My Roehl Training Adventure

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Appalachained's Comment
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Oh, and I forgot to mention, thanks for the kind words Appalachained. I really appreciate the encouragement. I'm glad your're enjoying my ramblings.

No problem and thank you for the link to your other thread. It was very helpful too. It and Brett addressed the bigger fear that I’m having. It’s almost eerie how similar our situations are. About the only difference is you’re in (were in) retail and I’m in a service industry. I too am tired of herding (34-38) cats. It’s getting hard to find employees and the ones you have get the attitude that they know you need them. I’m thinking about work even when I’m home etc... I even have a Mustang GT lol. So yeah, I’m hanging on every update.

Wild-Bill's Comment
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I had some family issues to work through last night, so I didn't get a chance to do an update. Here is a Two-Fer

Week 2 Day 4 We had heavy most of the day - 8-10" total. In the morning, we got hooked up to the trailer quickly and got out to the backing range. We were able to each do an offset back before the first break. During the break, the decision was made to park all the trucks. Apparently a they had a few issues with stuck trucks and not being able to stop for stop lights. So, after break, we dropped back in the empty trailer lot in the driving range area and parked in the maintenance building. We spent the rest of the day going through the J.J. Keller answer sheets, polishing up our PTI walk-through, watching some training videos and going through the assigned training modules in the Team Roehl app. With such a short training program, It's a bummer to miss out on a driving day. That only leaves us with Friday & Monday to practice before the Tuesday pre-test. We haven't even had a chance to do a 90 degree back yet.

The person that was struggling the most early on was sent home today. He was there in the morning and by lunch time he was no where to be seen. My truck partner got a text from him that he was sent home. That makes 4 we've lost so far (5 if you count the one that never showed up for the first day), but, the first one to be sent home rather than just quit. It seems like everyone else is progressing well. so, I hope that's the last of it for now, though, I wonder if the pre-test on Tuesday will bring some more fallout along with it.

Wild-Bill's Comment
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Week 2 day 5 I'm not sure why, but Friday's just don't seem to be my day. Last Friday I was frustrated with the folks on my truck. Today, I'm frustrated with myself.

Maintenance was still digging the lot out from yesterday's snow. In the morning we bob-tailed over to the backing range to see if it was clear. In driving around one of the snow piles, we got stuck in the mud and snow (twice). It was a good learning experience about what to do to get unstuck. We had to dig out behind the tires then our instructor rocked it out the same way you would a car. It was quite the adventure. We went back to the driving range to do some backing into parking spots along the inside of the track. It was very close quarters as there was a snow pile about one lane width in front of us. Our instructor spent a lot of time in NYC and specializes in close quarter maneuvering. He said, we're going to have to back into some tight spots, so, we'll use the snow pile to simulate a wall close to the dock. We each got 2-3 times backing into that, then we went to the full trailer lot and practiced some truck stop backs there. we got 4 or more backs there. At lunch I understand some of the other instructors were giving him crap about the tight spaces he was getting us into. He told him hes getting us ready for the real world. His style on the backs is to walk us through it once then, he leaves it to us to "figure it out". He makes us figure out where we need the trailer to go and what we're going to do to get it there. He's giving me a lot of rope to get myself hing up in, but it'll make me better at figuring it out on my own.

Before lunch, we did instructor evaluations and had a pep talk from the director of training. He reminded us of how far we've come in just over a week and how much further we'll progress next week before the best of the group get to take a stab at the real CDL test. I really hope to be in that group, but, I don't think I can get the backing down between now and Tuesday to qualify. I know I can nail the PTI, I'm getting better with the driving, the backing is just KILLING me though. I did OK in the parking lot with trailers next to me, But the cones and cement blocks just get me all turned around. I always seem to drift to one side or another and no matter how hard I try, I just cant keep from drifting.

After lunch, We went on a road trip, and that's where I started getting really frustrated with myself. My shifting was off for some reason. I didn't get my trailer behind the lane line getting into a turn lane. Then, We crossed railroad tracks for the first time. There is a stop light 1/2 of a truck length past the tracks at one point. I almost stopped on the tracks, realized my mistake and had to brake hard to stop before the tracks. Ended up stalling the truck because I didn't clutch while braking.

Then about half way through the drive, I was just starting a left turn as a SUV pulled out of a parking lot, crossed over the lane I was turning into and stopped sideways not quite in her lane. Her back end was in the lane I was turning into and her hood was nearly in the intersection. I hugged the right curb a little closer to make sure the trailer would clear her. She was backing up a bit to get out of the way when I looked right quickly to check my spacing there. When I looked back into my left mirror to check the tracking she had apparently changed her mind and had actually pulled forward again and was now further into the intersection than where she started. By this time my tandems were nearly on her. I came to a hard stop and my instructor leaned over and said in a calm voice "did you hit her" I said "no, but it's about as close as you can get". She quickly went around my tail and I finished the turn. A police car was three cars behind her and he was just shaking his head as I passed by. It reminded me of the post here a bit ago where someone was changing lanes and didn't watch his trailer in the follow through. A car got in between his trailer and the cement barrier and was crushed. It's just amazing what can go wrong in the time it takes to go from one mirror to the other. You just can't take your eyes off that trailer. No matter what mistakes she made. It was my responsibility to watch for her and I nearly blew it. All I could picture was getting sent home for hitting a car, or worse, riding over that hood and killing someone. I had to take some deep breaths at the next stop to shake it off. It was one of the most terrifying things that's ever happened to me behind the wheel of any vehicle.

Anyway, The rest of the drive went pretty well after I got my heartbeat back down to normal. After my truck partner's drive we went into the simulator to practice "decision making" It was all kinds of scenarios with crazy driver decisions or a ball coming across the street followed closely by a child running after it. It was all a reinforcement of the Roehl Safe 7. Out motto is "Driven to protect others" I learned today that those others can make it as difficult as heck to protect them.

It was a tough day. Between my poor shifting, struggling with the backing, a near miss, getting stuck in the snow twice and the two accidents in the simulator, I was pretty shaken up for the day. The theme of the day was definitely 1001 ways to get into serious trouble in a CMV.

Tomorrow is a classroom session on Hazmat then I get to go home for a day. I'm really looking forward to getting 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.

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

Tandems:

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".

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".

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

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.
Rob D.'s Comment
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Wild-Bill,

This is great stuff. Not great that you are frustrated and almost hit a car. But great information for someone like me who is preparing for school.

Also, considering a lot of the "bad trainer" stories you hear on the forum, it's nice to hear this:

calm voice "did you hit her" >

.

It sounds like a pretty good training program with many challenges, which you seem to be handling well.

Delco Dave's Comment
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My wife buys me a book every year for Christmas, was thinking I should get something trucking study related this year. Is this the JJ Keller book you are required to study during training?

0389608001576372650.jpg

Wild-Bill's Comment
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Delco Dave, this is the textbook we’re using. It’s pretty spendy. Wherever you end up going to school, I’m sure you’ll end up with it or something like it.

0197030001576378886.jpg

Delco Dave's Comment
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Thank you! I didnt see that one

Wild-Bill's Comment
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Rob D. The training and trainers are what you make of it. It's stressful and I can see where people think their trainer is mean or a "bad trainer" when in reality it's his / her job to put you in a pressure cooker to get the jitters out. In a 4 week program, there's no time to link pinkies and sing kumbaya around the campfire. It's been said many ties that you need a thick skin for this. I really get that now. If you get your feelings hurt easily, the intensity of the feedback may make you want to give up. That's why it was kinda surprising for him to be so calm when I almost crushed that SUV.

Two on our truck thought our instructor was the worst trainer in the history of trainers. The other two of us tried hard to listen and react to what he is telling us and are doing well. As I mentioned early on, my instructor is the one of the group that is the most different from my personality. He doesn't like to repeat a direction ever. He tells you once. If you make the same mistake again, it's "what are you doing?? Didn't we talk about this? you need to stop making these mistakes." He tends to yell a bit and gets this high squeaky voice when he's agitated. Sometimes he seems to purposely get us agitated to see how we handle pressure. His "pep talks" at the end of the day can sound very much like "if you cant do this, you cant drive the truck and you wont have a job". But I know he wants us all to succeed that's why he pushes us hard. He's tried every technique in the book to get us to get better. Sometimes he just shuts up and lets us get a natural feel for it with the pressure off. If we make a mistake (in a safe environment) he'll wait see how we get ourselves out of it. He gave the under-performers way more time and effort than I would have had the patience for. I'm sure the one sent home is somewhere posting a "terrible trainer" story right now. The reality is the instructors and trainers have to prove themselves and are good t what they do whether you agree with their style or not. Their under pressure to perform jut as everyone else is.

I'm having a great time and learning more every day. I just don't want anyone misunderstanding the "bad trainer" issue. It's going to be an uphill climb but the summit will be worth the effort.

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

Wild Bill,

The bad trainers stories that I was referring to were more along the lines of clearly unsafe or unacceptable behavior, such as making their trainees sleep in the top bunk while driving.

In a 4 week program, there's no time to link pinkies and sing kumbaya around the campfire. It's been said many ties that you need a thick skin for this. I really get that now.

.

I am understanding more and more that trainers are under pressure to get you trained and productive as soon as possible. So I am not under any delusion that training will be like Romper Room.

Thanks again for sharing you trainer experience.

Wild-Bill's Comment
member avatar

I hope the Kumbaya comment wasn't taken ad an insult. It wasn't directed to anyone on the forum, rather it was my thoughts on some of the folks on my truck that thought someone should hold their hand or give them a participation trophy for just trying.

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