Day Five: Shifting Exercises

December 13, 1999

SHARING TOOLS        | Print Subscribe
One week into truck driver training: My head is chock full of new information, I have experienced tentative driving time behind the wheel of the Bordentown Driver Training School's conventional Peterbilt, discovered my backing skills aren't too bad, and here's the big one: I can double clutch...not with poise or polish, but it works. The rest will come later.
The respect I have held for truckers over the years has only increased a thousandfold. Trucking ain't for dummies. I knew this going in but didn't fully understand just how truck driving demands everything you've got - mental sharpness, strength, brain-to-body coordination, extraordinary knowledge, and the discipline to pull it all together.
Friday classes concentrated on tankers and hazardous materials as well as a review of the rest of the week's material. Baffles, bulkheads, and surge, not to mention Explosives A and B.
Before breaking for lunch, we were handed tests on the morning's lessons. I took mine to the restaurant and alternated answering the questions with inhaling sandwich and fries.
Mid-way into the afternoon classmate James and I were ushered to the driving simulator for shifting exercises. I went first.

In my head I knew the shifting pattern; it is the same as the Ford Explorer I used to drive. But the coordination here eluded me. After a half hour of grinding gears, I yielded the machine to James. No problems. He shifted up and down the nine gear pattern with little trouble, occasionally missing a gear but recovering to continue on.
I couldn't even get started. What was he doing that I wasn't? My confidence was pretty low at that point, which was about the time Jim Bennett, the BDTS director strolled in. "How's it going, Bette?"
"Not so hot," I replied, mustering a wan smile, "but I'll get of these days."
Then it was my turn again. Clutch in, neutral, clutch out, shift. Yeah, right.
Grind gears. Brake. Start again. I felt like apologizing to my instructor but instead I followed his prompting to relax and let the stick "float."
We kept at it.
Then I was up in third gear, fourth, button down, fifth. Onward to the top. Wow. Now I had to gear the other way: Down. Took the better part of an hour of repeated tries before I caught that rhythm.
Elated, but mentally and physically exhausted, I shuffled back into the classroom and finished the day with more review of material for Monday's state exam.

Comment On This Story

Comment: (Maximum 2000 characters)  
Leave this field empty:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.


We offer e-newsletters that deliver targeted news and information for the entire fleet industry.


ELDs and Telematics

sponsored by
sponsor logo

Scott Sutarik from Geotab will answer your questions and challenges

View All

Sleeper Cab Power

Steve Carlson from Xantrex will answer your questions and challenges

View All