CDL School Doesn't Teach The New Drivers Everything They Need To Know To Succeed According To Old School And Brett.

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Donald B.'s Comment
member avatar

Time management, load planning, etc. I've read a few articles by Brett and Old School. Surprises and misconceptions and all. I suspect the driver's EMPLOYER will teach the newbie what the school doesn't cover? Is this correct for me to suspect this?

To what extent will the employer train the new driver on things that CDL school didn't cover? I suspect that company-sponsored CDL training will orient the new driver as to how the company does business to some degree. Is truck driving for a person who needs to be always told what to do? Is truck driving a "thinking person's" vocation? How smart or clever do I need to be to make it? Do I have to have a sharp memory as some jobs require? Does driving require a degree of "self-sufficiency"? Will a driver be able to call upon someone (a sort of guardian angel or fairy godmother, army soldiers have the chaplain to go to) should he ever get into a tough rut on the road and can't figure out how to do something? Surely a good mother bird won't push her chicks out the nest until they've mastered flying. I understand that the first year is 'hell year' for the new driver. It is this probation period that will determine whether a driver makes it or breaks it. Could it be that many new drivers fail simply because of inadequate training by their employers? Their employer may have cut the driver loose in a rig with little "getting taught the ropes" of the trade. The articles I read here suggest that newbies surprisingly find themselves with more freedom than they can handle. Many people though they hate iron-fisted authority take comfort in having a supervisor watch them closely on the job especially as a novice. I was a soldier. I constantly had sergeants who told me what to do. They practically breathed down my neck. There is nothing more god-awful than an army sergeant riding shotgun with you in a military vehicle as a driver and an army private and screaming every move to make in your ear. SLOW DOWN! ...TURN LEFT! ...YOU ARE TOO FAR TO THE RIGHT OF THE ROAD! ...SHIFT GEARS NOW! ...DON'T RIDE THE CLUTCH!!!.....TURN YOUR LIGHTS ON! The NCO's tempers and patience were often very short. Have you ever driven a truck at night under blackout conditions or with night-vision googles? I have in the service... No fun!! Sometimes during my military career I would consult a MANUAL that told me HOW to specifically do something. Are drivers issued any sort of company manual for their job? Is there even an operator's manual for the truck they are assigned? You know, like that owner's guide that is in the car's glove compartment?

The mantra I keep reading on this website is 'trucking is not for everybody'. But this can also said about being a farmer, doctor, soldier, sailor, airline pilot, policeman, firefighter, lawyer or hair stylist. It's not a vocation for the masses but still "somebody has to do it". I still believe that the industry sometimes has to settle for less-than-perfect drivers to fill the high demand for them as long as hiring them proves to not be more trouble than they are worth.

Lastly, I gather driving is stressful. What are things that can make the job stressful? Weather? Traffic? Finding a place to park? Backing up in a tight spot for the first time? Mechanical troubles? Run-ins with the police? Accidents? Dangerous roads? Pressure from bosses to meet seemingly impossible deadlines? Other examples? Of course having been in military service, I understand all about job-related stress.

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.

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.

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.

Big T's Comment
member avatar

CDL school teaches you to get your CDL. That is it. I dont think they could make a cdl school long enough to teach even half of what you learn once on the road because a lot of this stuff you will only learn by doing it.

It is really hard to be successful at this career if you need someone to hold your hand. Hopefully while in your training phase you will learn the basics and then be able to apply those to a given situation and adapt.

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.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Don, Don, Don. Slow down!! You have been over thinking this trucking career.

First, as Big T clarifies, CDL school gets you a license to drive a truck. Even company training just gets that ticket punched. No more, no less. Then you'll know about 10% of Everything You Need To Know To Keep A Truck Driving job.

Once a new CDL holder gets into a company, said company will mostly put you with experienced drivers (trainers, mentors) to get you used to Life On The Road. Now you'll be up to 75-80%. And you get your own truck.

Though trucking is no vacation, many drivers can think, "Gee, I get paid to do this? I should have started driving earlier!"

If you're the kind of person who needs a boss to constantly tell you what to do, your driving career will be hellish and short. You'll be given a dispatch order. The best drivers will get 'er done and their boss won't have to worry (Driver managers have up to 40 drivers to watch over.)

The last thing I'll tell you is that "trucking is definitely not for everybody". The contradiction is that any warm body, a medical card and a CDL is a candidate for a truck driving job. BUT, drivers that last longer than two months are the ones who don't need hand holding, can handle the stress of a big rig in traffic, are conscious of deadlines and appointments,, and are able to stay on the road possibly for weeks at a time without "needing" to get home.

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.

Driver 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.
Donald B.'s Comment
member avatar

CDL school teaches you to get your CDL. That is it. I dont think they could make a cdl school long enough to teach even half of what you learn once on the road because a lot of this stuff you will only learn by doing it.

It is really hard to be successful at this career if you need someone to hold your hand. Hopefully while in your training phase you will learn the basics and then be able to apply those to a given situation and adapt.

To sum it up, experience is the best teacher in dis bidness and I gather there will be plenty of hard knocks to learn by. Running out of fuel due to carelessness doesn't have to be one such hard knock. Righto?

But like any soldier in boot camp and AIT (military trade school so to speak), one should get all the basics to advance upon later before taking off on that "solo flight". Correct?

I'd like to think one can be trained a skill set and then fall back upon one's training as his career progresses.

It's apparent that truck drivers can't control many things in their working environment though they are literally in the driver seat but one worth his salt can figure out how to work around all the surprises: unexpected traffic delays, curve balls mother nature throws weather wise, customers whose loading personnel called in sick at the last minute and so on. I'm actually an ANALYTICAL person. I'd like to be in the driver seat but really be "in the driver seat": be a master on how to react to any curve ball fate throws at me! Trucking sounds like a possible chess game on 18 wheels: thinking several moves ahead always. I'm a person who likes to get ahead of the game as far as I can.

Thanks, Big T. That "learn by doing" statement pretty much answers most of my questions.

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.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Donald, I've witnessed a lot of ex military guys drop out of trucking. Part of it is the very things you are talking about. I remember one of them particularly complaining about the training being insufficient. This is not a slight against our veterans. I thank God for them everyday. I've seen a lot of civilians fail at trucking also.

Trucking never lines up with our expectations. It's a beast that cannot be cornered or pinned down. Every day it brings us new challenges that we hadn't dreamed of before. There's simply no way to anticipate every possible scenario and then train for it. I often compare it to bull riding. It can be a wild ride. The bull rider has determination and commitment. That's what keeps him at it. He can train continuously, but he cannot anticipate anything the bull might do on any given day. Though his training is important, it's only foundational to his success. The real test of his success is his ability to adapt and conquer.

That's how trucking works. They cannot train you for everything because everything has a certain unpredictability to it. You have to be independent and flexible with a good dose of stubbornness mixed in. During my rookie year I would often say, "Perseverance and Tenacity were my closest friends." That's pretty much what you need to get established out here. Don't count solely on your training. I sometimes think that training period is as much for the company to analyze you as it is for you to analyze trucking. It becomes fairly obvious in training whether a person is going to be able to handle this job, and that analysis only becomes more refined as that first solo year goes by.

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

Donald,

How did you react to the stresses in the military?

I drove a tank in the Army. One day in the field, a mechanic came up to the chow lines and started yelling at all the drivers. I respectfully told him that if he has a problem with a driver, he needs to discuss it with that driver or his NCO. He spit in my face and body slammed me on a the bed of the truck nearby.

Contrastingly, my friends and I had a saying when an NCO or Officer told us to do something stupid. "Roger, huh, huh, huh."

It was our way of making light of being told to do something stupid. We still did what we were told to do, but didn't let it get to us.

After reading the trucking forums, I mostly see the mechanic's response to stress. As Brett says, "complain, blame, criticize."

But there are some people who take the stress in stride. Many times in response to a rant, Brett will say, "that's just trucking."

I plan to bring the "Roger, huh, huh, huh" attitude to trucking.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Rob D wrote this...

Contrastingly, my friends and I had a saying when an NCO or Officer told us to do something stupid. "Roger, huh, huh, huh." It was our way of making light of being told to do something stupid. We still did what we were told to do, but didn't let it get to us. I plan to bring the "Roger, huh, huh, huh" attitude to trucking.

You might be stating the above as a "tongue-in-cheek" statement,... maybe, maybe not. Rob this approach to trucking (in bold) potentially nets a quick exit from your budding career, perhaps even a fatal one.

Once you complete school and pass your CDL (no small feat), you hopefully have developed an understanding of what is "right and wrong" when it comes to safe operation. That coupled with the information on this website and common-sense, should establish a basic mindset of safe operation.

You my friend are the Captain of your truck. You are ultimately responsible for the choices you make, not the person who instructed you to-do something "stupid". This includes driving while tired, driving in unsafe weather conditions, driving mechanically unsafe equipment, driving when overweight, and continuing to drive with an expired clock. If you are told to proceed under any of those circumstances, you do so at your own risk and are accountable and responsible for the outcome. No one else...only YOU.

Ambivalence can get you and/or others killed out here. Take ownership of the situation.

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.
Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar
You my friend are the Captain of your truck. You are ultimately responsible for the choices you make, not the person who instructed you to-do something "stupid".

I did not intend to suggest I would agree to do something unsafe. Big T relayed his experience where his trainer told him to follow the GPS, despite what Big T saw with his eyes. He did what his trainer said and it turned about bad, not unsafe, just bad. That's a "Roger, huh, huh, huh," situation.

If my trainer tells me to drive the truck with a safety violation that puts the truck out of service. Nope. Not going to do it. If he says "you either get in that truck and drive or find your own way back to the terminal." I will shake his hand and say "nice knowing you."

If my FM tells me to keep going in high winds (I have printed the wind chart you posted), even though I think it is unsafe. Nope. If this truck is going to move, you better find another driver.

My post was mainly about attitude.

I see so much on the internet where drivers comment about how the whole industry is BS because they had a bad day.

Rainy posted about how she showed up at AB for a beer load at 8:00 a.m. appointment and they said it would be 16:00 at the earliest. "Roger, huh, huh, huh."

I don't want to be the "complain, blame, criticize" driver. If I have to wait for a load, I'll post on TT, read the news, call my wife, go for a walk, or find some other productive way to spend the time other that sit in the truck and stew about how long I have to wait. Or worse yet, bring my toxicity to any particular forum and feed the negativity that other drivers seem to enjoy so much.

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.

Fm:

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar
If my FM tells me to keep going in high winds (I have printed the wind chart you posted), even though I think it is unsafe. Nope. If this truck is going to move, you better find another driver.

be sure you inform safety if they're trying to coerce you to drive, within reason. All communication like this is best done on peoplenet/Qualcomm so theres proof of what's said. Refusing to drive with 60 mph wind is much different than refusing to drive due to an inch of snow on the ground.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

Fm:

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.
Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

Rob T,

That's the other thing I've learned from Rainy. FM yelling at me on the phone telling me to drive in 60 mph wind? "I'm hanging up now, you can send me a message on QC." If the FM sends the message "keep driving," my response "shutting down because of 60 mph wind, good night."

Fm:

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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