Trainco Trucking School w/ CFI

Discussion in 'Trucking Schools and CDL Training Forum' started by natedogg323, May 9, 2021.

  1. natedogg323

    natedogg323 Light Load Member

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    May 4, 2007
    Detroit, Mi
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    Day 3
    Good evening everybody.
    Well if training to be a truck driver is a roller coaster-like experience, today is the bottom of the hill. Extremely frustrating day to say the least.

    Each day of the first week will be the same. It will start with classroom stuff. So slideshow/PowerPoint lecture on different topics each day. Today was a bit of a wake-up call for all of us. The most notable classroom lecture today was distracted driving with night and mountain driving taking a close second. We watched numerous videos of truck drivers playing on their cellphones while driving and killing people due to a lack of attention to the road. We watch videos of the driver in New Mexico that was watching porn as he full speed ran into multiple police officers dealing with a situation on the side of the highway. He killed one officer and is facing life in prison for murder.

    Now you have to be an idiot not to realize distracted driving kills but to watch semi's drive full speed into cars, other trucks, and off the road, is a bone-chilling reality of the importance of taking EVERY moment behind the wheel seriously. No joke, this 90 min presentation really shook me to my core. Which I'm happy to have gone through no question but nonetheless...

    Night driving and mountain driving were pretty interesting stuff as far as controlling the vehicle down steep grades and the importance of the run-away exit ramps. We also talked about how we no longer have the option to take over-the-counter medicines like Dayquil or Nitequil. In fact, learning that driving sick is illegal was a bit of a shock.

    After lunch, we did more pre-trip and have worked ourselves back to the bulkhead of the trailer. Tomorrow we will add coupling and then each of us will have to run the pre-trip from the top back to the coupling system.

    At 3 pm each day we get a 15 min break and after that, we head to the range/pad. So far we learned straight backing, offset back left/right (reverse lane change) and today we added the parallel left/right to the mix. I went second and for 25 mins I failed literally each and every time. I came close once on my second attempt but turned the wheel the wrong way and destroyed the move. I started stalling the fricking manual trans bull crap I'm stuck using and got in my head. For the life of me, I couldn't even come close to either side. So around 5:05 I bailed on the maneuver for the day and will reset and work on my headspace for tomorrow.

    I'm not going to lie, I'm EXTREMELY frustrated that I have to practice already difficult maneuvers in a manual trans when I'm going for an automatic transmission. If I have one complaint about this training school it's that they don't provide the proper truck for students wishing to obtain an automatic trans CDL. This might seem petty to veteran truckers or people more familiar with M/T vehicles but when you are attempting to do something that doesn't come naturally to some people and you have to add in that vehicle function it's incredibly frustrating. Maybe it's meant to mimic stressful situations that we will face on the road. Maybe it's meant to mimic tight backs, road backing with traffic, or some other stressor???

    I will say that 72 hours ago I NEVER expected to be able to maneuver a semi-truck the way that I CAN in most situations in only 3 days. That is the positive takeaway for today. Much has been accomplished and you can't learn if you don' make mistakes but today I took an L. And you know what....that's ok. Tomorrow is another day and I WILL be more successful. I have to be...cause Friday we are officially driving on the road. So....Its time to man up and make this happen!

    Good night everyone and Have a good evening!
     
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  3. natedogg323

    natedogg323 Light Load Member

    67
    90
    May 4, 2007
    Detroit, Mi
    0
    Day 4
    Good evening everyone. If yesterday was the bottom of the roller coaster hill, then today I'm climbing upwards!! Feeling much better and had a fairly productive day at Trainco.

    Same as all week, we started in the classroom and talked about New technologies in trucking. I.e. autonomous trucks and trucking companies, advanced safety features like adaptive cruise control and lane departure assist. Then we talked and watched videos on human trafficking. Learned about the organization named Truckers Against Trafficking. Learned about signs to watch for to help potential kids/adults who are being held against their will and forced to provide sexual services in truck stops and travel lodges. Lastly, for the classroom today was our final written exam. This is a Trainco requirement and we all passed. I think I tied for worst in the class with 92%. I didn't read a few questions properly and fell for the 2 trick questions. As a former D high school student anytime I get a B or better I call it a win...LOL

    At 11 am today we headed out to the range to warm up with an offset backing maneuver. I started on the right side pulling the trailer into the left-hand slot. Failed twice immediately. Thought "oh crap, here we go again." I made the call to change to the left-hand lane. That way I was pulling into right-hand slot maneuver so I could nail a backing maneuver and get some confidence back. That side seems to be my strong side. That did the trick, and all was gravy for an hour straight.

    As per usual, 12 pm is lunch till 12:30 pm.

    What came next blew my mind. They moved driving on the road from tomorrow to today. So, as my class is 3 manual students and 3 auto students (1 being me) We split up and headed out onto the road for the very first time ever! I drove my a/t Volvo first. I think my butt suction-cupped itself to the driver seat LOL
    I'm in rural Ohio but only a few miles from I-75, and a bunch of OHIO interstates and highways. So heavy traffic areas and country roads mixed for my 30 minutes behind the wheel. They had us go out bobtail for starters. I honestly did ok. Had a hard time speeding up to posted limits. I hung back around 5-10 under because I wanted to stay in control and brake safely and properly behind the stop lines. After about 20 mins of driving, I was actually having FUN!! LOL first time I can say that!! The biggest takeaway for me was that I had NO IDEA how fast and how MUCH there is to pay attention to in a semi-truck. Intersections, signs, speeds, 4 wheelers and their bullcrap, traffic lights changing in the worst spots. All in all, I found that looking ahead and speaking softly to myself about things I was seeing. Stop sign coming up, car approaching intersection, lane changing, etc helped me focus and keep things in perspective. The trainer thought I was crazy but...OH WELL, we were safe LOL

    The last couple of hours were the final parts of the pre-trip. We now have learned the whole truck, but didn't practice the trailer yet.

    So each day from here on out will look like this. As an automatic trans driver, my class is only 12 "actual class" days. So I have 8 days of class left before testing out. No more classroom work, as we finished that today. So each of the remaining 8 days will be a combination of pad/range training, road driving, and pre-triping. Unless something else comes up that I don't know, these updates should be less wordy..LOL

    All in all, no I didn't get to work on the parallel maneuver today but there's plenty of time left and maybe it was for the best that I walked away from that for a day?!

    Hope you all have a great night and talk to you tomorrow!
     
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  4. Mototom

    Mototom Heavy Load Member

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    Keep it up buddy glad to here you’re doing well with it.
    I’ll add in this about medication. They’re right you shouldn’t take anything if it makes you feel different. Never take anything that will make you sleepy! DUI from Benadryl is possible.
    DayQuil is safe for me.
    I even have a hard time with taking NyQuil at night, I wake up so groggy the next morning.
     
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  5. natedogg323

    natedogg323 Light Load Member

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    May 4, 2007
    Detroit, Mi
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    I get NyQuil for sure. I was shocked they said no DayQuil cause that doesn’t seem to effect me negatively at all. Maybe it does for some people ?
     
  6. keebler13579

    keebler13579 Medium Load Member

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    They say no dayquil cause dayquil contains alcohol but you can buy dayquil that doesn't have alcohol in it and I believe that is ok
     
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  7. natedogg323

    natedogg323 Light Load Member

    67
    90
    May 4, 2007
    Detroit, Mi
    0
    Day 5 End of Week 1

    I literally can't believe it's been a whole week already. Time flies so fast!! From what I can gather how you will progress through training here at Trainco has some bearing on your class. (and yourself to a degree) I overheard our instructor talking with another instructor about how we (collectively) were a group of "overachievers" and were progressing through the training much faster than normal. I guess most (or some) classes take more than a day to go from one backing maneuver to another. Moving so fast through our pad training has allowed us to spend more time on Pre-trip inspection, and got us on the road faster. So your personal experience at Trainco might look slightly different from what I have been describing each day.

    Today we arrived at class like normal at 7 am. Since we no longer have any classroom training we waiting for instruction on what we were supposed to do today. They split us up into our 3 groups by transmission. So us automatic guys hit the road right off the bat with a trailer today. Since we haven't pulled out of the lot with a trailer yet, the instructor took us off the lot and just down the road. Each of us drove for roughly an hour and a half today. The trainer that took us out today is an extremely nice guy that works for Pepsi but with Trainco only part-time. He super encouraging, friendly, and gives exact, precise, and clear instructions while driving to help ease you. In fact, he did an amazing job getting each of us to calm down and relax within 10-15 minutes of driving. He asked who we were going to work for and then tried to create a route that would mimic as best as he could with more real-world traveling situations. Since I'm going over the road, he took me on highways and through a couple of rural towns and country back roads to get me comfortable with tight roads, fast speeds, and turns through tight little cities. I can't describe how exciting and fun that part of the day was! Each of us did really well once we relaxed and calmed down. I'm so proud of my classmates and myself too! I really have a good group of people with me.

    We got back at lunchtime and at 12:30 pm headed out to the range/pad for backing practice. I performed 3-4 parallel backing maneuvers all successfully with 1-2 pull-ups or less. SO much better than Wednesday's results!! We typically have 1 student that has to stand around and wait for an opening so I let him take over on parallel and I went over to offset backing again. That didn't go quite as smoothly as I would have liked and it was pretty hot today and I was developing a bad headache, so I kind of walked off and got some water and aspirin for my headache. When I came back to the pad I only had like 30 minutes and went and did a few more parallel backs that didn't go well but an instructor helped me figure it out and ended the pad time with a perfectly centered parallel back.

    The last couple hours were spent going of the in-cab inspection and mandatory brake test, and some more pre-trip practice.

    This experience is by far nothing like anything I have ever experienced before. Driving a truck and performing maneuvers is so challenging and fun and so fulfilling when you do something you couldn't do before. I have the weekend off and it couldn't have come at a better time. Even though I'm feeling good emotionally, I'm physically drained, and my body feels like it's been through a war.

    I hope you all have a great weekend! The next update is coming Monday evening. Good night
     
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  8. natedogg323

    natedogg323 Light Load Member

    67
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    May 4, 2007
    Detroit, Mi
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    Start of week 2 Day 6

    Another beautiful day here in northern Ohio. The temperatures are moving up for sure! haha
    Last week we finished our in-class training and basically started a new daily pattern of training exercises. My group starts at 7:00 am and typically by 7:30-7:45 am find ourselves loaded up in a truck and headed out on the road for roughly 4-5 hours of driving split between 3 of us. Today started a little rough as I forgot my binder in my backpack at school. That binder has my driver's paper permit in it. SMH DOH

    We did make it back to the school around 10:45 am so I could grab my paperwork and legally drive my allotted time. Almost everything went smoothly on my drive. I had a new instructor today and he was an older gentleman that liked to talk more than give instructions. Not a bad guy by any means but instructions didn't always come soon enough for a smooth transition from turn to turn. I didn't stop behind the stop bar once because of this. That was my bad because I was more focused on the tight turn than I was at where I was in relation to that line on the road. (once again, my fault completely, not blaming him for this)

    I had a light turn on me to yellow in that in-between timing that I had to make a judgment call and I made the wrong call. The light was clearly red as I passed underneath it. The last hiccup of the ride came when I was in a small quaint downtown area turning from a 2 lane to another 2 lanes with cars parked on the side of the street. I made the widest, squarest turn I possibly could, cut in front of the car that was turning left almost perfectly. However, my right rear trailer tire clipped ever so slightly a plastic reflector that put in the road at the apex of the turn and knocked it down. The instructor informed me that it was a "highway route" and "blank the reflector" Which was very kind of him but I felt really bad as I haven't touched a curb yet and now I knocked down a reflector sign.

    The rest of the day went just as normal as can be. After lunch, more range/pad time caused me stress and frustration as I can't figure out the parallel backing maneuver. I spoke with one of the instructors and he gave me a quick lesson on a whiteboard and showed me visually what I'm doing wrong. So tomorrow I can't wait to see if I can put his instruction into practice. There is just one other student stuck on this with me. The other 4 have moved onto the 90 degree alley dock maneuver. So I don't want to get left in the dust.

    We finished up the day practicing the in-cab inspection, mandatory brake insp, and full pre-trip from tractor to trailer. This was the first time so far that I went from start to finish of the whole first part of the test. I was told by another student that I got roughly a 78-80 depending on how it would have actually been scored! That's not bad for a rookie lol I have 6 more days to tighten this up and try to get closer to that perfect 90. (Ohio is a 90 point insp)

    So that pretty much concludes day 6. I'm really enjoying the experience overall. I know I'm having some struggles but you can't learn if you don't make mistakes and I have to just take what I'm being taught and put it into practice. 6 more days to go and I'll be a CDL holder : )

    Have a great night everybody!!
     
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  9. natedogg323

    natedogg323 Light Load Member

    67
    90
    May 4, 2007
    Detroit, Mi
    0
    Day 7
    If you are thinking about getting your CDL and your reading this, or maybe you already have committed to going to a company-sponsored training program. Let me be the first to tell you that this experience will test you mentally and physically! Be prepared, be committed to starting this endeavor. It WILL NOT BE EASY and it WILL challenge you more than you probably think. This is not to say it isn't worth it, but don't show up to class thinking it'll be a breeze.

    With that said...lol
    I LOVE driving a semi-truck. It is so incredibly exciting and different from anything I've ever done before. I KNOW I want this!! However, I simply am hitting a roadblock with my backing maneuvers. It's crazy that it so challenging for some (like myself) and for others, it's a one-shot maneuver over and over again. I've read other people's threads on trouble backing and never could understand how they seemed to get so frustrated over it. Let me be the first to say..I GET IT NOW! haha

    The Good:
    I drove today for about 90 mins and the highlights of my trip was getting to drive on I-75 through the never-ending construction zone heading into Toledo where I-75 north flips back and forth from Northbound to Southbound about 3-4 times. This is (for a new driver) an extremely challenging roadway since the highway is constantly weaving through barriers and trucks and cars are whizzing by you faster than they should be going (IMO) and the uneven pavement makes holding your lane challenging. I didn't go too fast but held close to 50 mph. (speed limit is 55 through here) We then proceeded to 280 south which takes you through more construction over this bridge that is moderately high above the Maumee River. As someone who DOES NOT like heights, I just focused on the road and ignored the heights that spaned out before me! Everything went smoothly today on the road and is quickly becoming what makes me happy each day.

    The Bad:
    Still stuck on parallel parking. The lack of support I'm receiving at the moment is frustrating me. I don't want to call out the school or throw anyone under the bus but I'm fairly unimpressed with the support staff at this place. You can sit in a truck on the range/pad for hours failing maneuver after maneuver and NO ONE will approach you or even check on you to see if you need assistance. Now I'm fully aware that I'm a grown-### man and have the ability to walk over to the "shack' where the instructors sit and "hang out" and ask for help. (and I have) but I feel like, for the price tag this place costs, there should be more involvement from the staff with students on the range. For 2 hours today, I pulled forward and back and forward and back and only successfully completed 3 parallel backing maneuvers. YES, that is good that I did have minor success and it's comforting to know that I CAN perform the maneuver but it seems more often than not, I get stuck and can't figure out how to tweak the trailer to correct the problems with my backing.

    The Disclaimer:
    Anything worth doing is going to take time, effort, and even may have its ups and downs. I'm GOING to nail this test and I'm GOING to succeed!! I'm in no way shape or form trying to complain, pass the buck and say it's the school's fault that I'm struggling. Naw, it's on me and I'm going to rise to the occasion. But this is a training diary, and it's my record day to day of how I feel, what's going on in my head. This is something I'm going to look back on and laugh at when I'm months, years into a trucking career and see how silly I was in the midst of something that isn't that big of a deal after it's all said and done.

    The Conclusion:
    Today was productive. I drove some challenging roads, had a little success on the range, and nailed the pre-trip. We timed each other doing the full truck (outside only) and I only missed 3 things and took roughly 13 mins to complete. Leaving me 17 mins to do in-cab, mandatory brake insp, and light insp.
    Wednesday is upon us and that marks the ONE WEEK mark till test day. I'm both excited and nervous. I've always been a nervous guy...and I always end up trying to figure out why I stressed so much over something that ended up not being that big of a deal!

    Have a great night and talk to you all tomorrow!
     
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  10. keebler13579

    keebler13579 Medium Load Member

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    Keep up the positive attitude youll get there with your backing. Keep in mind the only failed back is the one that involves damage. Doesn't matter what the maneuver looks like as long as it's in the spot without hitting anything
     
  11. natedogg323

    natedogg323 Light Load Member

    67
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    May 4, 2007
    Detroit, Mi
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    Day 8
    Well folks, it finally happened! On the 8th day, God created a trucker named Nathan. LOL I don't know what happened today. I don't know what finally clicked but I completed 95% of all my attempted backing maneuvers today with no more than 1 pull-up when necessary.

    I know I typically recap the whole day but I'm so SO SOOOOOOOOO jacked up about being able to complete dozens of parallel backs in both left and right sides. This is how it all went down.

    I'm the only one in my class that coming into today hadn't attempted the 90-degree alley dock maneuver. The 4 "over-achievers" (lol) already have perfected it and moved on to being bored. One other guy has tried and had minor success, so I figured this is the last maneuver, I'm being told how easy it is, let's get my confidence up and move away from the frustration of the parallel back for a moment. So I started the day with the alley dock. Literally, pulled off 6 in a row with only an adjusting pull forward to straight-line back once I had the trailer in the box roughly 6-8 feet. Feeling incredibly good about how that went I moved over to the parallel backing area and immediately rattled off 3 in a row on both sides????!!!! I'm flabergasted at this point because I had a few minor tips about what I should be doing but nothing other than I STOPPED overthinking it. I stayed on it for another 90 mins or so and definitely had some failed maneuvers but found myself correcting more than not.

    This is the moment I've been waiting for. I didn't doubt that I would figure it out but I DID doubt WHEN it would happen. Truth be told, I was a little concerned it wouldn't happen before I test out next Wednesday.

    I have 4 full days still of driving, range practice, and pre-trip practice. I should have NO issues getting myself mentally prepared and skillfully prepared to at a minimum pass the CDL exam and prepare myself for the "real training" with my finisher/trainer at CFI.

    This ones short and sweet guys! I hope ya'll have a great night and stay safe!!
     
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