Another milestone of sorts as our class advances into it’s second week beginning tomorrow. With the change we move out of the classroom and to a group of new instructors who will begin teaching us the real meat and potatoes of the job, the driving of a 70-foot long tractor-trailer. Sad in a way to leave the tutoring of the classroom instructor we’ve enjoyed for the past week. But he’ll be nearby as we move onto the adjacent “Driving Range” and he moves on to indoctrinate a new group of students.
Today we spent the morning testing our skills at reading maps using the ultimate map book, the Rand McNally Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas. Gotta get me one of these! Among the tasks was determining shortest routes from one point to another, often spanning across two states (could have been worse I suppose), as well as calculating mileage and fuel consumption. The toughest part was simply reading the tiny mileage numbers found on the map. With my eyesight requiring reading glasses the last couple of years I really needed a magnifying glass and even brighter light to see what I was doing! In reality it’s my understanding this information regarding routing, mileage, etc. will be part of the “pre-trip” information we receive via the Qualcomm Mobile Communications System and it’s keyboard/display in the cab of our trucks. This is the device we’ll use to receive our assignments from our “Driver Manager” (or dispatcher) and how we communicate back and forth while on the road. But it’s understandable that Swift would want it’s drivers, who will be traversing the country in their rigs valued at more than $100,000, to have some basic map-reading skills.
We also had a 90-minute briefing from one of the officers of The Idaho State “Port of Entry” here in Lewiston. He talked about their mission and the procedures when entering these entry ports as well as weigh stations and D.O.T. check points. More rules and regulations to learn concerning how to identify roads a trucker can drive on and whether special permits are required. Again, a violation can end up costing you a bundle as with Idaho, driving without a proper permit will cost a driver a fine of $191. Also of interest in the discussion was the state’s “Runaway Truck Ramps” whose design and stopping ability are said to be some of the best in the world. Who knew!
By-the-way, we lost only one of our classmates who failed again to pass the written learners permit test after retesting yesterday. She’ll be moved back and will have to repeat the week with the new class starting tomorrow. She missed passing the exam by just one point. So now we’re back to nine students in the class.
So, this is what my life has degenerated to these days … hanging out with truck drivers! I think tonight I’ll mosey on over to check out things at the nearby truck stop! 🙂
It’s funny how things and interests can change in one’s life.
Thanks for dropping in!