Today I picked-up Jim in Indianapolis. After getting settled into the truck this morning I drove for a bit as I normally do, just so I can talk and get to know my new truckmate. He's in his late 30's/early 40's and has spent the last 15 years managing a tavern in Rockland, Illinois. I mentioned that he already had 61 hours of his training completed the other day. It turns out that his first trainer became ill and had to go home. His second trainer had him for a couple of days then quit working for my company to take a better offer with another. Jim has told me that both trainers told him he was a natural. After about 30 minutes, I stopped so we could swtich seats and see what he could do, see what kind of work I had ahead of me.
Turns out he is a natural. With respect to driving, the three biggest problems for new drivers are lane control, gear shifting (particularly downshifting), and turn execution. His first three turns to get us back onto the highway were excellent and few minutes laters I could ascertain that his lane control was not an issue, either. I'll have to see a lot more of his turns before I'm completely comfortable with him driving anywhere while I'm not up front with him, but already I wouldn't think twice about crawling back into the bunk for a nap while he's driving on the open road. About an hour later we arrived at our exit which gave me the first chance to see him downshift. It was a little rough but nothing of concern. I'm content to chalk that up to him being in a Pete - he learned on a Century Freightliner and his two previous trainers had Classic Freightliners.
He's still on curfew, meaning my company won't allow him to drive between midnight and 6am for the first two weeks of training, but given his time into the training process, that should only be a matter of days. It won't take long for me to be completely comfortable with his driving. I love guys like this. It makes my life so much easier. You can expect some historical entries from the summer in the very near future.
This will only make sense to those of you who have worked in the industry and I don't feel inclined to give a run down of Hours-of-Service for the uninitiated:
Apparently the FMCSA has finally revised the new HOS rules since being asked-to by Congress last year. The big change? Split-breaks can now only be comprised of 8+2 and the 2 can be off-duty or sleeper berth but the 8 must be sleeper berth. I see the logic in the rule, but I guess in my mind it kinda defeats the purpose of splitting breaks. Why have split breaks at all, then? Just get rid of line 2 and require full line 1 breaks if you're gonna do this.