CFI Training Through Trainco Trucking School

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Nathan S.'s Comment
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Anne, I'm so happy to hear from you. I honestly LOVE to read your posts on here. You are so genuine and kind and supportive! That means the world to me and I just wanted you to know that it's appreciated!!

Check out my update for today below this response : )

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Day 3 Good evening everybody. Well if training to be a truck driver is a roller coaster-like experience, today is the bottom of the hill. Extremely frustrating day to say the least.

Each day of the first week will be the same. It will start with classroom stuff. So slideshow/PowerPoint lecture on different topics each day. Today was a bit of a wake-up call for all of us. The most notable classroom lecture today was distracted driving with night and mountain driving taking a close second. We watched numerous videos of truck drivers playing on their cellphones while driving and killing people due to a lack of attention to the road. We watch videos of the driver in New Mexico that was watching porn as he full speed ran into multiple police officers dealing with a situation on the side of the highway. He killed one officer and is facing life in prison for murder.

Now you have to be an idiot not to realize distracted driving kills but to watch semi's drive full speed into cars, other trucks, and off the road, is a bone-chilling reality of the importance of taking EVERY moment behind the wheel seriously. No joke, this 90 min presentation really shook me to my core. Which I'm happy to have gone through no question but nonetheless...

Night driving and mountain driving were pretty interesting stuff as far as controlling the vehicle down steep grades and the importance of the run-away exit ramps. We also talked about how we no longer have the option to take over-the-counter medicines like Dayquil or Nitequil. In fact, learning that driving sick is illegal was a bit of a shock.

After lunch, we did more pre-trip and have worked ourselves back to the bulkhead of the trailer. Tomorrow we will add coupling and then each of us will have to run the pre-trip from the top back to the coupling system.

At 3 pm each day we get a 15 min break and after that, we head to the range/pad. So far we learned straight backing, offset back left/right (reverse lane change) and today we added the parallel left/right to the mix. I went second and for 25 mins I failed literally each and every time. I came close once on my second attempt but turned the wheel the wrong way and destroyed the move. I started stalling the fricking manual trans bull crap I'm stuck using and got in my head. For the life of me, I couldn't even come close to either side. So around 5:05 I bailed on the maneuver for the day and will reset and work on my headspace for tomorrow.

I'm not going to lie, I'm EXTREMELY frustrated that I have to practice already difficult maneuvers in a manual trans when I'm going for an automatic transmission. If I have one complaint about this training school it's that they don't provide the proper truck for students wishing to obtain an automatic trans CDL. This might seem petty to veteran truckers or people more familiar with M/T vehicles but when you are attempting to do something that doesn't come naturally to some people and you have to add in that vehicle function it's incredibly frustrating. Maybe it's meant to mimic stressful situations that we will face on the road. Maybe it's meant to mimic tight backs, road backing with traffic, or some other stressor???

I will say that 72 hours ago I NEVER expected to be able to maneuver a semi-truck the way that I CAN in most situations in only 3 days. That is the positive takeaway for today. Much has been accomplished and you can't learn if you don' make mistakes but today I took an L. And you know what....that's ok. Tomorrow is another day and I WILL be more successful. I have to be...cause Friday we are officially driving on the road. So....Its time to man up and make this happen!

Good night everyone and Have a good evening!

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Good night yourself, Nathan.

Excellent diary. For sure. I'd held my husband's hand (or heart?) when he had to 'school' in 2003 and do the 'legal life.' You are doing great, IMHO...and yes you WILL be more successful, because you claimed it.

Friday comes quick..and it will open a foray of MORE lessons for you. The best ones!

Best to you;

~ Anne ~

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.

Bulkhead:

A strong wall-like structure placed at the front of a flatbed trailer (or on the rear of the tractor) used to protect the driver against shifting cargo during a front-end collision. May also refer to any separator within a dry or liquid trailer (also called a baffle for liquid trailers) used to partition the load.

Nathan S.'s Comment
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Day 4 Good evening everyone. If yesterday was the bottom of the roller coaster hill, then today I'm climbing upwards!! Feeling much better and had a fairly productive day at Trainco.

Same as all week, we started in the classroom and talked about New technologies in trucking. I.e. autonomous trucks and trucking companies, advanced safety features like adaptive cruise control and lane departure assist. Then we talked and watched videos on human trafficking. Learned about the organization named Truckers Against Trafficking. Learned about signs to watch for to help potential kids/adults who are being held against their will and forced to provide sexual services in truck stops and travel lodges. Lastly, for the classroom today was our final written exam. This is a Trainco requirement and we all passed. I think I tied for worst in the class with 92%. I didn't read a few questions properly and fell for the 2 trick questions. As a former D high school student anytime I get a B or better I call it a win...LOL

At 11 am today we headed out to the range to warm up with an offset backing maneuver. I started on the right side pulling the trailer into the left-hand slot. Failed twice immediately. Thought "oh crap, here we go again." I made the call to change to the left-hand lane. That way I was pulling into right-hand slot maneuver so I could nail a backing maneuver and get some confidence back. That side seems to be my strong side. That did the trick, and all was gravy for an hour straight.

As per usual, 12 pm is lunch till 12:30 pm.

What came next blew my mind. They moved driving on the road from tomorrow to today. So, as my class is 3 manual students and 3 auto students (1 being me) We split up and headed out onto the road for the very first time ever! I drove my a/t Volvo first. I think my butt suction-cupped itself to the driver seat LOL I'm in rural Ohio but only a few miles from I-75, and a bunch of OHIO interstates and highways. So heavy traffic areas and country roads mixed for my 30 minutes behind the wheel. They had us go out bobtail for starters. I honestly did ok. Had a hard time speeding up to posted limits. I hung back around 5-10 under because I wanted to stay in control and brake safely and properly behind the stop lines. After about 20 mins of driving, I was actually having FUN!! LOL first time I can say that!! The biggest takeaway for me was that I had NO IDEA how fast and how MUCH there is to pay attention to in a semi-truck. Intersections, signs, speeds, 4 wheelers and their bullcrap, traffic lights changing in the worst spots. All in all, I found that looking ahead and speaking softly to myself about things I was seeing. Stop sign coming up, car approaching intersection, lane changing, etc helped me focus and keep things in perspective. The trainer thought I was crazy but...OH WELL, we were safe LOL

The last couple of hours were the final parts of the pre-trip. We now have learned the whole truck, but didn't practice the trailer yet.

So each day from here on out will look like this. As an automatic trans driver, my class is only 12 "actual class" days. So I have 8 days of class left before testing out. No more classroom work, as we finished that today. So each of the remaining 8 days will be a combination of pad/range training, road driving, and pre-tripping. Unless something else comes up that I don't know, these updates should be less wordy..LOL

All in all, no I didn't get to work on the parallel maneuver today but there's plenty of time left and maybe it was for the best that I walked away from that for a day?!

Hope you all have a great night and talk to you tomorrow!

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

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.

Big Scott (CFI's biggest 's Comment
member avatar

Nathan, be patient. You're doing great. I have been slammed busy and not on here that much currently. We all had problems in CDL school. We all started with no experience.

Good luck.

It wasn't to long ago I was backing into an easy spot and turned the wheel in the wrong way and had to pull up to fix it. Screwed up a great back.

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.
Nathan S.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks Scott I appreciate the encouragement. I’m doing my best to keep all things in perspective. Day 4 is a whole whopping 4 hours behind the wheel on the range total. Gaining control and all that is required to know and perform on a semi with Maneuvers is literally almost no time at all!!! So you’re right..I’m doing good! :)

Nathan, be patient. You're doing great. I have been slammed busy and not on here that much currently. We all had problems in CDL school. We all started with no experience.

Good luck.

It wasn't to long ago I was backing into an easy spot and turned the wheel in the wrong way and had to pull up to fix it. Screwed up a great back.

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.
Big Scott (CFI's biggest 's Comment
member avatar

When backing with a manual you are using the clutch to control the speed, in an automatic you're using the gas. Otherwise it's the same. Do what they tell you. They are teaching you to pass a test. Your Finisher/Trainer at CFO will teach you to drive and back in real life.

You're in boot camp right now. Keep your chin up.

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
member avatar
Anne, I'm so happy to hear from you. I honestly LOVE to read your posts on here. You are so genuine and kind and supportive! That means the world to me and I just wanted you to know that it's appreciated!!

Awh, thanks~!!! You are totally welcome. I'm always here, justa trailing along and enjoying the reads!!

Stay safe, you!

~ Anne ~

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Nathan S.'s Comment
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Day 5 End of Week 1

I literally can't believe it's been a whole week already. Time flies so fast!! From what I can gather how you will progress through training here at Trainco has some bearing on your class. (and yourself to a degree) I overheard our instructor talking with another instructor about how we (collectively) were a group of "overachievers" and were progressing through the training much faster than normal. I guess most (or some) classes take more than a day to go from one backing maneuver to another. Moving so fast through our pad training has allowed us to spend more time on Pre-trip inspection , and got us on the road faster. So your personal experience at Trainco might look slightly different from what I have been describing each day.

Today we arrived at class like normal at 7 am. Since we no longer have any classroom training we waiting for instruction on what we were supposed to do today. They split us up into our 3 groups by transmission. So us automatic guys hit the road right off the bat with a trailer today. Since we haven't pulled out of the lot with a trailer yet, the instructor took us off the lot and just down the road. Each of us drove for roughly an hour and a half today. The trainer that took us out today is an extremely nice guy that works for Pepsi but with Trainco only part-time. He super encouraging, friendly, and gives exact, precise, and clear instructions while driving to help ease you. In fact, he did an amazing job getting each of us to calm down and relax within 10-15 minutes of driving. He asked who we were going to work for and then tried to create a route that would mimic as best as he could with more real-world traveling situations. Since I'm going over the road , he took me on highways and through a couple of rural towns and country back roads to get me comfortable with tight roads, fast speeds, and turns through tight little cities. I can't describe how exciting and fun that part of the day was! Each of us did really well once we relaxed and calmed down. I'm so proud of my classmates and myself too! I really have a good group of people with me.

We got back at lunchtime and at 12:30 pm headed out to the range/pad for backing practice. I performed 3-4 parallel backing maneuvers all successfully with 1-2 pull-ups or less. SO much better than Wednesday's results!! We typically have 1 student that has to stand around and wait for an opening so I let him take over on parallel and I went over to offset backing again. That didn't go quite as smoothly as I would have liked and it was pretty hot today and I was developing a bad headache, so I kind of walked off and got some water and aspirin for my headache. When I came back to the pad I only had like 30 minutes and went and did a few more parallel backs that didn't go well but an instructor helped me figure it out and ended the pad time with a perfectly centered parallel back.

The last couple hours were spent going of the in-cab inspection and mandatory brake test, and some more pre-trip practice.

This experience is by far nothing like anything I have ever experienced before. Driving a truck and performing maneuvers is so challenging and fun and so fulfilling when you do something you couldn't do before. I have the weekend off and it couldn't have come at a better time. Even though I'm feeling good emotionally, I'm physically drained, and my body feels like it's been through a war.

I hope you all have a great weekend! The next update is coming Monday evening. Good night

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.

Over The Road:

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.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

Nathan S.'s Comment
member avatar

As always Scott, thank you!! I really appreciate your support and encouragement. I know it's Bootcamp and chin up for sure!! I'm GOING to make it and I'm GOING to be at CFI in a few weeks and I look forward to someday being able to shake your hand, sir!

When backing with a manual you are using the clutch to control the speed, in an automatic you're using the gas. Otherwise it's the same. Do what they tell you. They are teaching you to pass a test. Your Finisher/Trainer at CFO will teach you to drive and back in real life.

You're in boot camp right now. Keep your chin up.

Big Scott (CFI's biggest 's Comment
member avatar

I should be back in Joplin the first week of June.

Nathan S.'s Comment
member avatar

From what I understand, my first day of orientation begins June 1st!

I should be back in Joplin the first week of June.

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