Wednesday is test day for three of the CDL or Bust students: Anna Basham, Russell Durgasingh and Teddy Flener Jr. Jason Horton, Wayne Meenach, Ryan Strange and Joey Wilson Jr. take their tests on Thursday.
So this morning at Truck America Training in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, was all about reviewing everything the students learned over their past 15 days of training, heading out to the range to go over their pre-trip inspections one more time. They were joined on the range by students who started a class two weeks after theirs.
Durgasingh and Basham worked on one truck, at times advising the newer students what to look for and the precise wording to use. Flener soon joined that group while Horton, Meenach, Strange and Wilson gathered around a nearby truck.
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Horton impressively ran through the pre-trip with the required verbiage, starting at the driver’s door and heading back through the brakes, tires, cargo lights, air lines and all the way to the trailer. Wilson caught his buddy Horton when Horton said the tires should be inflated to 100 PSI instead of 105.
“It’s better to say too much than to not say enough,” advised Horton, who has been driving a box truck for a living. “And my trick is I’m going to leave my hand on whatever I’m doing and if I think I missed something, I’ll start over again.”
That’s smart. Instructor Bob Cross stressed the importance of the PSI questions during the in-cab part of the pre-trip exam, noting that missing any of three requirements in that section will cause them to fail then and there.
The CDL or Bust students have come to care for each other so much that Meenach took the time to coach Basham as she worked on her straight backing, offset parking and parallel parking.
“We pretty much all take turns helping each other,” Meenach said. “When we see someone struggling, one of us will help.”
Those parking maneuvers, which count for a third of the test, were the main focus this morning and the part of the training for which I was privileged to ride along with former dump truck driver Wilson.
“You have to look at the whole line of those cones as a brick wall,” Cross explained after Wilson didn’t get a maneuver exactly correct. “Any place they cross that cone line is two points off on the test.”
Both former school bus driver Basham and Durgasingh displayed some pre-test jitters, with Cross telling the latter that he seemed to have forgotten things he had learned before, adding, “Make your mistakes today, not tomorrow.”
--By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter. Photo of Anna Basham and Teddy Flener Jr. practicing their inspection by John Sommers II for TT.