Asking For Advice For My Situation, Especially From Experienced Drivers

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Moe's Comment
member avatar

Hello all,

I know some of you have followed my posts about my trucking experience and that I recently failed my CDL test for the second time. First I realize that FAILING is NOT the end of the world , however I have used the last few days since my second test (which was on Saturday 10/5/2019) to reflect on things and I wanted to ask for some advice or thoughts on my situation. I am enrolled in a private school (i actually graduated the school curriculum and just need to pass the state CDL exam). I realize that alot of the moderators, experienced drivers on the site tout company paid CDL training as the preferred method to obtaining one's CDL. After having gone the private school route, I am seeing why this is so.

My private school is great, the instructors are professional, the curriculum is state approved and many students have gone on to get their CDL after having gone through their course. Out of 18 of us in my class , about 12 have obtained their CDLs within their first 2 tries. So I will acknowledge that the course work does work. People are getting their CDLS and going to work, so obviously the system is doing what it was designed to do, by people who have far more experience in trucking than I do. What I am concerned with is, that it is NOT WORKING for ME in 1 aspect - Backing practice. Being that the school is a private school and a business, like any business they have to generate a profit from tuition to keep in operation. This means that they tend to turn students over from class to class. Additionally the school doubles as a local transport company to supplement income and profits to cover overhead, so when the instructors are not teaching, they are making runs all over with the transport side of the business.

The problem I am experiencing is that if you do not pass your CDL exam within the first or second attempt, your opportunities for practice on the equipment and in the yard become less and less as they have to fit you into a rotation with other classes to let you get that hands on time needed for you to be successful, this can (in my case at least) perpetuate a downward spiral of discouragement, as one wants to improve but has limited opportunity to do so. I would like to just state that before coming into trucking I NEVER TOUCHED A TRAILER IN MY LIFE. As the good ole boys would say, my family is a bunch of 'city slicks'. We didn't own a farm (my uncle did and I did work on his farm some during summers, but the only things I ever did were feed chickens, cows , milk cows or help in the garden, never did run equipment). So when it comes to this backing of the trailer thing, I am all over the place and its taking me a long time to get it. I sure do hate to sound dramatic or WHINY. I hope that this is not how I am coming off, but the insanity principle has taught me one good lesson over the course of my 42 years on the earth: It is insane to keep doing the same thing expecting different results.

I have had to take the time and examine that for ME, what I have been doing (in regards to backing) up to this point is not working. The Oregon state CDL exams are $160 a whack, so neither has it been economical. This second test I took, my backing exam was worse than the first , I did not even make it out of the offset back, the first time I passed (barely) the offset and made it to the 90 (where I failed).

As it stands right now it is Wenesday 10/8 and I do not have any opportunity this week to get back into the school and work on the backing. My pretrip and air brakes exam are great - I passed those and do not need to take those again -per Oregon state standard. My shifting and driving are very passable - I am safe and shift/down shift correctly (I am not perfect but hey who is?), it is just the backing that is killing my chances right now of being able to pass and get this.

I did voice to my instructors the following concerns:

1) A larger student to truck ratio - for a class of 18 or 19 that equates to three students and one instructor to a truck - a morning drive rotation and an afternoon drive rotation. with backing and pretrip rotations in the AM and PM.

2) Our school backing yard is not set up with double lanes of cones like on the state exam, we do do the drills but the setup threw me off the first and second times I retested with the state. ( I can explain more on this if need be,I am trying to save space on the post)

3) limited amount of re practice after failing state CDL.

Is it possible to have a company take me on with just my state permit?? , place me with a drive trainer etc work for them go on some runs and get the daily backing practice I need to finally ace the backing exam? I am just trying to brain storm ways to save costs, I am unemployed right now as I am trying to get my license, so my pennies count etc. Will companies like Swift, May, Schneider consider folks who just have permit and Not the actual CDL yet? My MVR is clean, no tickets , no reckless, no excess speeds and no duis etc in my personal vehicle.. So I have that as a plus

This post has gotten fairly long , so I thought I would publish it and then if anyone needs further info to give their idea/advice I can certainty respond.

Thank you.

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.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

MVR:

Motor Vehicle Record

An MVR is a report of your driving history, as reported from your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Information on this report may include Drivers License information, point history, violations, convictions, and license status on your driving record.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

DUI:

Driving Under the Influence

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar
It is insane to keep doing the same thing expecting different results.

The above is an interesting point...however the "insanity" you speak of is all about "repetitions", learning how the trailer responds to your inputs. Although I am not there to observe your attempts, it's likely over-adjusting and probably too quickly. Watch what the trailer does as you slowly back from your setup spot. The more repetitions you experience, the more likely you'll realize there is no magic to learning this.

That said, have you requested extra practice? Instead of telling them where they need to improve, ask for help. In their eyes you know nothing, so you really have no basis of credibility to offer any meaningful critique of their school or how they teach. 12 out of 18 students passing their CDL is actually a remarkable result.

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.
Moe's Comment
member avatar

Right,

"The above is an interesting point...however the "insanity" you speak of is all about "repetitions", learning how the trailer responds to your inputs."

You simplified what I have been complicating, i tend to over think things (as my post shows for sure I imagine). As for practice, I have, there just is not any space this week with the new class that they have coming in, and there in lies the insanity that I was referring to. I am not getting the repetition that I need at this point to keep my skills fresh, so I am still trying to break/become aware of my bad trailer backing habits.

As for repetition , I am trying to arrange more time at the school and also see if I can get a trailer somehow and practice in a nearby lot. It wouldn't be a tractor or trailer, but at this point I am thinking - start small and work up - lol. If push comes to shove, I am considering renting a uhaul with trailer and take it to that lot for a couple of days and set up some cones -see what I can do.

I appreciate your input.....

double-quotes-start.png

It is insane to keep doing the same thing expecting different results.

double-quotes-end.png

The above is an interesting point...however the "insanity" you speak of is all about "repetitions", learning how the trailer responds to your inputs. Although I am not there to observe your attempts, it's likely over-adjusting and probably too quickly. Watch what the trailer does as you slowly back from your setup spot. The more repetitions you experience, the more likely you'll realize there is no magic to learning this.

That said, have you requested extra practice? Instead of telling them where they need to improve, ask for help. In their eyes you know nothing, so you really have no basis of credibility to offer any meaningful critique of their school or how they teach. 12 out of 18 students passing their CDL is actually a remarkable result.

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.
Moe's Comment
member avatar

@ Gtown, it is a remarkable result and not one that is being embellished. We truly do have remarkable instructors and my class is/was dedicated to their success. We weeded out 2 party peoples the first week - ****ed a dirty UA , pardon my vernacular, even though it was told to us time and again to not do so and speak to the school if we had concerns. Dunno what they were thinking as now its been reported. After that the rest of class was real joy and I have met some amazing folks and formed good friendships that will serve me well once I get my CDL!.

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.
40 Days's Comment
member avatar

Not an experienced driver take it or leave it. When I was getting ready to test 2 weeks ago my trainer and I were doing a reset. Went 2 days without backing or driving before test. Was very nervous about not practicing immediately before. I stood out on the lot and watched others practicing and testing for 2 days and watched every point they made. And also noted every mistake. Those are just as important because to know how to correct can save a potential fail. Also helpful in real world backing situations. Best of luck I know the pressures you are under was just there. Relax alot. Maybe just a valuable ask those who just passed.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Moses, everyone learns at a different pace, however none of us were actually born with the gifted "backing-gene". It's totally counter intuitive to back a vehicle without a pivot point.

I think your absolute best path forward is to very humbly, yet with emphasis, request help. You paid them...is there language in their contract limiting your time on the practice range? The U-haul idea although novel, is probably not as effective or price effective as purchasing a diecast tractor and trailer from Walmart or Target and learn how the 1/53rd scale version responds to over or under adjusting. Believe it or not, it will respond in a similar fashion as the larger version as you push it in reverse from the nose of the tractor. U-haul trailers have a totally different pivot point and will respond extremely quick because of the short length (12' as opposed to 53').

You asked about enrolling in a Paid CDL Training Programs like Swift. Wouldn't hurt to try that route as a "back-up" to your backing plan (pun intended). Use this link to Apply For Truck Driving Jobs

Brett wrote a candid article a few years back entitled Learning To Back-Up a Tractor Trailer

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.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Oops, sorry sent the wrong link:

Apply For Paid CDL Training

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.
Moe's Comment
member avatar

its alright man, ill take what input i can get at this point lol. AS for watching others back and such at the test site, that is a no go, Oregon does not allow us to watch others testing at the test site. We have to stay in our cars turn AWAY from the test area. Kind of stupid I know , but it is what it is.

Not an experienced driver take it or leave it. When I was getting ready to test 2 weeks ago my trainer and I were doing a reset. Went 2 days without backing or driving before test. Was very nervous about not practicing immediately before. I stood out on the lot and watched others practicing and testing for 2 days and watched every point they made. And also noted every mistake. Those are just as important because to know how to correct can save a potential fail. Also helpful in real world backing situations. Best of luck I know the pressures you are under was just there. Relax alot. Maybe just a valuable ask those who just passed.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

That is a great Idea, I need to get out anyway , so a trip to Wally or Target could be put on an errand list. I should add that we are using 28 foot pup trailers not 53s. Do you think I should look at getting a diecast with a pup trailer for best simulation? The pup trailers respond alot quicker than the 53s do.

A large part of my problem is the over correcting , that I can tell you. Knowing how much to turn the wheel without over doing it. Because I tend to over correct and it costs me pull ups on the test.

Moses, everyone learns at a different pace, however none of us were actually born with the gifted "backing-gene". It's totally counter intuitive to back a vehicle without a pivot point.

I think your absolute best path forward is to very humbly, yet with emphasis, request help. You paid them...is there language in their contract limiting your time on the practice range? The U-haul idea although novel, is probably not as effective or price effective as purchasing a diecast tractor and trailer from Walmart or Target and learn how the 1/53rd scale version responds to over or under adjusting. Believe it or not, it will respond in a similar fashion as the larger version as you push it in reverse from the nose of the tractor. U-haul trailers have a totally different pivot point and will respond extremely quick because of the short length (12' as opposed to 53').

You asked about enrolling in a Paid CDL Training Programs like Swift. Wouldn't hurt to try that route as a "back-up" to your backing plan (pun intended). Use this link to Apply For Truck Driving Jobs

Brett wrote a candid article a few years back entitled Learning To Back-Up a Tractor Trailer

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar
I should add that we are using 28 foot pup trailers not 53s. Do you think I should look at getting a diecast with a pup trailer for best simulation?

Yes if you can find one.

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