Today’s festivities started out with a strength test with the TMC Physical Therapist. We had to be evaluated on picking up a 110lb lumber tarp the proper way. Once we picked up the tarp we had to walk around to the side of the trailer and toss it onto the trailer. Then we had to prove that we could get up on the trailer from the side, pick the tarp back up and place it on top of a steel coil that was 6ft tall. Finally, we had to dismount the trailer at the back while demonstrating proper technique. We were graded on a scale of 0 being shitty to 3 being excellent. I managed to get a 3 on all of that. I have to say though, I was a little worried when I went to lift that tarp up as it was heavier than I remembered. What I, and many others, didn’t understand though is why we had to do that with a lumber tarp. 99.9% of the shippers will place the lumber tarps on top of the load using their forklifts. All we need to do is roll the big bastards out of the box. But, I guess that’s what they want us to do, so we did it. The other portion with the Physical Therapist was we had to climb a ladder and get on top of a shipping container that was loaded on a trailer. He wanted us to walk to the edge before he gave us the thumbs up to come back down the ladder. Not really sure what that was for either. I guess they want to make sure you aren’t afraid of heights or something.
The rest of the day was spent watching a shit ton of safety videos and taking a general HAZMAT test. We also watched videos on everything the truck is equipped with. This was actually pretty interesting. The first system that was covered was the Eaton Vorad System. This damn thing warns you of hazards in front of you and beside you on the passenger side. It shoots radar beams out and then warns you with different colors depending on the proximity. It has a range selector as well so if you are going though a city it isn’t going off constantly. It’s basically a collision avoidance system. The damn thing even has smart cruise, which will slow the truck down if something is detected. It will also record the data if you are in an accident so the move of every vehicle around you will be able to be reconstructed. Pretty cool deal as long as I’m not the one at fault. The other safety system on the truck is called the ITERIS Lane Departure System. This thing is a camera that is mounted at the top of the windshield and can see the lines on the road. It’s controlled by an on board computer and as you approach a line it will play a sound just like you are hitting the rumble strips on the shoulder. The final safety feature is the Bendix Antilock Brake System. It’s similar to ABS on a car, but it also has Automatic Traction control and Electronic Stability Program. I could go into the specific on this as it’s pretty cool, but it gets pretty technical on how it operates so I will spare you the pain.
Next up was training on the Michelin X One tires that are on most of the trucks. They are what we call Super Singles. Because instead of having 8 tires on the back of the truck there are just 4. They are supposed to give you better fuel economy as well as give you a better ride. Anyway, we were reminded of how important a pre-trip inspection is and why it’s important to check the tire pressure every morning before you start driving. Having a blow-out sucks, but having a blow-out with super singles is worse because that’s your only tire on that axle. With dual tires if one blows, you still have the other tire to allow you to limp to a repair shop. If a super single blows, your ass is on the side of the road waiting on someone to come fix it. They haven’t seemed to have any problems with them though and we were told as long as they have the correct air pressure in them you shouldn’t have any issues.
We were issued out TMC Bibles today as well (that’s the picture above). It’s basically 300 plus pages of shit that can get you fired. I take that back. There is a ton of helpful information in there as well. I am pretty sure I will be referring to it often though just to make sure I am doing it the TMC way.
My day ended on the simulator to practice shifting the 13 speed. The instructor let me practice for 10 minutes to get the feel of everything and then it was game time. He had me run through all the gears on the way up and down and then we did a debrief. He told me a couple things I could do to make it easier and we did it again. After that second time he said well, I don’t see you having any issues at all. You did just fine. I’m not sure why they wanted you to go through this though as even the first time you didn’t really do anything wrong. I said well, it’s probably because the first time I ever drove a 13 speed was yesterday. He said damn man, you learn quick then as I would have never guessed that. That gave me a little pep in my step to end a long day.
I am hoping that translates well to my orientation instructor as they have me going out for 4 weeks with at trainer. I asked him why that was on one of the breaks and he said it was mainly because I haven’t driven since 2010 and that when I did drive it was only for 16 months. He did say though, that depending on how I did on the simulator, he would recommend that it is up to the trainer to release me early. Meaning if I get out there with the trainer and he thinks I am good-to-go after 2 weeks, then that’s it. 4 weeks kinda sucks with a trainer, but like my instructor said, they just want to ensure I am the best I can be and want to give me every opportunity to feel comfortable with the new equipment.
Time to go read through this handbook now. We start getting tested over it tomorrow.