Myrna (aka Lisa) Muhasky made a midlife career change to trucking when she joined Prime as an OTR driver in 2018, and she hasn’t looked back since. “I enjoy trucking and wish I had done it years ago,” Lisa says. She used to be a paralegal for a district attorney’s office in the traffic department, and she says the knowledge and she gained about traffic laws and safety prepared her for a future in CDL training. Now she’s passing on all that knowledge and experience to new Prime drivers. In 2020, she became an instructor for Prime and in 2021 was named “Rookie Driver of the Year.” Lisa says she feels like she found her true calling. “I love it,” she says. “My favorite part is watching people learn, grow and overcome their struggles. Getting a CDL can be life changing and I get excited seeing people change their lives.”
A typical week for Muhasky is never dull and no two days are the same. She trains up to four drivers at a time over a 15- to 18-day period out of the Springfield terminal, and she focuses on three areas of proficiency: pre-trip inspection, backing and driving. Students have to pass each test before they can take the next exam, and Lisa has to move through instruction quickly and efficiently. “Students are being loaned $200 a week during training, and when hired, they earn $900 a week,” Lisa says. “I typically don’t take days off because there’s a sense of urgency to get them through training fast, so they can get paid.”
For the pre-trip training, Lisa walks her students through the full inspection, and then they work on their own. She might be helping one of her students with backing while others are practicing their pre-trip. When it’s time to work on driving, Lisa starts students out in low traffic industrial areas for one or two days before moving them to the interstate, rural roads and city driving. For backing, she has to sign drivers up for pad times and that availability may dictate when they work on other skills. “We are doing the same thing every day, but I have to be flexible to make it work,” she says. “People learn at different rates, and I have to keep everyone engaged while they work at different paces.”
In the midst of training, Lisa is still a company driver, which means she has to work with new student drivers while also making one or two 450-mile deliveries each week. “My truck still needs to make money, so I’m still making runs while I’m training,” she says. “Students drive on my runs to gain experience.” When she thinks students are ready, she gives them a practice test and then schedules the final tests. “It’s always sad to see them leave,” she says, “but I know I’ve got them where they need to be.”
Read more in the Prime magazine, Prime Ways – Time to Train
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