Out on the range

Today was my third day here at the company-sponsored CDL training facility. Yesterday was similar to the first day, with lots of safety presentations and laying the groundwork for getting us out in trucks. Today, however, we spent some time on the simulators. We are lucky enough to be at a facility that has four drive simulators that look just like the driver’s seat of a truck, but have a digital screen where the windshielld would be. Instead of getting in a real truck to practice changing gears, we did it in a simulation. It’s not really good for  much else due to the limited graphics and physics of the sim, but practicing changing gears without ruining a truck is very valuable experience. Expecialy since I would definitely have shredded the gears of a real truck, as well as possibly run someone over and/or rolled the truck if I hadn’t been on the sim. It was hard to get the rhythm of double clutching down! Considering I’ve only ever successfully driven a manual car once, ten years ago, I didn’t do too badly, but it was another humbling experence for me.

In the afternoon, a group of us went out to an offsite range to start learning how to do the pre-trip inspection. For those who don’t know, a pre-trip inspection is a VERY thorough inspection of the inside and outside of a truck performed EVERY time a trucker is getting ready to head back out on the road. Doesn’t matter if you were just stopped for lunch or overnight, you must perform the pre-trip inspection before leaving. It has to do with safety and liability. If a trucker takes off without doing the pre-trip and a few hundred miles down the road, a tire blows, or the brakes fail, or something happens to the truck that requires repairs and/or a delay in delivery of product, the company has no way of saying that it wasn’t the trucker’s fault and the incident could have been prevented altogether just by doing the inspection. Therefore, the inspection is thorough and, thus, difficult to memorize. Truckers have to know the different parts of the engine and identify if they are in proper working order, parts of the brakes, parts on the tractor, parts on the trailer, as well as an inspection of inside the tractor cab and a brake test. It’s a lot of information to memorize, but fortunatley, it is just straight memorization. They are giving us all the information we need to pass the test, we just need to memorize it. I do know I will need the full three weeks to get it down, though. Also, we got caught in a torrential downpour while out there tooday… twice. Once with lightning. Fun fun.

It’s late and I have to get up at 7am (ugh) so I’ll end it here for now.

Hope to see you down the road.

~Catherine