Local Carrier Driving Program - Lil'RedRidingHood's CDL School Adventure

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PackRat's Comment
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7 million and 8 million mile drivers. How old were these people? 100 to 105? Don't believe everything you hear. I know one 6 million mile driver (Candy Bass) that just celebrated driving 50 years earlier this month.

Lil'RedRidingHood's Comment
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So... my fave trainer brought my favorite truck, but--let's back up a bit..
The state of WA is a funny funny place..
As it turns out, during our snow and alternate flooding last winter, they shut down the testing, and got way behind. To make matters worse, they lost examiners. A delay of 2 weeks at the start had ballooned to four when I graduated school.

So my test date was four weeks after graduation. I was both happy and sad--as I was in kinda rough shape still. The only thing I felt sort of confident in was the pretrip exam. And it--the state of WA has you memorize the whole thing, coming up with different adjectives for "abrasions, bulges and cuts", "cracked bent or broken", "properly mounted and secured"; --for each singular location on the truck and trailer. AND change the descriptions you must say every 6 months. I know I know. They're hilarious.
In-cab is the exact same way, though it is a lot closer to other states than the rest of the truck, so there's that.

To help during the interim, I took refresher training at the school, used a plastic toy-truck for pretend backing, and bought ATS, steering wheel, pedals and all. ATS--set up with the right mods and adjustments recommended by truckers that play it, is good for some things.
I had it set up on dual wide-screen monitors, and it did have effect. Things come at you way faster than in real life, and the backing is sort of realistic. So--with its help I got better at backing, and better at being calm in the city.

Then comes the day..
I was a MESS! Despite the preparation I was so nervous about the pretrip inspection. Having my favorite truck was great, it also felt like I needed to pass, given that special attention.

And what did I do? I failed the 90!!!! The school had cones and markers for where you were to stop, so doing the back was relatively easy. This parking lot? NOPE. Nor could you go out and look more than twice. I did have instructions from the school though... which had plum disappeared from my overstressed mind during the pretrip inspection.
I went out of bounds three times. Took forever too.

Now the kicker... re-testing was another five weeks. NOW I was worried. What would the carriers do? What would the carriers I was speaking with on the regular do? Would they pull their prehire? What now?
More ATS, more refreshing, as the weeks moved past at a snails pace.
FINALLY the day was there...

This time the trainer manager brought the truck--lo and behold, my FAVORITE truck again. Did I tell you just how cool these people are?
I was moving at a snails pace again... mindful of those damn cones and my lacking ability to keep it straight.. But I made it through it, with nothing left by the time I got to the 90. No more pull-ups, no more looks. I stared hard out the window--then remembered my backing trainer's advice: count the seconds, place the truck tandems AT the cone. I took a deep breath, counted to six--and nailed it in the box.
By then I damn near passed out lool... WHEW.. I'd made it. All I had to do now was drive.

Out on the route we go, past the bad corner, onto the streets, to the horrible tight turn.. and.. I made it! Late afternoon, the traffic was gnarly. There were dozens of times where I thought for sure I'd fail.. "dang it, forgot the mirror check there.., did I leave enough room?, HOLY COW that curb is close..
But I made it. When he said I'd passed I was so releived I was shaking.
That's when I learned--some of the students hadn't even tested their first time yet.. And the delay had gotten a lot bigger.

And I did it!!! I got a CDL!! HOLY COW I got a CDL!! I tested on Friday afternoon, and it took the whole weekend for it to sink in, that I had actually done it. I had passed my test and got a CDL.

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.

Prehire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Lil'RedRidingHood's Comment
member avatar

Continued...

Now to choose a carrier...
But first--go see family and friends; will be a long long time till next time..
I wore my hubby out with the company pro/cons, go here or go there during the trip, and after LOL.
It came down to two, both with excellent and long training--which I felt was mandatory. I turned away those who had the shorter training, and focused solely on that. All companies in my line-up I felt were quality operations; chosen based on my 20 years of sneaking around in trucker forums and reading all that I came across, checking safety scores, watching YouTube, scouring TT, pestering people, and so forth...

My little problem was that the choice was HARD. I couldn't do like at the shoe-store, buy both LOL... I had to pick one.. But, let's back up..
Just the fact that I had multiple choices.. SEVEN prehires , and more offers from the companies that recruited from the school, is to me kinda incredible. Here I had gotten sick years back, and chosen my body over the grind.. So my extensive and good experience was so far in the past it might as well not exist anymore. For all intents and purposes I had NO work experience...
And yet--SEVEN prehires. Is that mind-blowing or what?

It so happened that the recruiter I'd been working with since March was on vacation.. And company 2--equal in most ways to that carrier was right there, moving at the speed of light... As they'd done part of the background check earlier, it took all of 30 minutes for them to hire me..
Wait what? FAST card, long experience in positions requiring background clearance (not security, just background); TWIC , all endorsements, not even a parking ticket.. I'm easy to search. FAST card came in two days too.
I waited and waited for company one.. It was Monday, and recruiter was just back from vacay.. And here, company two would fly me out in two weeks.
Why oh why does this have to be so HARD? At the same time--who says beggars cannot be choosers lol... Here these companies were rolling out the red carpet.
I ended up choosing away company 1.. for a few reasons.
I had to find some, because I could not work at both places lol.
My chosen carrier is smaller. The folks I have met and interviewed that work there, were all extremely happy. I scoured the net, and not even T-report slaughtered them. Their owner still drives his truck. My CDL school teacher loved it when he worked there. It FELT right. The lanes were perfect. They could get me home often. My 80lb dog can ride with me..

So I - a little sad - contacted recruiter for company one and told her I'd chosen a different carrier, but would LOVE to come on there after a year or two. Amazing soul she is, she's holding that door open for me, provided of course I don't mess up in the meantime.

As it is, I am thrilled with my new employer..

Want to know who these two companies were? Read my carrier-training diary.. I'll put a link to it once it is up and running.

Finally, thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the kind folks on TT who offered their kind advice. And special thanks to Laura, Anne and Kearsey.


~LilRed

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.

Prehire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Prehires:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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.

Lil'RedRidingHood's Comment
member avatar

7 million and 8 million mile drivers. How old were these people? 100 to 105? Don't believe everything you hear. I know one 6 million mile driver (Candy Bass) that just celebrated driving 50 years earlier this month.

Two of them in their late 70's, one in his 80's... I could provide proof, but this is a public--very public forum, so I'm giving only so much detail... The point is--these amazing people helped me.

Lil'RedRidingHood's Comment
member avatar

7 million and 8 million mile drivers. How old were these people? 100 to 105? Don't believe everything you hear. I know one 6 million mile driver (Candy Bass) that just celebrated driving 50 years earlier this month.

I can PM you the info Packrat, if you want to. :) And got your point, people lie a lot...

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

49 years at 400 miles per day, every day of the year is 7.1 million miles.

Lil'RedRidingHood's Comment
member avatar

49 years at 400 miles per day, every day of the year is 7.1 million miles.

Totally get your point.. :) Admit to not checking their claims... These three all started very early. Not sure if they count experience before getting their chauffeurs license or what. You would have to meet them to decide for yourself.. :) To me--these amazing gentlemen did the impossible. They were the schools' "fixers" for those hard cases. They were kind, calm and full of stories and advice. One of them had decades as a driver trainer elsewhere.

I'll PM you info on your social media if you're curious.. I just don't feel right doing that here....

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Nope. This makes no difference to me.

Good luck as you start working.

Lil'RedRidingHood's Comment
member avatar

Nope. This makes no difference to me.

Good luck as you start working.

Thanks so much Packrat. Trainer and I set off tomorrow morning. Been in this hotel for almost two weeks now, so I'm itching to go. Hoping for fair weather and smooth traffic for my virgin run.

I'll get diary 2 going probably on my 34; --I have a feeling I will be mostly passed out when not driving or on duty learning the 1000 things a trucker has to know..

Till then, thanks Packrat and everyone! thank-you.gif

Anne A. (and sometimes To's Comment
member avatar

As it is, I am thrilled with my new employer..

Want to know who these two companies were? Read my carrier-training diary.. I'll put a link to it once it is up and running.

Finally, thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the kind folks on TT who offered their kind advice. And special thanks to Laura, Anne and Kearsey.

~LilRed

Girl !!! HUGE grats~!!!

0486830001662139107.jpg

The ONE day my WiFi AND phone(s)/towers were out at my house, I missed all the above ~!!!

I don't get on the F'Book much, as you've seen . . . (been busy w/Bezos, hahaha! More on that later...) but I'll sure reply to DM's, SO .. I'll await yours!!!

So happy for you; you had me at "Kangaroos and Black Ice, while Drunk!!" LoLoLoL! And ... you did it all, with no E restriction, DANG, GIRL...YOU GO!

I'll be checking my alerts, LoL... in the meantime, you'll have to hit up PackRat on HIS social media:

0747104001662139572.jpg

With nothing but the BEST WISHES (and a tad of jealousy, haha!)

Always, ~ Anne ~

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.

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.

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