YRC Driver training - Roadsidedown's journey
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Good luck with your new career, I hope you like trucking as much as I have over the years. I started my trucking career doing P&D for one of YRC’s former competitors, Consolidated Freightways 34 years ago at the ripe old age of 21. You get to see a variety of locations and will eventually become really good at backing in to tight spots. Take your time backing and don’t let others impatience cause you to rush and hit something. Some days you may have to just circle the block and try it again, we have all been there at one time. Your free healthcare thru the Teamsters will likely be the best you have ever had. My wife still wishes we had our Teamster insurance and she works for a healthcare company.
Thanks Banker! I am very excited about doing P&D with YRC. There is a YRC box truck driver and a former Lowes driver in the class and it is great to chat with them about real delivery life. And of course our trainers or other experienced drivers that help out have lots of good info too. Trying to catch some of the LTL threads on this forum as well. The class is going well but every day we get new challenges so I expect it will be intense to the last day.
DAY 6 - STARTING WEEK2
Well I didn't forget everything over the weekend. Finally knocked out all the federal training videos. There is good content but they are very boring. Glad to be done with those 30+ hours.
Steps forward: I actually made some of my offset backings, a few were smooth and down the center and a few were ugly bendy things that managed to stay within the cones, and several were jackknife disasters. At least I know I can do this and just have to work on consistency. With some more coaching I was finally able to understand the downshift sequence and it turns out to be pretty easy. We are limited to 6th gear around the yard so pretty limited downshifting but going from 6 to 5, or down to 4 or three went fine. Our driving instruction is excellent. They encourage us to keep advancing in skills but coach us on whatever we have problems with and then give us some time on our own to try it out and practice at our own pace. Also started the in-cab portion of pre-trip practice. I am familiar with most of it from my school bus days but it is still a lot of information to remember and remember well. Again, some great demonstrations and coaching got me straightened out on a couple of things and challenged and some others.
Overall the class is moving forward. We have one star student that picks everything up quickly. A young guy who is very enthusiastic, has driving experience and will probably be a fantastic Class-A P&D driver for YRC. A few of us are slightly behind him working on pre-trip, straight and offset backing, shifting and downshifting. I think the plan is for us to get out on the road within the next couple of days when our downshifting is consistent. Star student was first out on the road going around local streets today. Fantastic to see everyone progressing. I think everyone has at least exterior pre-trip, straight backing and now shifting going OK.
We had a third instructor helping out today so lots more driving going on. I recall some threads on TruckersReport and other social media of guys complaining of only getting a few hours behind the wheel before their CDL test. YRC trainers have us in the cab now 4-6 hours a day! Every day. If any of us fail on backing or driving test it will NOT be from lack of wheel time. I feel very fortunate to be in a good program like this. All the students are hungry to be Class A drivers. We all get along well and encourage each other. it's great. The instructors are pressing us ever onward, never to slack off and keep adding skills and knowledge. There is a lot of structure, instruction, and coaching, yet also plenty of time to experiment and practice on your own. Not always under the microscope, but if you want help it is close by.
It is hard not to anticipate what testing conditions will be like. We are frequently reminded that we have to master the current skill set before we worry about something in the future. Get your backing or air brake test verbiage down solid or it won't matter what the road test is like. I sure hope we all pass our CDL tests and can join the Class A ranks pulling freight soon.
Banner day for me in the trucks.
Finally got the hang of offset backing and 90 degree alley dock backing. Thanks to more coaching from an instructor and fellow student. Also went on the streets around the port and airport with the Volvo and pup trailer. Not too bad for my first road drive shifting past 6th up into 9th for the 45mph zones and then shifting back down through to 6th before stopping at a light or traffic. Missed a few gears but overall in control of the tractor and trailer and did not break any traffic laws. Other drivers were pretty decent to me. Instructor complimented me several times for holding the hill start, catching the down shifts, not shifting during turns etc. I was so pumped up after driving In Real Life! I love truck driving. The instructors are really tops. Seem to be everywhere, very patient and persistent with us and encourage us to experiment to find our own zone if their methods don’t click with us. I really feel today I can do everything on the DMV tests. Pretty rough right now but now I know I can do it all. Two more weeks to polish all the skills!
Thousands of guys and gals have been through this and have 1 million miles behind them. But it is still very exciting for me and the other students to be making these small achievements. One of our eight students dropped out today but everyone else is progressing well. Trucking has many challenges and they can seem overwhelming when first encountered. But we got to just take that next step, try it out, learn and master it.
Oh yeah, also got my DOT medical exam so my medical card is renewed. Now just need that Class A license and I can start my route training on the streets around Portland.
Another great day. Really started nailing the offset and alley dock backing maneuvers today. Go slow, small changes. Keep cones in sight. If wheels get inside the alley cones either GOAL or use a pull up to make sure I don’t go out the far boundary line. Feels great to have dozens of good backings.
Everyone was making milestones. A student that was having backing difficulties just wouldn’t give up and with admirable determination finally started making the parallel parking! The whole class was excited by that commitment. The students are mostly in their 30s providing for their young families. This Class A license we are striving for means food on the table and a decent home for them. More are getting road time and that adds a lot of new energy as well. I feel we have all turned the corner. Victory is achievable. We have two weeks to burn these skills into our brain and make it smoother and easier.
Again many kudos to YRC and the instructors. They are making many trucks and trailers and a practice yard available to us. The instructors never give up on anyone and stay tuned to what each student needs to progress and encourage us and challenge us every day. I have no doubt all seven of us students remaining will pass our DMV tests later this month.
DAY 10/ END OF WEEK 2
I practiced offsets and alley dock backing and went for a two hour trainer road drive through downtown Portland streets, freeway and urban and industrial highways. Fantastic fun. The trainer said although some details are still a bit rough that my driving today would have passed the state exam. Drove through miles of homeless camps. Drove through downtown with a police car on my right the entire way. Oh yeah, I got the 8 foot long STUDENT DRIVER banner slung across the back of the trailer. LOL, fear me, Portland!!! A thousand stop lights to slow down, start up and slow down. 4th-9th and back down to 6th like a bandit, mostly. LOL! The trainer was super. Patient, helpful coaching, and fun guy.
I am very confident on my backing. Pretty much nailing every type, no sweat. A week ago I was kind of anxious about driving on the road and my backing sucked bad.
The entire class is doing well. I think we have all completed every challenge, some more consistently and smoother than others. But we CAN do it. Personally I am confidant I could pass the state exam today. With two more weeks of all driving and backing it should get very much smoother and easier.
one of our instructors got permission to use the yard hostel er training docks. While I was on my two hour drive the other students took turns doing 90 degree backing into a real dock. No more 2 ft on either side between the orange cones. Now it is a couple of inches either side between the steel dock bumpers and must be straight against the dock. Sounded like it went fairly well.
I don’t know if most CDL classes are like this, but we have truly great instructors and the students are very supportive and friendly all around. Yeah we get the 1998 Freightliner, early 2000s Internationals, and a couple of “newer” 2006 Volvos. Kinda thinking it isn’t the first time the odometers read 800k! But hey! They all drive and shift and drop and hook fine. And we have lots of them to use. We are getting used to different shifters and clutches and mirror views.
It is hard to believe in two weeks I went from anxious concern over several key skills to being able to confidentially perform them on the spot. Many laps around the terminal and two road drives and I am a down shifting fool. Rather than worrying about the state exam I am now excited to do it and move into my driving job.
I thank all you guys on here too. I joined the board months ago while still a bus driver dreaming of driving Class A. Did a detour into rock quarry haul trucking but was learning here about the types of jobs. Decided that LTL seemed like what I wanted to start in and eventually I got the call. I never would have known about all these opportunities without you all here at TruckersReport. Tons of great advice, experience stories, and humor.
And I’ll drive proudly for YRC this next year in my older truck because they gave me an honest opportunity.
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