Prime Inc - Changing TNT Trainer

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Prime newbie's Comment
member avatar

Hey guys. I've been lurking here for a bit but this is my first post. I'm a newbie. Just passed my CDL test a little over a week ago. I went through Prime's PSD training and just recently started TNT. I love the job. I enjoy the lifestyle. But I'm having some difficulty with my trainer. He's a fairly decent guy about 85% of the time. One problem has been developing since the start of my TNT phase, though. The guy gets very impatient and angry every time I make a mistake. I'm not screwing up everything, but I'm not perfect either. I'm a trainee. I'm going to make mistakes. It's getting to the point where I'm afraid to try anything new (a new backing maneuver, learning new parts of the job) for fear of how this guy is going to get angry and talk down to me if I mess something up. I feel like I'm walking on eggshells around him every day. It's a very stressful personality conflict.

I could probably deal with him until the end of TNT, but I honestly don't really want to. I'm not going to quit if I'm stuck with him, but it may be best to just switch trainers if that's an option. Problem is, nobody in orientation really told me if I was allowed to change trainers or who to contact in order to do that. Is there anyone here familiar with Prime's procedures who could advise me on my next steps here?

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.

PSD:

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.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Welcome Prime Newbie!

I'll give you advice and I'm confident others will back me up on this, even those at Prime. Stay with the trainer you have and work it out. You're lucky; it sounds like you have a good trainer. Consider a few things:

1) You don't have to like everything about him. It's not his job to be your buddy or earn your approval. It's his job to make sure you're learning and that you're taking it seriously. One tiny moment of inattention, one tiny mistake could kill an entire family. It's critical that you understand this and approach every moment of your day with that in mind. He has you taking everything you do seriously. That's good. Maybe he's going a little too far with it or maybe you're being a little too sensitive. There's no way for us to know. It would feel easier to you if you had someone who was always easy-going, but would it be better for you as a driver? At first, you're going to say yes. But think about it. Being held to a high standard by someone who is very strict will bring out the best in you and teach you to pay close attention to every detail. That's what will make you into a great driver; high standards and attention to detail.

2) Relationships are important in trucking. Learn to make this one work. You guys get along well and he seems to be doing a great job. I suggest you talk to him about this situation. Tell him what you've told us. Let him know that you really appreciate the great job he's doing and the risk he's taking by putting his life in the hands of a student driver, but you're hoping you guys can talk about the mistakes you make instead of him yelling at you. Tell him you understand how deadly serious this job is and assure him you're taking it very seriously, but you think you may perform better if he keeps his cool when you make a mistake. Work out this relationship. Speak openly, honestly, and respectfully.

Trust me, you have it good. Be thankful for that and work to make it even better if you can. But you have to keep the right perspective. It's his job to teach you what it takes to survive out there in one of the most dangerous jobs in America. It's not his job to please you or coddle you. He isn't your servant. You're not a paying customer. You're a rookie driver in training, the most dangerous person on the American highways today. It's not an easy job and it shouldn't feel that way. It should feel hard. It should feel stressful. Your trainer should have high standards and he should be demanding.

He's risking his life to teach you this career. It's incredibly stressful for him, too. Most students never think about this. Take a little time to consider all of this and you'll see that you're in a great position with a trainer that sounds like he's doing a great job. Could he keep his cool a little better at times? Probably. Should he? Maybe, maybe not. He might feel that's what it takes to keep you attentive, focused, and performing at a high standard.

You have it good. If you can make it better by having an open and honest conversation then do so. Do not say, "Here's what I think you can do to be a better trainer." I would say, "You have a rough and demanding style and it's making me a bit nervous. I think I might be making mistakes because I'm tense. I'm afraid of how you'll react if I make a mistake."

Don't tell him how to do his job. Instead, find out why he does his job the way he does it. Maybe he is getting impatient and wasn't aware of it. Maybe he's doing it on purpose and will explain why. Try to understand him a little better.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

While you are waiting for advice from experienced drivers, check out the links below.

As you will see from the video, Kearsey works for Prime.

Kearsey Training Experience

Old School Training Experience

Ice Cream Man Prime Changing Trainers

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.
Prime newbie's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the advice, Brett. I'll certainly take it into consideration. I haven't made any decisions yet. Mostly just trying to figure out what my options are should I need to make a change. My past attempts at calm conflict resolution with this guy have not been particularly effective, but I suppose I can try it again. I'll mull this over.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

I want to point out something else. I'm always leery of rookies who focus on ways that everyone else should be doing their job better. Every minute you waste worrying about how he should be doing better is another minute you've failed to focus on how you can get better. Who do you really think needs the most improvement here? Who do you think is further from perfection? Remember, you're the one with no skills and no experience.

This guy is risking his life every time he puts you behind the wheel. This isn't about what's easiest and nicest for you. It's about what's best for you, your company, and the people you share the highway with. This is training for life-and-death circumstances. You shouldn't expect it to be easy and pleasant. It's hard, it's stressful, and it's deadly serious. It should feel that way when you're behind the wheel. Mistakes are very serious.

In your mind, he should relax and expect you to make mistakes. He should be tolerant of your mistakes. I'm saying that's the wrong view. You shouldn't be relaxed and expect to make mistakes. He shouldn't be tolerant of your mistakes. One tiny mistake can kill someone. That's how they should be treated.

Think about how they train athletes and military personnel, both of whom are expected to perform nearly perfect at all times. They're not coddled. They're not spoken to like a fragile six-year-old. The expectations are high, the mistakes are very serious. It's the same with truck drivers. You have to be relentlessly focused on every detail. You must understand that there are no safe moments on the highway, no acceptable mistakes.

The fact that you'd like this to be more relaxing and pleasant and tolerant tells me that this guy is treating your mistakes with the seriousness they deserve, and the seriousness you need. I think your attitude toward making mistakes in an 80,000-pound rig is too soft.

Stick it out with this guy. Toughen up, raise your standards, and shoot for perfection. That's how you reach the highest level and keep yourself alive. Be thankful you have someone with high standards who demands the best from you.

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar
They're not spoken to like a fragile six-year-old.

The description of your trainer's demeanor immediately made me think of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket, which is not far from the reality of Marine Basic Training.

In case you haven't seen it, a link to the video is below.

Among other "fun times" in basic, I neglected to put foot powder on for inspection before lights out. Sgt Rowton stepped on my bare foot with all his weight, grinding my toes into my shower shoes and asked "what did you forget private?"

The purpose of such treatment? If you can't perform under the pressure of someone yelling at you, you can't perform under the pressure of someone shooting at you.

Full Metal Jacket

Matt M.'s Comment
member avatar

I went through TNT with a guy that was pretty terse. He was red-headed and boy did he live up to it. It was just his nature, and I wound up liking the guy alright. One of our moments sticks out to me:

"What the F are you doing?" "I have no F'ing idea.". Lol

Some folks would probably be like no one's gonna talk to me like that. But it's just the way the guy was. He would yell, cuss, rant, and rave. It wasn't anything personal. I had my eye on one goal, getting into my own truck. Nothing was going to keep me from it.

I learned a lot from him, and I've been driving for Prime for over 5 years now.

If you have real issues go to your fleet manager (which is your trainers fleet manager until you upgrade), he should have given you a card or number before you headed out.

But as Brett said, I would focus on learning everything you can from this guy and moving on. TNT is not such a long time, and you are going to run into some very stressful situations once you go solo, might not be bad practice to get a little stressed out.

Fleet 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.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

midnight fox's Comment
member avatar

The guy gets very impatient and angry every time I make a mistake... It's getting to the point where I'm afraid to try anything new

His emotional reaction ≠ your emotional reaction. You need to take responsibility for what you feel and how your feelings are affecting your decisions, like how you're shying away from executing maneuvers you know it's your responsibility to do. When you say "it's getting to the point where", you're describing what should be an active mental process you're undergoing to face and understand and manage your own emotions.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

There are times when it's best to switch trainers, this does not appear to be one from what you've posted. He's only unpleasant 15% of the time. Plenty of trainers out there who are unpleasant nearly 100% of the time. Truck drivers in general are known to be a little rough around the edges, and I can guarantee you will hear much worse than what your trainer has said. I'm not sure if you're completely in team mode but once you are you will only be dealing with him for a couple hours a day, otherwise he'll be sleeping and vice versa. We constantly tell those in training this is a very stressful time for the trainee and trainer. You already know how this trainer is, theres no guarantee the next one will be better. The evil you know is better than the one you dont. We've had members post about their experiences that included being talked down to due to their race, one member had their trainer urinate in their iced tea bottle and not tell them, and many talk about their trainer being unsafe such as texting/checking fuel prices and even drinking alcohol during their 10 hour break. I'd say just deal with it the best you can, respectfully bring it up to your trainer your concerns and see if anything changes. He may be new to training and trying to figure out how to best teach. Maybe that's what he endured during training and thinks its normal. Whatever you do, don't do it in a confrontational way, and do it when both of you aren't in a good mood.

If it turns into something you absolutely can not endure, I believe it was Stan (not sure of last name) that our experienced prime drivers have told others to contact regarding switching trainers. We do have a couple experienced prime trainers that are moderators here, I'm sure they'll swing by later and give you more advice and shed some light from a trainers perspective.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

I am about 25,000 into my TNT phase and felt like you do for first 10,000 or so. The guy is a 6"6 red headed country boy and crude. Every since I have been like who p***ed in your toast it has gotten way better. He still acts like a big poked bear sometimes and we argue at least every other day we usually laugh at the end now. Stand up for yourself a bit but listen to what he is teaching you it could save your a**. You should be nervous if not I am scared. You will have plenty of time to make mistakes while he is sleeping. I know I do and when I do I remember some of the things he yelled at me and it helps me get out of some of the sticky situations we rookie's can and will get into. Stand up and stick it out it may get better. Stay safe.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

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