Collin start's his blog about becoming a trucker for week 1 click here

by Collin Barnette
(Visalia, Ca)

Me and Molly

Me and Molly

After thirty years in the Printing industry, which is going away, I am changing and going into trucking. I did maintain a CA class A for many years and have some experience so I felt it is time to put myself in the drivers seat so to speak and take charge of my future.

I am off to update my skills at a local school and reacquire my class A. If you would like I will post all the info as I go. I feel the information might be just what some of your readers are looking for. I love to write and don't see a lot coming from the west coast.

Any way to restate: I would like to post my adventure as it unfolds if you feel the readers would be interested. I have read every word on your site and think you are doing a great thing.

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Dec 23, 2008
Hi Collin
by: Anonymous

Very nice to meet you--and see day to day what you are doing in "CDL school", I could not help but to chuckle at a few of your situations as you go. You are right, this is some information that will be quite appreciated for those thinking about going through it. The day to day update sheds light on a lot of questions that many will ask.

Welcome to the site, and best of luck to you. I look forward to reading more


Jennifer

Dec 20, 2008
Friday - End of the 1st week of becoming a trucker
by: Collin Barnette

The end of the first week at Truck Driving School.

Today started like all the others, no structure or direction from the school. The entire staff of the school seemed to be off at the DMV for their "Blocked Day" so there was nothing for me at the school and no one to instruct me.

After questioning, I was given the keys to the "Yard Dog" truck to practice my Air Bake and Pre Trip Inspection on my own.

Cool, I can do that.

I went out to the truck and started to go through my Air Systems Check on my own but the truck would not start. Great! I should say that the equipment at my school is in pretty poor condition.

They seem to have a few in better shape that they use for DMV purposes, but the trucks used for skills and practice are really not something you would want to be operating. So I helped the

Mechanic got the battery charger on the dead truck and was waiting for some diagnostics to happen when "Shazam", out of no where an instructor showed up and invited me to go out to the field and practice my skills with a group that started two weeks ago. Now that's what I am talking about.

The four of us piled into this truck and went out to an old abandoned motel where the instructor had taken it upon himself to reproduce the DMV layout for the skills test. Hey! very good thinking.

With cones and lines in place on the ground we took turns practicing our straight line controlled stop, straight line backing, parallel trailer parking and 90 degree backing. It was a good thing to actually be working with an instructor and moving forward.

Just my luck that the Instructor got a call in the middle of the day and announced that he was leaving for another job and this would be his last day and class.

Back at school in the afternoon I actually hooked up with a different Instructor who was also very helpful and seemed interested in helping students. This guy doesn't have his class A yet but he was very helpful and involved in what was going on around him.

So, next week I am told that I will be part of a real class and have an Instructor to get moving on the skills and practice I need to complete my class A.

Have a Good Weekend and come back Monday for an update.

Dec 19, 2008
Day Four
by: Collin Barnette

Well here I am on day four. Today started with a video from the local rental store. The title was "Big Rigs" and if you haven't seen it you might want to rent it.The movie is basically a documentary on the truck driver and shares several stories.

OK, Now I have my permit, physical and drug test out of the way and have moved on to participating my skills to demonstrate an Air Brake Systems Check and a Pre Trip Inspection which will both be required by the DMV before I can have an actual driving test.

At this point I have teamed up with one of the other students and we are supervising ourselves as there doesn't seem to be enough Instructors to go around. This is OK as I am a proactive kind of person and want my skills to be the best. But we are told that we will have an Instructor on Monday and really get into the thick of things.

An AIR BRAKE SYSTEMS CHECK will amount to showing and verbalizing to the testor that you know and understand how much air pressure you can loose over what period of time for your brake systems to remain safe and operable.

Next to demonstrate and verbalize the Cut IN and Cut OUT of the trucks air compressor and governor supplying air to the brake systems and then finally to show that you know how to test your brakes to ensure they are working and will hold the vehicle in place.

The PRE TRIP Inspection is really just identifying the various components of the truck and trailer and checking to ensure all is in place and in good working order. Sounds easy enough doesn't it?

Well there are many components and much to stay apprised of so that you know your truck is in functional,safe working order.
So drop in again and see how I do.

Dec 17, 2008
Day three Oh Wee
by: Collin

First, I think it is only right that I apologize for my negativity of the past two days. It seems the first few days of Truck Driving School are aimed at bombarding the student with the information needed to get you to the point of taking and passing your DMV permit exam. I did that today.

Yes, I still do feel that there could be more structured instruction, especially for those who have never had any exposure to trucks or trucking. But, in all fairness the system at my school works and no one who has gone to test for the permit has come back a failure. Study, Study and drill into your brain what the DMV wants to hear.

If your are not perfect or 100 percent, please don't stress there is plenty more training coming in short order.
Tomorrow I start working on the Pre- Trip inspection which is also part of the licensing requirement and really reinforces the information and skills you have got started on in the permit phase.

So, I have discovered that the rest of my week will be spent on identifying and verbalizing the various parts of the cab and drive train to show my instructors and the DMV that I now the various parts of the truck ( gauges, lights, drive train components)and what there condition should be before safe operation.

Oh, air brakes and Hazmat gave me a run for my money on the permit but not to worry there's plenty more training coming to reinforce what has already been learned and settle the anxiety as training moves on.

Stay tuned and find out what happens next.

Dec 17, 2008
Woo Hoo Day Two of Trucking School
by: Collin

Day two of Truck Driving School started much like the first, the exact same videos and multiple choice tests with the same questions and answers in a different order. So I took the final and passed. I am told that I will be going to get my permit at the DMV tomorrow.

I also went to get my DOT physical today. The School sends the students (that's me and the others) to a local Chiropractor for physicals. Cool, I guess, it was the shortest physical I have ever had, about thirty minutes from start to finish including the waiting room. If it's OK with "the Man" it's OK with me.

A recruiter came in from Werner Enterprises and it was a good presentation. I got my question answered about taking my dog and learned that they have three divisions that are always looking for fresh meat. The pet rule is dogs and cats only and only after you complete orientation and what they call training. This is driving with one of their drivers for 300 hours OTR so they know you can drive and feel comfortable issuing you one of their new trucks.
Oh, sorry, there is a deposit for animals of $500. for under 35 lbs and $1000 over 35lbs. Boy, my Molly is right on the line. Guess she needs a little diet if I go for Werner.

So, what will I be doing for the next several weeks at Truck Driving School? Well I hope it will be time behind the wheel honing my driving skills. And I hope they will really put me to the test so where ever I decide to go to work they will get the best driver I can be.

Stay tuned.

Dec 15, 2008
First Day of Truck Driving School
by: Collin

I have started this report several times now as I digest the events of the day. I don?t want to give a negative report but my first impression is that the structure and organization of Truck Driving School leaves a lot to be desired.

Several key things were glossed over in the beginning of class like sexual harassment (a legal requirement) and the ?Catalog of the School? which outlines the particulars of what exactly the school is all about, material covered, what to expect and what is expected, costs and cancellations and drop outs.

I was even pulled out of class to the business office to sign contract paperwork which I felt could have been put into a packet for each student and covered in a class setting. I missed the whole presentation on air brakes.

But as I am the sort to ask many questions we learned about hours, lunch, breaks and got some idea of what we will be doing over the next several weeks. No printed schedule of events but in general.

The class room atmosphere is very relaxed and the videos a little out of date but the information is all good and necessary for the professional driver. I was, and continue to be, put off by the people marching through the class to the only bath room (located in the class room) or people visiting with the Instructor because they have already completed this part of the school and are not able to supervise themselves.

The loud radio and stinking, smoky fire outside the door for the mechanics benefit was just as much a distraction.


By the afternoon things seemed to settle down except for one lady who just will not go and be with her own class. Her constant jabbering makes it hard to concentrate on the material being presented. After mentioning this to the instructor I was told that I should get used to it. A driver is going to have lots of distractions to deal with. Hey, what about courtesy and professionalism?

Tomorrow, I am off for my physical and can?t tell you what is supposed to happen at the school. They didn?t tell us. But I will promise you this. They get the same feed back you do so rest assured the truck driving school in my town will improve if only by asking there students to be courteous of others trying to learn.

Dec 06, 2008
Keep us posted.
by: Hervy

What's up again Collin,

Sorry it took so long for me to get back, dropped my laptop man.

I think that will be totally cool for you to keep us up to date.

In fact, hopefully you will start a trend for a few others to join in posting their journey into trucking. If any positive minded people are interested in being a part of the site I will make a profile page.

Tell us your story of why you have decided to become a trucker. How did you even become interested in becoming a trucker. And any other interesting information you want to tell us.

Look for it soon.

Collin, I'll be emailing you shortly.

Later,
Hervy

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