Feeling A Little Discouraged After My First Experience On Road

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Riccardo G.'s Comment
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Firstly this is my first post so hello every one I hope you are all doing great! This one may be a little long as I just want to get the whole experience off my chest to people who may understand

I signed up last week to a CDL School here in Montreal, Canada sponsored by FedEx (they're just paying me back once I complete the private schooling I don't mind having to work 1 year for them as it seems like an easy start pretty much straight backing at local FedEx Express hubs). I started off doing a few backing maneuvers in an automatic Volvo. I really loved the backing I was only supposed to focus on straight backing and I did so well (no cones died) that my instructor started teaching angle backs for the last 20 or so minutes I left feeling very good about myself.

Then came the first on road experience during the week this time in a manual Volvo :P oh boy

We started out with me getting used to the clutch and friction point (Getting me to start on first gear and shifting up to second but the trainer pretty much maintained control of the shifter knob, my job was solely to find the friction point, get the truck moving and stop again) I didn't touch the gear shifter. He then opens up the gates to the parking and we're off on the road, my first time driving any truck forwards and within 5 - 10 minutes I was already on the road during rush hour traffic. He basically manned the shifter while I focused on the rpms and clutch work (he had me place my hand on the shifter, he would have his on mine and guide me into the gears). My very first turn in a truck was onto a 3 lane highway service lane and I nearly hopped the curb since I was going to take the corner a little too tight he grabbed the wheel and pretty much navigated me all the way across all 3 lanes and turned sharply at the end back into our lane. At that moment it hit me that I was way in over my head. I understand the theory to all of this but to be suddenly thrown into the real world it hit me how much multi tasking had to be done. He also had me stop on another corner after I almost curbed the trailer tires again he took the drivers seat to get us around that corner, got back on the service lane going the opposite direction and did what I hear truckers call a "Hot swap" or something like that where were going 40kmph in traffic, he gets out of his seat holding the wheel and promptly tells me to take the seat to my horror lol

Nobody was hurt, I didn't hit anything but to say I came out of that experience with my head up high would be a lie, I came out pretty much feeling defeated. I felt like he did pretty much all the work for me and I was merely a passenger. I get that he wanted to guide me through the gears but he did very little in explaining where each gear was, he showed me a paper once and that was it. I think I got him a little frustrated with pressing the gas slightly as im releasing the clutch (like you would with a car) but I was so overwhelmed by all the cars around me, stopping in traffic and starting again (which so far is taking me way too long to start, I rolled back once slightly as the friction point is so high up and I am scared to stall the damn thing by releasing it too quick.) Turning corners in theory is simple, but when we were out there and he was telling me to push to the left lane more as there was a car there just felt so foreign, as did turning so late into corners. I just wish there was some sort of track or something with cones they could set up in a parking lot to get us to know the length of the vehicle and how to maneuver it around corners. I felt like I was thrown to the wolves and every mistake I made just drained me even more.

I really want this, I am not quitting. I paid 3,000$ Canadian pesos for this course and I am determined. I by no means hate the school or teachers, it is one of the top 2 or 3 rated schools in Montreal with a passing rate of above 90%, the teachers are real cool when talking to but I feel like they expected me to already know how to drive a truck and trailer, and I feel like an absolute noob going so slow on the highway (he doesnt want me to go faster, I totally understand that). At a stop sign a truck was flashing me to let me turn before him, but before I could even get the truck moving since I release so slowly he had already gone LOL. I'm just curious if you guys went into your first course and already kind of got the hold of things or if your experiences were as overwhelming as mine? I really felt horrible out there, when things were good of course I felt like the king of the road but when a turn would come up or I had to start merging into traffic I knew sh*t was getting real and that he was most likely going to intervene.

My next course is next week and I wont let this day loom over me, I just had to get this off of my chest and I hope to improve. I watch a lot of videos on youtube and play ATS (I know it doesn't translate to real life its just to have an understanding of the concepts). I can't believe in my area starting wage for class 1 (what we call it here in Le Quebec) is about 23/hr. Most of us here at FedEx make more than that, and the FedEx class 1 drivers top out at about 2$/hr higher than us couriers. Of course id keep my benefits and start with a wage closer to 28.

Rant over. Anyways guys, have a great holiday season, happy new year and drive safely. Y'all aren't paid enough for what you do, let me tell you that.


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.
G-Town's Comment
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This is an outrageous story, hard to believe.

Mountain Matt's Comment
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Yes, that hot swapping of seats sounds really dangerous.

I just finished my first week of training. When we first got off the training pad and onto real roads going forward, it was definitely a stretch. Within minutes, we were on narrow roads and then the freeway. I did fine (I kissed one curb), but our trucks are also automatic...one less thing to worry about. I drove a 40' bookmobile for years before coming here. On the one hand, this taught me the "go straight, turn late" principle of driving a large vehicle around corners, but it also threw me off in a way, because the turning point for a semi is way later (of course). I knew that, but I had to get a feel for this length.

Riccardo G.'s Comment
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This is an outrageous story, hard to believe.

I'll assume your first experience was not similar, then? :P

He even looked over at me while we were on our way back and said "See, I brought you out into the worst conditions first day" Yeah, I get it now I wont be stressed around cars but I really feel like I should have been more equipped going into this.. not for my sake but for those who shared the road with me. They were my #1 concern and as I said I never drove what I felt was too close to another car. The trainer has amazing reviews on google and the such, he was personally recommended by someone at my FedEx location. I don't want to oust him or the school, I was just wondering if this is how people start learning trucks. I promise its true lol. Crazy stuff.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
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I can assure you Riccardo no one on this forum, past, present and future has ever had an experience like yours.

Your trainer and you broke the law.

Andrey's Comment
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Yes, hot swap is definitely too much. Still, I think most people are nervous driving in a city for the first time. My t-shirt was all wet :-) But I had a week of training on a school pad, and then drove on some quiet back roads before hitting real city traffic.

Riccardo G.'s Comment
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Thanks for the replies good to know the situation isn't what people normally go through.

I do not in any way condone what we did with the swap there, but when no one is at the wheel and hes telling me to jump in and were already moving, things are going on around us and I was already feeling a bit overwhelmed I didn't think twice and thought itd be safer to do so than to argue with him about the law. I know 100% that was illegal, that is not how I wish to do business in the future when I am driving. I have a super clean driving sheet, drive sports cars but never speed, I dont feel the need to break laws to save time.

God bless.


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.

Mark O. ~MiNi-Me~'s Comment
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While the idea of "hotshotting" gave me a shiver, I can attest to the fact that the concept of throwing you to the wolves it's not the proper way to learn. After my three week of pad training and classroom I got paired with what I'll call a sub-par trainer. Day one he was asleep in the passenger seat.... Five hours in my first highway trip I had a trailer blowout (that woke him up, lol). The next day we're team driving and I am about to be going through mountains passes. I got to tell you the guy has some balls to be able to sleep while I've never gone down a mountain. Thankfully it's an automatic. But still he popped out of the sleeper berth and told me "oh yeah there's a low gear, do this", which turned out not to be the way to go down a mountain at all, there is a shift in the auto before low gear. Anyway I got a new trainer... learned more in ten days that I did twenty with the first guy.

Sorry about my tirade but back to your situation.

Put feelers out to other trainers to ensure that this is the proper way that things are done for that company, without throwing anyone under the bus of course. That's how I was able to get some real mentorship.

10k miles driven/ridden (mostly driven) in 22 days was a lot to swallow, but it's made me only more determined to make this happen.

Keep your eye on your goal, stay outta your head, you got this.

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.


Operating While Intoxicated

PackRat's Comment
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"Canadian pesos"?

Did Todd make a jump over the border?

G-Town's Comment
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Riccardo replied:

Thanks for the replies good to know the situation isn't what people normally go through.

You couldn’t figure that out on your own?

Why are you here Riccardo? The mindshare on this forum know you made this up. It’s BS.

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