TMC CDL (in-house) Training Day 1

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PackRat's Comment
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Great updates! It's getting exciting now and the speed is picking up.good-luck.gif

Solo's Comment
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Will update tomorrow, but today I passed all 3 test.

G-Town's Comment
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Will update tomorrow, but today I passed all 3 test.

Congratulations!

dancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gif

Old School's Comment
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Nice job! Congratulations!

dancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gif

Rob T.'s Comment
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dancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gif way to go!

Solo's Comment
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Forgot to update with Day 15 (2 days ago)

Basically, it was just more driving and backing. Trying your best to fine-tune both.

Day 16 (Yesterday)

We got a TON of snow overnight and the bus was 2 hours late picking us up from the hotel. We get to the training pad and it's just snow and ice, as were the roadways.

Were those conditions going to keep them from testing us to a DOT standard? Nope! So the first guy goes out with a tester to a backing lane where they will first conduct his pre-trip, and then conduct his backing maneuvers (we're hoping this takes a while for the 10 of us, so the roadways can get cleared up)

The first guy is out there and looked to have successfully passed his in-cab inspection, then went on to do Form A and then couplings. Now he's back in the truck to do his straight-line backing, offset, and parallel parking. His straight line started out fine, but then the tractor just slid out to one side towards to the end of his maneuver but didn't hit anything or go out of bounds (but the boundary was now ahead of him). A second tester arrives and grabs the next guy (alphabetical) in line and they go to lane one to complete the same tasks (he gets form B), then a 3rd tester arrives, and now it's my turn...

...but we go off to a line of trucks not yet on the pad and we hop in. Boom, he reads the DOT verbiage and tells me to complete the in-cab. I thought I nailed it...until he tells me to complete the air brake and bleed down test again, and says nothing else. I asked if I needed to set the truck back up, etc, etc. He wouldn't clarify. Just said to complete the air brake test (test 3 & 4) again. So I gather my composure (thinking I had to have missed something and now questioning my flow), but press on and complete tests 3 & 4...

...Complete the air brake test again, please (my mind imploded). At this point, I'm in full panic and think I've completely blown the in-cab which is an automatic failure and he's maybe giving me an opportunity to get my **** together and pass. So I do test 3 a 3rd time.

I pass 100%. After I finished-up the in-cab, he apologizes for making me panic, but the alarm at 60psi on the bleed down only chimed once (not continuously), and despite the trailer popping out at 30psi and the tractor at 20psi, I'm guessing he didn't think I drained the tank to 60psi as there wasn't any chime. So he had me do it a second time to see if it was the truck or me, and a 3rd time to confirm.

So he tells me to move the truck on to the backing pad and I do. The trailer has ~8" of snow on it, and it's completely overhanging the edges of the flatbed trailer and I can't see the tires on the trailer at all, so I ask if I can go clear the rub rails of the snow, to which he said no problem.

Get back into the truck and he reads his DOT verbiage on the standard, GOALs, etc.

Straight-line: Nail it

Offset: The trailer just slid out to the right, instead of wrapping around the middle cone (at the rear left tire of the trailer), so I use my free pull-up and correct her and bring straight on back, and set-up tight against that same middle cone to prepare for my parallel.

Parallel: Arguably the cleanest one I've been able to complete in the past 2 weeks, and I didn't need to use any GOAL, or pull-ups, and it was dead center and evening spaced in the space.

Pass backing maneuvers with 100%

11 am: Lunch

12 pm: We start hurrying up and waiting for our time to road test

The rest of the afternoon is a total blur. At some point, my roommate finished/passed his road test and came back into the cafeteria and asked for the next guy ready to test to head out, so I just ran.

Got in the truck, followed the directions, ground 1 gear and didn't look a second time at my mirror and didn't continue looking at my mirror while completing a turn and back to the yard in ~20-25 mins and I had passed. You were allowed 30 points on the road test, and I had been docked 6.

PASSED!

So there you have it. Went from never having driven a semi in my life, to now having successfully obtained my CDL in ~2.5 weeks. I believe it's more on the instructors (at least at first) to be able to teach and articulate the information you need to pass the DOT tests. Then it's up to the student to then be able to take in, absorb, process, and retain all of this information and apply it w/o losing their nerve to succeed. TMC has some really good instructors. I do have some gripes, but I'll withhold those for now. They aren't deal breakers, and really aren't THAT bad, but potential issues for some.

That being said, they WILL NOT hold your hand through this process. Day 1 or 2 they tell YOU to take charge of your training. YOU are responsible for getting with an instructor to help you fix a problem. They WILL not seek you out to help you right or wrong, for better or worse. Yes, they are investing into you, and yes one would think they'd want to best set their investment up for success, but NO...that's not really their approach for whatever reason. Will they help you if you constantly show initiative, and drive? You best. Will they be eager to help you if you are filled with pride and come across as a super trucker? Absolutely not. They'd prefer to watch you crash and burn.

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.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Solo's Comment
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So now I wait to find out where my trainer is, and I'll fly out to wherever that is this weekend after I return to SD to get my CDL.

Thanks a lot for reading, and I hope to maintain this diary through my 5 weeks of OTR training with my trainer.

Thanks a lot for the CDL training material as well.

I hope these posts will help other potential TMC students to answer some questions. Oh, also, TMC is switching to an all automatic training fleet sometime between February and summer (I'm inclined to believe it will be closer to summer, than next week) in an attempt to recruit more drivers. They have so many brand new trucks (Pete 579's) and new trailers (48' Fontaines) sitting with nobody to drive them. A lot of their John Deere loads are having to be shipped by L/O and O/O as TMC doesn't have enough drivers in their specialized fleets to deliver them all.

Today we head back to the training pad where we will drive (guessing 1/ 2 the day), and work on 45degree parking the other 1/2. We covered drop/hook procedures yesterday between testing, as well as going over the fuel filter, idling under 10 degrees, and using Diesel 911 and fuel treatment to prevent gelling.

Ok, that's it. Thanks for reading.

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.

Old School's Comment
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Solo, this is really a great play by play of how it gets done at TMC. Thanks a lot for putting in the extra effort and recording this diary, it is really well done. The training for obtaining a CDL , and the next portion for your actual job, seldom go the way people think they should. You even made reference to this with these comments...

TMC has some really good instructors. I do have some gripes, but I'll withhold those for now. They aren't deal breakers, and really aren't THAT bad, but potential issues for some.

That being said, they WILL NOT hold your hand through this process. Day 1 or 2 they tell YOU to take charge of your training. YOU are responsible for getting with an instructor to help you fix a problem. They WILL not seek you out to help you right or wrong, for better or worse. Yes, they are investing into you, and yes one would think they'd want to best set their investment up for success, but NO...that's not really their approach for whatever reason.

We often tell people that the whole process is like an interview. Most trucking companies do not have an interview session with potential employees as do most careers. It is the preferred method in trucking to put people through some form of stress and see how they respond to it. Things like seeing how people follow instructions when perhaps they aren't given a clue as to why, and seeing how well people wait for something to take place (like your example of the bus being late) when it's not made clear why they're delayed, are common tactics employed in this process.

They want to see how you handle frustration and long hours. They know very well that these things will be affecting you while out here on the road, and observing your demeanor in various scenarios is definitely part of the training process. You probably noticed a few people complaining about the way things were done, and unless that complaining was done in complete privacy, they noticed it also. I've been there several times, and they even had people at the hotel who were unknowingly observing how and what people did and said.

Brett has done a couple of excellent podcasts on the subject of training for this career. Here are a couple of links to those. I'm hoping future readers of your diary will take the time to listen to them.

The Boot Camp Approach To Training

Why Is Truck Driver Training Done In Such A Rush?

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PackRat's Comment
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Congratulations!dancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifgood-luck.gif

Solo's Comment
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Wednesday was test day and 100% of us passed the pre-trip and the backing portion of the DOT testing.

9 of the 10 of us then went on to pass the Road test.

Yesterday our last guy went out on his 2nd attempt and passed and only dinged for 4 points (out of a possible 30 points max missed). They said it was the first class in 4 years to have everyone left in the class by test day to test, and successfully pass. Last week they sent 4 guys home on test day for failing 1 of the 3 sections twice. They said our group had the lowest points (lower points equals better scores) in the 4 years they've been conducting the in-house CDL training.

As for the rest of the day it was split in 1/2 per usual where 1/2 of us cleaned, fueled trucks in -15 degree windchill while the other 1/2 were out driving for 4 hours.

Then after lunch, those of us that were out in the cold in the am, was now in warm trucks driving around for 4 hours. The instructor had me navigate around a Walmart with snow/ice and ~60k lbs on the deck and then had me parallel park next to a truck with a driver presumably on their 10 or reset with a large snow bank. It was a bit nerve-racking, but I nailed it.

Went on to take me to a small truck stop where the only spot available was the narrow spot at the end of the row where snow plows pushed all the snow into...and where I had to back into. It took engaging the diff-lock, but I did it without taking off mudflaps or the other trucks front end or running down the side of their rig.

Today is a mixed bag of being on the lot working on 45 degrees backing between two trailers, meeting with our Driver Coordinators (our POC once we are with our trainers), I'll find out where I have to report to in the country to meet my trainer, and we'll have a small graduation video/photo-op, then we 8 of the 10 guys will be taken to the airport to get their rental cars to head back to their homes to get their CDL, and the other 2 of us will drive ourselves via our own POV's.

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.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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