A.B. CDL Driving School (CT)

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Jim M.'s Comment
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Day Eleven:

Started the day working on the straight back on both the right side and left side of the line of cones. I did really well with this, even giving it the juice and keeping it straight and parallel. Cool.

Then we switched to another truck, performed drop and hook , pre-trip and air brakes for several hours. Then for the remainder of the day we were instructed to slalom around the straight line of cones moving forward, and then backing straight back. That went surprisingly well I thought. Tomorrow I believe we will be instructed in and expected to do the serpentine backing maneuver around the cones... yikes!

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

Jim M.'s Comment
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Day Twelve:

Got a feel for my pre-trip/air brake/drop and hook inspection today...24 minutes for the pre-trip and air brakes another 8 minutes for drop and hook , all told 32 minutes. We need to be at or around 30 minutes for the whole thing, I think I did pretty well.

Continued with backing maneuvers; straight line, and also serpentine, holy crap that is freaking hard!!! wtf.gif

I gotta say at this mid-third-week juncture, I am less than thrilled with this school. There is no structure, far more students per class than was told it "ever is". Two instructors that are way too over taxed with 8 students in my class and depending who shows up from the previous class 4 to 7. It isn't cool as far as I am concerned, nevertheless, my chin is up, my head is high and my ears are wide open!! Oh and my mouth is firmly affixed with a zipper to ensure it stays shut!!! Geez.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

Jim M.'s Comment
member avatar

Day Thirteen:

Okay it was a great day, I'm happy to report. Absolutely picture-perfect weather, not a cloud in site, beautiful bright blue sky, not too cold, not too warm.

We started with pre-trip/air brake/drop and hook sequences, each pair taking turns. Then we had a bit of a more "one-on-one" approach to getting this serpentine-backing-maneuver down. It made more sense when this instructor, who has some 3 million clocked miles, explained the process, what to do and what not to do. Then he showed us and of course it looks so easy you could it blindfolded, not so much.

Before we could really get practicing this we got called over to be instructed on dropping a RGN trailer and unloading the excavator atop of it. It seems a little out of place considering how "green" we all are, but it is one of the things I am paying to learn so I'll take it whenever they feel compelled to show it to me.

Then after lunch me and another student spent 3 hours on the serpentine backing thing; I think I actually got it, well at least it went pretty good for the three times I attempted it. I'm a little screwy by the time I get to the last cone but it least I end up on the appropriate side and haven't run anything over. We'll see how it goes on Friday...I can't believe that will mark the end of week three, wow!

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

Jim M.'s Comment
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Day Fourteen:

After we got the trucks started there was some standing around; me and another guy set the cones out and also the flags for the static course (without being asked of course), these instructors have no clue how to run a class or get set up.

The truck I started had no trailer, the head instructor had taken it yesterday for another purpose, dropped the trailer in the middle of the practice yard, one of the students had to hook it and move it then drop it and put the tractor away all by itself. So I asked the instructor if he wanted me to hook up to trailer so we had an additional T/T for our pre-trip, etc. "Sure" (Was he even going to think of this on his own?)

So I grab the tractor and my buddy, get over to the trailer and proceed to hook-up. I positioned the truck perfectly in-line, cycled the air and was all set to back under but for some reason unbeknownst to me or the other student the truck rolled forward away from the trailer when I released the tractor brake and now the trailer was sitting on the frame of the truck???? Not sure how the landing gear was raised before-hand, I was in the truck.

So the instructor came over and made a teaching moment out of it: we raised the trailer a little bit I attempted to back under using the ramp of the frame and the fifth wheel but now the trailer is hitting the right drive tires. So he tells me to pull forward a foot or so, he puts a 3' long 2x6 piece of dunnage on the tractor frame under the nose of the trailer and tells me to back up, it lifts that trailer just enough to get on top of the fifth wheel plate and I back it right under! Pretty cool.

I moved the truck and trailer into the area to perform drop/hook/pre-trip/air brakes and then it was onto the serpentine backing course for me and only one other student, my buddy. The others were working on straight backing between cones. It went pretty well in the morning I successfully backed that rig twice around five cones and set it perfectly straight with the line when finished. Amazing (I thought).

Then after lunch, for about an hour and umpteen tries later, I couldn't get past the first set of cones, seriously. Man was that frustrating! The other student tries it with the same affect, many attempts, can't get past the first or second cone. WTF!

According to the instructor we were thinking too much about, so we talked about it for another hour or so. It wasn't a terrible day by any means, very educational, a couple bone-head moves on my part but something was learned in each case so no lose.

The most discouraging news for me came when we learned that of the seven guys that were scheduled to test out with the DMV today (Friday), only one passed!! Are you kidding me, ONE guy. Those are horrible percentages as far as I'm concerned. If it was only one to fail I'd say he may have thought too much about it, but the entire group save one, that speaks to the quality of the instruction more than anything else, and both instructors just shrug and say they thought too much. I am starting to rethink my choice going with this school; there are nine people in my class if only one passes on exam day, I only have an 11% chance that it'll be me!! Not good in my opinion...

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

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.
Jim M.'s Comment
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I decided that I am not going to continue this "journal", I am keeping it another personal log anyway.

School is fine and I will finish but I don't see any reason to keep it here.

Thanks for reading.

Wine Taster's Comment
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There are people reading this.... Keep posting. It is good for others to see our struggles through training. It shows others that this not easy. It is not about just driving. Keep your chin up my friend. You will get through it. Sounds like you are ding better than most.

Jim M.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks Wine Taster;

However that really wasn't the reason I decided to end the journal. I felt that I was leaning too negatively in my posts and thought it better to leave it out altogether. Maybe I'll post updates less frequently, a couple times a week or something.

Jim M.'s Comment
member avatar

Yesterday, Friday, May 2; end of week four:

The week ended fairly well. The static course is going really well for me and a couple other students, Monday we will be including the alley dock portion. Our instructor is presenting many tips for seeing the "whole picture" before simply putting it in reverse and going for it and also for recognizing the importance of fractional adjustments to the wheel in-lieu of cranking it one way or the other to keep it going the way you intend.

One of the instructors has been frequently commenting to the students how he disdains the lack of personal "one-on-one" training that we are supposed to be getting, but the office does nothing to correct the problem or help out. (Precisely the same complaint I have had since week one.) Needless to say he is not at all happy with the arrangement. He assured two of us that we WILL pass because he will be instructing us, and has confidence that we can do it. Another six students, maybe more, did not pass their tests this week, it is horrible really the success rate here. The same instructor I mentioned above blames it on a lack of personal attention to each student and disagrees with the head guy and another that it is because the students didn't know what they were doing or froze.

Next week starts the mid-point in my course, week five, I'm excited that I will be entering the downhill slope of it all, and nervous at the same time due to all of the issues I've mentioned about so many students being unprepared come test-day. I'll keep you posted with periodic updates.

Wine Taster's Comment
member avatar

Get as much drive time as you can man. It does sound like a horrible pass rate. You can get through it! Keep working hard.

Jim M.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks brother. Yes I do believe I can get through it, but it does weigh on my mind all the same.

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