I will share my experience of doing my pre-trip with the CDL examiner back in 2001. This will fit right in with TruckerMike's blogs. I chose to go to a driving school to upgrade my Class B CDL to a class A CDL. I did this after talking to trucking companies about the possibility of my job coming to an end. I asked them if I should get my class A CDL through my employer using a dump truck with a trailer or attend a truck driving school? My contacts said it was best to go to a trucking school to get it, so I did. With this being said, my experiences mirror TruckerMike's blogs so I won't say too much about it except for the pre-trip experience.
I had a very tough time with the pre-trip inspection. I am not mechanically inclined and all these terms and parts were a strange language for me. I also could not fathom being failed, if you could not tell anyone that you are looking at a _____ and it does_____.They must take in the fact that you are trying and know what you are looking for, right???
I struggled and studied daily on this pre-trip stuff. It was just plain hard for me. I was in a tizzy over this. But all I could do was, do my best. Finally the day came for my classmates and I to take the test. When it was my turn for the pre-trip with the examiner, we started off on the left side of the truck. I was doing my speech pretty well and before I could finish, the examiner would say "OK, let's move on" or something like that and walk to another part of the vehicle when I was not done with the current part. This flustered me but I thought I must really be doing well and I don't have to suffer through this whole speech thing I was trying to do.
But after another 1 or 2 of these "move on" comments, I was told I failed! What do you mean I failed when I have done what was asked of me?? My instructor was told that I was not ready and I was in tears. I told my instructor, "this is what the examiner did". The three of us talked about it and I was told that those comments were meant to hurry things along - yet finish the pre-trip as I was taught. Now you tell me this??? I was not a happy camper!
I had to come back the next day, and this time I was ready. I had the same examiner and we started at the same spot and I ignored the "move on" comments and I also did one other thing. I said something like this, "I am not a mechanic and I will soon forget the names of these parts so here is what I am going to do in real life pre-trips. I went thru the rest of the pre-trip pointing at everything we learned and even added a few because I said I am a woman and I would check this or that to be safe because I think I should. Continuing, I said, "This thing here does ____ & we need to check it for_____." When I finished the pre-trip, I said "I have just shown you that I do know the pre-trip and what to look for, I just do not know the names of the parts. So you can fail me if you feel I did not follow the rules." But I passed!
So that was my experience with the pre-trip inspection. Now here we are in 2009 and I still check out my vehicle, I look at all of the critical items but I still do not know their names or I get them mixed up. I know I was lucky on my exam and I had an examiner who used common sense after I did prove I could do a pre-trip. But if you get a "by the book" examiner, you will have problems doing it the way I did it. I have 7 1/2 years in truck driving and a perfect record. My story isn't meant to tell you that you don't need to learn the pre-trip the proper way. You do need to learn it. To this day get out my notes and still try to learn those pesky terms! It acts as a nice refresher for me. Never stop learning.