SWIFT Corsicana, Texas CDL Academy Log

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bwr5000's Comment
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OK, August 1, 2016, I start the Swift CDL academy in Corsicana, Texas. I was scheduled to start last Monday but unfortunately did not have the proper tests completed for Swift's in-house requirements. VERY IMPORTANT, for the Swift Academy in Texas, you have to take all 5 permit tests - Special Requirements (Chapter 14), Combos, Air brakes, General Knowledge, and Pre-Trip. Unfortunately, In Texas it is very common (Swift sees at least 2 a week) for some driver's license offices to not allow you to take anything but the Chapter 14 and Combos. I tried to take all 5 the first time but the Victoria office would not allow it, and I wasn't going to win an argument with them. So I had to leave last monday, no biggie as i am an easy going guy. I simply went to a different office to take the tests after I drove back home. In Texas you do not have to have the DOT physical done before you take the CDL permit tests. Swift wants you to have your DOT physical completed, but if you do not, you can complete it the first day. We are housed at a very nice Laquinta right off of I-45 about 5 minutes from Swift campus. For those who want to read my particular log on the academy here is a little background inforation on me. I have zero 18 wheeler driving experience. I've driven large farm tractors, etc and have good mechanical knowledge having grown up on a ranch in Texas. I am an attorney that has left the biz because being stuck behind a desk was killing me. I don't know if this will translate to an interesting take on the academy, but it will no doubt be fun. I am not nervous just excited to begin this journey. Got to be up early to drive from hotel to academy. Classes start at 6 am, so until next time, everyone forge ahead!

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
bwr5000's Comment
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Finished with first day of school. Today was a short day. We arrived at the Swift campus at 5:45 for class. We filled out a few forms then jumped in the bus to head out for the dot drug test (urine drug test). After everyone finished it was back to the classroom for more paperwork. We were done by 2 pm. Tomorrow is classroom all day then to the range.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Navy Vet's Comment
member avatar

Good luck! I am in week 2 of CDL School at a private school in Virginia.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey, bwr, welcome to Swift!

My only advice it to be prepared for the most frustrating experience of your life. Most of the time on the range is for you to practice backing. Until you tame that beast, you'll be pulling your hair out, and questioning your reality. Fear not, happens to most people.

If you want to read about my experience, read here: Swift Academy, Memphis

bwr5000's Comment
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Hi Error. I read your reports when I was deciding between Swift and Celadon. I actually am a very laid back and go with the flow kind of guy. I don't frustrate easily at all. I know it won't be a walk in the park and will take practice, but I'm ready to pay my dues. I will have a day 2 update tomorrow.

bwr5000's Comment
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Day two of academy finished. Today we started class at 6 am and finished at 4 pm. Today we went over logs, map skills, and other safety related items. So far we have a decent class. We have a class joker who is constantly pushing the instructors around & making class a bit uncomfortable but he will most likely get weeded out soon. Swift spends a lot of time on making sure students understand nutrition and exercise. We have 16 students and at least 6 of them have to get sleep apnea tests done. So, it's good to see Swift is being pro-active about teaching drivers ways to stay healthy! We were given our schedule for the next 2 weeks. We will start on the range tomorrow and will be there until Sunday. On Sunday we will test in the classroom. First 4 days of range we will work on backing drills. Starting monday we shift to a summer schedule with class starting at 4 am, to avoid some of the Texas heat! Excited to start acquiring my backing skills. Until tomorrow, forge ahead!

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

bwr5000's Comment
member avatar

Sorry for the late update. Day 3 of academy - we began by spending time learning the proper way to log and the critical importance of doing the logs timely and neatly. Then we spent 9 hours on backing range. Do not worry, you will get a ton of time to practice backing. First test of backing skills will be the straight line backing and we test it on Thursday at 11. Our instructors are fantastic. 90% of the class got it right away and had no problems. The remaining 10% continued to work out their problems. Once the instructors realized a 3 person group was good, they moved on so that they could eventually spend more time with the students struggling to catch on. At Swift the straight line backing is 200 feet. Do not worry about the skills, you will learn them. Even if you do struggle with backing hard work, patience, listening, and relaxing will push you through. We got at least 4 hours of straight line backing practice.

I can tell you the make up of the class is incredible. You have folks from all walks of life. College degrees exchange students and mom's. It is a great melting pot. The common thread amongst us is the love of the road. I will update tomorrow, until then forge ahead!

bwr5000's Comment
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Day 4 of academy. Time does fly by in the academy. This morning we continued to work on straight line backing. At 11 am we began testing. I volunteered first to get it over with and because I felt confident. No problems and aced it with no deductions. Out of 16 students, only ever failed. While they continued to practice the other students began pre-trip work. By 2:00 everyone had passed and our instructors spent 1.5 hours going over pre-trip on a truck. Then we were sent out in our groups to go over pre-trip on a truck. Once again the quality of instructors here shined through today. Tomorrow we will have a 3 way rotation. 1 station will be off-set backing. 2nd station pre-trip inspection on outside of truck and trailer. 3rd station pre-trip inspection station on inside of truck. Everyone have a great evening. Until next time, forge ahead!

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

Gladhand's Comment
member avatar

Sounds awesome. Congrats on passing the easiest test. The pre trip was honestly the hardest for some, study as much as you can. This post has me feeling nostalgic now. I started in the Phoenix academy back in March and had my cdl in April. You are doing good, keep it up!

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
bwr5000's Comment
member avatar

Day 5 of academy. We began our practice on the remaining backing maneuvers. Instructors did a really good job with 15 rookies. The group I'm in is very good, which means lots of practice. Most groups are 2 to a group with our group having 3. We really had a blast doing the offsets, blind side, sight side, etc. After 2 times each of us understood what we needed trailer to do. Then after 5 times it was rare for us to not get it parked in the space with no deductions. Now that does not mean perfectly straight, just acceptable!! More practice results in better parking and more confidence. Today we also spent 2 hours going over coupling and un-coupling. Starting tomorrow each morning and after lunch we have to do a full pre-trip including in cab before we start driving. Some students are having trouble staying hydrated. On my Polar V800 I had Temps of 112 on the tarmac. Siper importsnt to eat healthy, drink water, abd lay off sugary drinks! We are doing fine but instructors shut down early because the heat was zapping some students. We finished our time in the shop going over the Texas pre-trip test. All is good and we are very impressed with Swift. On a sad note one of our classmates had a family emergency and had to leave. Swift was accommodating and will let him come back when his mom recovers. On a side note, i got to see my wonderful girlfriend for an hour or so. That was a wonderful surprise! Until next time, forge ahead.

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