New CDL Student Looking for a Different Perspective

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  mydartswinger 8 months, 1 week ago.

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    Good evening,

    I just started CDL school this week (just finished day 5 of the course, day 4 of driving). So far, my class and I have done a few hours of road driving (with a trailer and bobtail) and have started straight line and offset backing. I have also driven the truck on the freeway. From my perspective, it seems that the instructors are doing a good job. It feels like I’m doing OK and my instructors say I’m where I need to be at this point in the training. However, I’m having some issues and it seems that their advice hasn’t been working for me as of yet. I’ve come here in hopes that I may be able to get a few pointers from a different perspective.

    I’m having issues with getting the proper driving position, which is causing me to misjudge my clutch engagement (I keep reaching the clutch brake when shifting. I did fine with proper double clutching when in a parking lot.). Initially, I was low and could barely see over the hood, but I had proper position to reach the clutch. After driving on the road a bit, I felt uncomfortable in that position, so I slid the seat forward and raised it where I could easily and clearly see over the hood, while still comfortably reaching the clutch. However, I’m so close up that I have the problem mentioned above. This may also be a contributing factor to my other issue, which is maintaining lane integrity.

    With my lane integrity, it feels like I’m OK, mostly looks like I’m OK, and I’m checking my mirrors as I should, but my instructor says that I’m not properly maintaining my lane. He has given me the advice to use the mirrors and/or keep the center of the hood (2014 Freightliner Cascadia) in the center of the lane. This doesn’t seem to be working for me.

    I know it’s VERY early in my training (I just finished week 1 of a 4 week course), and this will probably work out with more experience. However, I want to be a bit more proactive and do what I can to improve.

    Any pointers would be much appreciated.



    As for your position in your lane, you mostly see it wit your peripheral vision, not looking at the front of your hood and the lines on the road. Ideally when you are stopped in a lane with lines on both sides of you,,look out your side mirrors and see that you are centered in your lane. Then find a landmark on your windshield somewhere like a place on the windshield wipers or something else where those painted lines “touch” that landmark. Now look straight ahead. You’ll probably see something like the oil streak in the center of the lane. Where does that oil streak on the road hit the hood or some landmark. The goal is to keep your eyes far forward and see the landmarks and such either with just your peripheral vision or occasionally and briefly look at your landmarks then look forward again. When I’m on a new road that is wider than normal but especially more narrow than normal I first look down the road and get about centered in the lane and then check to see if I have equal space between my tires and the lines or edge of the pavement. I generally prefer to be slight closer on the right side than perfectly centered in the lane. I like to have more space on the side passing vehicles will be than right in the middle of the lane.

    As for seating position and the clutch; ALMOST EVERY newbie pushes the clutch too deep. Make sure you are not pushing too deep. When moving you only press it just enough to get into or out of gear. That’s probably going to be maybe 1/3 of the travel it could make from “foot off of the pedal to pressed all the way down to the floor”. You are not going to wreck the clutch by not going deep enough. Too deep and you will make shifting hard or impossible while rolling. I found it best to use my whole leg to press the clutch pedal and not like a car where you would just use your foot and bend your ankle. A truck clutch takes force. Your ankle and foot will tire out. Your leg has more muscle and even it will tire out in stop and go traffic. I’d say priority is good vision out of the truck, then adjust for clutch operation. It’s still new so you will have to experiment. Back your seat away from the clutch to help from getting “too deep”. I’m a short guy so I frequently would have one seating position for going down the big road and one for city driving. It was not unusual for me to have to slide my but forward in the seat to get to the clutch, say if I forgot to slide my seat forward before getting to an off-ramp. When I came to end of ramp I might have to slide my butt forward, or really twist my hips to get the clutch to the floor. While stopped I could them slide my seat forward CAREFULLY so as not to slip off the clutch or roll forward or back accidentally. I also learned to “float the gears” after my first year so I only had to use the clutch when starting off or changing directions (forward/reverse). Most rookie clutch problems have to do with pressing it too far down when changing gears. If you’ve pressed it even 1/2 way down just to change a gear while moving you are going too deep in many cases.

    It’s hard to give more specific advice without seeing you having the particular problems. If you don’t think I am getting what you are saying, try it again. I’d like to help.



    You do know the clutch pedal only needs to go fully down when you are stopped right?



    Thank you, Scott.

    For the most part, it seems like you’ve got it spot on about my issues. Exception being the clutch. When I had my seat lower and further back during my initial shifting practice (just enough bend in my knee to keep it from locking up when the clutch was fully depressed), I was pressing it just enough and had no issues with it. The problem came when I readjusted my seat to give me better visibility. Once I readjusted, I had a significant amount of bend in my knee with the clutch fully depressed. My instructor told me today that my clutch issue is likely due to my seat position. For this, I’m mainly looking for advice on setting the seat for optimal visibility and pedal usage. Maybe this will just take some time to figure out on my own by playing with it with different positions when I get in the truck.

    Hmm, never really thought about looking at the windshield wipers to see if they touched the white line. Might have to give that a try when I get back in the truck on Monday.

    Edit: Yes, I know the clutch only needs to go down fully when stopped. I’m misjudging how far I’m pressing the clutch down.

    Thank you again.

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 1 week ago by  mydartswinger.
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