Video: Extra Studying Paid Off for Russell Durgasingh to Get Permit on Second Try

Russell Durgasingh had more than a few anxious moments after he failed to pass his CDL permit test on Day 4 of Transport Topics’ CDL or Bust series.

The 45-year-old former Golden Gloves boxer/mixed martial arts contestant said he rushed through the exam on Day 4 because of nerves and because he hadn’t taken a test that counted since he was in high school nearly three decades ago.

“I didn’t beat myself up too much,” Durgasingh said. “I’ve took a few whuppings over the years and I know how to deal with loss pretty well. I just brushed it off and went and studied.”

And studied. And studied.

PHOTO GALLERY: Photos of students, classroom and training property. 

“I barely got any sleep Thursday night,” Durgasingh said Monday. “I kept doing all three tests [general knowledge, combination vehicle and air brakes] over and over and over. I probably took ‘em six, seven times apiece until I felt my eyes was going and I decided to get some zzzs about 1:30 [a.m.].”

All that effort paid off when Durgasingh, who had received plenty of encouragement after his failure from his classmates, particularly Jason Horton, passed the test on Day 5.

This morning, Durgasingh and his six classmates got behind the wheel of a big rig for the first time. Instructors Shawn Dillon and Jimmy Gibson worked with the students, none of whom had experience with such a huge vehicle, on how to back one up. Durgasingh said everybody hit a few cones while learning the skill.

 “It’s night and day, no comparison,”

Durgasingh said the difference between handling a tractor-trailer versus the medical shuttle he drove most recently was “night and day, no comparison.”

“When you’re backing up a tractor-trailer, it goes in the opposite direction that you want to go. It took a little time for my brain to register that. Once it did, it seemed to fall in place. I’m in a better place as far as my confidence level, but I’m far from comfortable.”

--By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter. Photo by John Sommers II for Transport Topics