School Complete! Class A CDL And A New Chapter Of Life!

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classA's Comment
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I've received some very valuable information from this site and would like to contribute something as well. A community that communicates is a successful one!

Although I personally know no one here, I do relate to the posts and actually feel comfortable during my time browsing. It would be appropriate for me to provide a little more detail about myself. My profile has remained rather obscure for a reason as I've been undergoing some really intense pressure changes the past several months. I have found myself withdrawn from being interactive with anyone except my wife who always brings me back to reality smile.gif . It is as if I have been in a state of metamorphosis. Here is my story.

"It was a cold, winter morning and the sun had yet to crest the horizon when I was born .........."

Ok. Too far back. Let me just take you back to the beginning of my CDL training.

I have been without a paying job since January of this year. I've experienced corporate restructuring, layoff, business closure, and various other life events. Everybody has a story. There is a song that sums it up nicely by saying, "Life is a dance you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead and sometimes you follow." My wife and I discussed my moving to find work in the Bakken oil field, going to Australia to work in construction, or maybe dropping all ties to the world and finding a remote island ... literally. Then I remembered a boyhood dream where I was a truck driver.

I'll catch this up later for you. My wife just awoke and I need to get the coffee on!

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.
classA's Comment
member avatar

Please pardon the break. Where was I? The boyhood dream .....

My dad drove a truck for years. It was something that appealed to me. When I became older, particularly a teen, I became lost in life changes. Now I am in my 40's with years of extremely diverse work experience which I believe will enable me to be better driver than I ever could have been otherwise.

I found Driver Training and Solutions, LLC in Cheney, WA to be the best fit for meeting my employment goals and subsequently enrolled. My work background has been primarily on the logistics side from the perspective of project management with multi-faceted JIT deliveries for communication installations around the world. Moving to the direct freight contact role simply reminds me of the time I spent loading and unloading 53' trailers when they first started becoming popular. Driving a truck in my mind was just another perspective of logistics, so I literally had no idea what to expect in CDL school. I wish I'd known about this site then.

The first week consisted of much material review in preparation for the CDL permit and the subsequent endorsement tests which we took the following Saturday. Week 2 with permit in hand the class spent half the day in class reading about trucking with the other half physically becoming familiar with Volvo, Kenworth, and International tractors in Pre-Trip Inspection review. Then, later in the week, we began to operate the trucks on the backing range ..... over and over and over and over and over and over ..... straight backing, offset backing, and 90-degree backing. And then it happened. I was taken out for some Drive Time with 2 others from my class and a brand new Instructor. The other two students sat in the operator's seat before me. Jerk ....... jump ...... engine go dead ........ grind .......... clash ................ you get the picture. I've operated bulldozers, cranes, tractors, motorcycles, boats, and manual transmission vehicles. I thought, I'll show these guys how to do it. Guess what I did? I did the same thing they did ........ clutch to the floor and all progress stopped. I could feel frustration coming up from my belly and running out of my forehead. We all ended up recovering .... somewhat, but I see something in that experience that was instrumental in what would happen with each of us 3 students in the weeks to come. That negative experience affected each of us in profound ways.

I have a scheduled call with a recruiter soon and I need to get to work ASAP! Therefore I will continue with my CDL training experience later. Hopefully I can share some things that will help someone else.

What I have learned has given me a deep respect for anyone operating a tractor-trailer combination on the roadways.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

classA's Comment
member avatar

I got the job! Orientation in a couple of weeks!

dancing.gif

Now, back to my recent experience. Can anyone relate to this?

My second time driving (with no good experience in memory) was a little better, but not so much really. And once again I felt that same frustration as I'd experienced the first time. The next day I went on my third drive with those same guys I'd been with on my first time out. And guess what? We all had improved little, still grinding the gears. And that same feeling of frustration returned to my thinking.

Week 3 of training was hours going over the pre-trip inspection and backing the trailers. Did I mention that these trailers were all spread axles? That, as I now understand it, is an entirely different beast in itself! Good experience I hear though. Three weeks in and I could back an offset or do a 90-degree with a spread axle trailer. But those drives, which became more complex each time, didn't seem to improve any and the frustration continued. Then I was sent out again with a different instructor. Maybe it was his calmness or just his personality, but I hardly missed a shift up or down. I drove through downtown traffic with lane changes and multiple stop lights. Each time I made a mistake I was able to recover with little effort. And guess what? No more frustration. I had successfully replaced that first negative experience with a positive one!

Next I was sent out again with the same instructor from my first frustrating drive. I missed a shift, hit a curb, and almost stalled traveling up a freeway onramp. There was that frustration again. And it felt just like it did the first time ... bad. Had I chosen the wrong career path? What was the problem? I knew what to do and how to do it, but somehow I wasn't accomplishing it.

Week 4 and I got to go back out with the instructor who'd truly first put me at ease. I drove for a couple of hours through a wooded area down a very narrow, winding two-lane road through many hills and curves. Wow! I was feeling good! Then I topped a hill at about 45 mph and a couple of road crew trucks were right there in my lane! Reflexes immediately kicked in and I utilized stab braking to avoid a collision while simultaneously steering smoothly around the sudden obstacle. I grinded a little in grabbing a lower gear, but recovered nicely. Once again I felt confidence. The next day I went out with the same guys from the disappointing first drive. We all did better, but each of us still missed some shifts and again, the frustration returned. But this time, it didn't stay but a moment.

Do you see a pattern here?

Finally, week five arrived and it was time for the final CDL tests (Pre-Trip Inspection, Skills Test, and Road Test) with the DOL. Do you think we felt prepared? Wait until I tell you what happened.

Is anyone getting anything out of this?

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar
Is anyone getting anything out of this?

classA, yes, many people will read this, a few may even add a comment. I filled out a "diary" for my classes, my road training, and my first few weeks solo driving for Swift. People do read and follow along.

You used the word "frustration". Everyone gets really frustrated in learning about the truck. Backing, pre-trip, shifting, planning, hours of service, that's enough. These all can be complicated when you start out. Just keep adding your thoughts & impressions. Good luck!

Monica M.'s Comment
member avatar

Yes, please continue. I am reading with great interest. It helps me to know that others have felt the same frustration that I am currently dealing with. My current drive range instructor keeps telling me to "Relax, don't stress so much." Hard to do for an anal, type-A perfectionist such as myself. Honestly, I think learning to drive a truck is much like learning to play an instrument and I have never been musically inclined! But, I will get this. I'm not retarded, even though I often feel like I am!! Haha.

classA's Comment
member avatar
double-quotes-start.png

Is anyone getting anything out of this?

double-quotes-end.png

classA, yes, many people will read this, a few may even add a comment. I filled out a "diary" for my classes, my road training, and my first few weeks solo driving for Swift. People do read and follow along.

You used the word "frustration". Everyone gets really frustrated in learning about the truck. Backing, pre-trip, shifting, planning, hours of service, that's enough. These all can be complicated when you start out. Just keep adding your thoughts & impressions. Good luck!

Thank you.

classA's Comment
member avatar

Yes, please continue. I am reading with great interest. It helps me to know that others have felt the same frustration that I am currently dealing with. My current drive range instructor keeps telling me to "Relax, don't stress so much." Hard to do for an anal, type-A perfectionist such as myself. Honestly, I think learning to drive a truck is much like learning to play an instrument and I have never been musically inclined! But, I will get this. I'm not retarded, even though I often feel like I am!! Haha.

Thank you.

Hoofinit's Comment
member avatar

Yes, We are all awaiting to hear about what happened. Do tell!

Greg B.'s Comment
member avatar

And how plz continue

classA's Comment
member avatar

I appreciate those of you who responded. Thank you very much. Although this is somewhat embarrassing for me, I'm going to be real about it.

First, let me say that there was only about one fourth of my class that passed the DOL CDL test on the first attempt. Most of us weren't ready. Do I blame it on the school? No, but the instruction (or lack of it) was obviously part of it. In my opinion, the school did what it was supposed to do. They gave us the basic information needed to get the CDL we wanted. I think a lot of it was due to the inconsistency. There were different instructors and they each had their own viewpoint about "how to do it" and "how to tell someone" without much structure. But, that's life isn't it? Everybody has their own attitude and often life just doesn't seem structured. One instructor acted as if he were your buddy. One was rather gruff and straightforward. Another was simply arrogant with a super-trucker complex. And one was laid-back with a truly relaxed perspective focused on enjoying the drive itself. You already know who I liked best ... right?

Now, back to my DOL appointment. So, here I am mentally prepared and ready to get my license. I've been going over the pre-trip inspection every morning in my mind before I get up! I'm ready to get my CDL and start earning money (not get rich, simply make money). I knew from my gut feeling that I needed to just take the test. I had already studied, I knew what to do, and I had the basic understanding of how to do it. Here's where I made a crucial mistake. Most people would like to go on a drive prior to testing right? Sure, it helps most I'm sure. Personally I'm not wired that way and I knew down inside that I should just take the test. Have you ever done that? Just know you shouldn't do or say something and then do it anyway?

Here's where I messed up. Super-trucker instructor (arrogant) told me and another student who was also testing that day to go get in a truck for a warm-up drive. I should have told him I didn't want to go for a drive. But I didn't. It was but a few minutes into the drive and he critiqued the way I downshifted while going to an on ramp at the bottom of a hill. He was actually rather condescending. Immediately afterward he says, "See if you can shift to speed up and get on the interstate as you are also driving." Do you think that bothered me? Yes. I felt a surge of frustration. Further down the road, super-trucker instructor again spewed out some more of his wisdom and guess what? The frustration only intensified and it did not go away. After returning to the school to wait on my exam appointment I simply couldn't shake the bad experience I'd just had.

My appointment came. The examiner takes my license and medical card to begin completion of the Skills Test Results sheet. Next, I drive the truck to the testing area and apply the parking brake. The examiner gets out and I test all of the lights (forgetting the front 4-ways until I called them out for the rear). That frustration was still there in the back of my mind. Then it's time for the in-cab portion of the pre-trip. The examiner gets into the cab, I place the transmission in gear, turn off the engine, then turn the key back on, and tell the examiner I'm going to start with my Air Leak Checks. And I go through them (saying this all out loud). I depress the brake pedal and hold for 1 minute noting no air pressure loss more than 4 psi. I fan the brake pedal until warning indicators activate at 60 psi or above (and I realize that I never released the tractor brake, so I release it). Then I continue to fan the brake pedal until the Tractor Brake Valve and Tractor Parking Valve knobs pop-out or engage. I tell the examiner that I've completed my air supply system checks. He asks, "Are you sure?" So, I go over the process out loud, pointing to what I did, and thinking about it. I respond, "Yes." He asks, "Are you sure?" Once again I go over it out loud and he asks and I respond "yes" again. He shakes his head in disappointment and says, "I'm sorry to do this, but you'll never forget it." And he failed me. Automatic Disqualification. He said, "I thought you'd start over once you noticed the parking brake still applied, but you never did and I couldn't tell you. The results of all the air leak tests were compromised because of that brake being applied and you should have started over." He said, "You won't forget it next time." I thanked him and seemed to be in a trance as I went to tell the school administration staff that I'd need to be rescheduled.

Talk about frustration! My soul felt like it died inside of me. My first thought was how disappointed my wife was going to be. After that I think I practically blacked out for about an hour in sense. I didn't physically pass out, but I don't remember driving home. The next thing I recall was seeing a big note on my refrigerator that my wife had left for me that morning that said, "CONGRATULATIONS!" with "a big heart with a smiley face". Do you think that made me feel any better? No. I felt worse and that frustration was still there. But within a few minutes I'd fully regained my composure, went back to the DOL for another $100.00 STR form, and returned it to the school for my next appointment. I was rescheduled for 3 days later and the frustration finally left me as I drove back home.

Wait until I tell you what happened next.

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.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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