Learning to become a truck driver isn’t all work and no play. In the photo above that was taken on Day 9 of CDL or Bust, Jason Horton isn’t trying to tell instructor/umpire Bob Cross that the runner is safe at third base.
“It looks like we’re talking about parallel parking and how to get [the truck] in there the right way,” Horton explained.
Told that photographer John Sommers II said Horton actually had been celebrating being able to park dead center first, he changed his tune and said, “That may be true. Some of us are kinda competitive. We’re starting to have a little more fun.”
"Jason got a straight-in on a parallel park, and he got really excited about it," elaborated Teddy Flener Jr., second from the right in the photo. "He was all checking to make sure everything was right. He was the first one out of us three to pull into a parallel parking straight."
The fun ends when it's time to practice the 130-item pre-trip inspection. After the students in the previous class at Truck America Training in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, failed their CDL exams because of pre-trip errors, Horton and his six classmates certainly learned how critical that part of their training is.
“If nothing’s going on and you’re not driving, go practice your pre-trip, [TAT’s instructors] keep preaching that,” Horton said. “We do pre-trip for an hour in the afternoon and … a four-point [in-cab inspection] in the morning. I’m going to study this [three-day] weekend, at least an hour every day, because the pre-trip is so important. There’s many words you have to be exact on.”
After the students spent last week in the classroom, the 29-year-old former box truck driver has loved being on the range at TAT and on the road this week, saying “it has flown by” and that today felt like Monday instead of Friday.
“We’ve all, I think, pretty much experienced a little bit of stop-and-go traffic, a little bit of highway driving and a little bit of driving with nobody around you,” Horton said, adding that stop-and-go has been particularly challenging “with all the downshifts. If you miss one, it kinda throws you for a loop. Bob says I’m rushing my downshift, so I’ve gotta work on slowing that down.”
Speaking of Bob Cross, Horton joked, “Those are some brave individuals that get in the truck with us.”
— By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter. Photo by John Sommers II for TT.