Prime PSD Training, From A Trainer's Perspective.

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Turtle's Comment
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It took a lot for me to make the decision to train. I'm actually a quiet, reserved kind of guy. Some may even call me an introvert. I could spend hours alone, and be perfectly content with only myself as company. So the idea of living with a stranger in my truck is just a little outside of what I would call desirable. But nonetheless, I see so many trainers out there who are only in it for the money, leaving the trainee lacking in some core fundamentals necessary to being a truly top-tier driver. I want to do my part in sharing what I've learned, and maybe help the next wave of drivers coming into the industry.

I met my first student yesterday, and thankfully we hit it off immediately. All you other trainers know where I'm coming from on this. You just don't know who you'll get, or whether you'll be compatible or not. Having to adapt to different personalities will come with the territory. It remains to be seen just how well I'll adapt. Reminding myself that its profoundly harder for the student in this very trying time keeps me grounded, and focused on making this transition easy on them as well.

This young man seems to have a great head on his shoulders. Bright, intelligent, and from what I can see so far, very receptive to instruction. Upon our first meeting, one could almost feel the trepidation coming from him. He was obviously very nervous and unsure of what to expect, and I can't blame him. We've all been there right? He's about to embark on an unknown path to an uncertain future. He put on a brave and confident face however, and met me head on with enthusiasm. I respect that.

What he didn't know was that I was equally nervous. He didn't know this was a new gig for me too, or that I had perhaps as many questions as him. I tried to portray an air of confidence, to keep his mind at ease. Later in the conversation I confessed that he was my 1st student, and I think he further relaxed.

A couple hours later, we were both finished with all the paperwork, and free to get down to some learning. I was still unsure of how best to get started. On the way out to my truck, I told him what I thought would be the first thing to focus on:

"First rule: Just relax. It's only you and me now, no more jumping through hoops for awhile. Be safe in everything you do, don't hit anything, and don't kill me. Simple right? We'll get through this."

After a brief run-through of a pretrip on my truck, I had him bobtail around the yard. He settled in after a few laps, and got accustomed to the throttle, brakes, bumps & bounces, etc. Then I had him hook up to my empty trailer, which also went very smooth. Again, another few laps around the yard, and then...oh what the heck...

"Alright man, take her out on the road."

Hehe, I swear I could hear his cheeks pucker up, and not the ones on his face!


"Yeah man, that's what you're here for, isn't it?"

With that, we took off. The terminal is situated in an industrial area with some pretty quiet roads with nice wide turns, the perfect place for a first timer. We spent an hour or so just riding around the area, him becoming more and more relaxed as we went. I relaxed more and more as well. He really did great, showing an almost natural control of the truck, while not getting stressed or panicking over anything. I gave calm gentle guidance, to which he paid close attention to. It was a perfect first run, in my opinion. Pulling back into the yard, I began praising him on how good he did. He had the perma-grin going on, so I know he enjoyed it too.

With afternoon closing, we finished the day with an hour or two of pre-trip practice on the entire truck/trailer several times in a row. He took to that real well also.

I really couldn't have asked for a better first student. He may have helped me as much as I helped him so far. I have extreme confidence in him, and that was only the first day!

More to come as we hit the road on our first load. Thanks for reading.


"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.


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.


Operating While Intoxicated

Stevo Reno's Comment
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Sounds like a great 1st day for both of you ! Cool, be looking forward to see how this new saga progresses along good-luck.gif

Bruce K.'s Comment
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Turtle, that is a great heartwarming account of a special day. You put your student at ease. You have the heart of a teacher and every student will be benefited by that. And with that “heart of a teacher”, so will your grandchildren.

Sid V.'s Comment
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Turtle, I trained for over a year with a mega (Not prime). Well, first of all let me congratulate you for taking that step. Not everyone wants to be a trainer.

Don't get too attached to your students. I literally got one student after another so fast that i could barely remember their names. Literally, I just threw them the keys on day one and said follow the GPS and wake me up when you get off the highway and went to sleep.

Now you may think that this is the wrong way to train, but my students were put through grueling exercises backing and making common sense decisions and most of them became very good drivers.

The first student was the worst for me simply because I had nothing to compare it to. I thought he was doing well, but now looking back he needed a lot more help.

There will also be a point where your student will not get along with you. Happens with every student about 5/6th if the way enough training. Just keep a level head and expect it to happen.

You'll figure it out and by your 3rd it 4th student you'll have got the hang of it. :)

Marc Lee's Comment
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Sounds awesome Turtle. Match made in trucker heaven!

Chief Brody's Comment
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Great summary. Your matter of fact approach to driving flatbed and now as a trainer, reflects, IMHO, a shining example of the humility so often emphasized on this forum. I bet that most of your students won't realize how good of a trainer that drew until they are out on the road for years and hear horror stories from other drivers.

Bruce K.'s Comment
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Recently, I was into an OC and I saw a poster advertising for drivers to become trainers. It said a trainer made $60 per day extra to do training runs. Is this a standard rate? Frankly it seemed a little low to me. I can’t really believe my road trainer put up with me for just $60 per day. I think I should have been worth at least $100. Lol

Turtle's Comment
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Well, he hasn't killed me yet.

We left Pittston with a load of iron pipe headed to Springfield, MO. A nice 1100 mile trip for his first load. Currently we're just west of Indianapolis. I drove for awhile first, to show him how to approach turns, intersections, hills, etc. After a couple hours, I gave him the wheel...

It's an uneasy feeling, handing over control of my truck to a total rookie. We're grossing right at 78k now, so the game is real. Sitting here in the passenger seat is a whole new thing for me. I'm trying to strike a balance between warning him of hazards ahead of time, and letting him recognize them and react on his own. I'm also basing my reactions off of his, and so far he's been on top of things, but I'm still hyper-focused. Obviously I'm not going to let him get in a dangerous position, but I need to know that he's spotting these things. So I'm teaching him "commentary driving", having him verbalize info as he's driving. Things such as all signage, approaching/merging vehicles, clearance/weight restrictions, potential hazards, etc. I want him to point them out as soon as he recognizes them. This shows me that he's paying attention to what's ahead, and also gets him in the habit of seeing everything. These things will become second nature with experience, but as a rookie they're easy to overlook.

He's had the opportunity to feel the truck when empty, and now with considerable weight. I must say, he's handling it quite well. When approaching a curve or ramp, he slows in advance as I taught him. Situational awareness seems to be on point. Some would call him a little too cautious at times, but I've clearly told him many times to only drive at his comfort level. If he feels unsafe, go as slow as he needs to.

We did a little backing practice yesterday afternoon. I had him try straight backing first, which he struggled a bit with at first, but soon kinda got the hang of. Alley docking was/is a little more of a struggle. I'm taking the approach of letting him just get a feel for the maneuvers first, with a few pointers thrown in. I'll get more in depth with reference points later on. At this very early stage, I want him to know I don't expect much. During a break earlier, I had him do an alley dock with zero input from me, and he didn't do terrible. At the same time, I'm noticing certain subtle mistakes he's doing fairly consistently. By paying attention to that, I think I can better fine-tune a plan to teach him. Remember, this is new for me too, so I'm learning as I go.

As luck would have it, we have time to make it to our terminal today. So I reserved some pad time at the yard for some unplanned exam practice. That'll go a long way towards helping him on exam day.

Moving on...


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.

Army 's Comment
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Turtle, so he has his permit correct?

Old School's Comment
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That's correct Army. You can't legally drive one of these rigs without that permit. This is what Prime calls the PSD stage of training - Prime Student Driver. A licensed CDL driver must be in the passenger seat during this stage of training.


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.


Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.
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