Penny's Greenville Tech Diary

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Penny's Comment
member avatar

I thought I would start my diary even though it will be a bit before I really get started since classes don't begin until January 9. I figure it may help someone out to share my experience from the very, very beginning.

First, I live near Greenville, SC so I am planning to go to Greenville Technical College for truck driver training. I am a mother and grandmother, so I am definitely starting this later in life. My children are grown and this is my time to do this. My father was a truck driver years and years ago and I at least have some familiarity. I also have a couple truck driver friends that have more recent experience and are still driving. So, I am familiar with the lifestyle and such and I don't think any of that will be a problem for me.

So, first off, I had to apply to the college. I filled out the online application, went down to the school and talked to an adviser and took the required reading comprehension test. (I find this somewhat funny in that I hold a Bachelor's degree in Journalism, but it's a requirement and I didn't mind fulfilling the requirement. I was told I needed to get a 36 on the test in order to get into the Truck Driver Training segment. I made a 96.

I received an acceptance letter in the mail about a week after I took the reading test. I have to sign up for a Planning and Advising for Student Success (PASS) session before I will be allowed to register for classes, but the opportunity to sign up for PASS does not open until November 7. Basically I am just waiting for Monday until I can register for that.

I've been told that the orientation day is December 8, so I will have to take a half day off work to do that. I am planning to go to the night classes so that I can still work while I am attending school. There are going to be some long days for me January through April! I've been told to show up very, very early for the PASS session as the classes go very quickly. I believe the session starts at 9:30 and I am planning to get there at 8 a.m. so I can get the evening classes that I need in order to be able to do this.

I am excited and apprehensive all at the same time!

I will update when I have more things in order, but for those folks like me that like to know all the details, I figured I'd start at the very beginning.

And it is a new beginning for me!

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Penny's Comment
member avatar

Oh for anyone interested in Greenville Tech....cost is often a factor.

I was told that with lottery money (South Carolina uses lottery money for education, so if you have lived in the state for more than a year, you apparently qualify to get a chunk). The lottery allowance is $1200 that will be applied to tuition. I will have to pay $1400 out of pocket and I think it's a little over $100 for a DOT physical and drug screening. Books will be around $40. All in all, not too bad for a new career, I don't think.

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.

Dan67's Comment
member avatar

Make sure you get signed up for the PASS session as soon as possible. The night class generally gets filled in the first 30 minutes. And not everyone gets in. The waiting list does not guarantee a spot either. Because there are less instructors on the night class, it is smaller then the day class. Good luck with it, hope you get in. Its worth it!!

Penny's Comment
member avatar

Thank you, Dan67 for the advice. I really need the night class since I'm also working, so I am planning to be there at 8 a.m. when the registration center opens.

I did get signed up for the PASS session so it's just a matter of elbowing everybody out of the way, I guess!

If I don't get in, I'll have to rethink how to do this. I have looked at Prime and that may be my backup plan, but I was hoping to be able to work and save some more money.

I'll let everyone know on the 8th if I made it!

If not, I'll have to change the title here!

Thank you for the encouragement.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Penny's Comment
member avatar

I had my Planning and Advising Student Session (PASS) yesterday at Greenville Tech where I got officially enrolled as a student in the Truck Driver Training Program.

I’m going to be as detailed as possible, because I know I had some questions going in and it may give someone in the future an idea of what to expect.

I got there early because I didn’t know if this was a first come first served or what. It kinda is, but if you got into the PASS session, then you should be good to go for the class time you signed up for. If you’re on the waiting list, that’s another story. I showed up at 8 and the orientation officially started at 9:30. It did give me a chance to chat with a few more early-comers which was nice.

Mr. Todd Lantz came in after a bit. We learned that he is the instructor for the night class, so I should be seeing a lot of him since that is the class I will be attending. He checked our driver’s licenses to make sure they were valid. Apparently there are people who show up without valid licenses. That makes absolutely no sense, but people are weird. Go figure.

There was a lot of waiting while this was checked and then names were checked off the list of those who were either on the list or on the waiting list for the class. This PASS session included the day class that starts January 9th and the night class that starts January 9th. There is another day class that starts in February, but that PASS is in January, I believe. The next night session doesn’t start until May. There are 20 people in the Day class and 15 in the night class.

Karen Brown, the Administrative Assistant for the Truck Driving and Aircraft Maintenance sections came in and was introduced. We learned she would be enrolling us when the time came and that she would collect our driver’s licenses so that copies could be made for their records.

Brian Chambers, the Department Head, came in and was introduced and he spoke for a bit, letting us know a little about the program and letting us know that the Truck Driving Training Program was not at all like other classes at Greenville Tech. He said they were NOT politically correct and we would work hard and need a thick skin, and that our success was completely up to us. Grades would absolutely be earned. He said they had no quotas and didn’t really care if only 5 people passed in the end. He seemed tough but fair. Mr. Lantz seemed the same way. I’m okay with that because I intend to work hard and I know if I do something boneheaded, then I WILL be corrected. I’d rather know and be corrected.

One fellow already had a CDL-A and said he had hired on to a company who wanted him to go through the class again because he had not used his driving skills in three years. The instructor asked if he had thought about hiring on with a company that hired students so he could take a refresher course, but the guy said he wanted to stay in class. He did make the mistake of saying…to the instructor…”I could probably teach this class”. Let’s just say that didn’t seem to go over very well. Imagine that! If he keeps that up in class, I imagine he will have his backside handed to him. I later helped the fellow get his schedule printed and he seemed a nice enough guy. Hope he can keep his mouth shut tighter! He is in the day class so I don’t guess I’ll ever know.

I’m running out of time so I’ll update again with the rest of the day as soon as I can!

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.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Penny's Comment
member avatar

Okay, I have a little more time so I will update you more on the PASS session I attended.

There was a physical test that the college gives before you can enroll. We handed Mrs. Brown our driver's licenses so that she could copy them for their records and went outside where an older Peterbilt sat waiting. We had to climb into the truck using proper three-point safety procedure, sit in the driver's seat and push the clutch all the way in. Our bellies could not touch the steering wheel since that would interfere with safe driving. We also had to put the seatbelt on and then climb out of the truck using proper safety procedure. We were told that there were some folks who were unable to do this, but I'm pretty sure everyone in the session I was in was successful. Pretty simple and some of the fellows with bigger bellies still had no problem.

Once we came inside we were given some paperwork and asked to wait so that we could all fill it out together. Once everyone was back inside, we were instructed on how to fill out everything we were given. Some enrollment papers, the form to receive education lottery funds (which cuts $1200 off the tuition, currently...this is for the 2016-2017 school year). So total due for tuition is $1413. We were told we had to pay half today and the other half before the class starts on January 9.

During the paperwork, Mr. Lantz also let us know the day class would have a test the first day over Sections 1-3 in the CDL manual, so it would be wise to study. The night class will have their test on the second day. Day class runs about 8 hours and night class runs about 5 I believe each day. Monday through Thursday. The day class is January 9 through mid March and the night class is January 9 through April 27.

Once our paperwork was done, Mr. Lantz called us up individually to make sure we had completed everything correctly, then we were sent to talk to Mrs. Brown who entered our enrollment into the computer and returned our driver's licenses. After that, it was back to Mr. Lantz to be scheduled for the DOT physical and drug screen. I will have mine on December 29 in the afternoon so I will have to arrange to get off work a bit early that day.

I'm excited and apprehensive about this new challenge. I know I will be tired. I will be working 8 to 5 and going to school at night from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. and then I have a 45 minute drive home. Study time is going to be difficult at best, but I'm determined to do it, so somehow, I will.

I'm sorry, I digressed there a moment. After getting the appointment for the physical and drug screen, it was off to pay tuition and then to the bookstore. Books were just under $30. I think it's the least amount of money I have ever paid for school books in my life. The CDL manual at the DMV was $5.30 (that includes tax). So total book cost of around $35, and that included a pack of logs and a small ruler!

After that, I went to the computer lab to print my schedule. I needed that in order to get my student ID and my parking pass. Once it was printed I drove down to the library where the security office is located, handed over my schedule and within a few minutes had a parking pass and student ID.

Now all I need to do is study for the General Knowledge quiz to be given on Day 2 and I believe the next one after that will be Air Brakes. And yes, I am using the High Road Training Modules, too and they are extremely helpful! Thanks for this wonderful resource!

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.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

Penny's Comment
member avatar

I know a lot of folks ask why people choose one way of training over another and I figured I'd add my two cents as to why I am choosing a technical school over company training.

I think company training is awesome and is a great way for many people to get into the industry. So I have nothing bad to say about it. I considered it and thought long and hard about how I could do it, but at this time, I was unable to take that route, mainly because of family and financial issues.

In part, my decision was based on needing time to prepare for a career change and helping my family prepare for a career change. My children are grown, but I babysit one of the grandchildren frequently. Going to my local technical school allows me to help my daughter a little longer and helps her to be able to prepare for my not being so readily available all the time.

Another reason was financial. Going to a company sponsored school would mean I would have either no income for a few weeks or a much smaller income for a few weeks or possibly longer. I had the savings to pay for the technical school course, but I was afraid that life might happen and I would be in dire straights if there were some unforeseen financial issue that came up in the next few months. My choice to go to night school allows me to continue making a full time income for the next few months while I prepare for my career change. I intend to stash some more into savings while I am in school so that I am overall better prepared for those things that happen in life sometimes, as well as for a possible cut in income while I am doing my on the job training with whatever company I choose in the future.

The other reason I chose a technical school is because I have a very reputable school in my town. Greenville Tech has an excellent reputation in many areas, including a great reputation with local trucking companies. In fact, from what I understand, there are a couple of local companies that don't regularly hire students, but will hire graduates from Greenville Tech. I've heard mention Superior hires from the top third of the class, for instance. I will try to find out more about that during class to make sure that is accurate. Regardless, the reputation of their truck driver training instruction is excellent, so I feel confident that I will be ready for on the job training with whatever company I decide to go with in the end once I have completed my training at Greenville Tech and have a CDL in hand.

I think it is amazing that companies will train folks and I almost wish I could have chosen that route instead because it would get me going sooner, but we all have to weigh what is best for ourselves and our families at a certain point in time and for now, I believe this was the best choice for me. I hope that it is the right one and that my future company will still find me a valuable asset even without the up front investment in me.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Penny's Comment
member avatar

So I said I would update you guys as I progressed through the Greenville Technical College truck driving school, so I am back with an update.

I had my DOT physical and drug test yesterday and received my 2 year medical card and paperwork to provide the DMV for obtaining my permit when the time comes.

Greenville Tech sends everyone to Accurate Diagnostics, a small, but friendly office I found. I was asked to fill out some paperwork which included my medical history, and asked for things like: prescription medicines and supplements I might take, surgeries, a list of medical conditions to check off with yes/no and explain if yes, etc. There was also a consent form letting me know that I would have an agility test and basically a hold harmless if I hurt myself and a consent form allowing them to send my results, including the drug test results to Greenville Tech.

Once I filled all that out it was only a few minutes before the nurse, a nice gentleman, came and took me to a room where he asked if my eyeglasses were prescription (they are) and I was also asked if I wore a hearing aid (I don’t).

I was asked to step on the scale (my oh so favorite part!) and then sat down for a blood pressure check. It was an automatic cuff so it squeezed the snot out of me and my blood pressure (which usually runs low) was a little higher than normal. I’m not sure whether I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect or if it was the fact that the nurse was asking all sorts of questions while I was getting my BP taken. I didn’t think that was quite right, but all in all it worked out. I was asked for my SSN and he did the color blind test by asking me what color little cogs were. Easy peasy.

Next, I was asked to carry a crate filled with about 50lbs of weight plates in it across the room and back (it’s a small room), then asked to pull a weighted cooler (with no handles) across the room and push it back. After that I had to climb two steps on a step ladder, one foot on a step at a time and hold my right foot out and repeat for the left foot. I was asked to duck walk across the room and back. Then the eye test, which was just a regular eye chart while covering the right eye and then the left and then both eyes. With and without glasses. He tested my peripheral vision (I looked at the door and told him when I saw his hands at the side of my head), and he stood across the room and whispered numbers that I was asked to repeat.

After that was completed, I was taken to a bathroom and asked for a urine specimen and then I had to initial the labels that were placed on the specimen bottles for the lab and the nurse sealed them in a plastic bag for them to be sent off to a lab.

Once all that was done, I was taken to the examination room where the doctor was waiting on me. She looked at my paperwork and asked a few questions regarding my medical history, then asked me to sit on the examining table and proceeded to look in my eyes and I was asked a few more questions…did I have any problems with headaches, dizziness, stuff like that. She listened front and back with a stethoscope, felt my throat as I swallowed, tested to make sure I could hold my arms still while she pushed on them lightly, same with fingers, legs, etc. I was asked to get off the table and basically do a squat for five seconds (counting 1-5) with my arms in front of me and finally walking heel to toe across the room. The heel to toe walk was probably the worst part as I can barely ever walk in a straight line! People hate for me to walk beside them because I wander!

Once all that was complete, she signed the card and another paper, told me my medical card would be good for two years, and sent me on my way to the front desk.

The nice ladies at the front desk took my paperwork, handed me the medical card and told me that I needed to have that on me at all times while driving the truck and handed me a piece of paper that will go to the DMV when I go to test for my permit. She also informed me that when the drug test results come back, she would personally take them to the Administrative Assistant for the truck driving program.

So there is a breakdown of the DOT physical.

School starts January 9 at 5:30 p.m. I’m going to have some long days as I’m working during the day, but I am soooooo ready for this!

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.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Penny's Comment
member avatar

So, I finished my first week of night classes at Greenville Tech.

It's wonderful and amazing and scary and challenging all at once!

My class has only 14 people and I am the only female in the class.

We were told that we would need to have our permits by January 30, and when we went to the DMV we would need to get a 10-year MVR.

First night was mostly paperwork and class rules and that sort of thing. I think it is fairly sad that in a college class one should have to mention that personal hygiene is required, but I suppose some people are unaware that you should shower and use deodorant. Go figure. Anyway....we had to fill out an "application" since the DOT considers school a "job" and the school is required to have an application on each student. Also required were logs for the previous 7 days, (and we have to keep them for every day going forward as well). We were shown how to do "electronic" logs which basically was an Excel spreadsheet. It was explained that these were not like electronic logs you would do for a company, but would familiarize us with logging in and doing things on a computer, especially for those not as familiar with computers.

Over the next couple of days we reviewed the sections on General Knowledge and Air Brakes in the CDL manual. We watched a few videos about different things, Air Brakes, Pre-Trip, and one other I can't remember.

My class has mostly asked pretty good questions and the teacher seems very knowledgeable and able to explain things pretty well.

Some students had asked some questions about different companies and we were told that the first recruiter would be out, I believe, on February 1st and that several would be coming to class to talk to us. We were encouraged to think about questions we wanted to ask and not just cents per mile, but to find out things about how much insurance costs and ask about the 401K and things like that so that we could really compare companies. It was also stressed that each of us may be looking for different things in a company. Some people will want something with more home time while others won't mind being out on the road more.

We had two quizzes, one on General Knowledge and one on Air Brakes. I made a 100% on each of those, so I was very happy about that.

Next week, we have Monday as a holiday (MLK Day) and on Tuesday we should have our tests on Combinations and Tankers.

I believe after that we will work on the Haz Mat and Doubles/Triples sections, if I'm not mistaken.

Once we get through all those, I'm going to try to leave work early one day and go see about getting my permit with all the endorsements (well, they won't put a Haz Mat endorsement on a permit, but I can go ahead and take the test in my state and it remains good for 6 months so I'll have time to go to TSA and do the background check before I get my CDL. If the TSA letter comes back prior to my receiving my CDL, I can have the endorsement added when I successfully pass the road/skills, etc. tests for my CDL.

I'm getting there! I'm so very excited because this is really happening!

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.

Electronic Logs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

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.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

MVR:

Motor Vehicle Record

An MVR is a report of your driving history, as reported from your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Information on this report may include Drivers License information, point history, violations, convictions, and license status on your driving record.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Dan67's Comment
member avatar

You need to schedule an appointment at IdentoGO. You can call or go online to schedule your appoitment. (855) 347-8371 They are at 30 Orchard Park Drive Suite 21, Haywood Plaza, Greenville SC 29615. Its in a small shopping center the otherside of I-385 from Haywood Mall. Usually takes 4 to 6 weeks but can come back faster depending on the TSA. Get it done before you graduate.

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