Training, Testing, And Going Solo...

Topic 27718 | Page 1

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Bowhunt72 's Comment
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My story is probably different from most. After college, I worked four years as a technical writer in the software industry. Couldn't stand sitting at a desk, and I was already a volunteer firefighter, so I started firefighting and EMS as a full time professional. After fifteen years in the fire service, I had to take an early disability retirement.

I've been at my current job for six years. Drove a box truck on local deliveries for two years, and the last four years I've been driving a box truck on a transfer route from our warehouse to two of our branch stores, totaling about 260 miles a day. With the other running around I do to fix problems and handle oddball loads, I'm averaging 75,000 miles a year. We also run five tractor trailers and one other box truck on transfer routes to our other branch stores.

Recently, I was told that the company wanted to add one more branch to my route and move it to a semi. I was nervous, because I tried driving a semi for a few weeks on a learner's permit five years ago and stressed myself out so badly that I asked for my box truck back. The company didn't want to send me to school because of the cost, so my training was getting my learner's permit again and driving my route with our part time spare CDL driver as "instructor". Not confidence inspiring, since he has maybe two years of experience driving part time to cover routes when a driver is off. He failed his Class B CDL test once, and his Class A test twice.

So with those challenges, off I went. I drove my route with him as co-driver for three weeks. Every day when I finished my route, I practiced the pre trip on my truck. For the last week, I measured and set up cones to practice the basic vehicle control maneuvers. Spent a couple of hours every day backing around, mostly in mid 30's and rain. Scheduled my CDL test for last week, with my "instructor" telling me that they always fail everyone the first time to get more money...

And NAILED IT. Missed only a few points on the pre trip, missed none at all on the basic vehicle control, and had only minor issues on the road test, although a missed shift just as I was heading back to the test site nearly sank me before I managed to grab a gear and save it. There was a BMV five minutes away, so I got my license immediately and was solo in my truck the next day.

Huge relief to get past the test and get out on my own. Now that I met the minimum standard, I get to keep working to become good at this job. I knew I was the best and most experienced box truck driver in the company, but now I'm the newest and least experienced CDL driver. My downshifts need to be cleaner, and I have a couple of tricky docks at my branch stores that I need to get better at.

Looking forward to the 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.

Bmv:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

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.
Turtle's Comment
member avatar

Bowhunt72, welcome to the forum and congratulations on getting that CDL!

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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.
Rookie Doyenne's Comment
member avatar

WoW! Great story! Congratulations! dancing.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing.gif If you haven't yet looked around this site, there's a wealth of practical and trouble-shooting know-how in addition to friendly support. good-luck.gif

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Congratulations!

That's what I call "Do It Yourself"

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

Bowhunt72 's Comment
member avatar

Now that I have my CDL after my do-it-yourself driving school, I think I'm fortunate with my situation. Driving the truck is really the only new part of my job. I'm still driving the same route I've been driving five days a week for the last four years. Even the "new" branch store added to my route isn't really new to me. No extra miles, because it's just inside a city that I took the bypass around before. I've been there frequently to pick up or drop off material, or to cover when another driver was off. Now it's just every day instead of occasional.

Without having to learn new roads, new branches, or a new company, I can really concentrate on just getting better with driving the truck. For now, I'm working on improving my downshifts until I can hit every one cleanly every time. One of my branches has a very tight, tricky dock that I can get into well enough to unload, but I won't be satisfied until I can get in straight and square consistently. I'm still working on that feel for where the right rear corner of my trailer is when I'm backing. Good enough isn't good enough for me; if I'm going to do any job, I want to be GOOD at it.

Hoping to find out tomorrow or at least this week what my new pay rate is. I'm an hourly wage employee. I'm not OTR and don't want to be. I have a wife I actually like being with, and my horse farm needs my attention every day. I put myself through a lot of stress and hard work to get here, and I'm looking forward to it paying off.

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.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

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