Semi-Retired ;-) CDL B To CDL A, Lord Willing!

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G-Town's Comment
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Welcome to Trucking Truth Warren. Minimum federal training requirements went into effect a couple of years ago. This also includes Class B to Class A upgrade.

Please review this link: FMCSA Minimum ELDT Requirements

My suggestion is use this link to Apply For Paid CDL Training

Once you apply you can have meaningful conversation with multiple recruiters on how their specific company can work with you.

Please let us know how this turns out.

Good luck!

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.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

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.

Fm:

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.
FR8 M4N's Comment
member avatar

Hi ya WB!

If you already have the class B, you may only need the Combo test. I had studied for the other tests, but when I got to the SOS office, she told me I only had to take the combo test. I studied for the other endorsements as well, but will take those tests after I pass the examination for class A, but before getting the license, so I don’t have to pay any extra. (If I get the class A in hand, then go back to take the endorsement tests, there will be a fee involved, so better to do them all just prior to getting that class A license in hand.)

My wife and I chose to go the way of a sponsored school. That way I come right out with a job afterwards. After looking online at many companies and having applied at a couple of them, we decided on Keller Trucking out of Defiance, OH. Their proximity to where we live and their contractual agreement after school was appealing to us. I did go to a school for a one day class when I went for my class B. It was ok, but when I looked into the class A, at the same school, it was going to be too much $$ and a three week time commitment with no real job guarantee afterwards. So we felt the sponsored class scenario was the better route. Look and compare their contractual agreements! Seems a lot of them are a year to a little over two years! Also, watch for how the weekends off works, if they offer it at all. One company I looked at was going to be if you work seven days, that was one day off; 14 days=2 days off, 21 days, yep! 3 days off. That wasn’t going to work for us so they were dropped from the consideration list. See if you can see what their coverage area will encompass. Is it the whole U.S.? How many regions? What will you be required to operate in? Are there vacation days, holidays, what benefits… I’m sure you’re on to those types of questions already.

Hope that helps a little. Good luck moving forward. Sounds like you’re on the right track with doing some research! There is a ton of info on this site with a lot of good folk willing to give a helping hand, too.

double-quotes-end.png

WB, another thing you can do for research is go to FMCSA website and do a search for the company using their name or a DOT number. There is a lot of info there. One of the things shown to us at class was to look at their maintenance score. The lower the score the better. It'll show their score compared to the national average.

Have a look around, might be some helpful info there that can help you in picking which company to go with.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

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.

Fm:

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.
FR8 M4N's Comment
member avatar

Day 6! Ok, note to self; bring gloves to the range. My hands hurt so much from all the range time today. And I'm so tired. Worked on offset lane changes, which some would go great and others not so good at all. Doh!

So first thing this morning we did pre-trip practice until 9 AM. Afterward, one of the trainers would call you by name and we went out on the road until lunch. Back out on the road with a different trainer until 3 PM. After break, it was time to hit the range again until quitting time. Wow, that was tough. I kept telling myself, let the truck do the work. Well, it was still tiring.

While driving, I had the opportunity to improve from last week's comments, from the trainer, and it was a successful day. However, for the first time I cut a corner too short and elevated the trailer. Noob! Just don't do that during the road test; that's any automatic fail.

Thinking tomorrow we'll start the alley back maneuver. Looking forward to that and I already threw my gloves into my bag.

Until then...

FR8 M4N's Comment
member avatar

Can’t wait. I’ve got a little over two weeks left before I start.

Hi ya, Grumpy! Good luck to you! Keep a diary to let us know how you're doing, won't ya!?

Sandman J's Comment
member avatar

Day 6! Ok, note to self; bring gloves to the range.

I agree, for aiding in the pre-trip. Pulling on the belts and slack adjuster, even just opening and closing the hood. Glad to have gloves!

FR8 M4N's Comment
member avatar

Day 7. "Truck driving... how hard can that be?" Well... wait until you get into school and on the range for hours and hours. Then on the road for hours and hours.

Started with pre-trip practice first thing in the morning and we got all around the truck, finally. lol I'm thankful for all the practice and how they presented it so it wouldn't seem so overwhelming to the new guys and gals. I'll look at a truck and start doing a mental pre-trip while we're waiting for the next part of the class.

Range time today was less for me than yesterday, but it was time we'll spent practicing the reverse lane change, or as I called it the offset lane change earlier; same thing. Last half hour I was introduced to the parallel parking. It was a welcomed change up since the truck's power steering actually felt like power steering. Haha That maneuver worked out pretty good right off the bat. Practiced it right up to lunchtime.

I suspected there would be more range time after lunch, but turned out to be over-the-road driving. So I thought we would drive until three and we'll come back to do more range time. However, we ended up driving until the end of class which was a nice surprise and a break from the range. Don't get me wrong; I'm not complaining and I'll practice until the cows come home if need be! Or until the left leg falls off, whichever occurs first!

We had a great drive and we were given a little bit harder turns and in busier traffic, too. Hard to explain, well maybe not too hard. But it is very taxing mentally when driving the big rig. Driving for myself and for everyone around me is tiring. The amount of info that is being processed all the time takes stamina and that's probably why I'm so tired at the end of the day; just need more driving time to build up that mental muscle. What a feeling though being a proactive safe driver for me, my passengers, the load, and population all around me. It's an awesome responsibility and I take it very seriously. Driving in rush hour traffic on unfamiliar roads with it's many obstacles is quite challenging, and rewarding at the same time, too.

To come from a place in my mind that I had no real interest in driving a big rig many months ago, to actually driving a big rig, is really amazing.

"Truck driving... how hard can that be?"

Until later...

FR8 M4N's Comment
member avatar

Day 8. I seem to walk in circles. My left leg is way more tired than the other. Later it'll be more stronger than the other and I'll walk in circles the other way.

Range time is great, but it's kicking my butt. And it was only three hours worth yesterday, (I'm a day late writing this). Some of trucks the clutch is harder. There's one truck that is especially hard. The trainer apologized that this is the worse truck and said I should use two feet to push it in. I kid you not. I could only manage one alley back practice on that truck since I'd already put in two and a half hours of practice on the range already. It's way too unnatural to use two feet on the clutch and my left leg was just giving out. Fortunately it going on lunch time anyway. Hopefully the other truck will be available for the alley back practice. It was out of serv due to running out of fuel, but that has been remedied.

(It's the next day, bcuz I got distracted and was tired, I didn't write this up the day of. Sitting here this morning typing this in and I'm wondering how range time is going to be today bcuz of my left leg. It's bothersome and I hope I can make it the rest of this week and the last two days.)

On the road time is getting better all the time. Turning smoother, lane control, following distance, braking... lot of good marks and comments from the trainer, along with what to work on as well. I tend to not slow down soon enough. I've gotten better, but he would like to see some more.

Time to get to class and as it takes me a little more time to get the truck due to my walking in circles.

Until later...

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

FR8 M4N's Comment
member avatar

Day 9. I made it! Didn't think so this morning; even with extra range time, it was a great day.

Worked on pre-trip first thing then off to the range. Worked out there until lunch, then back out for some more fun with maneuvers. Worked on 90° alley back, parallel parking on both sides. Was going to do a couple more reverse lane changes but the trucks were all in use for that maneuver set up.

A trainer come out to the range and he grabbed me and another fella and had us go out on the road. That was a fun drive, short, but fun. We hit a bunch of corners, well, not hit them, just that we did a lot of corners of increasing difficulty. Didn't elevate the trailer today, so that was a win! Speed control is good and braking really good, with an emphasis on slowing down much earlier. We both received some compliments and that was nice.

Got back to the school, had a break and went back out to the range until quitting time. Unfortunately, I saw quite a few people standing around out there. One of the trainers commented on that to me. I tell ya, it looks a lot better for the ones that are in the trucks and keeping them moving.

I'm beat, as usual. The range is a tough workout. I suspect the real training starts with the Class A license in hand; the range is just the warm-up.

Until later...

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

FR8 M4N's Comment
member avatar

Day 10. End of the second week. Just two more days and the test is already scheduled for the following day. An appointment has been made for the SOS, in my he town, to get the Class A license, providing all goes well with the test, of course. Sure hope I don't have to cancel that appointment!

First thing in the morning we do pre-trip and the in-cab part as well. I should explain, most days when we were practicing pre-trip inspection it was the front of the tractor, both sides of the engine compartment, steer axle, side of the tractor, the big U (the area between the tractor and trailer), one rear axle, the front area under the trailer, the fifth wheel area, side of trailer, one trailer axle, and back of trailer. So today we went over more of the in-cab portion including the air brake tests. Bummer! Missed the windshield wiper function step.

Went for a short drive today. Started off with going to a truck stop to get some fuel and I cleaned the windows, mirrors, and headlights, along with the rear trailer lights while the others delt with fueling. We all pile back in and he asks me (I'm driving) what I would like to drive. Choices are highway, country, or city. I pick city. As we are about to pull away from the fuel station I'm noticing the trucks parked out back; so I ask him about how to set up for backing into a parking spot (which is just like an alley dock, I know, but was wanting to figure out how far to pull ahead to make the start). He says,"Let's go to another truck stop and I'll let you back into one." So the drive ended up being highway instead of city, and that's fine. I'm just elated to be driving a big rig in the first place.

We arrive at the next truck stop and he directs me to an area for backing in He says, "Ok, pick a spot anywhere between those two trailers, don't hit one, and park it!" As we were heading over here, I was expecting a 90° alley back maneuver; but turns out, the parking spaces are at a 45° angle instead. So I pick a lane, pull past it, imagined the turn-in radius, and get the trailer tandems in a little ways, pull forward a bit to straighten, and finish it off. Sawweet! He mentioned that, here, you get as many pull-ups as you want! Haha I'm sure with practice even a 90° alley dock will become easier to judge and execute.

We got back to the school in time for lunch then it was time to head out to the range. I worked on everything available; 90° alley back, parallel parking (both sides), and the reverse lane change (and used the lane to finish it off with straight-line backing a few times). Practice lasted until break time at three. And instead going on a drive after break, most of us went back to the range until quitting time, around 5:25. Made for a long day on the range!

Time's up and everyone scurries out, per usual, but especially since it was a Friday.

I had already packed up the stuff from the hotel room, so I was set to go straight home from school. Nice 1 hr. 50 min. cruise down the toll road; easy peasy.

Always like seeing all the big trucks out there making this country's commerce happen, keeping it moving. I like to use my turn signal for a full lane change and give them plenty of room. For a long time now, when driving my personal truck, or van, I'll be extra courteous to truck drivers out on the road. And now, since starting this school, I've seen a little of what their day consists of with not-so-courteous four wheelers; and I've only been driving for eight hours!

For a long time I've wanted to put a decal on my truck back window that reads, "Thank You Truckers!" to give them a little appreciation they deserve for the hard work they're doing for all of us. I look forward to being a part of this great trucking community; to keep those commodities moving down the road; to keep this country moving for all of us.

Until later...

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.

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".

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

FR8 M4N's Comment
member avatar

Day 11. One more day to go!

First thing in the morning, instead of practicing pre-trip, we were doing a very abbreviated mock test consisting of the in-cab portion, which includes the mandatory air brake tests, and one rear axle. I missed the voltmeter in the in-cab and he got me on two things on the rear axle. On the rear axle, if there is only one leaf spring, mention that they are not misaligned and none missing, anyway. And if there is only one wheel, instead of the dual, mention the rims are properly butted together and no debris, anyway. Other than that it went really good. Oh, the other thing I goofed is don't say things that are not really needed; for instance, other than the safe start description and the steps taken, don't explain every step in detail. It just uses time and the examiner is not looking for that info.

Instead of range time, which had been next during last week, it was time to go for a drive. It was a good drive as we did a little of city and highway. There were some construction zones to manage and traffic was pretty light as the morning rush hour was fading.

Wow, did I ever have a goof! Better now than during the road test! I was instructed to make a right turn. Pull into the lane and stop for the red light. Scanning the area; traffic to the left side of me, left side of the intersection, across the intersection, and eyes glance up at the light just in time to see my green right-turn arrow turn yellow. Dang it. I was bummed I missed the light; even more bummed when the trainer told me that that would be considered impeding traffic and an automatic fail of the road test. That didn't sit well for a while knowing I would have just ruined my day. But it was a good experience to have none-the-less.

Back for lunch then hit the range. More time for practice and to get signed off on maneuvers.

I hopped in a truck I hadn't been in before. Started the reverse lane change and was like, what's going on? I was beside myself at how bad I was doing this maneuver. I hit more cones in a half hour than the last two weeks; what's going on? The trainer comes up to me, he hadn't been watching, just happen to come over to ask if I want to test out of a maneuver and how I was doing. I told him it wasn't going very good in this truck. He say just to keep practicing and he'll be back later. So I continue and I'm getting it, but not at all like in the other trucks. A bit later he stops by again and figure I'll show him the straight-line back. Got the first one ok, but I know it could be better. The second and third tries, I'm like, I look like I haven't done this before. I'm frustrated. He says to try this other truck. So I go over there and straight -line back it without any issues. That's great, but now I'm left wondering why I had so much trouble with the other truck. I mean, it's the same principle, just a different truck, right? He explained that truck is the hardest one on the lot for maneuvers. Well, that helps a little, considering I'm still a noob at this, but I wanted to figure it out.

There was time to practice some more reverse lane changes so I jumped in the "meanie greenie" and fired her up. Pretty consistent in the turns, though once in a while hold it too long and get off a little far from what I'm looking for in the mirror, but would try to correct, if I can, without a pull-up. I'm feeling pretty confident I'm ready to be signed off and go look for the trainer. He's assisting someone next to me on my left and I didn't want to disturb him, as that person needed the attention more than I, but he sees that I'm getting back into the truck. I figured I'd just practice some more. I nailed the first one without a pull-up. I'm thinking to myself, hope he saw that; and by golly, he did. He came over and said, "If you do that again on the other side, I'll sign you off." Ok! And sure enough, I nail it without a pull-up. He gave me a thumbs up!

Break at three then more range time. It was busy as usual, with more people than trucks. I practiced the 90° alley back a few times and assisted some other students that were out here. Before you know it, we're wrapping things up and time to go.

It was a good day, especially for having experienced a failed mock driving test. Though it wasn't really mock driving test, I treat it as such.

Until later...

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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