Well today was much more interesting.  We drove the damned trucks on the highway and in town.  We stayed in south east San Antionio and China Grove.

First we went up and down the frontage roads for 410 and also on 410.  This helped us with merging and slowing down and stopping for stop signs and traffic lights.  In the afternoon we drove on city streets again working on stopping but also on right and left turns.

You have to understand that stopping a truck is not the same as stopping a four wheeler, even one with a standard.  You start out by pressing on the brakes, it takes a half second before they do anything, then when you drop to 35 MPH and about 1000 RPM you can shift down from ninth to eighth.  This involves pushing in the clutch, and shifting to neutral, then let the clutch out while you take your foot OFF the break and rev the engine to boost it by about 400 RPM then foot off the accelerator, and other foot back on clutch and then shift in to gear.  As you drop each 10 MPH you repeat until you get down to fifth or so.  Don’t forget to flip the range selector switch from high to low between six and fifth.  You have no idea how hard it is to convince yourself that it is a good idea to take your foot off the brake and hit the accelerator while you are approaching the back end of another vehicle.  Of course because you are in neutral hitting the accelerator doesn’t impact the speed of the vehicle but it is still not “natural.”  Also there is no coasting up  to a stop with clutch pushed in and brake depressed.  Doing that for more than the length of the tractor means you are not in control.

Turning is also quite different.  With a 45′ or 53′ trailer on the back you have to pay close attention and can’t just whip around corners.  When turning right we proceed forward until our shoulder is in the middle of the lane we want to be in and turn hard to the right while keeping an eye on our rear most wheels in the mirror to be sure we don’t ride up over the curb and crush anyone.  Turning left is a similar maneuver.  You have to go very far forward before you begin to turn.

Tomorrow we will be driving back and forth across the south side of San Antonio hitting traffic light after traffic light to get down shifting sorted out.  Most of next week will be driving the various routes the examiners take and practicing what we have learned these two days plus parallel parking on the street instead of the range.

It is hard to believe that by this time next week I should be licensed to drive a big rig.