CDL School Complete - Technical College - A Students Perspective.

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Carl P.'s Comment
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Finally after 5 weeks of in class/on road training the classes are over and I have my CDL-A License, All Endorsements, TWIC card, and TSA background check for my Hazmat. Yea Team!

So what occurred that I did not see coming when I entered CDL school?

1.) Post Trip Inspection paperwork request to fill out blank. My understanding from the in class was that when I fill out the Post Trip inspection, I am to actually list what is wrong with the truck. However I was asked not to fill in the problems I detected during the day. My response "Then someone else will have to fill out the report" "My signature, My words". Might have been a test from instructor, or perhaps not. No matter the situation, I have a legal responsibility to report what I know is wrong with the truck.

2.) Pre Trip Inspection When the purse strings are being held up on repairs, what is a student to do? Tires under 2/32" tread depth. Tandem emergency airline not secured, leaking glad-hand seals, etc. The inspector says good for catching it, but........when is it getting repaired? Should I get behind the wheel and drive? or take a stand in the parking lot with three other students waiting to drive? Didn't expect CDL class to be a political shooting match between student, instructor, and director (who holds purse strings).

3.) 9 speed transmission that is truly junk How many will laugh when reading that this student driver could not find the proper gear. That when stopped, the clutch brake would not work. The list goes on. However when placed in a different truck one day for maneuverability, I discovered I had no problem finding the gears and the clutch brake works properly. So after doing a little research on the web and talking to an instructor "off the record" I discovered that in fact the transmission is trashed. No clutch brake, and the shifting tree was not in alignment. So as odd as it sounds, when I shift into 7th eye balling the location of shifter on some switches on the dash as a reference I was surprised to see that at times the 7th gear location for the shifter would not line up with my dash references as in the past. As if the transmission was shifting under the floor, and the shifter would be a few inches off the location I had planned. My instructor's answer was, "Certainty needs to get in the shop". My school examiner however was like, "You need to take responsibility for driver error". Since I am a seasoned driver of two weeks and a CDL recipient, I will simply scratch my head wondering if the instructor or the examiner needed a thump to the skull for their comments.

4.) No perfection in professionalism So I received my scores. Class work, Driving, Attendance, and "Professionalism". Overall I came out an ""A-" I see the breakdown and I see a 90% by professionalism. Wait a minute....90%? How was I 10% unprofessional? So my mind wonders into a dream state of being in that high level trucking interview and the boss looking out over the table states, sir, we need a driver for our company that is 100% professional. Your not what were looking for. (end of dream). So after toying with emailing the instructor on the possibility that there was a typo on my grades, I take the the anal-retentive approach and email the instructor. Apparently no student get 100%. Most students get 85% and I should look at 90% as great. Scratching my head again with no argument I can mount to oppose that comment.

5.) The more I learn, the more questions I have. I haven't driven in the dark, rain, or snow. I haven't hit my breaks at full speed. I haven't had a trailer wonder. I haven't found myself stopped in front of a bridge that is too low wondering how to backup in packed in traffic. I haven't torn powerlines down. I haven't had a tire blow out or fire. I haven't ran into HOS issues. I am just a very BASIC driver.

6.) The next phase of training (Carrier Training) Now I have been researching companies for weeks. Hours every day. I am finding mega trucking companies whose trainers are not just observing, but in fact are driving switch shifts. As if Team driving. Questions pop up, who is watching the trainee driver when the trainer is sleeping? How is watching the trainer drive for hours helping the trainee? What I expect my trainer to do is make sure I have the skills so I don't hurt or kill anyone, or myself. That the load gets to it's destination safe, and everything is legal. So not all the big companies are the right company. The search continues.

So in conclusion, picking the right CDL school is critical. When your behind the wheel with students and an instructor in the truck, you are responsible for everyone's lives in that truck and the lives of everyone on the roadway. Your responsible for the safety of the vehicle. Taking a stand in CDL school when your asked to overlook safety is CRITICAL for the integrity of the school, and it will save lives. If your going to overlook CDL school safety issues, most likely your going to over look safety issues for the carrier that hires you. Keep in mind that the way you conduct yourself in school is how you should conduct yourself out on the road as a "Professional" truck driver.

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

Hi. Heres an article I wrote about Team Training. Consider we habe had drivers here who went to 3 weeks training at Schneider because rhey wantee that trainer in the seat next to them.... but had no one there as a safety net when they went solo.

Team Training: Fear & Misunderstanding

One guy even wished he had a longer training period.

As far as schools having crappy equipment... yep we know. Just one more reason we recommend company sponsored schooling.

The rest.... just relax and stop over analyzing everything.

good luck

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

And i forgot to say CONGRATS!!!

dancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gif

BTW, i wouldnt care too much about the scores or the 90% thing. No company will care, they all have their own standards and even with the CDL in hand, many could turn you down for any reason or no reason. So just do away with the spreadsheets!

Don made spreadsheets over months and went to CFI. family issues made hi. leave after 3 mos. Doug took 6 mos to prepare for CRST after spreadsheets and got sent home. Others got sent home for their meds.

Find someplace with good training, good equipment, hometime that works for you.

good luck

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

Kearsey's reply to Carl included this advice...

The rest.... just relax and stop over analyzing everything.

Totally, 100% agree with this. Carl your journey is about to get far more complicated, stressful, and very unstructured. You'll drive yourself and/or your trainer nuts if you stress and obsess over things. And this "journey" is one we have all successfully taken. Trucking is about patience, resilience, adjustments, prudence (care), and laser focus. "Laser Focus" on what really matters... And most of what you called-out is the major reason why we advocate Paid CDL Training Programs. Fortunately you are done with that, should not worry about your grade and the poorly maintained trucks. Unless I am mistakin' your school did their job because you have your CDL.

So...your exhaustive effort in researching companies was already addressed over 3 weeks ago when Old School offered you this bit of truth and wisdom...which you never acknowledged or replied to. I highlighted the salient points of his advice...

Hey Carl, it's great having you in here!

We're amused at times by the misconceptions people have about trucking. For some reason most newbies think there is this golden opportunity out there, hidden like a needle in a haystack, that will fulfill all their wildest dreams of wealth and adventure. They have these ideas that say the best way to make money in trucking is to work for some super special company, or to haul this extraordinary type of freight. We see it all the time. We were rookies once, so we understand it.

One person thinks they want to haul hazmat freight, another is convinced that oversized freight will fulfill their wildest dreams. Some are convinced hauling freight for the Department of Defense somehow pays way better than moving standard commodities. They strain at compiling data. They engage their search with spreadsheets, and compilations of unnecessary information that leads them in directions that are useless and futile.

Let's talk factually. Let's be realistic. Getting started in trucking is not usually as glamorous as we like to think. For a very surprisingly high percentage of new entry level drivers it's a total bust. Part of what so abruptly kicks them in the groin is their total misunderstanding of how this career works. There's nothing special about learning to succeed in trucking, just as there is nothing special about hauling unusual types of freight. Don't you think if the money was all reserved for tanker drivers we'd all be driving tankers?

Here's how you get to the point of being a successful driver. You simply get good at producing positive results. You prove yourself productive. I'm just an ordinary 60 year old guy driving a common old flat-bed truck. I make great money, and enjoy the heck out of my trucking career. There's seldom anything "special" on my trailer, but I was recently told by our operations manager that I was the highest paid driver in our flat-bed division. I've only been here five years. How did that happen?

The way to the top is to be productive. You can haul boxes of Mac and Cheese in a dry-van and make great money, as long as you prove to be better at it than everybody else. It's a performance based business. The level of pay you get is intrinsically bound up into how much you can get done. That means you've got to apply yourself to being productive, and that's a tall order. Surprise, surprise... what makes you an effective earner of top wages at trucking is how you conduct yourself out here. It has very little to do with what type of freight is being pulled behind your tractor.

Take some time to read these articles. I'm hoping they can point you in the right direction. Don't limit yourself into certain regions of the country or to certain special types of freight. Free your mind from your pre-conceived misconceptions. You yourself will be the determining factor in your success at this, and no spreadsheet calculations will help you figure that out.

How-To Become a Top Tier Driver

Do You Have What it Takes to Make it in Trucking?

Show Me the Money

Did you read any of the 3 links Old School shared with you? I highly suggest you take a look at them...and as several others have already suggested, stop wasting your time on the Internet of Lies and Misinformation .

So Carl...a little about me; 7 years ago I committed to schooling and training (mentoring) with Swift. I teamed for 240 hours of student driving. It took me a total of 3 days to make my decision and I have no regrets or second thoughts with my choice. I am still with Swift as a NE Regional Walmart Dedicated Driver. Just for the record...most of the really important learning and skills progression will occur after your training, once you are solo. Road training is only the tip of the iceberg.

Good Luck Carl

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

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.

Carl P.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank You G-town for your comments. I would like to clarify a few points.

"Old School offered you this bit of truth and wisdom...which you never acknowledged or replied to."

~G-town, I have read responses from all and I am very grateful. I did contact support when I started this site asking how I can respond to members with a "like" or a thumbs up, some way to acknowledge the time they spent writing their comments. I was informed the site does not have a way to like a post, or to contact members through the site. I certainly do not want anyone to feel their posts are not appreciated. I am here for the long haul, and I will figure out the site mechanics in due course.

~"Did you read any of the 3 links Old School shared with you? " Yes sir, read the articles!

Thank You G-Town

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Carl clarifying a few points...

Thank You G-town for your comments. I would like to clarify a few points.

"Old School offered you this bit of truth and wisdom...which you never acknowledged or replied to."

~G-town, I have read responses from all and I am very grateful. I did contact support when I started this site asking how I can respond to members with a "like" or a thumbs up, some way to acknowledge the time they spent writing their comments. I was informed the site does not have a way to like a post, or to contact members through the site. I certainly do not want anyone to feel their posts are not appreciated. I am here for the long haul, and I will figure out the site mechanics in due course.

~"Did you read any of the 3 links Old School shared with you? " Yes sir, read the articles!

Thank You G-Town

That's an interesting reply Carl. Site mechanics and appreciation aside; did any of the links resonate with you? No idea if you agree, disagree, or didn't understand them, or what... Our objective is to provide you the best change of success, sharing best practices for what works and... what does not...

Most of Old School's and Brett's responses already addressed the quoted excerpt from this thread:

The next phase of training (Carrier Training) Now I have been researching companies for weeks. Hours every day. I am finding mega trucking companies whose trainers are not just observing, but in fact are driving switch shifts. As if Team driving. Questions pop up, who is watching the trainee driver when the trainer is sleeping? How is watching the trainer drive for hours helping the trainee? What I expect my trainer to do is make sure I have the skills so I don't hurt or kill anyone, or myself. That the load gets to it's destination safe, and everything is legal. So not all the big companies are the right company. The search continues.

Carl...we have seen many newbies get so caught up in looking for the perfect company, they fail to realize that it's not the sellers market they were lead to believe...and before you know it their CDL becomes stale and/or they become extremely frustrated.

I urge you to start Applying For Truck Driving Jobs. For a variety of reasons, some known, some not, you might not be invited to orientation for the #1 company on your list that you spent weeks, or possibly months researching and creating. This is a numbers game...cast your net and see what lands in it. Go from there...right now, you have no idea who is even interested. That's why exhaustive research is often futile. There is no holy grail.

Congratulations on getting your CDL...that is a huge step that many fail to achieve.

And like I said, best of luck!

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
So in conclusion, picking the right CDL school is critical. When your behind the wheel with students and an instructor in the truck, you are responsible for everyone's lives in that truck and the lives of everyone on the roadway. Your responsible for the safety of the vehicle. Taking a stand in CDL school when your asked to overlook safety is CRITICAL for the integrity of the school, and it will save lives. If your going to overlook CDL school safety issues, most likely your going to over look safety issues for the carrier that hires you. Keep in mind that the way you conduct yourself in school is how you should conduct yourself out on the road as a "Professional" truck driver.

Carl, your takeaways from CDL school are unnerving. I find it alarming when someone totally new to something as challenging as starting a career in trucking thinks they need to "take a stand" on every little thing they come across as disagreeable. Have you forgotten that you're the student? You seem to think your purpose is to teach them a thing or two. This approach is bad, it will not serve you well as you attempt to make it in this business.

Determine to be a little more humble. You seem to want to challenge every little thing, and your points of contention reveal your complete lack of understanding of how things work out here. Let's look at them individually.

First... You refuse to fill out your DVIR (inspection report) because you want to point out each little thing that's wrong with the truck. That truck is their responsibility. If you don't like it you can choose a different school or do as we suggest and go through a Paid CDL Training Program. They are merely trying to teach you about the daily report and how you fill it out.

They aren't trying to get you to condemn their training vehicle. Once you put down information on that report that indicates something like insufficient tread depth, then technically they are violating law by not repairing it before it goes back into service. It's a training vehicle, they can't afford to keep it perfect. New trainees like you are rough on equipment.

You need to learn how to learn something without being so critical of the process. We agree with you that it's not a perfect process, but unfortunately you are going to discover that you will go broke out here if the process has to meet your ideal levels of professionalism. Every day out here I have to make judgement calls on how to handle varying situations. Nothing is perfect. There are all kinds of gray areas in trucking. It's quite possible this may not be your best choice for a career.

Second... You are complaining about a sloppy transmission. OMG! Get over it Carl. This school is a business that's designed to help total greenhorns like you get a CDL license. They can't afford brand new trucks. They are trying to help you start a career without going bankrupt in the process. Give me a break man! You seem to be so diligent with research. Hadn't you seen reports of how most students learn on older beat up equipment? It's reality - something you need to reckon with.

Third...You're obsessed with non-essential things like your scores. The only thing that matters as far as you getting employed is whether you have a recently acquired CDL. Nobody cares or even considers your scores. I graduated my CDL school as the highest in my class. I had a 97% average on all the testing we did, including our driving exam. I was an exemplary student. I was also the only student who couldn't get a job offer. That's weird, isn't it? It's also true.

Most people don't understand this career. You are squarely in that camp. It's one fierce competition out here. I suggest you reassess your approach to this. Your final conclusion was that "picking the right CDL school is critical." So, what is going to come of your career? You've made it obvious that you picked the wrong school. Are you doomed to failure? Maybe, but certainly not because of your school.

Maybe you're now realizing you've got to pick "just the right company." Guess what? You are going to be disappointed again. This is a fiercely competitive environment. Those folks who are always looking outside themselves for the magical influences to help them succeed at this are the same folks who blame and criticize their company, their school, and their trainer for their failed attempts at becoming a successful trucker.

The folks who rise to the top at this are governed by a fierce streak of independence and determination. You've got to figure out how to focus on making your mark out here, but I promise you it won't be done by pointing out everyone else's failures. So far that's all you've demonstrated.

Good luck Carl. I hope the best for you. I hope you can get in here and succeed. You have a great challenge before you. Rise to the occasion. Demonstrate some grit and fierce determination. Show us how a greenhorn who has made a few mistakes, can navigate his way into this rewarding career.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Carl. I re-read your comments and realized I missed something. You said this...

So what occurred that I did not see coming when I entered CDL school?

Basically you're giving a report of the things that sort of caught you by surprise. In that sense, I think your comments are valuable in instructing other newbies of things that may surprise them as they begin this journey.

I want to help anyone who comes in here succeed. I want to see you be very successful at this. I stand by my cautionary remarks, but also realize that your post is actually very instructive when you read it as a warning about things that may catch one off guard as they begin this 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.
Carl P.'s Comment
member avatar

Kearsey, Thank You for the link. I have to agree with the post....OOOOOoooo..That makes sense. Thank You.

Team Training: Fear & Misunderstanding

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

You are welcome. If you watch my YT channel, you will see I have a video about why rookies shouldnt team after upgrading. It is very enlightening and I recommend avoiding team only companies until you can master being solo for awhile.

Teaming permanently is something many new drivers think would be great to have a partner to help them... but i just realized i did an arti le on that too lol

Dispelling the Myths of Team Driving

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