Test Day 1: Anna Basham

Anna Basham was rolling this morning. Her son, James, and his wife had relinquished their bed, allowing her to move off the sleep sofa and get some zzzs in advance of her CDL exam.

When it was her turn to be tested, Basham not only overcame the burden of having to perform the entire pre-trip inspection — unlike CDL or Bust classmate Russell Durgansingh — she did so perfectly. She even remembered the gasket around the doors of the trailer that she had forgotten to mention before examiner Evan Harrod could finish totaling her score.

All that stood between Basham and her Class A CDL — the 50-year-old former bus driver has a Class B from her last job — were the backing and parking maneuvers and the road test in Louisville, Kentucky.

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The hard part should have been history as Basham exulted over her pre-trip success. In fact, Basham was planning to leave Saturday for Springfield, Ohio, where she would begin orientation and then 175 hours of training with U.S. Xpress, from which she already had an offer to be a tandem longhaul driver.

“I was [psyched],” Basham said after returning to Truck America Training in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. “[I thought] if I can just get my offset [parking nailed], I’ve got it.”

Not so fast. Not long after consoling CDL or Bust classmate Teddy Flener Jr. after he failed his pre-trip, Basham was the one in need of consolation.

“I watched Russell pass [the maneuvers and road test],” Basham said. “I did the straight back perfect. I started my offset and I did it fine. [But] then when I got to the parallel parking, when I was lining up to start, my back wheels hit the first cone. Both wheels did [for a loss of four points]. I didn’t think I hit the front cones, but I must [have]. That [was] eight points.”

Just four more points missed on this part of the exam and Basham would fail the whole thing.

“By the second pullup, I was like, ‘I know I can do this. Why ain’t I getting this?’ " she recalled. “When I started backing, [Harrod] was like, ‘You’re going to hit a cone and then you’re going to pull up again, and that’s gonna [give] you too many points.’ And he stopped me.”

Basham had failed. She won’t have to take the pre-trip when she gets tested again, but she can’t get behind the wheel of a TAT truck until the lone allowed practice day before her Sept. 28 exam. All she can do until then is wait and wonder why she botched the parallel parking.

“I figured I could do it,” Basham said as tears of disappointment filled her eyes. “I still can, [but] it’s going to take another turn.”

By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter; photo by John Sommers II for TT