From The Front Of The Classroom: CDL Class From The Teacher's POV

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Errol V.'s Comment
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I teach a CDL class in Memphis. My company has a contract with Amazon, and my students are all Amazonians. In these classes, the Amazon associates can earn a CDL and they are free to find a trucking job with any company. Yes, Amazon is actually paying for some of their associates to leave the company! This is all I'm going to say about this Amazon program. The rest of the topic will be what I see as an instructor with eight people who want to get a CDL license and drive a truck OTR.

These classes have a maximum of four students each, meeting two days a week. I get two sections, so... 2 x 4 = 8 students in a "semester", four on Monday/Tuesday and four on Thursday/Friday. 10 hours per day. Also, 2 days x 8 weeks is 16 class meetings, and at 10 hours per day that's the minimum 160 hours needed for the CDL training. OK, enough math.

Moving on, I have a full class: four on Monday and four on Thursday. Today is Saturday, and Monday it's showtime (again).

Watch this space ....

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.

PackRat's Comment
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Following!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
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Following!

Me too; subscribed~~!!!!

~!! Exciting !!~

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
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Count me in... cool beans Errol.

Scott M's Comment
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Errol- Thanks! Good stuff. I started my life as an Industrial Education teacher. I know that you also taught school. Am looking forward to reading more of your postings!

Errol V.'s Comment
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The first day of class.

I had started with eight names. By Monday morning the official registration was down to six, and one of them didn’t show up. So ... five students for the class. My class is limited to eight students – four on Monday/Tuesday class and four in Thursday/Friday classes. They all had chosen Monday because of their work schedules. But one had to move to Thu/Fri. I got one to move (consider one student all day - the good and the bad).

There is always paperwork at the beginning of class. Everyone has to get out their driver license, medical certificate and the payment voucher. Then the Rules (most are common sense things: proper shoes, work style clothing, no smoking, etc.). Then the boring part starts: The more or less legal stuff about how to get a CDL , medical exams, drug tests and so on. We do touch on some good driving information towards the end of class – “Visual Search”, “Communicating”, things like that.

Many of my students work a graveyard shift, so I saw several eyes glaze and slowly close. But my presentation was about stuff they are supposed to know, but there’s never a test, so I mostly just kept presenting. Later, when we are on the truck, they won’t be sleeping.

Lastly, a quick introduction to Hours of Service. I have them fill out paper logs, mainly to get an understanding of the four levels of status (Off Duty, Sleeper, Driving, and On Duty (Not Driving), and how these all fit together.

That’s it!

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.
Errol V.'s Comment
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One student told me he was born in the DRC (I correctly decoded that to "Democratic Republic of Congo".) When he was two years old, his family left the Congo and moved to a refugee camp in Rwanda. He lived there for twenty years before coming to the USA two years ago.

I asked, "What did you do in the refugee camp for twenty years? It must have been nothing but waiting!"

He answered and said yes, his family had no job, and food was supplied by relief agencies. But he did get a Bachelors degree! (I forgot in what, but, hey! A bachelors degree in refugee camp!)

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
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One student told me he was born in the DRC (I correctly decoded that to "Democratic Republic of Congo".) When he was two years old, his family left the Congo and moved to a refugee camp in Rwanda. He lived there for twenty years before coming to the USA two years ago.

I asked, "What did you do in the refugee camp for twenty years? It must have been nothing but waiting!"

He answered and said yes, his family had no job, and food was supplied by relief agencies. But he did get a Bachelors degree! (I forgot in what, but, hey! A bachelors degree in refugee camp!)

It would be awesome to have that guy ^^^ as your 'one on one' student; the stories he could share! Wonder if he got his Bachelor's Degree in Humility . . . ?!?!? (Not sarcasm, either.)

~ Anne ~

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Errol V.'s Comment
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Second day, more slide lecture. The difference is that today we talk about the truck, its parts, introduce air brakes and vehicle control.

Remember your science class in high school? The physics of moving objects? No? Well memory jogger time! A truck is a moving object, and behaves the same as your wood blocks did in school. You know: skids, turns & the danger of rolling over, braking, gravity and mountain grades, and so on. Only now the blocks weigh 80,000 pounds. (good news: no math required.)

Errol V.'s Comment
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The update: Day #3 (Monday) was to finish up the classroom stuff - Driver wellness/fatigue, slide presentation on backing, etc. I had time to do some practice permit tests - students come to my class without CDL permits and it's up to them to get one. So when I have time we add in some permit tests and lessons on how to pass multiple choice testing.

Day 4 - PRE-TRIP!!!!! I point out the pretrip will be part of their trucking career till it ends - every day they drive, there will be a pretrip. The usual stuff: Clearance lights are properly mounted and secure, lens not broken and they are operating", "Tire tread is a minimum of 4/32" on the steer tires", and so on.

It's nice to remind them that although the pre-trip hand out is 11 pages long, most of it is repetitive: nearly everything is "Properly Mounted and Secured", it's "not Broken, Cracked, or Damaged ", and there are "no Cuts, Cracks, or Frays".

I demonstrate the in-cab inspection including the all important air brake tests. In a way it's fun keeping the first-timers on script, and also tiring at the same time. Sure, first time through there are lots of misunderstandings and errors (sure! check air pressure leaks with either the engine/compressor running or the ignition off where you can't see the gauges.)

For the rest of the CDL course, the in-cab is done at least three times each day. I tell my students they need to study and practice the pre-trip until they are sick of it. Why? #1: it's the first pass/not pass step in their CDL exam and #2, it needs to be done anyway on a daily basis. Also, the light at the end of the tunnel is that in "real life" they don't need to talk it out in every detail and a full pre-trip on their own truck will take less than 15 minutes.

Next week is the start of backing practice.

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.
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