TMC CDL (in-house) Training Day 1

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Pete E Pothole's Comment
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Congratulations!!!

G-Town's Comment
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Congratulations!

Kyle M.'s Comment
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Congrats been reading from the beginning

Solo's Comment
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Thanks guys!

I was immediately dispatched on an 1100 mile run to PA, so I'm breaking her in...at 62mph haha

0881863001551445073.jpg

G-Town's Comment
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TMC has such gorgeous trucks. Drool...

Safe travels!

Solo's Comment
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TMC has such gorgeous trucks. Drool...

Safe travels!

They are indeed! But brand new trucks come with SOME breaking-in.

So I fill up before leaving the terminal Wed pm to head to my shipper. Friday pm as I'm going down the PA turnpike for my first time ever as a driver, nevermind as a professional truck driver and my fuel light comes on.

No problem, I pre-tripped a flying J + truck wash out of Breezewood exit 171 (remember that number for later).

Breezewood is coming up and on the LEFT side of the turnpike is the exit number for my wash (so the Flying J would be on the same exit) and that exit is 171, but I'm only at mile marker 140-150 (can't recall) and I thought to myself "How that's a heck of a heads-up between now and my exit 20-30 miles down the road)

Fast forward...no, not 171...but exit 161. I come upon exit 161, but I now see a Truck Advisory and not being familiar with the area, I decided to pass the exit and GO TO EXIT 171...where there is NO fuel to be found of course, because I was supposed to have taken the 161 exit.

No idea how long my fuel light has been on now because I'm in a bit of a state of panic as all of my driving is now UP, thus using more fuel. So I slow it down trying to conserve. I know I'm at around ~1300 miles since I put fuel on board 2 days prior.

Add to that and my radio won't turn down/off/channel, nada. The steering controls for the radio won't work, and the radio itself won't work. So I'm trying to concentrate, and the radio is NOW a distraction to me.

NOW I'm not thinking with a clear head and pull off to a service plaza and request fuel from a sunoco, I pass a few.

Now I'm praying and I am 7 miles away from the flying J that is down the street from my Consignee and I pull in...made it. Turn the truck off, remove the key...music still playing in the truck. The trucks come with a 10" subwoofer, so you can hear the music OUTSIDE the truck. Embarrassing.

I have less than 1 hour on my clock and I want to get to that flying J, so I can do my 34, so I put 13 gallons of fuel on myself and push on.

Get to the Flying J and put on another 180 gallons (text my trainer and he said I had ~30 gallons left of which 15 gallons can't be used as it's below the fuel pick-up (seems like a silly design)

I now have less than 30m on my clock and I need to park in a 3/4+ full Pilot of which I've not had to do yet in my 5 weeks OTR. Everyone is jocking for the close spots up front, so I head to the back where I find 2 end spaces that just required a straight-line back, and I was parked up for the weekend!

I ended up having to pull the radio's memory fuse to reset the radio, and thus get it to turn off.

My take away (from the above GPS failed me thread) is to do a MUCH better pre-trip AND WRITE IT DOWN!

That way there's NO second guessing when you get hit w/ a sign that you THINK is not part of your plan, but actually does not impact your plan.

Consignee:

The customer the freight is being delivered to. Also referred to as "the receiver". The shipper is the customer that is shipping the goods, the consignee is the customer receiving the goods.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.

Noob_Driver's Comment
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Congrats man, been reading since the beginning. Make every mistake a learning experience and your on the right path.

Solo's Comment
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Ok gang, I'm going to try and recap my last 8 weeks for a very high level overview of what to expect if you're planning to attend TMC's in-house CDL school out of Des Moines, IA (Keeping in mind that things may change, especially once they change their training fleet to ALL automatic (meaning you will have an automatic restriction on your CDL).

Week 1, Sunday arrival to Baymont. You can get checked-in early and assigned a room. You will have a roommate, that could be ANYone. Another CDL student, a current TMC driver in for service, basically any other TMC employee. Just not a random NON-employee, as they put them in another part of the hotel.

Week 1, Day 1 Orientation (Monday)...it's either the 6 am or 7 am bus (You will be told by your recruiter ahead of your arrival) to Ankeny, where all training is conducted. It's about a ~25min bus ride (every. single. morning) where you will be greeted by people handing you bottles of water. You will be separated by class (CDL-students go to Classroom 1, and EXP CDL students will go to another room). You will then board the bus again and head straight to a medical facility where I HIGHLY SUGGEST you get to the front of the bus, thus FRONT OF THE LINE for your DOT physical, or you will be waiting a LONG time to finish up. They will do a urine test, then the vision test, then dr's physical. They will give you your DOT card. You stand around waiting for the others to finish up before being picked up by a smaller van and taken back to Ankney to go through the physical test (Tarp test), ladder to the top of 13'6" container that's on top of a flatbed to make sure you're not afraid of heights. They will have you do a balance on each leg test and crawl under a trailer. The tarp portion being the hardest: You will practice 1 or 2 times on a steel tarp (80lbs) then immediately placed in a line to lump the lumber tarp (125lbs DRY) down the side of the trailer, throw/roll it onto the trailer deck, then lift yourself up onto the trailer by jumping and using your arms (you can't use the tire/rim to step-up), lift the lumber tarp back up and place it on top of a coil and push it just over the middle, so you can walk around the coil using 3-points-of-contact, where you will drag the tarp off the coil onto the deck of the trailer, push the tarp to the edge of the trailer, you will then exit the rear of the trailer again using 3PoC, then walk back to the side of the trailer placing the tarp onto your shoulder, and then back to the rear of the trailer and back onto the ground for the next guy in line to complete. You will surrender your DOT card to training as they will hold onto it until AFTER you pass your DOT driving exam (The Tues-Thur of your 3rd week of training) and then you get sent home Friday around lunch wherever that may be to get your CDL on Sat or Mon.

Week 1, day 2-3 will be all admin/HR/videos. YOU WILL have to retake the General Knowledge exam you JUST took to get your CDL permit and you MUST pass it, as your classroom scores, securement scores, and backing lot training scores WILL determine if you get sent home at any point during the training, so take the videos seriously. The tests are open book w/ the exception of the 2nd Load Securement test (the 1st one you take at the end of week 1 is KIND OF open book, but not)

Week 1, day 4-5 will be a demo drive to get an initial thought on your ability to shift, drive, etc. You will begin backing training. You will start load securement Friday PM. You will go to

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.

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.
Solo's Comment
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Walmart each Wednesday night (make sure to have food or buy food, because you will RARELY make it back to Baymont in time to get your free dinner from the Chrome cafe')

Week 1, day 6-7 will be all-day load securement with Mr. Fisher. He's a character and will come off as an *******, so just be ready. He's 1000000% about making sure you don't die, so make sure to ask questions, try not to challenge him (you will lose), and learn how TMC secures.

Week 2, day 8-13 (Mon-sat) will be split between backing and road driving. Each day will be 4 hours of each. Some will be made to stay late for additional night backing (which will falsely lead you to believe that if you can back at night, that testing during the day will be easy...but SOME of you will have to do your DOT backing test at night...so make sure you practice, because those that have to test at night can't see/use the marks on the pad that those testing during the day can use while testing...sucks, but that's the way it goes). You will start going over Pre-trip BUT NOT NEARLY enough emphasis (IMO) as they put on time spent driving and backing, despite stating that pre-trip fails more students, than backing does, and then driving does, which is why come DOT testing day you will do pre-trip first, then backing, and then driving (Hardest to easiest according to TMC).

You will get the 2nd Sunday you're in Des Moines off and I'd suggest relaxing, sleeping, and practice your in-cab (Air brake tests). This will be your first and only day off during the 3-week orientation. Most of your days will start on the 6am bus and not get back to the hotel until 7-9pm each night. The breakfast at the hotel is free and good. The lunch at the training facility is free and fairly good. Dinner is free too, but you'll rarely make it back in time to enjoy it.

Week 3, day 15 & 16 will be Driving, Backing, and Pre-tripping.

Week 3 day 17 & 18 will alphabetical order DOT testing. You will be tested by a TMC employee who you've not had any contact with since you're arrival, and they are certified by the DOT to conduct the test. DO NOT think this is a good thing. TMC has been told by Iowa DOT to stop failing so many people, but TMC has stated they will not. Their testing standards are higher so that DOT can't accuse TMC of passing too many people. If you get past the in-cab portion of your pre-trip (you must get 100% of it correct, or you have failed), you can miss 50% of the rest of your pre-trip inspection and still pass, and move onto the backing. The backing is pretty straight forward, but I can not recall how many points you can miss...but you do get 2 free pull-ups for each of the 3 backing maneuvers, and you can GOAL 1 time each for free (they will tell you the point break down on test day). If you pass backing, you will then head out onto the road test. The DOT testers do not use the same route and don't necessarily test for the same maneuvers. Whatever you do...do NOT cross solid lines, DO NOT coast more than the length of a truck, DO NOT miss a gear and get locked out, or those are auto-failures (which 2 of these will be moot when they switch to automatics for testing). They MAY ask you to perform an emergency stop, they may not. They MAY ask you to change a lane that would have your cross a solid line...DON'T DO IT until you've cleared the line, or they will fail you on the spot. It's a

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.

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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Test. You will meet with your training coordinator. You will learn who your driver trainer is, and how far away they live from you.

Week 3 day 19 will be wrapping up DOT testing, going over drop/hook trailer, changing fuel filters, filling and cleaning trucks, some fun am or pm driving in a much more relaxed setting.

Week 3 day 20 will be final paperwork and give back your DOT card. After lunch, you will be released to your home via rental car. You will already know when/where you will meet your trainer (either that Sunday or Monday). If you can't meet with them immediately, you will HAVE TO CHECK-IN each morning with your training coordinator until you are in your trainers truck

Week 4-8: You will be with your trainer living in the truck. After your second week, you will be dispatched as a team (TMC advertises Solo dispatch, but that's only the first 2 weeks of the 5 weeks you will be OTR training. You MAY or MAY NOT get home on the weekends. They will tell you they can't guarantee it. They want you to get 10k miles and 60 backing maneuvers completed during your 5 weeks. This becoming a reality will heavily depend on your trainer, so make sure YOU take charge of YOUR training and make sure you are getting the training that YOU SHOULD be getting. Contact your training coordinator with any issues that you can't resolve civilly with your driver trainer.

MAKE SURE you get PLENTY of "TMC-45" backing practice as you will take ANOTHER road test upon your completion of 5 weeks OTR training which WILL include successfully backing at a 45 with VERY little to no pull-up room. I did exactly 0 45 backing maneuvers during my 5 weeks of OTR training but did manage to pass it during my 2nd road test, so it can be done, but I should have had PLENTY of practice during my 5 weeks of training...but the money came first. I did note this on my post-training review/survey.

At the end of 5 weeks, you will have to get back to your closest Terminal by Sunday morning to spend ALL day getting your truck issued to you after your road test. You will be issued a truck and trailer. You will have to fully pre-trip it and document anything the shop will need to address prior to you heading out on your first solo dispatch. You will be sent to logs and permitting to make sure all are up-to-date. You will meet your Fleet manager and have expectations set between both of you. You will head to load securement and be issued any additional securement your truck/trailer do not have. You will road test your truck/trailer and report back to the shop to have your name (if you want) placed onto your truck and turn in your paperwork.

You will be dispatched IMMEDIATELY, so be prepared to drive that night or the very next morning.

That's all I can think of, for now, hope it helps. Please ask questions and I'll do my best to answer them when time permits. It's been a HECK of a process and I can't even believe it's gone by this fast (from the time I THOUGHT about getting into this industry, to get my permit, to now typing this from the sleeper of my own truck while on my first 1200mile dispatch and 34hr reset ahead of another winter storm).

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.

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.

Fleet Manager:

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.
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