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

Topic 29882 | Page 2

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G-Town's Comment
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...let the fun begin!

Cool beans Errol...! Thanks for taking the time to journal this.

Errol V.'s Comment
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Days 5 and 6 in the books. Pre-Trip and the Straight Line back.

Everybody gets to use their Pre-Trip "Script" for the first few days. I emphasize it's mostly repetition about "Properly Mounted and Secure", and "Not Cracked Cut or Frayed". The In-cab Air Brake test is important. I will have everyone do the test every day. All of this pre-trip stuff needs to be practiced till you are sick of it. That way, when it's Showtime with the Examiner, you will be confident and just zip right through the whole thing. (Trust me, confidence by the test taker goes a long way towards passing!)

Straight line seems so simple, but half the class had a hard time understanding the finer points of turning and guiding the trailer down a 12 foot wide lane. (remember your trailer is roughly 8 feet wide, leaving you two feet on each side for clearance.)

For a fun take on beginning backing practice, check this out: The Backing Range At Trucking Driving School - It's Like Clown Soup For The Soul

Errol V.'s Comment
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Yes, class two days a week is slow going. I have one section meeting (10 hour days) on Monday & Tuesday, then another section Thursday & Friday. So there's noting to write about till the next week.

"Everyone is now practicing backing. The first part, Straight Line, is simple, but some students had problems paying attention to the trailer. Remember, even the slightest change from straight - where you can see both SIDES of the trailer in both mirrors - needs to be fixed.

After taking a "test" where I record the results of the number of pull ups (one allowed with no points), GOALS (One allowed with no points), Encroachments (2 points each plus a pull up), the students get a ZERO to pass!

Next is the Offset where the student needs to drive the truck straight out from the starting lane and then back it up to the next lane to the right. This is the skill where students learn how to turn the trailer (I call it "aim") to go in a new direction.

For those new to school here's some pointers:

  • Work to put the tandem wheels between the cones first. You need to use the straight line skills also.
  • When the tandems are between the cones, then focus on pushing the front of the trailer over (often to the right) to line the whole trailer up with the new lane. Straight Line skills still needed
  • You are done when the front of your truck is between the second lane cones.
  • You still get a pull up. If the tandems are already between the cones, sue the pull up to straighten things out: Without going out of bonds, keep backing up to get the front wheels lined up with the lane. Then pull up and turn the steer wheels to go forward in line with the new lane until the whole truck is lined up. Then it's straight back 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".

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Errol V.'s Comment
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Yes, it's been two weeks since my last post. But each class meets two days, so my two weeks is a normal class one week.

This week we got to the famous Alley Dock. Usually, schools teach that you set up to back about 1-1/2 to 2 truck lengths away, then slowly back up turning the trailer into the box. A lot of sweat and worry are spent on this. I found a different, and a bit easier way to back 90 degrees to the left. Here is a link to a video explaining it: CDL Offset & 90 Alley Dock Backing

This method uses a jackknife move to turn the trailer. My students have gone from zero to in-the-box in one day.

Also, my students are expected to study and take the Permit exam on their own. I do give them attendance credit if they need to take a school day to get the permit. All but one student has gotten the permit now. A few of them, including this last one have had problems with required documentation - proof of domicile/residency, birth, etc. One is a refugee. He is allowed to work, but he does not have a green card so he is ineligible to get a CDL license or permit. He says he can get the green card by June. So, I'll just admit him in the next class.

With permits in hand I can schedule road tests. Problem is in Tennessee at least they are so backlogged that the appointments are in mid June!

Well, the next report will be about introducing public road driving to my students.

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.

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.
Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
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How's the 'public road' driving going with the students, Errol ?

I love this thread, btw~!!!!

~ Anne ~

Errol V.'s Comment
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Class 210329 is in the books. The students must study for and pass the CDLP test on their own time, two students didn't pass the test till two weeks ago. (Tennessee also requires seven days between test taking - permit or road.) So all four CDL road tests are scheduled after the next class starts! The last one had to be scheduled for June 30. I'll get that student some extra practice before test day.

For new students: if your CDL class does not include permit test study, it is vital for your to get that done ASAP. You don't get on the road without the permit in hand.

As for my "schedule" for road practice, it goes like this (over the next days):

  • I built a right turn "corner" from cones on the practice range. New drivers get to practice eating cones on our own practice area before they get a choice on running over curbs and bushes.
  • There's a block in a nearby industrial area with four different right turn corners. I demonstrate a few times, then students get to go. Stop signs, traffic signals and cars all around. Good times.
  • From that time, I don't drive the truck with students on board again. One lucky student gets to drive back to the school through real traffic!
  • Several hours of in-traffic driving around town. There's a place on the river in Memphis called "President's Island". Side streets, 100% industrial, lots of trucks and a busy switching railroad. A new experience for my students making left and right turns!
  • More miles on the freeway. Freeway driving is all about lane mergers, on/off ramps, and watching traffic and signs ahead for planning.

My main emphasis is on making sure the driver is watching the tandems in all turns. The biggest reason for CDL road test failure is hitting a curb with the tandems on a right turn. (Second biggest failure is losing a gear in shifting, but with auto-shift that doesn't happen.)

At the start of every day, from the day I teach it until they get their license, we practice the pre-trip and the in-cab inspection of the air brake system. No student in my class has failed the PTI on the CDL road test.

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.

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".

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

PackRat's Comment
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Great update, Errol!

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