Walla Walla Community College CDL Program

Topic 4473 | Page 1

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Lawrence K.'s Comment
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I started attending WWCC's (Walla Walla, Washington) CDL program on June 23, 2014. For the summer quarter, the classes are four days a week (M-Th), seven hours of class time. The first 10 days of class was spent in "textbook" learning. For the most part, it was training to get your CD permit. If one carefully read the class description material on WWCC's website, he/she would learn that having the permit was a prerequisite for taking the class. In other words, you were already supposed to have it.

I did.

The rest didn't.

The class started out with 11 students, but over the course of that first week, one left because of failing the drug test (marijuana), and one left for financing. Two were added. Some more left for reasons I can't remember. At this point we have eight students in the class. Clearly, I passed all the tests.

Thursday, July 10, 2014, we took the final written test. Compared to the chapter tests we were taking, sometimes four a day, the final was quite simplistic, not because I did well...I would have said the same thing if I failed the test. It was a standard test from PTDI, 104 questions, multiple hunch. It wasn't until this last Wednesday that the instructor had completed grading the tests, and he announced there were two As on the test. I was one of them. Later when he was gone, I glanced at grade book (which was open on a side cabinet in the classroom [the instructor is not concerned about "security"]), I saw that I got 98%, and the other A was 94%. Therefore, I was No. 1 on the written...1/3 of our grade. Since I had all my documents turned in that the instructor required before we could drive....even in the yard...I went out road driving that afternoon. There were only three of us that had all our documents turned in. The rest were dismissed until Monday so that they could get there documents.

Some here may remember, that I went to Swift's Driving Academy in Lewiston, ID, right about a year ago. After 2 1/4 days, I had to leave because of scheduling conflict. At that time, I didn't see any possibility of resurrecting my CDL dreams. However, about four months ago, in "talking" on Facebook with a peer I knew from college forty years ago, he stated he would pay for the WWCC course in its entirety. He sent me a check that amply covered the expenses, and more, and here I am.

So as of today I have been driving the truck for five days. I have enjoyed every minute.

The school has four trucks to use for training, and we are divided into three groups for road training. Road training was from the very first day! The daily schedule is like this: for the first hour, we do pre-trip inspection training. Then for the next three hours, two groups go out driving on the road (taking two trucks) and the other group works in the yard on the backing exercises. Then in the afternoon, the road and yard groups swap. In the morning there are three instructors (two for the road drivers and one for the yard), and in the afternoon two instructors (one for road drivers, one for yard).

Back to the first day of driving. Except for the couple of hours a year ago at Swift Academy, I have never driving a truck, and that was only in the yard. The only shifting done then was between first and reverse, and no touching the throttle. We practiced the straight backing exercise.


I have driven for over 50 years, not truck, but it did count for something. And I have been interested in trucking driving for about 45 years, and been studying it 15 months. I learn a lot, even practical stuff, by reading how to do things.

That first day of driving, when it became my turn, it was as if I was "born" for this. In fact, the instructor made the comment that he was sure I had driven truck before. Nope!

This last week, driving on the road went just as well. One of the road instructors is a sadistic $&$^^#^! He likes to take us on narrow, windy, hilly county roads. It is really a lot of fun, but I jokingly made a comment to him about it, how he must hate us. He agreed...while chuckling....and stated that if we could drive these, we could drive Interstates. Which I agree with.

The backing in the yard has also gone well. The little bit of backing with Swift made a difference. They pointed out a few tips that have not been presented here....except by me to a couple of receptive co-students. If a co-student is not receptive, I won't help them. I am too old to take crap anymore. :)

The straight and offset were fairly easy for me to master within the parameters of the basic skills test of the DMV exam. Two days ago (Thursday), I had a truck/trailer all to myself, so I was able to do backing exercises for the entire three-hour block. I decided to work on the 90 degree. I asked the yard instructor to help me, and at the end of the three hours, I was able to get it "docked," losing about 1-3 points if I was being tested at that time.

The instructor announced the DMV testing dates...August 6-7...so we have 10 more days of practice. By that time, I suspect I will be doing better on the 90. (If ANY of you have any tips on the 90, I would certainly appreciate it!) I surmise that if I were to take the DMV test today, I would probably pass.

I have been giving a daily report on Facebook, you can read them at https://www.facebook.com/internationallawrence . You will, most likely, have to send a friend request to see it. Now that I have started this thread, I may copy/paste what I write there over to here.


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.


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.


Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).


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.


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.

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