Rick C.'s CDL Renewal Journal

Topic 26028 | Page 1

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Rick C.'s Comment
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Paid for trucking school yesterday, $9000.

Air brakes course tomorrow. I volunteered to sit this for refreshing; I won't have to take the test as I still have the air brakes endorsement from my Colorado CDL of many years ago.

Classroom sessions run from 15 to 19 July.

One on one with instructor starting the week of 22 July.

Starting this process with a fair bit of trepidation. In nearly 40 years of working, truck driving was the worst job I ever had, and that includes the US Navy, and corrections! Counting on thorough trip planning, technology, and maturity, to make it bearable if not enjoyable this time.

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.
Turtle's Comment
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If you keep your head in the game, there's no reason why it can't be enjoyable. Good luck!

Old School's Comment
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Best of luck to ya Rick!

Wait a minute, you paid 9,000 dollars? Man, I wish you would have discussed that with us a little bit before you spent that kind of money. Oh well, what's done is done. I sure hope you like truck driving better the second time around, because that tuition is gonna bite if you're still thinking this is the worst job you ever had.

Rick C.'s Comment
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Thanks, Turtle!

I hear ya, Old School, thanks and no worries. This is me replying to you, and thinking out loud.

I read arguments from both sides, paid CDL vs. private school, and decided the "premium" price for private was worth the freedom to choose it gives me. (Sadly, I see that Bison's driver finishing program, which I wanted to join, wants a two-year commitment, regardless of how you got your CDL.)

Also, my thinking is that I have about 11 years until retirement and I'm now facing significant trouble getting work in my field (supply chain: purchasing, logistics, customs compliance), even during this economic boom. (My belief is that I'm facing ageism.) So truck driving is something I can "fall back" on between gigs. If it turns out I can't bear OTR after all, well, I know a couple of guys who are making good money driving dump trucks. So there is regional and local driving to try as well. Perhaps the money is not as good in most cases, but it's better than zero.

So I see myself sticking driving out at least long enough to recoup my $9000, and potentially it just becoming my last career (I think 10 years qualifies as a career, nowadays). And there is always the chance I'm going to like it, with my new attitude, and if I can get a more consistent sleep/work schedule going--I do very much like the driving part!

A big thank you to TT, Brett, and all participants for all the great content, which has helped me a lot in my decision making.

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.

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.

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.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Rick C.'s Comment
member avatar

A positive: I'm going to school today in jeans and a t-shirt!

Rick C.'s Comment
member avatar

At air brakes course today... The school manager found out I had previous experience, but didn't ask how much, and offered me a job teaching on the spot. I laughed and thanked him and said I didn't have nearly enough experience to teach. So then he offered to put me in touch with a Tim Horton's recruiter today, as they are looking for some 30 drivers. Lol, wow!

The course was rushed. 8 hours is not enough to learn the new Alberta regulations. We were running out of time and skimmed through the final three chapters of the book and then went out for the practical test at the truck. Wow, did the memories come back when I climbed into the cab, and not the good kind I needed to do a full system test of the brake systems.

About 30 items on the test checklist, and I did not have it memorized. We got to use the checklist for the first run through, then the final exam was without the list. I know I'd have this down after a few more days of doing pre-trip and pre-hill checks, but I knew I didn't have it today. Then I remembered, I don't need to take the final, I already have the air brakes endorsement! The instructor was relieved he could save the time.

So overall I'm a bit disappointed because I wanted to take the course in good faith as if I was a total beginner and realized that I might not pass the test in just one day. And yet, the instructor said he has only failed one person in four years. Hmm...

At any rate, I'll have a lot more practical training in the months to come when I get in with my ICI.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

G-Town's Comment
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Rick wrote...

I read arguments from both sides, paid CDL vs. private school, and decided the "premium" price for private was worth the freedom to choose it gives me.

Did yah now...? Not sure where you read the arguments, but for the most part Trucking Truth emphasizes Paid CDL Training Programs. We have many, many success stories on this forum of drivers graduating from company sponsored and enjoying their driving careers well beyond the first year. I've been with Swift over 6 years and have zero interest in making a job change; God willing and good health permitting I'll retire there (I'm 60).

I know you have made your decision; but here is just one Trucking Truth Blog article Brett wrote about Why Paid CDL Training is Preferred. As a current CDL holder, shelling out 9 G's for training is way overkill.

And the "freedom thing"? It's overrated, way overrated!

Please read these two blog links to better understand my point: Busting the Free Agency Myth

Old School Responds to Criticisms After Busting the Free Agency Myth

You also mentioned this...

So truck driving is something I can "fall back" on between gigs.

Perhaps it’s possible… but with a whole lot more experience than you currently have. You have 8 months of very stale experience, which frankly is still within the major learning curve of this process. Trucking takes a full time commitment (especially in the formidable first year); having 1 foot in the previous gig and then trucking isn't going to get it done. Even if you can somehow pull it off, if you go back to the previous gig after another 6 months experience, and then after another 6 months decide you want to reenter trucking (again), you may find yourself in the dubious position of taking a refresher course and yet again more road training. You will also begin to look like a job hopper after two-three years of going from one thing to another. Reputable companies, the kind you can make a solid career with, don't really favor drivers who jump from job to job.

It's really important to stick with your first truck driving job for at least a full year. And please do not assume your previous experience will count towards that full year, it's ancient history and only relevant to you.

I wish you luck, I really do, but I honestly think your expectations are a bit unrealistic.

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.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

PackRat's Comment
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Yeah, you paid a premium price at $9,000. That’s the highest cost I’ve ever heard of for some so-called “freedom “.

Rick C.'s Comment
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Yeah, you paid a premium price at $9,000. That’s the highest cost I’ve ever heard of for some so-called “freedom “.

Mountain Transport Institute in Castlegar is $15000. The thing is, Alberta has a new baseline program called MELT (mandatory entry level training), and the number of minimum hours is fixed. You can't find a school in Alberta now for less than what I paid.

I do have my freedom to choose. I got a job offer on the first day of class. There will be more.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Rick C replied:

I do have my freedom to choose. I got a job offer on the first day of class. There will be more.

For what it’s worth? You have 1 dangling carrot that cost you 9k. Sorry...I call it like I see it.

Did you bother reading any of the links I sent you? They were intended to help you.

If you really want the freedom to choose...

Commit to your first job longer than 1 Year, have a spotless driving/safety record and 100% on-time delivery, then you’ll see the true meaning of “freedom to choose”.

Commitment and performance. No substitute.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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