I Really Need Some Advice ☹️

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Robsteeler's Comment
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I went through a company sponsored cdl program. Yes, I graduated from the school. The school doesn’t give you the cdl, you have to take the test. It has nothing to do with graduation from the school. I’m not sure how your program works, I can only describe my experience.

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.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

You'll get it, man. Try not to sweat it too much, as tough as that is. There's no such thing as someone who wanted to become a truck driver but couldn't pass the CDL exam. There's no limit on how many times you can test. It doesn't matter what you have to do to pass it, once you've passed it you're on your way. It's just a matter of time.

You can also do what a lot of us have done, myself included, and that is to get a cheap little toy truck at Walmart and work with it on the kitchen table. Do backing maneuvers by pushing on the tractor and watch how the trailer reacts. For some reason doing this really helps you visualize what's happening a lot better. You can really see how the trailer reacts and how you're "steering the trailer" with the tractor.

Practicing with that toy truck helped me discover some really clever backing tricks that I used throughout my career. They weren't something I probably would have thought of if it wasn't for getting that perspective on it and just trying a bunch of things.

More than anything just try to keep your mind calm. Don't let the frustration build. Don't let this turn into something bigger than it is. Getting past this test seems like a big deal but it's really not. It's just one tiny item in a long line of steps to ultimately becoming a top tier driver. There's no question you'll get past this, so don't question it, don't stress over it. In fact, get your mind off it completely for a while. Go see a movie, go hang out with friends - get completely away from it 100% and let your mind chill out for a while. We all perform our best when our minds are at ease.

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.
Robsteeler's Comment
member avatar

Oh, and to the guy who suggested just driving in and going over a cone or two...I’m not sure how your state does it, but in Ohio where I tested you can’t do that. Any time you cross a line or hit a cone, you MUST do a pull up, you cannot just keep backing up. So 2 points for each cone, and a point for the pull up after your two free ones. This is not a realistic method. There’s no cheat I can use. I was simply looking for some encouragement because I was feeling down and I’m not sure if I am allowed any more free practice time at the school, and I was hoping someone else had a tip or two that might help me.

The way they taught us was the banana method. Cut hard right until you see your landing gear in the mirror and then straighten your steers and back towards the hole. We’re supposed to cut and chase with the wheel as needed. It’s just experience that I need because like I said I was having problems with my left leg.

At school I went to urgent care twice. Because of my medication I’m not able to take an NSAID pain reliever like Motrin or Allieve. I can only take Tylenol. Because of going for my cdl , I can’t take narcotic pain relievers as you should know, so the only thing they could do was give me a general muscle relaxer shot and a steroid shot in the arm since they didn’t have an orthopedic doctor who could give it to me in the joint. The second trip they gave me oral steroid pills. My leg was very painful and weak the more I did it so I was limited in how many times I could do it. I needed to get more reps but I physically couldn’t do it! When I drove home after failing my first test, I was given a new test date a week and a half later. I went to my own orthopedic doctor at home and he gave me a steroid shot in the knee joint. When I went back to Ohio, I was given a day to practice by the school. I did one bad alley dock, where I could not seem to remember how to do it.

I thought about it for a while and tried again. I then did three good alley docks that would have passed in a row. I then went to practice blind side parallel parking since I had no idea which maneuver I’d be given by the examiner. I had another false start before doing a perfect one. By this time my leg wasn’t hurting, but it was starting to get weak. Depressing the clutch was difficult, and easing it out my leg was starting to shake a little. I moved on to trying drivers side parallel. I had another false start but managed to complete a kind of shaky one that wasn’t too bad. This was only about two hours and I was done. I had nothing left in my leg.

Like I said I could have done a hydraulic clutch, but I didn’t have access to one. I had to go rest up for my test instead of doing some more reps to get practice.. I’m not sure what else I could have done at that point. I tried to warm up a bit in the morning before the test, but I think I did more harm than good. I tried to do a passenger side parallel and it was terrible. My knee immediately began shaking and I was all over the place. I decided to save my strength for my test. The test truck was great. I did the first two maneuvers literally perfect. I did everything in reverse not even needing a pull up. Then I completely lost it and pointed out AGAIN on the alley dock.

My problem is recognizing what to do to recover from a misstep. The first time I tested, I did fifteen pull ups because I was stupidly trying to get the tractor straight with the trailer before I had the trailer in the hole. I completely pulled up the wrong way. The second time I just messed up and was encroaching on the left cones. This cost me points and required me to pull forward off the boundary line. I did pull up to the left to get more room on the left, but I couldn’t get ahead of my trailer without going right back into the left cones because I had too much angle at that point. It didn’t take me very long to accumulate 13 points and fail the exercise.

The problems I’m having are cured by experience. More reps is what I need to be able to recognize what I’m doing in relation to the hole and be able to recover from a mistake. If I’m going wrong, I need to know how to fix it or I’m never going to pass. I’m running out of money having to drive 550 miles out to Ohio for each retest. I didn’t choose the location, Schneider has a training contract with the school.

I need constructive criticism and advice based on the reality of my situation not admonishment over what you perceive as stupidity or something on my part. I’m not making excuses I’m trying to find answers that fit the parameters of my situation. On July 2nd, I test again. That’s not enough time to build strength in my leg, I’m planning on resting it as much as possible. If I can come up with some money, I’m hoping to rent a truck at the local cdl school. If I can get one with a hydraulic clutch, because I think it’s a waste of time and money to get one I can’t do repetitions with. If I knew someone who had a truck, I would be begging them to let me use it in a parking lot or something so I could practice, but my wife and I don’t know anyone who still drives/has a truck. That’s why I mentioned uhaul. I thought it might give me some trailer steering experience for not a lot of money. My pickup is an automatic so I wouldn’t even need my left leg.

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.

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.

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.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
My problem is recognizing what to do to recover from a misstep.
The problems I’m having are cured by experience. More reps is what I need to be able to recognize what I’m doing in relation to the hole and be able to recover from a mistake. If I’m going wrong, I need to know how to fix it or I’m never going to pass.

That's why I said you should practice with a toy truck on the table. You'll get to do hundreds of reps without hurting your knee and you'll see exactly how the trailer reacts to the tractor's input. You'll see how to adjust as you're backing up, and which way to go to make corrections.

You don't need to be in the truck doing it at this point to learn. You know in your head what you're trying to make that trailer do, and you've practiced it a bunch. What you need more than anything right now is to better visualize how the trailer is going to react to anything you do, whether that means steering inputs while you're backing or corrections you make during pull-ups.

Get a little toy truck and practice like crazy with that thing. I know it doesn't sound like it would do much good but I promise you'll be shocked at how much better you'll understand what's happening and visualize what you need to do. It made all the difference in the world for me and there's a ton of people here on the website that said it helped them also.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Rob,...honestly man, I wish I could request a store delivery near your residence, drive south on the AC Expressway and let you practice using my truck in the huge lot of the service plaza. I can't do that. If I could, I would.

I'm sticking to my assessment, it's about practice more than anything else. You need a plan. Have you called your Schneider recruiter? I'd hate to see you give-up at this point. You're close...really close.

Splitter's Comment
member avatar

I failed my backing twice & my road test twice. It just clicks Rob. Our reference points were the center of the landing gear with the steering wheel turn 1.5 revolutions. Ince it starts moving in a straight angle towards the hole, it was about lining up the middle of the tandems with the line/cone (basically watching the trajectory). I kinda cheated on the offset (but it’s legal), when I saw I might hit a cone, I pulled up with a S turn & straight lines that sucker in the hole.

Another reference that helped me a ton was the discoloration if the asphalt from all the trucks following the same line/trajectory. This was especially helpful on the alley dock. If you need to pull up on this maneuver, don’t pull straight ahead. Instead, pull to the left side you started from but not where you set up. Aim for the upper right corner of where you set up from.

As far as the pain in your knee? The struggle is real. What sucks is that when you finally figure it all out & find that sweet spot, you won’t need it anymore cause they’ll throw you in an automatic. I too got the shakes. You just have to focus your mind on the goal. I CAN DO THIS was my mantra when it hurt like hell.

Hope you can slow down & use baby steps throughout each maneuver. 15 mns is an eternity for each maneuver. Baby steps means very little input in any revolution of the wheel. Watching the reaction of the trailer with each input at the wheel. 4 wheeler bad habit that kills us in the truck is overcompensating. Perfectly natural but have to catch it before you spiral down the pointing out snake of death.

I went into my alley dock with no points & pointed out making the same mistake by pulling up forward & there’s no room to straighten out. The toy truck recommendation from Brett is huge. It gives you the visual cues to recognize when it’s going good or going south & good techniques to recover.

Good luck, don’t beat yourself up or feel sorry for yourself. Breathe, relax, breathe some more & watch your wagon. Old School would tell everyone that all the time & it stuck with me from when I first started visiting TT. Old dogs like us can learn new tricks. Just takes us a little more time is all!

good-luck.gif

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".

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Splitter...

Rob's current, most pressing issue is having no place to practice for his test. That right now is his number one problem and something he must address and quickly before he can apply any of the great technical advice offered by you and others contributing to this thread.

Glad you like the Watch Your Wagon phrase. Not sure if I've ever seen Old School use that in a thread, perhaps.

But I sure have, and for good reason. One of the instructors at Swift's Richmond Academy constantly barked that order to students learning their turning points. It stuck with me...and to this day I think about his words numerous times, especially whenever there is an obvious reason to increase vigilance.

One of my favorite series of words to live by.

Robsteeler's Comment
member avatar

Thanks guys. I know I’m close. I had serious trouble doing the offset when I first got to school. On the test the other day I was flawless. Someday, I hope I laugh about the alley dock like I do now about the offset. I posted on here about how badly I was doing, now I’m laughing at myself. During school I looked at Walmart for a truck, but I couldn’t find one with steerable wheels. I was looking for r/c models too but they needed to be delivered. I’ll check my local stores now that I’m home.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

You really don't need the wheels to turn. As long as the tractor and trailer bend at the 5th wheel that's good enough. You'll see how the trailer reacts as you push on the tractor. You'll just slide the tractor around at different angles as if it's being steered.

Robsteeler's Comment
member avatar

Okay, thanks I’ll take a look.

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