Is Four Weeks Really Enough?

Topic 24686 | Page 1

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TexanTwoStep's Comment
member avatar

Hi all,

My last day of my job as a 911 dispatcher is Monday morning, and I start school at a private trucking school (Career Trucking School in Tyler, for what it's worth) Tuesday morning.

I have never even seen the inside of a tractor. I've driven a manual vehicle (all my vehicles have been manual), pulled a few trailers (boats and what not, never a 5th wheel). I have my permit and understand the gist of it, but I'm nervous that four weeks of training simply isn't going to be enough to learn.

So, ease my mind for me? I'm definitely not getting cold feet, my anxiety is just starting to rear its head because this will be the first time since I was 18 that I've been "unemployed" (I have signed on with McElroy, but it's contingent on me passing school).

Dispatcher:

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.
Hobo's Comment
member avatar

I'm going into school soon too and I've never driven a combination vehicle but the way I'm looking at it is that the schools job is to train people like us to drive those vehicles and they've done it successfully for years so just learn the lessons and enjoy the ride. I think we'll both be fine.

Combination Vehicle:

A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

TTS, the truck driving school will be spending four weeks preparing you to pass the CDL exam: Pre-trip, backing, and skills test (on-road driving with DOT examiner). At the end of the four weeks, after you've passed the CDL exam, received your diploma and new Class A license, you still won't know much about driving a big truck. You'll have learned the basics: shifting, backing, not taking out light poles while making a turn, but the vast majority of learning will come from McElroy as you ride with one of their trainers for several weeks and tens of thousands of miles, and then on-the-job training/learning as you evolve into a solo driver. So, don't look at it as you have to learn everything you'll need to know about truck driving in four weeks; those first four weeks are more or less an introduction. The real learning comes after. And never really stops. Don't worry, you'll do fine.

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.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Pete B. had it down. Four weeks isn't enough. But it is enough to get you up to speed to pass the CDL skills and driving test:

The vast majority of learning will come from McElroy as you ride with one of their trainers for several weeks and tens of thousands of miles, ...

Other companies have different schedules for that training ride, but that's when you polish your driving and backing skills. Even then, on your solo First Dispatch, you might find a moment that you're standing there staring at your truck and trailer, thinking "Now what?!"

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.
TexanTwoStep's Comment
member avatar

TTS, the truck driving school will be spending four weeks preparing you to pass the CDL exam: Pre-trip, backing, and skills test (on-road driving with DOT examiner). At the end of the four weeks, after you've passed the CDL exam, received your diploma and new Class A license, you still won't know much about driving a big truck. You'll have learned the basics: shifting, backing, not taking out light poles while making a turn, but the vast majority of learning will come from McElroy as you ride with one of their trainers for several weeks and tens of thousands of miles, and then on-the-job training/learning as you evolve into a solo driver. So, don't look at it as you have to learn everything you'll need to know about truck driving in four weeks; those first four weeks are more or less an introduction. The real learning comes after. And never really stops. Don't worry, you'll do fine.

Thanks for the posts and encouragement, everyone! I do agree that I'll never stop learning! I'm excited about my new 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.

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.
Big T's Comment
member avatar

When I first entered trucking my school was two weeks. One week to get your permit and one week to get your license. Then you went with a trainer for 28 days. When I came back to trucking my school was two weeks followed by three days of orientation and then the dmv test.

You will be amazed how much you pick up and absorb in four weeks. Then your trainer will show you the ropes.

The anxiety is normal. It will subside as long as you don't let it control you.

Good luck.

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.

TexanTwoStep's Comment
member avatar

Thanks Big T. After I get out of CDL school, it's immediately followed with 6-7 weeks of training/orientation at McElroy.

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.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

I'm sure you've seen how we always recommend that you stick with your first driving job for one full year. You will discover why. The learning curve is tremendous and the only way to absorb it is to "stay the course." Take the time to listen to this podcast. It will help you understand the importance of that first year commitment.

Why You Should Stick With Your First Company For One Full Year

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Also, I did a podcast on this topic:

Episode 5: Why Is Truck Driver Training Done In Such A Rush?

There's no question that your first year in trucking you'll often feel like you're in over your head, and sometimes you will be. But it's such a demanding profession that it would take you 10 years to learn how to become a top tier driver if they didn't push you along at a faster pace.

Many times early on in your career you'll feel that you may not be ready to handle a certain situation, but that doesn't mean you're not capable of getting through it safely. It just won't feel comfortable. You just have to work through it.

You may have heard people say that you just have to learn to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. That's accurate for sure that first year in trucking. You're going to be uncomfortable a lot. But trucking is a huge adventure, and being on a real adventure means there is real uncertainty and often times real danger involved. Some people love the adventure and love being challenged every day, others prefer a very benign, predictable life.

If you're going to thrive in trucking you'll want to embrace the adventure of it all. You're getting ready to drive a big ol' American Big Rig! It's one of the coolest things on Earth you can do. Try to enjoy it.

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.
Lowry F.'s Comment
member avatar

Even then, on your solo First Dispatch, you might find a moment that you're standing there staring at your truck and trailer, thinking "Now what?!"

I can't speak for everyone but this was definitely me. I've been driving class a for a year but did 53s for four months then went local with side load and 36s I'm going back to regional in 2 weeks with a sleeper and 53s and it feels like the first time I started driving. Luckily I have 4 months of solo under my belt so I think after the first run I'll feel right at home. I'd say 70% of your knowledge learned is from your first trainer they are a great resource.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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