Tip For Surviving The Training Miles

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Mountain Matt's Comment
member avatar

Hi everyone,

I'm about 7,000 miles done with my 30,000 miles in the training program here at Wilson Logistics. While I'm learning all I can (and taking the much-needed backing opportunities when I can get them), I've found that the most challenging aspect--by far--is the living and working in such close quarters with someone who until recently was a complete stranger... and the fact that is goes on for 7 or 8 weeks! I guess I'm a pretty solitary person, so living in closer quarters all the time than I've ever lived with anyone before--including any of my spouses, haha!--is pretty trying and a grind. And my trainer is a pretty decent dude, so I know it could be much, much worse.

To that end, I thought it might be helpful to start a thread where we pool tips on getting through this phase of things. It would be interesting to hear from other trainees and those who have gone through it already.

I'll start with a few things I'm learning:

1) It's helpful to cultivate my own "mental space." Whenever I can, I listen to music of my choosing, audiobooks, etc., just in order to create a space that feels like "me" (cuz the truck is clearly my trainer's!). I've also found it helpful to make a real effort to keep in touch with friends and family back home, more than I have ever done before.

2) I'm trying to get a routine going during the team driving. Wake up, eat something, listen to an audiobook or something, fiddle around on my phone, before starting my driving shift. I love my driving shifts, but after I finish sleeping, I feel a bit trapped in the sleeper berth , so I'm seeking to counteract that with routine.

3) Lastly, I seek to stay humble and open. I set aside the fact that I ran the show at my old job... now I'm the guest, the rookie, the trainee. I listen to what I'm told, seek to learn even a nuance even if it's something he's told me before, and I seek to show consideration and respect (cleaning up, taking out the trash, etc.).

What are your experiences and tips?

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

The way that training was structured was that I only got two weeks with my trainer. My 30 k "Training" miles were done solo. (under the guidance of a DDM - driver developer manager and DM that works with newbies). So essentially it was solo after two weeks of training. Thats not a lot of training time. That being the case, I viewed my trainer as a living source of information and knowledge and thus spent every minute I could getting as much knowledge and information from him. I took notes, I asked a ton of questions, I observed as much as I could.

I also balanced it out with giving him his own space. He said he felt that I did a good job of giving him his space as well as soaking up everything I could. Also, the way our training works is that its solo, If I was driving he was in the passenger seat, and visa versa. Never team driving, So anytime he drove, I observed every detail of what he was doing, How he reacted to weather, obstacles, situations, etc. I would ask him why he was doing things the way he did it. I was very tactical and focused on how life would be without the help of my trainer in the next phase.

My trainer has been at it for over 30 years, definitely a valuable asset. We also developed a friendship, We still talk regularly. I still riddle him with questions and learn from him. I talked to him today, he was giving instruction to his new trainee and I could hear the conversation, it was about negotiating snow packed roads without the Jake, and what speeds to keep it at.

In cab, I found that ear buds at night with b-17 white noise loop on youtube really helped, I cant deal with snoring if Im awake and trying to sleep. Once asleep however, I have slept through house fires, shootings, earthquakes, jealous girlfriends and anything else you could throw at me. Also, I was proactive about cleaning and respecting his home. I always volunteered to clean the windows while fueling, finally asking him how he managed to get his side of the windows so clean (learned the system for that), always emptied the trash, and made it a habit that he never had to wait on me to get back to the truck. Just simple respect.

All we can ever do is change ourselves. we can effect people, but not change them. I looked at what I could do each minute of the day to make the situation have the best possible outcome. One other thing that stands out in my mind is that I brought my laptop and when I was too keyed up to sleep or had downtime, I practiced backing with American Truck Simulator. (I have a very fast gaming laptop) While not the same as real world backing, it still helped with trailer awareness and general concepts of backing. If nothing else, it put my mind in backing mode and then Id sleep on it.

Obviously, your training program may be different, I think each company does things a bit differently. I sometimes refer to my diary I kept here when I run across situations that had a lesson for me in training. Journaling it helped me immensely and is another good resource. The times when I wasnt driving but was able to pick his brain were very valuable and I kept a ton of notes.

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.
Kevin B.'s Comment
member avatar

I would say first and foremost, bite your tongue. You have to effectively live with this person day in and day out until you complete your time and hopefully they sign off on your getting your own truck. You may find you have things in common and possibly become best friends, you're better off feeling the guy out cause if you do differ on things - say politics for example - you could find you're with someone who'll agree to disagree OR you're living with some hardcore political nutjob who'll make it their mission to make your time hell and possibly tank your career just out of spite (some will go to extremes, you know I'm right). I'm not in trucking yet, but I've worked at places both where I was lucky that we had some lighthearted political banter but also at a place where we once had a knock down drag out fight (so to say). Regarding the later, I could go home at the end of my shift and I didn't have to then live with the guy after our fight. Otherwise the rest is just common curtesy... Listen to your music, podcasts, stream on your tablet using your headphones cause I really may not want to listen to it. You smoke, smoke inside of your own truck, smoke outside of mine. Pick up after yourself, maybe take the trash out and go for a truck wash every so often while I'm inside the truck stop taking a shower and doing some washing. Stuff you'd probably do if you were an extended stay guest at my house. So on and so forth... Heck, the last few examples about taking care of yourself might even convince me that you're a calm, well adjusted and professional individual; the kind of person I'd want working at my company doing even a little bit at stop at a time to turn around the perception some have that truckers are near the level of barbarians living in caves on eighteen wheels.

Don's Comment
member avatar

I won't offer any tips per se, but only to highlight your third tip. To a trainee, I will say if you want to get along with the trainer and make the best out of the training period, you will be wise to follow this third tip. If not, your training period could be difficult. Respect those drivers who are willing to train you, and show respect for their home on the road as you are a guest.

3) Lastly, I seek to stay humble and open. I set aside the fact that I ran the show at my old job... now I'm the guest, the rookie, the trainee. I listen to what I'm told, seek to learn even a nuance even if it's something he's told me before, and I seek to show consideration and respect (cleaning up, taking out the trash, etc.).

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

I totally agree with Don on his reply. There are several Blog articles addressing this, here is just one example:

Surviving CDL Training

I won't offer any tips per se, but only to highlight your third tip. To a trainee, I will say if you want to get along with the trainer and make the best out of the training period, you will be wise to follow this third tip. If not, your training period could be difficult. Respect those drivers who are willing to train you, and show respect for their home on the road as you are a guest.

double-quotes-start.png

3) Lastly, I seek to stay humble and open. I set aside the fact that I ran the show at my old job... now I'm the guest, the rookie, the trainee. I listen to what I'm told, seek to learn even a nuance even if it's something he's told me before, and I seek to show consideration and respect (cleaning up, taking out the trash, etc.).

double-quotes-end.png

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.
Andrey's Comment
member avatar

I wonder why some companies have such a wierd training schedule: first, 30k miles is way too much, and second, team driving for training is not that different from running solo. If the trainer is off duty and sleeping, where is the training? Now as for the rest, I think it is exactly the same as being a guest at any other place: being respectful, polite and helpful.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

The initial phase of team training is very different than running solo. Most companies require the trainer to be in the second chair with the student driving.

Many companies have a minimum number of hours before allowing the trainer to sleep while the student drives. If the trainer is worth their salt, they will allow their sleep to be interrupted if the student needs help.

I wonder why some companies have such a wierd training schedule: first, 30k miles is way too much, and second, team driving for training is not that different from running solo. If the trainer is off duty and sleeping, where is the training? Now as for the rest, I think it is exactly the same as being a guest at any other place: being respectful, polite and helpful.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Here is a blog article I wrote that discusses humility during school and training:

Ego Becomes the Downfall of Many 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.
Mountain Matt's Comment
member avatar

All good points and articles. Like I mentioned, I'm staying humble and open, learning what I can and being a good guest (I'm a very nice guy, haha!). I certainly pull my weight in terms if cleaning up, paying for things, etc.

In many ways, I feel I would be better suited to a 2 week training program like Davy had or a 3 week program like it sounds like G-Town had. I've been with my trainer for 4 weeks already (2 before I got my CDL and 2 weeks since). At our current pace, we'll need another 6-7 weeks to get my miles done.

As Kearsey said in her article, I often emotionally distance myself from the trainer and situation...this is what I meant by creating my own mental space with music and audiobooks. At bottom, I'm deeply comfortable with myself and prefer solitude, so 8-9 weeks with anyone would be a challenge, even aside from needing to learn trucking. I find the learning and the job of driving to be the most enjoyable and easiest aspect of all this (not that it's easy!).

Per Kevin's comments, we discuss society and politics, but I'm pretty open-minded and not dogmatic, so I don't let any of our differences of opinion be an issue. I'm here to learn and qualify for a job, not change anyone's mind about politics.

Anyway, I think this is an important discussion, especially with some of the big companies requiring these long trainings.

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.
BK's Comment
member avatar

Think of it in terms of being sentenced to 8 weeks of jail time., that would be like a breeze Just do it and soon it will be in your rear view window

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