C.R. England Truck Driving School In Fontana, CA

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Colin K.'s Comment
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This is my diary of my time at the C.R. England Premier Trucking School in Fontana, CA. This first post talks about my first two days. So far, I am very impressed.

C.R. England is very through. The first day they had us show them the paperwork that we were asked to bring with us for the DMV permit test. Some people did not bring the required paperwork. Some of them were staying at the company paid hotel. They were immediately driven back to the hotel and told to check out. I assume those who came in on the bus got a bus ticket home as well.

The first two days of the program was devoted to studying for the DMV permit. They take people to the DMV for testing on the third day. I highly recommend that you use the High Road Training Program to study and get your permit BEFORE you come for training, like I did. It is a lot to learn in two days and many people are struggling. On the positive side, you are only asked to pass tests on air brakes, combos and general knowledge. The DMV in CA will also test you on general knowledge for your Class C license as well, however.

The rest of the time so far has consisted of filling out paperwork for our physical and our agreement to work for C.R. England after training. Despite what I've read, (9 months), we are asked to commit to working for C.R. England for one year after training. That still seems fair to me. Veterans are asked to agree to work for C.R. England for nine months after training.

The instructor said that C.R. England just announced a pay increase for the people in training. He promised to find out what that is. I will post that information as soon as he gets it to us.

The staff is constantly stressing safety. They gave us an open book test on safety and federal regulations from the FMCSA. This was graded. I did fine. We also saw some safety videos

We also saw a video about careers at C.R. England. The video stressed team driving, and becoming a trainer, as the two best ways to make money. I asked the director about solo jobs at C.R. England, which is what I want once I know what I'm doing. He said that there are plenty of solo jobs available. The instructor later brought up some open positions on their company website to show us.

Today we had a physical agility test and our medical exam. The physical agility test consisted of lifting 35 lbs. over our head three times in succession, walking under a trailer (NOT crawling) and getting in and out of the back of a trailer safely. Everyone in my small group passed.

The medical exam is typical. We had a urine test. No hair follicle test, at least not yet. They also took our blood pressure, listened to our heart and gave us an eye test. At least two people were sent home because they failed the eye exam. Based on some conversations that I overheard today in class, I assume we will lose more when the drug test results come back.

I told the doctor yesterday that I had a CPAP machine. I seem to be the only one in our training class who does. The doctor asked me to bring it in today so he could look at it. He is very thorough as well.

They also did some diagnostics for sleep apnea on everybody. They measured our neck and then asked us to rate on a scale of 1 – 5 how likely you'd be to fall asleep doing certain activities such as watching TV, lying down, talking to someone, etc.

Classes run anywhere from 17 to 21 days, depending on how you are doing. We only get one day off during school, this coming Sunday. This first week, classes are from 6:30 am to 3 pm. Next week, classes start at 6 am and go to 3 pm. There is a bus that takes students to and from the company paid hotel. It shows up on time, and doesn't go back to pick up stragglers, so don't be late for the bus!

The instructors expect you to be there on time, as well as to comeback from breaks and lunch on time too. Breaks are 15 minutes, at 9 am and 2 pm. Lunch is an hour, from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. As the instructor said when he stressed the importance of being on time, “How can we expect you to be on time for work and deliveries if you can't be on time for school?”

So far, the instructors have shown that they are more than willing to help you, provided that you show the effort and initiative. We were advised, as they advise us here on TruckingTruth.com, to treat this entire training process as a job interview.

They have a zero tolerance policy for alcohol, drugs and harassment. The staff at the company paid hotel is instructed to call the school if they find evidence of drugs or alcohol in your room. You will be kicked out of the program if found to engage in any bad behavior.

The only negative thing that I have come across so far has to do with my name. I go by my middle name, Colin, and not my first name. My family doesn't even call me by my first name.

I had asked my recruiter if I could go by Colin, and not my first name, at C.R. England. She said yes. I brought this up privately to the instructor while we were going over my paperwork. He said no, I need to go by my first name. “It's what it says on your birth certificate,” he said. I started to say that Colin is also on my birth certificate, but I bit my tongue. I decided to let it go for now but will bring it up in a polite and professional manner once I complete my training.

I hope that you find this diary helpful. I'm happy to answer any questions that you have, so please fire away!

Best Regards, Colin

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

Dm:

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.

Fm:

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Best of luck to you, Colin. I, along with many others I'm sure, will be following along. You'll do well, I just know it!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Good luck Colin. I'll be following your progress as well.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Colin K.'s Comment
member avatar

This is my update for Day 3 and Day 4 of my training with C.R. England. So far, things are going very well.

Yesterday was the day that most people in the class went to the DMV to take the tests for their permit. Those of us who already had our permit were given an advance copy of the study guide for the Air Brake Test, In-Cab Inspection and the Pre-Trip Inspection. We were then given the option of leaving early, which most did. One student and I stayed until lunchtime to study.

Today we saw more training videos on things like driving in rain and snow, what speeds to take a curve and on/off ramp, etc. We also got a PowerPoint presentation that showed the various parts we needed to identify for the Pre-Trip Inspection. I found this part especially helpful. Not being mechanically inclined, I did not know what all of the parts we inspect look like.

We also got a schedule of what we will be doing in the days ahead. Everything is VERY organized and the handouts are written in a way that makes them easy to understand.

We later divided into groups to do a test where we matched the part description for the Pre-Trip to the actual part. I'm proud to say that my group was the only group that stayed in class during our afternoon break to work on the test.

Today one of the instructors from the yard came to talk to the class. He stressed that it is his job to make sure that we pass. He is pleasant but is no nonsense. He called out two of the people in our class who were talking during his presentation. I was glad that he did.

One thing that I especially liked: He said that if we are having problems with a particular skill in the yard that they have somebody whose job it is to work with us on our weakness and get us up to speed so we can pass.

There were about 60 of us when we started on Tuesday. For various reasons, we are down to 40 or so. Tomorrow (Saturday), we are scheduled to start learning how to pass the Air Brake, In Cab and Pre-Trip Inspection.

As always, feel free to post any questions that you have. I will be happy to answer them.

Best Regards,

Colin K.

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.

Dm:

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

This is my entry for Saturday, June 2nd.

Today we had a new instructor. He was very upbeat and positive. He broke down the Pre-Trip inspection into manageable parts. We all went out to the truck. He showed us the various parts and then lead us in groups, and individually, in repeating the names of the parts as he pointed to them.

He also let us take photos of the parts to help us remember them. We didn't go into the verbiage that needs to be said about each part, we just focused on learning the parts. I found this a very good way to learn this material. It is a lot of material, and can be overwhelming if you don't break it down into manageable parts. We also went over information needed for the Air Brake Tests that we will be learning to conduct next week.

Later on, he showed us some YouTube videos of trucks crashing. We discussed the reasons for the crashes and what we, as drivers, could do to help minimize them. He also shared some real world stories of his experiences while driving.

We got to leave a little bit early today. Tomorrow is our only day off during training. I plan to do my laundry and practice my Pre-Trip Inspection using the photos and the verbiage that he taught us.

Our class started with 60 people. After our first week, we are down to 22. People dropped out for a variety of reasons, including failing the drug test or failing the DMV permit test. Those of us who are left are helping each other out wherever we can. We each want all of us to pass.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them here. I will do my best to answer them.

Best Regards, Colin K.

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.

Dm:

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Han Solo Cup's Comment
member avatar

I have two questions... the first is overwhelming... you lost 38 people in one week? That seems crazy ridiculous to me. I've always held a job which required a pee test to acquire and random tests whenever to keep the job. I've never once known anyone to fail and I guess I just can't grasp that many people failing a test they know is coming in an industry they know has no tolerance.

My second question is: I'm not a gearhead by any stretch of the imagination (I'm a computer guy). After it's been a few days of this learning method (learning the parts before the verbiage), do you think it's helping? I'm fairly certain I could memorize the words fairly easily but I'm equally certain I won't be able to sight-identify some parts unless I practice them first. Thanks.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Hans Solo it's fairly common to lose half the first week; for a variety of reasons; failed drug test, medically disqualified, test failures on classroom work, and just basic "gee I need to apply myself to learn this?" You'd be amazed the number of folks who enter into this totally unprepared for what is required. Clueless.

When I attended Swift Academy similar circumstance; first day on a Monday there were 42 people in the classroom. Next day, as if by magic, the number was reduced to 34. By Friday of the same week; 24 remained. We actually had two guys caught consuming alcohol in the hotel they put us up in. Morons. At the end of 3 weeks; only 7 graduated. It's reality, very selective.

As far as pretrip, the words are fairly routine depending of what is being inspected. I rather like CREs approach to familiarize with all the parts first.

I suggest taking a look at TT's pretrip link:

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.

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.
Colin K.'s Comment
member avatar

Han Solo Cup: G-Town covered many of the reasons people drop out, or get asked to leave. (Lying on your application is another big one. Yes, companies call who you list as former employers and references.)

As to the other question...I'm not a gear head either. We've been given time each day to practice our pre-trip. Each day, we've all gotten better. First I worked on being able to name the parts. The verbiage is pretty much the same for all hoses, metal parts, etc. so that is easy to plug into the equation. After that, it's just a matter of practice.

Many of us took photos of all the parts that we are supposed to name, in the order we want to name them. Tonight, I'll be looking at the photos, saying the part name and verbiage. It's just like practicing at the truck. I hope that answers your question.

I may not get to updating my diary tonight as I want to study. If not, I promise to update my diary tomorrow. Does anyone else have any questions?

Best Regards, Colin K.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Han Solo Cup's Comment
member avatar

Thanks a ton, Colin. Identifying parts is my biggest concern and you did answer my question.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Han Solo replied:

Identifying parts is my biggest concern.

All the more reason you should consider studying the links I sent you. I gaurantee if you apply yourself to them now, by the time you get to school you'll know the material cold.

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