CDL License
Truck Notes
Notes to self
in Smith & Solomon Commercial Driver Training school tractor-trailer
Review of Smith & Solomon school for CDL (Commercial Driver License) Class A, Linden, NJ:

Classroom:  The ~1 ½ days in the classroom is not a substitute for a careful study of the CDL Manual, but it is a nice supplement.  I notice that guys who don’t read the CDL Manual are failing the knowledge part of the state test (aka written test, actually on a computer).

Alley Docking (in the yard):  After an introduction to trucking, the trucks and straight line backup, you start backing the tractor-trailers into a rectangular section of cones, just like you will do on the state test.  The first sessions are frustrating.  Often there is a list of 15 or 20 waiting to get their turn and you are waiting most of the time.  You get more time with the truck on bad weather days and at the end of the day when many students have gone home.  I was frustrated at the lack of time and my failure to make any progress.  But after a few weeks, I seemed to be docking the truck with less intervention by the instructors and eventually I gained some confidence in this maneuver. It is generally agreed that you learn nothing when the instructors intervene - you gotta stumble on your own and learn this yourself by trial & error.

On the road:  After your permit is validated for the road, you can get out of the yard (where only 1st gear and reverse are allowed) and practice the real thing.  This is where the instructors really shine (the instructors have amazing patience and nerves of steel!!!). Sessions are about 20 minutes (4 students split about 1 ½ hours).  There are roughly 3 phases:
1.  Parking lot – driving in circles over and over, learning to double clutch and shift the gears.  This is also called bob-tailing (industry lingo for driving a tractor without a trailer attached).
2.  Around the block – practice shifting, right hand turns and merging into heavy traffic over and over.
3.  General on-the-road – through nearby towns, on local streets and highways, shifting, and turning in real traffic situations.  I never went on a road session where I didn’t learn at least one new thing.

Overall attending the Smith & Solomon truck-driver school was really a worth-while experience.

Quotation by one of the instructors on the road:  “Look at that asshole [a 4-wheeler cutting off our truck]. You know, they’re all assholes. None of them [4 wheelers] know what it takes to drive one of these [tractor-trailers]”

Once you pass the state tests (knowledge, yard skills and road test) and get your CDL Class A, you're ready to get a good paying job driving a truck, right?


Thats what I thought. But nobody wants a CDL with no experience. 
Next you gotta find a company who will train you as a student driver.