Knight Transportation, In Phoenix, In July. What The ...... Was I Thinking?

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Bush Country's Comment
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Initially I had decided to not do a training diary for my time in Squire School for Knight Transportation. I have already been here in Phoenix for a week, and during a drive over to see family in Tucson to celebrate the 4th, I decided to do one after all, since most everyone has a different perspective on things, and to encourage others to pursue Knight.

My background is – I am 63 years old and worked in the oilfield for 38 years in various capacities until March last year. I have kept myself in relatively good shape with running and riding a bike, off and on, for most of my adult life, although my blood pressure has slowly crept up to the point that I medicate for it, so I have a one-year DOT medical card. I am married and both of my kiddos are grown and on their own. Mrs. Country and I have three dogs and three cats at the house, all of which are rescues, to keep her company. She is a very independent woman and both of us value our “alone” time, so it should not be too hard on our marriage with me being gone so much. In fact, since I’ve not worked for over a year, and she got laid off in December, we’ve been together pretty much 24/7 for the past eight months. If our marriage survived that I think it’s on pretty solid ground. It’s a wonder someone didn’t shoot someone!

I have been interested in trucks, trucking, and large equipment as long as I can remember. I started driving farm tractors when I was eight years old. Out of college, when I started in the oil patch, I got a CDL , and drove frac pumps, frac blenders, acid pumps, sand dumps, air cans for cement or sand, acid transports, and liquid nitrogen transports. There may be a few others I cannot remember. They were mostly 13 speed transmissions, but there were 8, 10, and even one 18 speed in the mix. We had one two-stick transmission but the truck got transferred so I never drove it. I did this for about three years. Then, once I was a supervisor, I let my CDL go, and haven’t driven a truck since.

At the risk of sounding like humble bragging, I want to mention a couple of things that relate to me finally pursuing driving OTR. I have had a long-time interest in running, and had hoped to one day run a marathon. When I turned 45, I got to thinking, if I’m going to do that, I’d better do it now because I ain’t getting any younger. So I did, Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN in 2004. A few years later, I decided to go after something else – to complete my education. I went back to school and got an MS in geology at age 55. A few months ago, I was sitting around thinking – what can I do right now that I’ve always wanted to do, and that I will still be able to do. I’m virtually certain (sarcasm) that becoming a naval aviator is out of the question, so, hmmm, I think I’ll get my CDL and drive OTR.

One thing that I want to offer that may help others is to discuss motivation. More specifically internal motivation. This is why I mentioned marathoning. One has to be internally motivated to accomplish that. It is a difficult, if not impossible, thing to do if the motivation comes from some external factor, such as your wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend or whatever telling you that you should run one. In my view, truck driving is the same. It is going to be really difficult to be a successful driver if one is doing it because someone else told them they should. You have to have it within yourself.

I reckon that’s long enough for an intro. I’m going to submit another post after this one covering what we’ve done in school so far.

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.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

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.
Bush Country's Comment
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Intro, Part 2:

There is another thread in the diaries section called “Soon To Be Flatbed Truck Driver For Knight Transportation” by Stephen T. Before getting here, I had figured out that we’d be in the same class. We met on the first day walking into class. We have ended up working together on pre-trips and in the same truck most days.

Week 1, Day 1: A lot of paperwork. In classroom all day.

Day 2: Classroom in the morning, a walk-through of the pre-trip in the afternoon, and pre-trip practice the remainder of the day.

Day 3: Pre-trip practice, a demonstration of a drop & hook, and in the truck in the afternoon for straight line backing.

Day 4: Road driving south of Phoenix in the morning. I get more time in the seat and drive the truck all the way back to the yard. Offset backing in the afternoon.

Day 5: The school is closed for July 4th holiday but one of the instructors said he would come in if anyone is interested. Five of the six of us said we would, along with a couple of second weekers. It ended up being me, Stephen T., and one other student that showed up. I’m going to call us the “Friday Trio”. We each pre-tripped a truck, then the instructor showed us how to parallel park. We then spent the next four hours or so practicing straight, offset, and parallel parking. Puts us about a day ahead of the class, along with helping to establish our reputations.

Week 2, Day 6: The Friday Trio gets its own truck in the morning and practice the three backing skills while the rest of the class learns how to parallel park. In the afternoon we do figure 8’s – four right turns followed by four left turns on city streets.

Day 7: We are evaluated on the pre-trip examination in the morning. I scored 100% !! We don’t have much drive time after that so we go do figure 8’s again. I need this because I need the practice with the throttle in my turns – at least the old manuals didn’t shift on you in the middle of a turn! In the afternoon, the “Friday Trio” is back in the same truck doing multiple reps of the backing skills. Those that failed the pre-trip evaluation are on the other side of the pad, outside, in 111 degree Arizona heat, practicing pre-trips. Let that serve as an encouragement to anyone reading this…..learn your pre-trip!

About the pre-trip at Knight: Search for “Knight Pre Trip Walk Around Automatic” on youtube. What we have learned is almost exactly the same as this video. The wording has been shortened slightly but it is excellent preparation that one can do prior to going to Phoenix. The pre-trip study guide here on TT is excellent, but Knight’s verbiage is a little different.

Establishing a reputation...trucking is performance based...you usually get out of something what you put into it...and today there’s a payoff. The Friday Trio were the three selected out of our class to go to Top Gun!

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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
member avatar

Congrats!!

No WONDER you were part of the 'select' group, GEE?!?!?

We will FIND you!

TYSM for doing this.. for me & MANY others, forward. TOLD YA!!

~ Anne ~

(speaking for futures! as well.....)

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Davy A.'s Comment
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Awesome to hear. I did a marathon for breast cancer awareness in Edinburg Scotland. Tremendous challenge. Definitely following. That heat has to be brutal for the guys stuck on pretrip

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Bush Country's Comment
member avatar

Awesome to hear. I did a marathon for breast cancer awareness in Edinburg Scotland. Tremendous challenge. Definitely following. That heat has to be brutal for the guys stuck on pretrip

I suspect you had some cool weather to run in, in Edinburgh. I've been to Aberdeen & Dundee for work.

Day 8: We spent the morning driving city streets and a short stint on the freeway. The afternoon was spent on the pad doing the three backing skills. I had some trouble ending up with the trailer straight in the box on my offset and would have to do a pull up, but a quick talk with the instructor fixed that. I know I could do a pull up without failing the exam, but I wasn't doing the maneuver correctly and needed to fix it.

Our class started off with six students and we picked up another on Monday of this week for seven total. The one we picked up had trouble with the pre-trip and took an extra week to learn the proper English names for the parts. English is not his first language but he has done an amazing job of learning it, as an adult, in the past less than a year. We may be back down to six because we had a no-show today. Not sure if the heat was too much for him yesterday or he's calling it quits.

Thought for today is - learn from your mistakes. With the offset backing, consistently ending up in the incorrect position - I figured the problem had to be me, not the truck, or the procedure, or lane markings. Sure enough, it was the (want to be) driver!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Bush Country's Comment
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Day 9: Classroom day covering extreme weather driving, permits, ELD, scaling a load, weigh stations, inspections, paperwork, etc.

Day 10: Driving and backing skills.

It looks like we're going to end up with four of us testing out next Thursday - three from the original class and one that repeated week two. We've had one quit and two that are going to repeat week two.

Bush Country's Comment
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Passed the CDL test today. 1 point on pre-trip (not sure what I missed), 0 on skills, and 6 points on driving. My first right turn I was maybe 1/4" from the curb, but didn't hit it. My driving felt sloppy but it was apparently ok. Glad that is done!

One week of Top Gun then home to Texas to get the CDL processed. I was informed to call my terminal operations manager to set up a trainer. She's at a job fair today, so calling tomorrow. I also plan to test for Hazmat and doubles/triples endorsements when I'm home.

Really happy that Stephen T. also nailed the tests!

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Congratulations Sir!

It's nice to have another Texas CDL driver in here!

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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.
PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Congratulations!

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Davy A.'s Comment
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Congratulations dancing-dog.gif dancing-banana.gif dancing.gif

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