The Meat And Potatoes Of Orientation

by JakeCat22

Well, the last two days are what I call the "meat and potatoes" of orientation. Lots of driving with our trainer, pre-trip inspections, post-trip inspections, backing, and coupling and uncoupling. Lots of time behind the wheel so our trainers can evaluate how safe we are as a driver and to make sure we are making good decisions, have good shifting skills, and recover well if we miss a gear. We have also done a lot of trip planning and we're learning the macros on our Qualcomm.

Some Good Days Behind The Wheel, Some Bad


Like I said in an earlier blog, my first day of driving was pretty good, and my trainer said for the first day, I was on track. So the second day of driving came....and for some reason I did terrible! I was missing shifts, forgetting to hit my gear selector, grinding gears, missing my gear recovery, and worse of all, I totally mental-blocked and shifted on a railroad track! I was so disappointed in myself! I knew I was better than that, but for some reason I just couldn't do it. I was really really down on myself the rest of the day. My trainer explained that I had to get better, that I shouldn't be going backwards like I did from the day before. Needless to say, the rest of the day was really, really long.

Today we went out for our third day of driving. I was nervous because of how bad I did the day before. My trainer reassured me that I would be fine, to just relax and think about what I was doing. I thought back to my training, adjusted my seat, adjusted my mirrors and started grabbing gears. I was doing way better, my downshifting was great, no grinding, proper gear selection, and best of all, I didn't shift on any railroad tracks! After going down the road for 3 or 4 miles, my trainer looked over at me with a smile and just said "told ya you would be fine". He told me I had a 100% improvement from the day before, and to forget about yesterday, and just drive the truck like I know how to drive it. He said it was like having a completely different driver in the truck from the day before. I was all of a sudden feeling way better about myself. I knew at that point, I was gonna be fine, so I used the rest of the trip to sit back, relax and enjoy the view from the drivers seat of a big rig!

We also did a bit of backing with alley docking. We didn't spend a lot of time on it because my driving partner and myself are not having many problems with backing. I will tell ya, alley docking between two trailers seems to be way easier than docking between cones like we did in school, for whatever reason.

Our Orientation Class Is Slowly Losing Members

I would also like to update on our class size. If you recall, we started with 15. Well, we are down to 13. We lost one to a failed drug test - somehow he thought the company wouldn't catch it. Well, they did and he was promptly sent packing home. The other student we lost was voluntary. He was having a really hard time shifting, and the instructors talked to him, so he decided to go home and get a refresher course, and they will then invite him back to orientation.

Tomorrow is the big day, we have our skills testing, and if we pass, we get our driver number and are officially a driver with the company, so with that said, I am gonna wrap this up and get some sleep, I wanna be bright eyed and bushy tailed for my testing!

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.


Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.


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.

by Brett Aquila

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