can help at least a few people get started in the business.

!Nk's Comment
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Good read.. even better information! Thanx!

Buckaroo B.'s Comment
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Spot on. In '93 I went out with a trainer for 30 days. I just bit my tongue and listened, observed and stuck it out. There wasn't much training, I was the night driver in a team operation. It was all Interstate and if I was going to take an exit I had to wake him up before I took it and I better have a damn good reason for doing so. There were many sketchy things my "trainer" did and I just wanted to get through it as quickly as possible. Rocking the boat by complaining would have created a new set of variables ultimately delaying getting my own truck. As long as companies pay trainers an inflated per mile rate, the trainers are going to exploit it and run as many miles as they can. I don't blame them. After my "training" I teamed up with another rookie I met in CDL school. Two rookies pulling 53' vans around the country was an experience, in a good way. We looked out for each other. Anytime the truck went into reverse the other got out and spotted. Anytime we were driving city streets the other was in the jump seat helping with navigation. This kept us out of trouble and accident free.

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.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Don's Comment
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I was very fortunate to have a very good trainer. He lacked experience as a trainer, but not as a OTR driver. I appreciated the fact that he had a very friendly, calm "down home" demeanor. He never got visibly upset or ranted. He was always paying attention and never-and I do mean never-missed the slightest error I made. He would ask me if I "knew what I just did (incorrectly) there", and then would teach me. When I thought he wasn't paying attention?......WRONG!.....Like I said, he did not miss a thing. Wherever you are today in that CFI wagon, thanks again Mike.

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.

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