Beginning My Truck Driving Career

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Hrynn's Comment
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Yeah, I think everybody forgets that flipper switch at least once or a few times when first learning to shift confused.gif

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LOL indeed I know I have -there is just so much going on at times.

Hrynn- Really awesome you are posting your adventure - Awesome you were driving on the first day by yourself

One of my ex employers told me one day after a major stuff up ( to me it was & I was pretty upset with myself ) was " Don you're not the first person to do it and you're not the last person" I was surprised by the comment ( he's a lovely old man) but it helped me to keep it in perspective - Life's a journey enjoy the ride.

Cheers Don

Thanks, Don! Yes, that was exactly was all of my instructors said to me after I dropped the ball yesterday. I was really grateful that they were understanding and I will be sure not to ever make that same mistake again.

Hrynn's Comment
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Week 1, Day 4

Today ended the streak of me lucking out one-on-one with a trainer, but that was just fine. I was paired with one of the Sneider guys and was passed back to Schmitty as our instructor. Schmitty finished up teaching the pre-tip that Tim started me on yesterday (I just had the in cab stuff left) so that was good. I do feel like Tim does a better job of explaining things like that, but I got it well enough. We spent the morning driving the highways and local roads. Willie, the Sneider student, and I each got 2 hours of drive time. It snowed around 4-6 inches during the day and it was nearly impossible to see the lines on most of the roads so that was an adventure! After lunch we changed hands again and had Dale as an instructor. I though he was a great. We did some more highway driving in the snow and he helped out a lot with that. I need to work on my downshifting going into stops. I often lose my gear and have a hard time recovering. I had let Dale know earlier that I hadn't uncoupled before or done 90 degree backing so at the end of the day he walked me through backing into the lot and uncoupling the trailer. When we switch hands a lot, instructors to keep up with what we have and haven't covered yet. All in all I felt pretty good about today.

Week 1, Day 5

Today was a short day; we got out at noon. The Sneider guy and I were back with Schmitty to work on backing. Both of us had a lot of trouble with both offset and 90 degree. I felt like I only got worse the more I did and I thing everyone was getting a little frustrated at each other. When I got back to the hotel I read a few chapters of the textbook and watched backing videos on youtube. I turned in for the night pretty early.

Hrynn's Comment
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Week 1, Day 6

With this, week one of training is over. Did pre-trip, coupled up, and spent the morning working on my offset backing. I did that for a couple of hours, and I've got the problems I had with it worked out. Most of the students here right now are in school for 4-10 weeks (the two refresher guys are already gone) so it was just the Roehl people here for Saturday. After the 2 hours of backing we all got in a truck and did more highway driving. We each had about 1 hour of drive time. We were in a different truck than the one I usually drive and some of the problems that I had figured out in the other truck resurfaced in this new one. As I got used to it, I had most of them figured out again, but I still need to work on my downshifting. We are keeping paper logs for every day to get used to them so when we stopped driving, I finished filling that out, uncoupled, and we had another early day, leaving at about 2:00. Our instructor for the day gave us a dvd going over pre-trip inspection to help us get it down so I'll use the day off to work on getting that down and memorized. I pretty much have it, but some things still slip by me.

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.

Hrynn's Comment
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I had a nice day off yesterday. I went for a short hike along the Fox River. It was really icy so that was a lot of fun! Today was the beginning of week two of training. Another round of students came in so the yard is a lot busier. I started off the pre-trip. While I was looking at one of the brake chambers in the back I got too close to the fifth wheel and got some grease on my shoulder. We tried to clean it off with starter fluid, but then it was very fumy and I couldn't wear it in the cab so I ended up going without a jacket for the whole day. Brrr! We did some highway driving. Everything seemed to really come together for me today. I still made a few mistakes, but all the shifting came a lot easier and it's becoming more natural to have my head on a continuous swivel at the mirrors. We worked on offset backing again as well, which also seemed to click today. My instructor handed out Week 1 progress reports. The major things I need to work on, as of right now, are my 90 degree backing and making sure I look in the mirrors better while backing.

Don R.'s Comment
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I had a nice day off yesterday. I went for a short hike along the Fox River. It was really icy so that was a lot of fun! Today was the beginning of week two of training. Another round of students came in so the yard is a lot busier. I started off the pre-trip. While I was looking at one of the brake chambers in the back I got too close to the fifth wheel and got some grease on my shoulder. We tried to clean it off with starter fluid, but then it was very fumy and I couldn't wear it in the cab so I ended up going without a jacket for the whole day. Brrr! We did some highway driving. Everything seemed to really come together for me today. I still made a few mistakes, but all the shifting came a lot easier and it's becoming more natural to have my head on a continuous swivel at the mirrors. We worked on offset backing again as well, which also seemed to click today. My instructor handed out Week 1 progress reports. The major things I need to work on, as of right now, are my 90 degree backing and making sure I look in the mirrors better while backing.

Glad to hear you're doing well and things are clicking. You are inspiring others out here to pursue this career. I just had my DoT phys today, and will be taking my permit test tomorrow or next day. Im having to wait on the VA before heading to school. Hoping it doesn't take forever as is the gov't way. Don

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.

Don R.'s Comment
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I had a nice day off yesterday. I went for a short hike along the Fox River. It was really icy so that was a lot of fun! Today was the beginning of week two of training. Another round of students came in so the yard is a lot busier. I started off the pre-trip. While I was looking at one of the brake chambers in the back I got too close to the fifth wheel and got some grease on my shoulder. We tried to clean it off with starter fluid, but then it was very fumy and I couldn't wear it in the cab so I ended up going without a jacket for the whole day. Brrr! We did some highway driving. Everything seemed to really come together for me today. I still made a few mistakes, but all the shifting came a lot easier and it's becoming more natural to have my head on a continuous swivel at the mirrors. We worked on offset backing again as well, which also seemed to click today. My instructor handed out Week 1 progress reports. The major things I need to work on, as of right now, are my 90 degree backing and making sure I look in the mirrors better while backing.

Glad to hear you're doing well and things are clicking. You are inspiring others out here to pursue this career. I just had my DoT phys today, and will be taking my permit test tomorrow or next day. Im having to wait on the VA before heading to school. Hoping it doesn't take forever as is the gov't way. Don

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.

Hrynn's Comment
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Glad to hear you're doing well and things are clicking. You are inspiring others out here to pursue this career. I just had my DoT phys today, and will be taking my permit test tomorrow or next day. Im having to wait on the VA before heading to school. Hoping it doesn't take forever as is the gov't way. Don

That's great that you've gotten things under way! Have you decided on a company or school yet?

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.

Hrynn's Comment
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Week 2, Day 2

Roehl does random drug screenings every week and I was one of the two selected for this week's urine tests. The appointment was at 11AM so we had quite a bit of time before I needed to head out for it. My driving partner was late today, so my instructor had me do the pretrip without him. I got just about everything but the torque arms which I just keep forgetting. Argh! I'll get it. The other student arrived in time for us to couple up and we did an hour each of in town driving. The big lesson today was button hooks. They actually weren't too bad. I was nervous about it because several people had asked if I'd done them yet and made them sound pretty tough, but I made it through just fine. I know I need to work on being able to recognize that a turn is going to require that maneuver as I'm coming up on it. Our instructor told us to look for curbs at right angles and islands that extend far forward, but it's easy to not to register those issues as your pulling up, especially trying to focus on everything else that's still pretty new. I got an hour of drive time and then we worked on backing until I had to leave for my drug testing appointment. Coming back after lunch, everyone met in the computer lab. The school had finally gotten us all in the system with logins to get into blackboard. The instructors showed us how to access blackboard and find our course page. There are a lot of resources they've uploaded on there that will keep me busy for a few days. Chapter quizzes for the textbooks, videos, powerpoints, links to job searching tools, etc. We spent until 1:30 going over all over that, then it was back into town to give my co-driver his chance with the button hooks. Both my instructor and co-driver had to leave early today, so at 3:00 another instructor hopped in the truck and we went for a spin on I-41/US-41. It was so relaxing driving on the highway after all the town driving and having to deal with all of the traffic and lights! It was like having a break while still getting to be in the truck - a good way to end the day. Drove for another hour, came back to the yard, uncoupled, and the day was over.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Mikki 's Comment
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Enjoyed your story so far. Good job

Hrynn's Comment
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Week 2 Day 3

About an hour of highway driving each for my co-driver and I in the morning. At 11:45 Roehl provided us with lunch and we had a bit of a meet and greet and the Roehl terminal. We talked about how important safety is to Roehl and then we each introduced ourselves and where we were from and confirmed which fleet we were going to be in. They reminded us that we would be testing next week (!!!!!!!). On Friday (provided we pass our CDL test) the three of us will be meeting at the terminal for our Roehl specific orientation. We'll have to do a road test, physical fitness test, and hair follicle test as well. We were given a tour of the terminal as well: maintenance shop, driver's lounge, bunk rooms, computer/quiet area, etc. Roehl is using super single tires for their tractors instead of dual tires. Also, they don't use any trailers over ten years old so if we are going to pick up a load and are told to pull up to a trailer older than 2005 we have to refuse to take that trailer and get a different one. After the meet and greet, my codriver and I worked on the 90 degree backing. My first try was ALMOST perfect. I needed one small pull up. But after that I steadily got worse and worse. By the end of the day, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. My co-driver was struggling just as much and we both left for the day pretty frustrated with ourselves.

Week 2, Day 4

Our instructor had a new approach today, and he decided to give us each a mock CDL test. Pretrip was fine for both of us. Straight and offset backing went off without a hitch. No points. But in the backing portion, the 90 degree killed us both again. We both would have failed and never even made it on to the road....going on the road, I mostly did fine. Ground some gears here and there, but not too bad. But I was turning right at a two way stop and didn't make it out fast enough. I slowed the traffic behind me. Automatic fail. My instructor asked me twice what sign I had just passed. I got the first one, but the second one I hadn't even seen. After lunch, we worked on only 90 degree backing for the rest of the day since that is what both of us were struggling with the most. We tried and tried. We really did, but it just wasn't happening for the longest time. Neither of us were understanding. I'd get so close and then end up right in front of the cones and have the hardest time correcting myself. Willie and I were both getting incredibly frustrated, but finally it just clicked for both of us. I got the hang of it first. I was trying again after a ridiculously bad attempt, and I'd almost lost hope of ever getting it. But somehow, I backed right in. No pull up! My instructor ran up to the window and told me to do it again just like that. Don't say it was just luck. Do it again. And I was able to! I needed a pull up, but all of a sudden I got it. About a half hour later, Willie clicked too. He was so happy when he got it in there, he just screamed at the top of his lungs. We kept it up for another hour and then uncoupled for the day feeling a lot better than we did yesterday. Schmitty, our instructor, says tomorrow we will be doing nothing but town and highway driving.

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.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.

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