Training: First Step Complete... Many Next Steps To Come...

Topic 23346 | Page 1

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David John's Comment
member avatar

I am happy to say I have completed the 160 hour course and have passed the driving tests, Pre-Trip, Range and Driving.

I now have a commercial license.

With this step complete I feel as though I have accomplished something, but I still feel there is so much more to learn.

Pre-Trip

Having put in quite a bit of effort, I found the pre-trip relatively easy. But the process and the actual “performance” generally challenge me. It seems that in doing a thorough pre-trip one must do so much more than what we are asked to explain/demonstrate for the examiner. While explaining we point but do not touch. While doing the actual pre-trip, it seems, we will want to touch and pull and check and truly have a sense for what is “normal” for the truck/trailer so “ab-normal” will be more easily recognized. Much to learn, from real-world experience.

Range

The work backing and parking on the driving range came a bit easier than I expected. I have had the good fortune of driving and backing trailers of various sizes. It seems this experience helped somewhat in the exercise. From the first day I had a sense of what/how to maneuver the Truck. It is a concern, however, the methods used to prepare for and perform the routine that becomes the backing test.

The methods used, turn the wheel hard right, back until you see the landing gear line up with..., turn the wheel hard left, back until you see the landing gear line up with..., turn the wheel hard right, back until you are straight... Within the range I could find points of reference on the ground, in back, in front. I could use these to ‘help’ with the maneuvers.

The first step was to follow the recipe, prescribed sequence of turns/picture steps, but it seemed the next step was much more important. That being gaining a very real understanding of how the tractor and trailer move as the result of various inputs and movements.

It seems to me that life within the real world will be much different.

Sliding 5th wheels, Sliding trailer wheels, adjustments in length, weight. Docks that are angled, raised, lowered... dark. The range environment can be so well learned, and the specific truck understood within this “recipe” but in the real world... when each situation is different.

So much to learn.

Driving

The driving was enjoyable and the test very interesting. Traffic, construction, crossing 3+ railroad tracks, passing under bridges. A UPS double driver making rather interesting maneuvers as a result of construction confusion. “Change lanes left then right”, repeated on quite a few roads.

A bridge clearance sign became visible and awakened/reminded me that they would ask of this. I jumped in and mentioned the height of the bridge and the height of the vehicle. Well it is the point of the instructor to also check a question that confirms you are paying attention to signs in general, not just the bridge in particular. If I had not mentioned the bridge clearance sign myself, perhaps (likely) he would have asked about the clearance. However, wanting to verify I have been watching signs, he simply asks about another... “How far did the sign say we are to 51st Ave?” I was uncertain of this answer, if only I had waited... I guessed...

For me the greatest difficulty was shifting. Double clutch on a 10-speed. I have driven many manual transmission cars. The 10-speed is similar, and not. It was mentioned that experience driving a manual transmission car can pose challenges in the transition. At first the 10-speed shift “picture” was not firmly planted in my head. Then shift placement, missing the hard wall or soft wall, consistent select lever position in the down-shift transition 6-to-lower... correctly placing the lever when shifting into 4th. Initially all missed shifts seem to be one problem, but in truth they were the product of a few.

Once the puzzle pieces were in place, I simply needed time to continue to drive and to become proficient. Time to improve the timing and improve the consistency. Time to become confident in the down-shift. Time to become confident in the ‘process’ of fixing a missed shift. Time in learning the short-cuts. And all of this focused on double clutch shifting when the method used by most professional drivers is float shifting. Unfortunately, for me, the road driving time available during the coarse was not enough for me to feel I have truly become proficient at 10-speed shifting. More practice is needed. Not sure yet if/how the additional practice will come. I believe I will be driving automatic vehicles, so additional training may not come.

I do see value in the way the DMV requires a new student to perform. Double shifting requires a level of coordination that is not easy to master. When working to master this skill, understand the shift pattern and timing and speed and RPM and ... if you can do these things all at once and not drive yourself into a ditch or over a curb or onto another car ... if you can do all of this and still recognize railroads and read signs... then you can likely be a safe driver.

I am happy to say I have completed the first step.

With that I have an incredible appreciation for how much more there is to learn to truly become a proficient and capable driver.

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.

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.

Jeramy H.'s Comment
member avatar

Congrats!! I am currently in CDL school and scheduled to test on Monday. I have had all of the same thoughts you have had. Certainly much more to learn, but celebrate this big step as well. Simply knowing that there is a ton more to learn is a huge strength in our development.

So huge congrats to you, and I wish you the best as you continue your journey!

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Old School's Comment
member avatar

David John, that was a great post. There is definitely much to learn, and though you've got one big step in the process behind you, there will be many more learning experiences. I loved your comments concerning backing. The way they teach it in school is actually counterproductive when it comes to "real world" scenarios, but it helps people get past the test.

Just in case you haven't seen this, take a look at this Commencement Speech For Truck Driving School Graduates. I think you'll appreciate it now that you're ready to move on to the next stage of learning.

David John's Comment
member avatar

Thank you Jeramy & Old School!

Old School, I am really enjoying the articles you‘ve posted. For myself and All, who are coming to Trucking Truth, Thank You! Thank you for the articles and Thank you for the frequent posts and guidance. It is a great benefit to us all!

Jeramy, I believe we both stand with one foot firmly planted in the proper perspective ...

“Simply knowing that there is a ton more to learn is a huge strength in our development.” — Jeramy H

A number of the articles Old School has written provide for something similar ...

“Most of us realize that we are just as green as can be and we are looking forward to having an old hand at all this stuff to teach us how to handle that rig in all kinds of situations and road conditions.” — Old School

“Truck Driving School Is Only The Beginning Of Your CDL Training. Driving School does not prepare you to be, or magically transform you into, a truck driver. It is merely a means to getting your CDL license. Yes, truck driving school is definitely part of the learning process, but it's more like taking your first baby steps. I'm sure my experience isn't exactly normal, but it has taught me that it takes a tough skin, a humble attitude, a willingness to learn from someone who may not be the best at teaching, and a tenacious attitude that looks forward to new challenges and learning experiences every day.” — Old School

I share this perspective as well. And I have found a great deal of excitement in the fact that the opportunities to learn will never end.

“I'm really looking forward to jumping into the next learning curve that lies ahead ... “ — Old School

I most certainly am looking forward to jumping in ...

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

David John's Comment
member avatar

This includes a number of articles Old School has written that I stepped through after reading the “Commencement Speech For Truck Driving School Graduates”, which he referenced. This post is perhaps primarily for my future reference and review.
Note: Old School has written many interesting articles, all available via his link (Old School).

Commencement Speech For Truck Driving School Graduates

What Should I Expect To Learn From My Trainer?

According To Dispatch, 1 Out Of 5 Drivers Does A Great Job

“Trucking Is A Competition Between Drivers. Can You Hang With The Big Dogs?”

And Brett’s Book as well...

The Competition for Freight. Chapter 13, p68 Brett Aquila - On the Hyper-Competitive Trucking Industry

“As an employee of any company, you should be aware of the fact that what's good for the company is often times good for you, and visa-versa. Not always of course, but if you want to keep your job you should be doing what you can to promote the well being of both yourself and your company.” — Brett Aquila

On competition...

“Let's get more specific. Let's say that today your company has 2100 drivers that will need a new load but only 1950 new loads available. There are a lot of things you can do to make sure you're NOT one of those 150 drivers that aren't going to make any money today. It starts from day one at your first company and will be a never ending process throughout your entire career. Let's take a look at how this works and some of the things you can do.” — Brett Aquila

Old School

Brett Aquila

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.
David John's Comment
member avatar

Congrats!! I am currently in CDL school and scheduled to test on Monday. I have had all of the same thoughts you have had. Certainly much more to learn, but celebrate this big step as well. Simply knowing that there is a ton more to learn is a huge strength in our development.

So huge congrats to you, and I wish you the best as you continue your journey!

Best of Luck today Jeramy!

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Jeramy H.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you! I just wrapped up testing. I PASSED!

Weight off my shoulders for sure!

David John's Comment
member avatar

Wonderful!

It is definitely a significant weight off of the shoulders!!! I know the feeling.

There was never a question I (and I’m sure we) would pass eventually. For me it was just a question of the level of perfection. I could not perform all of the maneuvers and on-road driving as well in the Truck as I can/could in my Car. (Truth be told, in some ways I drive my Car better now. Added benefits of Truck Driver Training) 4-weeks of training limited the amount of improvement.

Having completed that step and moving on to orientation and time with the trainer, into the first year and beyond. Much to learn. Improvements to be made. Experiences to help us develop our creativity and tool set.

Great news. Congratulations on your Success!

Thanks again for the Congratulations you offered me!

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

A bit late to the party...

Congratulations on getting it done.

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David John's Comment
member avatar

Thanks G-Town!

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