Drivers Solutions/PAM Transport Training Log.

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Sammy Clue's Comment
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So to begin with, I had decided on PAM Transport/Driver Solutions to help me in gaining my CDL training and advance my knowledge in the trucking industry.

So as many others have done I am going to keep a log of what is happening while I am here so others who may be considering a path with Driver Solutions/PAM Transport. I will note that while searching through the many different companies out there to aid me in this journey, Driver Solutions is the ONLY company that returned my call and accepted me as a student. Note: I have a perfect driving record, excellent work history with no gaps and NO complaints from previous employers about my work ethic. I always try my best and achieve what I aim for. (So not really sure why only Driver Solutions contacted me within a 3 month period) But anywho...

I have heard MANY good and bad things about this training course as well as with other companies and since this is the only return call I received, I am going to run with it and keep my spirits high and learn as much as I can while I'm here. My biggest concern is that of the hand full of stories I have read about this program, it seems that more are kicked out/quit than ever graduate. The main reason being the physical portion within the first few days/first week.

In an attempt to prepare for this I have been monitoring my BP somewhat closely over the past week and it has held well within the limits of at least receiving a 1 year cert and maybe a 3 month temp cert. I am not the healthiest person around but I try to stay a little active to keep my lungs going strong.

With that said (and it doesn't really mean much I guess) I am here in Asheboro NC @ the motel and first impressions are dim, this is by no means the Hilton but it will definitely work for the course of a few weeks while in training. I read many reviews about the motel and was expecting a lot worse apron arrival. The room does have a "death" smell to it, very musty and apron inspection of the sheets, I will be using my own comforter and pillow during this stay. The carpet in this room in particular is extremely old (15+ years or more) just based on looks and smell. You can see where they painted the walls and didn't even bother moving the pictures just painting around them. The sinks are kinda grungy and the bathtub (Walls/Plastic) are cracked which allow water in behind them while showering. Took me about 5 minutes to finally get the door to open (They use a key card that you insert/remove and move the door handle UP not down.) IT was almost as if it was stuck from not being used for a bit, probably just my own ignorance haha.

Note: This is just what I see with the Motel and is by no means a deal breaker for the training. I provide this info because I could not find a reliable source of information while searching the net so I will provide what I see.

I arrived here at about 3:30pm, which is a bit early to be honest but I am ready to get things going and I figured it would be a good time to get some more studying in before tomorrow. I have been making my way through the High Road and I must say that I am feeling good about this just from what I have completed already. And I will continue to complete it as much as I can while in down time.

I took the time to go have a first look at the training facility, and here is my outlook from what I seen when I went.

If you are looking for a "State of the Art facility" then do not come here. The building itself is old and somewhat run down (And if you rely on Google Maps to guide you to all of your destinations, you will be sent 3 miles in the wrong direction. The facility is almost directly across the street (walking distance if you cross a few roads) For warned) Regardless of the condition of the building I have no donut that they trainers here will be excellent teachers and make sure we are ready to prowl the road with our CDLs. They have about 8-10 trucks w/ trailers behind the building and a decent sized lot for maneuvering the trucks while training.

I know this sounds like a bunch of ranting but I assure you it is not. I am here to better myself and get into this new career path. This is just what I have observed so far and I will be adding plenty more as the days go on. Granted if I make it through this Physical aha.

Hoping for the best and I will update as new information racks my brain. Happy trails 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.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar
I know this sounds like a bunch of ranting

Sammy, no ranting. These are your thoughts and feelings. The things you say about the physical part of the hotel and classrooms are not new. Many (but not all) facilities are similar to your description.

Not just feel free to, but please keep posting here. Not only for those coming later, but "regulars" here can check on you, help explain stuff and generally give you a place to toot your own horn and to vent your frustration.

As for a supportive community, you've come to the right place.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Seaner's Comment
member avatar

Sounds like you've got your head on straight and your eyes wide open. Might not be the Ritz, but you know it's only temporary, and hey, you're not sharing a room! I'm starting with my school tomorrow too, best of luck Sammy!

Sammy Clue's Comment
member avatar

Alright, Day #1.

6:30am

Let the paperwork fly boys and girls!!!

Well as you all can imagine today was the day of signing yourself into a cramp. Page after page of signing and filling out applications again, verifying information from Driver Solutions (Note: The employment dates I entered into the Driver Solutions web site were correct at the time, but somewhere within their system it changed my employment dates around. Make sure you double check it with care as they may take that as giving false information on the application.)

As of today we have 18 members in class. 14 are from Driver solutions for PAM Transport, 3 for USA Trucking and 1 who paid his own. Several classmates showed up with a CDL Permit (I think like 5). Today consisted of the Drug Screen (Done first), then a Physical Exam (Weight, Eye test, Hearing/whisper test, Blood pressure test and a hernia test *cough** cough*. Nothing out of the ordinary at all and it lasted about 15 minutes total from start to finish (Once being called to the back). During my Blood Pressure check I was extremely stressed out and the nurse could tell, causing my BP to read 176. Well they had me go into a exam room and lay down for about 5 minutes and relax and we redid the test and it checked at 136 which was a MAJOR drop. SO try and keep the stress down when you get this done. It makes all the difference. Just take deep breaths and close your eyes and relax all you can. It helped me greatly!

One of the range instructors pulled all the first weeks out of class to observe a coupling/uncoupling trailer and sign a sheet of paper saying we observed it. Lasted about 15 minutes and was somewhat hard to see as there were 25+ people in a crowd trying to watch. But thanks to the High Road program, I am not worried about that part as it is pretty straight forward and somewhat simple, but the Pre Trip is a different beast in itself and will require a lot of studying even with the High Road as a guide. 108 items must be named and checked and explained as to why you are checking those 108 items. Gonna be tough for sure I have no doubt, but I am ready for the challenge!!

During our breaks (Which happen every hour for at least 5 minutes, nice stretching times so we enjoy them already).

Besides the Physical and Drug screen we spent the better part of the day watching videos on trucking that range in coverage from Air brakes, Down grade/Up grade techniques, Backing (45,90 and straight), mountain driving, very little pre-trip and in the last 2ish hours we ran over some Log Book (Which is a bit easier than I thought it was going to be, do NOT over think this)

I can say that while on our breaks we were all watching the class ahead of us do some backing exercises and that is really fun to watch and we are all really ready to make it to that stage in the training.

Overall today was a good day, no complaints at all and can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store for us noobies!!

More to come.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Sammy Clue's Comment
member avatar

Day #3

7:00 AM

Let the learning begin folks, today we covered in detail the Air Brake System including Parking and Emergency Brake System, how they all work together and independent from each other. When and when not to use them and went over the LAB check (Leaking, Alarm, Button) alone with Pre-Trip inspection , out and IN cab (And man was this one a BIG surprise!!, IF anyone reading this has used the High Road Training here on TT you know how Detailed the Pre-Trip Inspection really is, there are so many things to remember and I am super glad that I did it here before waiting for school to try and remember all those things.

Besides Brakes and Pre-trip we watched a couple videos on Pre-Trip and Went over Hazmat. Did a brush up on our Log Books and that was about it. During our breaks we observed the 3-4th weekers doing their driving exercises (Straight Backing, Offset Backing and 90) which is really fun to do.

So far I am really liking this and the trainers here are funny as hell and know what they are talking about. On top of teaching us what we "need" to know, they are teaching us their "personal" experience as well which is very interesting and should be listened to closely as there is no CDL book that can teach you these subjects.

Tomorrow is a new day and for now it's time to run over some Pre-trip and maybe some more Hazmat if I have the time before calling it a night.

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.

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Sammy Clue's Comment
member avatar

Correction to previous post: (Day #2)

Day #3 and #4

Been busy studying up on Pre-trip and other things so I missed a few days and I apologize. This will cover both Day #3 and Day #4 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday we are not in class)

Day #3 was a great day, we covered the Atlas! Which for most was a real eye-opener for sure. Knowing how to properly read a Atlas is a real good skill to have. Knowing mileage in between Interstates and knowing how to find a Interstates fast is a great skill indeed! Along with that we covered the layout of the gauges in the tractor and what each was.

All in all it was a great day.

Day #4 (Thursday)

We covered shifting layouts and proper shifting techniques when driving a tractor. The Tractors here are 10-Speed (Manual) transmissions. We were taught to start in 4th gear unless loaded real heavy and shift in increments of 2 (4th, 6th, 8th, 10th) on the Upshift and (10th, 9th, 7th, 5th, 4th) on the Downshift. Taught proper RPM range per gear and proper MPH range per gear to help when the driving comes. Man there is so much information to absorb and retain but so far I and my class mates are learning so much and really even though the first week was just sitting in the class room we enjoyed it for sure!

As of Day #4 we have 18 students left in the class (TO correct post #1 we had a student show up late that put us @ 19 total at the beginning). One fell off on day #3 and we don't know what happen to him. Guessing he just left or maybe got kicked.. dunno..

Anyway, on Day #4 we took a skills test which we used remotes with (A, B, C, D, E, F) Keys and seen where everyone stood as of the first week. Most were ready for the Permit test while some seem to either be struggling or just didn't pay attention (This one cat slept for 2 days in class and scored a 65 on 2 out of 3 of the test) which wasn't a surprise to others. I myself scored a 97.2 average for all Three test (Missed 3 questions which I kicked myself over cause I over thought the answer) which happens to many times with me since I have 16 years automotive experience so I throw unnecessary equations into the mix and it gets me sometimes. But the past is the past and that ended the day.

Friday I went over to the DMV and got my CDL A Permit, missed 2 of 95 questions, man you want to talk about worrying about passing a test? That was more stressful than High School for sure!! But having the permit in hand makes you feel good, real good knowing that the only real obstacle now is the dreaded Pre-trip Inspection and Backing, which I have been pounding away at for days now plus what I studied before coming here. I am really nervous about doing it but at the same time I am really excited to get out there and see how much I have really learned on the subject.

All in All? Having a good time so far and can't wait to get outside this week and get some hands on experience with these Tractors & Trailers, my heart is racing just thinking about it and it feels great.

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.

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.

Interstate:

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

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

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Good update, Sam. It's realistic that some students will "disappear" one way or another. After the first week, you're class should be set.

With this automotive experience, must of the pre-trip should be easy: belt tension, fluids, etc.

Backing will take quite a bit of patience on your part. Take a breath, do it again.

Let us know how the next few days go!

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Sammy Clue's Comment
member avatar

Alright so, I missed all Last weeks updates and yesterday so I will catch it all up in this post. I am not a big "Blogger" so I tend to forget to keep this up and I apologize for that.

So as far as Last week went (Week 2) we were officially outside doing some hands on Pre-trips first thing in the morning (The first hour is the time to really pay attention to older students and Instructors). After the initial Pre-Trip on all trucks was the time to get into a truck and start doing your "Observation Hours" (Sit in the sleeper and pay attention to what is going on as the 4th weekers drive and receive instruction from the Instructor), Feel free to ask any and all questions you may have, pay close attention to the RPM and MPH Gauges as this will help you greatly in determining when you need to shift your gears. While the old curriculum was to Observe for 40 hours, they recently changed it to only needing 20 hours which I find somewhat a disappointment as you are not really seeing that much in my opinion as well as some of the Instructors saying the same. But none the less it was a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

After completing the initial 20 hours of Observation time you will move onto studying for the Pre-Trip Exam which is supposed to be taken at the end of week 2 and beginning of week 3. (Note: Due to "Weather Problems (3 days off)" The entire school is behind... 2 weeks... Resulting in some students being on their 6th week as of today (the day of this post)). With that said, for some reason the staff here insist on testing only the 5th and 6th seekers thus ignoring us now 3rd weekers. Now I understand that they need to get the students out who have been here the longest, but these cats have failed over and over again with NO improvement at all. There are currently 3 drivers/students that have failed their Backing Exam, spent 8+ hours backing and have yet to even make it into the designated lanes without a instructor right over their shoulder walking them step by step. As soon as the instructor leaves the cab they jackknifed the truck or start wondering around the field in all directions except towards the lanes themselves. I honestly feel sorry and worried at the same time for these students. Yes it takes some people some time to catch on to certain things, but to watch someone sit in a tractor for 8+ hours and continually fail over and over is heart breaking. And seeing as when these students fail the Exam, the instructors would rather tie up that truck all day long letting them "Practice" instead of doing a few Pre-Trip Exams for our group.

SO as long as these guys continue to fail ****il they hit the 4th fail) we are forced to wait until they have either flunked out or have passed. They only allow you to test 1 time a day.

As far as the truck availability goes, there are only 3 trucks on the yard used for all backing practice.. Truck #1 - Straight backing combination (Box 48 foot) Single Cab Truck #2 - Offset/Straight Backing Combination (Box 48 foot) Sleeper Cab Truck #3 - Exam truck/90 Degree backing combination (Flatbed 48 foot) Sleeper Cab

There are also 4 other trucks that are used for Road Driving purpose only thus they leave first thing in the morning, so can't use them.

So without going into a rage and posting to many feelings, I can say that our group is getting very upset due to this fact as we can not progress any further until others have finished or flunked...

As far as this week (Week #3/Past 2 days) MY group has had less than 1 hour of actual backing practice time as there are so many of us and rotation is a very long and drawn-out process that only experiencing it for yourself can explain. We get to back for about 15 minutes (Maybe 2 backs) and wait for 7 hours before you get another shot... AND that's only if you are not told to get out of the truck so they can use it to let the fails of week 5 and 6 practice.

As for now my group and I are staying as positive as we can in this situation, we have dedicated our spare time to train up the week 2 students on their Pre-Trip and continue improving others in the backing category. Also keeping pressure on the instructors to get us through our Exams so we can progress and get closer to completion.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Sammy Clue's Comment
member avatar

Okay so Day #4 & #5 of Week #3.

Thursday we finally got to do Pre-Trips. Out of the remainder of our class (Not sure how many are left anymore as we have somehow lost sight of at least half, but some say they are still here) 7 of us Passed the Pre-trip with ease. The Main Instructor finally got us rolling by calling in all the Examining Instructors and having us run 3 Pre-Trips at a time. While we were doing a fine job at success, the Instructors were passed off that they had to come in and help. Being as there is only really 1 Instructor that deals with all Exams, having to bring in the others also brought a lot of anger into the yard. 1 Instructor even proceeded to cursing about the whole situation while chatting with another Instructor and a group of us over heard it all as they were right in front of us while talking. We didn't say anything as we were just happy to finally see something happen.

Day #5 - Friday

Man did we get lucky on Friday, they brought a Examiner in from Charlotte to help us run some more Pre-Trips and knock out some backing test!! YES!!

Myself and 5 others nailed a 100 on our Pre-Trips on day #4, they we all Passed our backing Exams with ease putting us a great deal ahead of other classmates. Man IT feels GREAT to have nothing remaining except the Road Test itself, so hopefully come Monday (Week #4) We will be on the road doing some real world driving and learning those gear patterns and double clutching techniques. We are all really excited to get things back on track and get this finished and begin our new journey in life.

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Sammy Clue's Comment
member avatar

Okay so here it comes down to the final stretch!! Week #4 Day #1

So today we get to really get our hands dirty and hit the road behind the wheel. I got teamed up with a buddy of mine and 2 two weekers and we hit the road. Man did I surprise myself and everyone else in the truck including the instructor. He was so glad that he got 2 drivers that listened and understood what needed to be done and when it needs to be done. IT was almost as if we had been doing it for some time before today and he just sat beside us and joked around with everyone as we drove while telling us which way to go. It was glorious and a smooth ride that everyone enjoyed.

Being as our class is so big still, we only got 2 hours of driving time each for today of the total 20 needed. It was short but very sweet and we can't wait till tomorrow to get back behind the wheel and do it again, maybe this time we will get a few more than 2 hours.

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