On Board With Knight Transportation, Squire School Started 03/22/21

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Davy A.'s Comment
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So, My first diary was about the slow, cautious approach I took to get to where I started today, If anyone wants to see a really slow, often scattered approach, its here. Career change for a 50 year old contractor committing to it

Now heres my actual journal start as a CDL student

0442 Woke up, drank auto brew Cafe Bustello (3.95 at Walmart) high powered jet fuel espresso, several cups. Chose several pairs of durable flexible cargo pants, BDU's work well for this as well, so that Im not sitting on my wallet, can fit my small notepad and pens as well as vape and cellphone (TURNED OFF WHILE IN SCHOOL) in the cargo pockets.

0520 into the hotel lobby to catch shuttle....shuttle driver informed me at check in that it leaves at 0530 sharp. Consuming more Jet fuel with creamer/sugar while listening to loud annoying big band era jazz with out of tune trumpet. Shuttle leaves roughly at 5:49 it turns out. School begins at 0600. I remain calm, mostly because I havent ingested enough Jet fuel to be construed as conscious yet. Also because Im usually pretty mellow. Lobby music is changed to some groovy old mo-town with a good back beat and a nice vibe.

0600 - Dropped off at Knight parking lot, right next to their first original truck from 1990. Beautiful cabover. Always loved em, mental note, take video of truck on way out. Also, sometime during my stay, attempt through any means necessary to get to drive that truck, even around the parking lot. Meet instructors, many of whom I have seen on various Knight videos. All very welcoming. Im the first and only student there. One is going Top Gun training. Another 2 trickle in after I have seated and got various forms and documents.

0600-0800ish. Right down to business on the schools purpose, Knights Purpose, Our purpose there, Introductions, course layout and strategy, Pre trip, safety. Quick English test in the next building over. Knight is doing construction there, and apparently has been for a number of years - as a now former contractor I had to refrain from spitting out the last of my nearly cold Jet Fuel when told that. Watching other folks turn and look at the noise from the construction, with some practically hitting the deck was somewhat comical, Ive lived with it for many decades.

0800 ish, Break. and then into the Knight Manual, Smith Systems guides, in the interim, got nice bright yellow safety vest, took pictures, Nice mug shot look if I dont say so myself, got badges with said pictures that open doors. Important doors like the one to the drivers lounge filled with free Jet fuel and munchies.

At this point time kind of blurs, A lot of information, most of it thanks to this site and members advice and training materials I was familiar with already. One thing that stands out though is that Knight (and most carriers I suspect) have their own particular language, acronyms and methodology for doing pre-trip inspections. When in Rome....I figured that would be the case. The instructors stressed the point of doing it as Knight has you do it. For instance, mentally changing CBB, Cracked bent or broken to CDL - Cracked, Damaged or Leaking - I asked if it was ok to add "On both ends" in regards to both Shock absorbers and hoses for their program. The answer I recieved was play it safe and use their program that works in AZ where we will be tested at. PMS remains the same, as well as ABC for the tires, so there are some differences, but the fundamental concepts are the same.

11:00ish Lunch, provided by Knight, Tasty Italian dishes. Met students further along in classes than we were, max though combined, I would say maybe a total of 7 to 9 of us at the school.

11:30ish to 1445ish Intense course of finishing Knight Manual, introduction to the Volvo trucks we will be training with, Pre-trip Inspection , Safety and regulations. Paper Logs------Very Important, and we spent a fair amount of time going over this.

1445, out to the parking lot to catch shuttle back to hotel.

I cant wait until tomorrow. I cant tell you how much value there is in learning new things. Something to think about for those of us that have stagnated in careers that were unfulfilling and left us merely a cog in the machine rather than enriching our lives, discovering new concepts, ideas and adventures, It makes my eyes tear up, seriously.

I had a great day, and look forward to more tomorrow. One of my fellow students is younger and struggling a bit to develop mental ownership of the concepts, but readily agreed that he will be able to make sense of it once he is hands on. The other student seems at times a bit over confident, but both are very engaged in the process. The primary instructor we were with seems to favor guided discovery and problem solving as primary modalities for teaching. Both work well for mechanically inclined students such as engineers and drivers. I would caution though that its somewhat more sided to the Audio side of the VAK model. It will be interesting to learn from other instructors there. Tomorrow we get to actually at least go out to the trucks on the pad.

Weds we get to begin operating the trucks. I cant wait. Totally Jacked.

Homework tonight - complete test on Knight Team member packet and manual. Complete todays paperlog in the AM.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

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.
Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

Congrats, Davy~!!

Following ~!

~ Anne ~

good-luck.gif good-luck-2.gif good-luck.gif

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

Day two.

0445 - jet fuel consumption- full pot. Helped. Couldnt sleep for much last night. running on about 2-3 hours per night. Lobby, shuttle left at 0550 today. Worked out fine. 0600 - On time, ready to go. One of the three of us has been late both days, wasnt me. Isnt going to be me. Contractor hit internet cable, computers at school down. Pre trip at trucks on the pad. One truck wouldnt start, Our second truck had a very annoying rattle on the handle or metal connecting plate and rod in the sleeper. I field engineered a fix for it by shimming it with paper from my note pad. Its now Properly mounted and secured but will need to be reported to the DM for proper fix at next service. Asked the instructor to repeat the parts of pre trip I missed due to the noise and fix. (I hate, absolutely hate unauthorized rattles and noises in a vehicle).

0830 Ran through pre trip inspection with guidance, back into class, computers fixed. Smith Systems training, spot test. to lunch. 11:30 back onto pad. Drop and hook instruction, tandems movement, coupling uncoupling, just instruction with some work done by students. the 2 other guys struggled with coupling, especially on the glad hands. I had no problems. Instructor just had shoulder surgery. I got the 5th wheel release for him.

12:30 after break, back to pad. we rotate through pre trip inspection on all areas of the truck, one student doing the inspection, 2 critiquing. Hoping to be able to do entire inspection without the use of the paper guide by weeks end. Pretty aggressive schedule, but I feel weak for using the guide in the first place. First time Ive ever started a tractor trailer and moved it, was fun, had slight expectations, like was thinking the spring brake valves would give me a nice resounding pop at the valve handles as if to say "Good Job, here is your sign" (Sarcasm) when released, but there isnt one, so it was slightly unnerving for me. I kept pushing them in numerous times just to double check.

Also, I kept mentally picking at small details in the process instead of allowing my self to go with the flow. I have both mental ownership and cognitive membership of it, but again am frustrated that I have to rely on cheat sheets to produce the results. Im currently able to do slightly less than half of the items without looking at the sheet, but have gaps between items to do, not because I dont remember them, just because it takes me a minute on where to go next. Progress not perfection Ill take though.

Back into class at 1445, do some ratchet-jawing with the students and instructors, off to the shuttle in the parking lot, where I stare at the beautiful cabover once again on the way out.

Im finally tired enough to get some sleep tonight. Having a blast. Really digging this, super excited. We get introduced to maneuvers tomorrow, am hoping that we get to start doing them tomorrow, I know for sure that we are slated to on Thursday. Even from the little bit of time today, these transmissions and controls in the trucks are much easier to manipulate the vehicle at low speeds and much more precise than most equipment and vehicles Ive operated. Its like getting to play with a really cool (and very expensive) piece of equipment and getting paid for it.

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".

Dm:

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.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

Day 3

0445 - same pattern of little sleep, lots of high grade coffee, tons of pre trip studying.

Settling into more comfortable routine with the school. Drivers lounge beginning to feel like home, all the other drivers really polite and nice. Instructors and staff very cool with me. Its a very comfortable learning environment. There is one resident hard-ass instructor, but hes that way with everyone. I noticed that the cones for backing up markers make very nice coffee cup holders when you place the coffee cup directly on the top of the cone, it leaves the cup properly mounted secure, not cracked, damaged or leaking. It also ****es off the instructors who go to move said cone with coffee cup left on top in the morning as it almost spilled.

He asked me if I left a cup of coffee this morning on the pad. I said most likely, seeing as how I consume coffee at a rate that should require the use of IV drip line. After a gruff and short instruction not to do so, I replied with a standard mantra consisting of Im sorry sir, that was a mistake. I will not let it happen again. Taking ownership of a mistake seems the best policy. So far, everything else has been free of incurring his ire.

Pre trip is continuing to go very well. I continue to make progress and am well above 50 percent without using cheat sheet.

Today was our first day of backing. It went as well as can be expected. Im sure we resembled the high school drivers education course. All we did was straight backs, The instruction was superb, and the guidance was very constructive and on-point. I would rate my performance as average for a first timer, The instructors seemed to think it was well above average, and are not the type to coddle, In other words, if I was below average, they would have been working on a solution with me. I did manage to get the trailer pretty badly out of my comfort zone on one of my passes. I was able to identify why, correct and salvage it, as well as shared that It would require me to rectify vehicle position in pulling forward for the next pass, so there was a positive to it. The instructor had me guide the trailer to misc. rear cone beyond our lane and place the rear tire of the tandems on the cone without knocking it over or flattening it since I had the trailer back there anyway. I was able to do it, and felt pretty good about that. It made me have even more deviation from the path to correct, which I had no problems with.

After lunch, we went back out the pad and continued to work on straight backs until about a half an hour left in the day. At that point, our instructor ran us through instructions for offset backing. It makes sense, and conceptually seems easier to grab for me than straight back in that there are concrete steps with very little ambiguities in them.

It did finally click on making adjustments to the trailer direction for me. the two components that made it fall into place were seeing the rivets on side of the trailer in each mirror momentarily, which got my eyes to quit focusing on smaller details and look at the big picture. The second item is looking at both mirrors, continually swapping back and forth. On the positive side (really every day is positive, Im loving the learning and schooling process) I dont have a problem with over steering or making too large of steering movements, which I was told was the most common problems in first timers.

We drive for the first time tomorrow, will go on some city streets at least. Im excited, also a tad nervous but mostly excited. I feel once again that the instruction we get more than adequately prepares us to do the next set of tasks, its up to us as the student to apply it and develop the skills.

Totally stoked again. Best week Ive had in a long time.

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".

87Wrangler 's Comment
member avatar

You have grabbed the bull by the horns, and about ready to tie her up....this is good to hear. The top gun program should put you ahead of the game ultimately. Sounds like you made another good decision. Can't wait for you to post that you are one of the top drivers at knight! Was glad to hear you are doing well!

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

Day 4

0445 awake and ready. consumed more of my favorite beverage, Im sure you have figured out what it is by now. Put pre trip inspection video on in background while waking up.

0600 to 0700 a bit of waiting around as we sorted out students to trucks. One student called in sick, hes been struggling with pre trip badly, but did really well on straight backing, In general though he seems to talk more than listen and has a habit of repeating what the instructor is saying to him while the instructor is saying, out loud. Several times he had been asked to keep quiet while doing that. In general, he seems very nervous much of the time. Just observations. Also, given the short amount of time we have to receive a lot of information and perform physical tasks in a consistent fashion at least enough to get the CDL , I couldn't imagine missing a day. It would be like missing 7 or 8 chapters of a short book. Just my take on things. Im biased though, I thoroughly enjoy being at the school and learning. It would suit me fine if the days were longer.

With him missing, It left just me and one other on the truck, so we got a lot more time in. Today was the first day that I have ever driven a tractor trailer......and I REALLY enjoy doing it. We drove around fairly empty roads, and city streets in what is usually a fairly deserted area of Phoenix. There was a ton of road construction going on, and we encountered some unexpected closures and obstacle courses as a result. I drove first out of the two of us, It felt natural for the most part, Of course there are typical first timer nervous ticks and things, but nothing too troublesome. Speed control was good, right and left turns were good. 1 curb mauling, and 1 excessively large turn. I had a difficult angled entrance to a far more busy street than the instructor would have preferred due to a road closure, but I handled it safely and he was pleased with the results. My fellow student was in the driver seat for about twice as long, but the instructor said he felt I was handling the truck well enough and safely enough that he needed to run him a bit longer, he was a bit nervous and timid. It worked and he built up some confidence by the time we returned to the yard.

11:30 after lunch we went to the pad and did offset backing and resets. I really like this maneuver, it reminds me of playing pool with a 70 foot long cue and giant billiard balls. I also like how you can clearly see how each move effects the next move, like playing chess. It seemed to flow pretty well. Once again, the instructor must have felt like I was ready to move on, though I certainly didnt. I would have been content practicing the same maneuvers for a week, not because I dont feel I can do them well enough, more because I would like to develop automaticity with them. After a few backs, he had us put the straight back together with the offset and then reset when done. I liked that and am now able to lock in the straight back most of the time.

So, today was even better than yesterday. For me, Im enjoying myself immensely, I love learning and getting paid to drive a gigantic truck is a ton of fun. Im sure I will have my days that I struggle, but for now the mistakes I make are simply opportunities to learn. The instructor that I thought was a hard ass turned out to have a wealth of knowledge and tricks and I had really good discussions with him, he really helped me in some areas I was needing it in. Every day I am amazed at the quality of instruction, the professionalism and compassion that is displayed at the school and throughout Knight.

Im tired, but can hardly wait for tomorrow. We will work on parallel all day. I dont anticipate problems, but If I do have them, I know I have the resources at hand to address them.

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.

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.

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

Day 5.

0444 Woke up, excited for the day. Drank down a small pot of the morning mud. Shuttle, talked with fellow students on the way in.

0600 - chilly this morning. While waiting for parallel parking today, students ahead of us had instructors wrapped up. Me and my two class mates decided to go ahead and run through pre trip. We got most of the way through it. I did it without the paper guide, was fairly solid on it. Student number 3 continued to struggle really bad, the one who missed yesterday.

When we got an instructor, he went through parallel and then had us go ahead and catch number 3 up on offset. He asked me to do it first, I did, it made sense and came easily for the most part. We then rotated to my fellow student whos on the ball as well. He did it with no problems except for a couple little things. Then came time for our third guy. He struggled not so much with the mechanics of driving, but very much so with the instructions, Turning left instead of right, having it in drive instead of reverse. He also struggled with the instructions on straight back and offset as well. Since he was gone yesterday, we had to do what should have been a brief straight back, then offset and setup for the parallel. It was until number 3 got a hold of the controls. Combined with the repeating and finishing the instructors sentences, it was getting tense. At some points the instructors were definitely showing signs of having had enough. We had brake and came back out.

They next had us do the parallel we had before, again I was asked (told) to do it first. I got it done and out of the way. Next went to Number 2, hes on the ball and did the move with ease as well. Annnnnd then number 3. I like the guy, really feel for him, but safety reigns supreme. He seems to have a lot of difficulty understanding directions, especially written ones, even more so, ones in all-caps with photos next to them. At one point. he had the truck in drive when it was supposed to be in reverse. Both my other fellow student and I reached for the shifter and yelled for him to put it in reverse as there was an instructor within a few inches of the front of the truck. (the instructors were outside the cab, the three of us in it). It was a hair raising moment. It happened again shortly there after with all of us out of the truck except him. Coupled with a few other incidences, in which the instructors had to stop him several times and yell at him to get him to look up from the instructions and focus on their direction (he was looking at the instructions while backing and pulling forward), it took the rest of the time we had.

We came in for lunch. Shortly there after, number 3 was asked to go see the director of the school and we didnt see any more of him after that. Its a short day, with no shuttle. Number two and I decided to go through pre trip on a truck, even though we couldnt use the keys, we just pretended for the in cab and air brakes tests. I was able to do the all sections of the pre trip inspection without using the paper, I still had a few things I missed and needed prompts on a couple of things, but overall was very pleased with my progress. We have a pre trip evaluation on Tuesday, Im pretty confident in it, and at least have awareness on what I need to work on.

Once again, Im enjoying my time. developing new friendships and enjoying learning. I do my best to learn, maintain a positive attitude and adjust to new situations and parameters. I have much to learn, and a lot to go, but once again thankful for having resources. I really dont know that there is anything they can do for the poor fellow number 3. Other than realize that as is said here, the truth is that some people may just not be made for the trucking industry. I ask myself what would happen down the road if someone can not follow basic directions and safety protocols when they are flustered or stressed? Could it lead to a tragic and preventable accident? These things are not necessarily driving issues, they are life skills issues I think.

Anyhow, off for the weekend. Two and I are going to go use the laundry at the school and do some pre trips over the weekend.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

Weekend update,

Went in and did laundry. While it was going, Number two and I each did a pre trip (no keys but just did it as if). I was able to do the entire thing from memory without missing any, but did get hung up in using the specific language that is listed like referring to a tug test as the Emergency/spring brake test. I could be overthinking things, but Im guessing that I should say things exactly as it is on paper. So almost there.

There were no students and no instructors there besides us two over the weekend, in fact no staff at all except for a cleaner and security guy.

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

Week 2, Day 1

0445 - nectar of the gods consumed. Off to school, catching a ride with my fellow student to the school now.

0550 - Wrong way driver, substantial car wreck in front of us on way to school. Interesting. Hope they are ok.

Morning - Entire morning on the pad. Pre trip inspection first and then straight back, offset and parallel all morning. I feel pretty solid on all of them, and am beginning to be able to do offset without using the paper guide clipped to the dash. Also we reset back to starting lane after finishing parallel. I hope to have the exercises ready or close to ready by weeks end, as we will test end of next week. Still very much enjoying it and excited to be learning.

Afternoon - Driving. We drove around city streets, working on right and left turns, roadside stops, and fundamentals. Each one of us took turns, student number 3 is back, Was a tad scary at first, but other than continually speeding he seemed to drive pretty well actually. I felt good, didnt hit any curbs, did touch one yellow line on a left but we were trying to actually cut closer and anticipated it might happen. I had to pull in to a gas station, but didnt get to park, the instructor did that, it was fairly close to a straight back and the hole was pretty generous. I appreciate learning how to do it, but dont want to over drive my little seat time and skills that Im developing, so when the instructors assess its time for me to do something like that, Ill trust they know its time.

Tomorrow we have a pre trip evaluation, I like to think of it as a test. I feel confident going in on it. I dont ususally get nervous in tests and am comfortable public speaking, so we will see how it goes. Mistakes are opportunities for learning. Excited and really enjoying school. Looking forward to training and learning everything I can. Like a sponge.

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

I hear on the trucking radio shows I listen to on SiriusXM about wrong way collisions in AZ, especially around Phoenix.

Why so many?

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