Private CDL School Starting 05/08/14

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Boots&Bludog's Comment
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I've made my choice to start one of the three local CDL schools. About three weeks ago I stopped by to check out the atmosphere and feel confident with my choice. They are open 7 days a week and the students can come and go as they wish. I've noticed that the instructors give positive reinforcement with each of the students rather than focusing on the mistakes. My reasoning for choosing private school prior to company school is that the learning is at a more comfortable pace for me.

I heard about this site that same day I stopped into the school and have been reading and reading, became a member, started the HIGH ROAD tests, finished the driving safely part with a 99%, read Brett's book, more reading, posted here and there, stumbled on the air brake test 88% :-( and now I am starting this diary as I seem to be too wound up to sleep.

I want to note that I've been back to the school a few times and each time they had me in a truck. First time backing straight with a short trailer...not sure but it was not the 53'. I did it 3rd try and I was mostly happy I didn't kill the engine with that horribly stiff clutch. Next time was parallel. Yeah, didn't make that one happen at all. Killed a few cones and my leg turned into a limp noodle. Darn that clutch. Then was the ....can't remember what it's called but there are two spots next to each other and the task is to back into one, pull up and then back in to the next one. Couldn't get that either. The last time was the best though. I got the tractor to the trailer first time. Nailed it! Later that day I did it again but for some reason the trailer was a little high. I almost skipped over the 5th wheel. Mostly what I remember is not being able to get the landing gear to budge. The instructor said it had to do with the last student. Being a somewhat small woman this concerns me. What if I were on the job alone? I will have to be able to get it done. Maybe this is where a good hammer comes in.

So tomorrow is my official start day or rather today 6am. Go me! :-)dancing-banana.gif

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.

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.

Boots&Bludog's Comment
member avatar

Day 1. Not too eventful. Filled out paperwork. Went to do a pre-trip inspection but was interrupted by my funding counselor to sign even more paperwork. Had a school BBQ which happens every Thursday. The rest of the day was going over how to fill out manual log books. Boy am I ever thankful for the technology that makes it unlikely I will have to keep a manual log. It was still very helpful to get the knowledge in my head about driving hours, off duty hours, sleeping berth and such. Also it was good to visualize on paper how ones day is spent on the road. Lots of interesting stories came up about a whole variety of things in driving. There were only 5 of us so it was all very casual conversation. Actually 4 as one guy didn't have proper eyewear so he kind of checked out. I swear he was napping! Note to self...dress in more layers as classroom time gets cold.

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.

Boots&Bludog's Comment
member avatar

DAY 2.

I did a straight back up with a couple of pull ups. It was the short trailer which gets really squirlly but I did it. The rest of the day was class time. Aced the General Knowledge thanks to the studying the High Road on here. Air Brakes managed an 82%. I wish I would quit struggling with the wording about the air brakes. Only 5 students and lots of questions but also a LOT of interruptions by students coming in announcing that they had passed. Thursdays and Fridays are the drive test days at DMV. It is good to hear that there is a good success rate coming out of our humble school.

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.

Boots&Bludog's Comment
member avatar

DAYS 3 & 4

I am tired. LOTS of information overload going on here. I am especially grateful to be able to come home and digest and look things up online that I may not have understood so well. This is EXACTLY why I wanted to start with a private school before the fast paced company schooling.

I thought I was struggling with the air brakes but that is nothing compared to the pre-trip. I do not have any experience with mechanical things so it's a whole new beast to learn. I have to admit it IS fun to learn. At first it all seems so jumbled and nothing really made sense. By the end of today I am finally able to recognize some things. And with that it is starting to connect how it all flows together. A lot of the pre-trip is repetitive. I am thinking I heard there are 47 different things to identify but there are over 200 items that have to be pointed out to DMV in order to pass. By the end of today I was able to go from start to finish with out nearly so many hints.

Not sure if this is of any help or interest but for my own sake I'm going to write about the following. So far we've had one instructor besides the owner. They each have very different styles of teaching. At first I found it difficult to retain much since everything was so new. Just as I'm feeling like I'm getting the hang of identifying things yet another instructor is brought in. I ended up with the latest instructor. Not being too happy about it I managed to learn even more! What I am most proud of is that I was able to adjust to the change and benefit from it. I find this to be my biggest accomplishment for the day. I figure if I'm going into an industry that is full of things changing up with little to no notice than I better get used to it and learn to deal.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

ColeTrucker's Comment
member avatar

B&B you sound like me in so many ways and I haven't even started school yet. I love the fact that you heard about the program at TT and put it in your tool belt. The HIGH ROAD program is wonderful!

I look forward to your future posts. I need all the inspiration I can get from a fellow Trucker in training.

Cole

Boots&Bludog's Comment
member avatar

B&B you sound like me in so many ways and I haven't even started school yet. I love the fact that you heard about the program at TT and put it in your tool belt. The HIGH ROAD program is wonderful!

I look forward to your future posts. I need all the inspiration I can get from a fellow Trucker in training.

Cole

Well thank you Cole! Happy to oblige, lol. The High Road has helped me daily as well as the videos and well just everything on this site!

DAY 5

Woke up late but managed to make it on time to school ...6am. And I drove there safely. I have to admit I am much more conscientious of my driving after all the reading here there and everywhere to get my CDL. First thing we (5 of us) start the pre-trip with instructor. Today we decided to break it down. First the passenger side items...10 in all. Each of us got to repeat it until we got it correct with out help. I really liked doing it that way. Unfortunately I only got to the other side and then had to leave for my drug test and physical for the dmv. That would be a basic urinalysis and pretty basic physical. I barely passed the eye test so that means getting my behind to the eye doc for an updated prescription. I kind of thought that might happen.

Back to school I go. DISCLAIMER. Now here's where I want to say upfront I LIKE my school. It is humble and in my eyes having some struggles right now. The owner is doing his best to handle it so I by no means do I want to sound as if I am bashing anyone. This is a tough economy for most of us so I understand and am OK with what is going on. I just want to point this out as some might not be able to handle a school like this and should be on the look out for it if it would not work for them. When I signed up there were three running trucks and one parted out. "White" ...street legal and the one that goes to DMV for testing. "Blue" ...stays in the yard but used for and by all for any and everything but seems to be limping along with quite a bit of leaks. "Pink" ...stays in the yard and used like Blue. "Red" ...dead but handy for the pre-trips and provides good shade and parts? Now unfortunately some how some one damaged the hood on Pink so it has become very limited. Blue somehow has just up and lost the tranny use? At first they thought it was the clutch. Fixed that and turns out it is more likely the tranny. So in order to save money ??? They are pulling the tranny from Pink to put into Blue. I probably have some of this not correct so I'll just get to the point. And that would be basically we are down to one working truck for hopefully only a week. This severely limits the students on practice. Most everyone has previous albeit limited experience with truck, trailer, class B or military except me :-( These last two days I no sooner get behind the wheel take 5 minutes to attempt the task (today was alley dock) and then it's over and out for me and on to the next student. I am not very good at learning this way. I'm the sort that needs to do it over and over and critique what I did right and what I did wrong to get the skill down. Now this sounds really bad but I'm laughing about it now. My first attempt at alley dock went smooth as butter with the instructor coaching me all the way. Now after watching 6 other guys get it pretty well with hardly any coaching it's my turn again. The instructor is no where in sight. I am STRUGGLING. At first a couple try to help me but next thing I know I'm almost jack knifed and look around and all the guys are yacking it up WAY across the yard or on their cell phones. Geez! Finally the instructor appears and helps me out but by then my clutch leg was toast! WE decided I just need to work on straight backing up and getting familiar with the handling of the truck next try...hopefully tomorrow. I really hope I improve quicker than today suggests. I also look forward to the day when I'm driving newer trucks.

All in all a good day and looking forward to the next day "on the range.

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.

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.

Boots&Bludog's Comment
member avatar

One other thing I want to mention is that this school will let students come and go as they please. Very often the day starts out with a handful of students and throughout the day many come to get behind the wheel time or practice pre-trip and T-salt tests. This is kind of fun but also contributes to less one on one time.

pretrip_Rick's Comment
member avatar

" heard about this site that same day I stopped into the school and have been reading and reading, became a member, started the HIGH ROAD tests, finished the driving safely part with a 99%, read Brett's book, more reading, posted here and there, stumbled on the air brake test 88%"

I too my self am prepping for school in june. Me and my father have sat down and talked about the possible avenues and what seemed logical. I appreciate all the posts and diaries that have been recorded in careers. I have studied the PA cdl drivers manual as well as taken several practice exams from there website along with high road. I am trying to get the (WIA) or workboard investment act grant to cover the cost of the tuition of school.

stay safe everyone

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.
Boots&Bludog's Comment
member avatar

DAY ?? My apologies, I've lost track. Funny how the time is flying by and yet it seems as if I've not learned a whole lot. When it gets down to it I've come to realize I can now do the majority of the pre-trip with out messing up. I've been able to practice the straight back up, side by side backing up and the alley dock. One of the biggest revelations was that I did not have a clue how to properly use the mirrors. Once I got that better understood things started going better.

Our school currently has only one running truck. This is getting frustrating. Happily 6 students obtained their CDL's ...however about 8 more have signed up. Due to the heavy rain we've had more class time. I am doing well in that thanks to The High Road from here. I've got a lot more studying to do as I want to get as many endorsements as I can. Just seems like the best approach.

I am out of words for the night.

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.
Boots&Bludog's Comment
member avatar

DAY ? Too many and not enough. It's been a while since I've posted. First and foremost I am embarrassed that I have not progressed further along. I've missed many days being sick and taking on some side jobs to get some income for bills. The school is really struggling along with the failing equipment. This means barely any practice behind the wheel or any practice on the brake tests. Pre-trips are coming along nicely. In cab inspections are also. Still waiting on the updated eyewear to arrive....however I squeeked by taking the eye exam at DMV. Also I've passed the endorsements for Tankers, Doubles and Triples, Combinations and General Knowledge. Alas I have failed the Air Brakes. I'm confident I will pass the air brake next time.

Skills for me are still not consistent. One day I can nail them and the next I fail. I know in my heart it is practice that will make it happen. Currently we have one truck and it needs to either be at DMV or on the road for the students ready to take the test. This means very little practice for those of us that do not even have our permit yet. Hopefully by next week we will have another truck running and by that time I will have my permit.

I want to note that I really enjoy the school for the positive instructors and owner. I have to admit had I known that there was very little equipment for the amount of students I very likely would have signed up elsewhere. At this point instead of getting all worked up over it I am trusting in my lucky stars that there is a reason this is proceeding as such.

In the event anyone is reading this I apologize it is not terribly helpful on a regular basis.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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