CR England Or Pam?

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Justin C.'s Comment
member avatar

I got my CDL permit something like 4 months ago so I could ride along with my dad and get an idea of what the trucking life might entail. The last 6 weeks or so I've been looking into the various companies that offered a CDL training program since we can't afford it ourselves and after being denied by most of them it looks like I'm left to choose between PAM and CR England. I guess I'm looking for some input from some drivers that have gone through with the training programs of either company, preferably within the last year or two.

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.

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.

Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

Why are you down to those two. Have you tried all of these? Company-Sponsored Training Programs There are others. I'm with CFI and went through there training program. Here is my training diary.

Company-sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

CR England is like many of the big companies out there, given a bad rap. I've been with them for over a year now and while not perfect, they're a great company. They have a supportive staff, plenty of resources available, and while perhaps a bit short, their school and training program can get you what you need to be successful. I'll give a quick run-down of the program there that might be more updated than what is listed here:

School is ten days long. Three days in the classroom, three days driving(one shifting, one cornering, one highway/mountain), three days backing, and test day(though that can get stretched into two or three depending on class size. You are unpaid during school.

When you pass school you're assigned to a trainer where you will drive for a certain number of hours(the exact number changes frequently and is directly affected by the reviews your trainer sends to the company). During this time you're paid $15/hour for drive time(EXCELLENT if you end up in some traffic... enjoy that time!), and $10 for on duty time, and this includes studying for company tests and for your CDL , just keep in mind it comes off of your HOS and thus needs to be logged in the QC and that they do audit, so if you say you're studying and not logged into the site you'll be in some trouble). This typically lasts three to four weeks.

After your training time you'll move to Phase II training where you will be teamed with another new driver who has slightly more experience than you. That has another hour amount that, again, constantly changes but there's no reviews to worry about. This typically lasts for about two to three weeks. During this time you'll be paid 14 cents per mile for every mile the truck rolls, and you'll qualify for detention, layover, etc.

After Phase II you upgrade to become a Phase II Lead driver, similar to the driver you were just teamed with. That's when you get 'your' truck. You'll be given a raise to 16cpm for, again, every mile the truck rolls. This lasts about another three to four weeks and ends when you either get a position with a division you applied for(such as Regional , a dedicated route , etc) or in three months when you have the opportunity to become a Phase II Advanced Lead by taking the Train the Trainer(TTT) class, where you will take rehires or experienced drivers out instead of recent grads. I went regional instead, but I believe Advanced Lead gets you another two cent raise up to 18cpm, but I could be wrong on that.

After six months with the company you have the opportunity to take the TTT class if you haven't already and become a trainer, which comes with a raise to division pay(somewhere around 30cpm, but it varies depending on what division) for every mile the truck rolls, plus bonuses for students that successfully get their CDL and upgrade to Phase II, and you get two cents per mile for every mile they run with the company for the next several years.

Some pertinent facts you might also want to know: we're limited to 60 on the pedal, 62 with cruise. Trucks are a mix of manual and automatic, with the manuals being phased out. We are allowed to have inverters, basically can put whatever we want in the truck so long as it's legal, isn't alive, and doesn't change the exterior look of the vehicle(any damage to the inside you will be charged for, but it's rather reasonable from what I hear). I did mention 'alive' as the pet policy is quite restrictive. I think you can get one after a year, but before that it's service or therapy animals only, and they're quite particular about that no matter the animal. I once saw a lady who was terminated because she had snails in her truck.

We're US only, so no need for a passport. I think at the moment we have one team in a division that does hazmat and they've only got a dozen or so people, and unless you're going for that you don't need any additional endorsements. It's a financially sound company with revenue going up, so it's unlikely you'll find yourself in an Arrow or Celedon situation.

The parts that kind of stink are pretty universal to the industry. Weekend and after hours dispatch stinks, avoid when possible. Pay isn't great, especially starting out, but again, that's pretty universal, at least for big carriers. There's a general lack of respect from other drivers, but again, every big carrier gets that. Their alcohol policy is a bit dated, if you're into drinking, and basically says you can't drink while you have 'command and control of the truck', which basically means that unless they slip seat you for 34's or home time, tipping one back during your off time is against policy.

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Why are you down to those two. Have you tried all of these? Company-Sponsored Training Programs There are others. I'm with CFI and went through there training program. Here is my training diary.

I've tried pretty much every company on the list over the last month. None of them would specify why they turned me down. My best guess would be my awful work history, I haven't had a job in nearly 2 years now. I also had a couple of speeding tickets and 2 unrelated misdemeanors 4 years ago so one of those could be a factor too. The long and short here being that these are the only two that haven't out right turned me down, neither would be my first choice necessarily but at this point I'm just eager to get started somewhere ya know?

Company-sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

CR England is like many of the big companies out there, given a bad rap. I've been with them for over a year now and while not perfect, they're a great company. They have a supportive staff, plenty of resources available, and while perhaps a bit short, their school and training program can get you what you need to be successful. I'll give a quick run-down of the program there that might be more updated than what is listed here:

School is ten days long. Three days in the classroom, three days driving(one shifting, one cornering, one highway/mountain), three days backing, and test day(though that can get stretched into two or three depending on class size. You are unpaid during school.

When you pass school you're assigned to a trainer where you will drive for a certain number of hours(the exact number changes frequently and is directly affected by the reviews your trainer sends to the company). During this time you're paid $15/hour for drive time(EXCELLENT if you end up in some traffic... enjoy that time!), and $10 for on duty time, and this includes studying for company tests and for your CDL , just keep in mind it comes off of your HOS and thus needs to be logged in the QC and that they do audit, so if you say you're studying and not logged into the site you'll be in some trouble). This typically lasts three to four weeks.

After your training time you'll move to Phase II training where you will be teamed with another new driver who has slightly more experience than you. That has another hour amount that, again, constantly changes but there's no reviews to worry about. This typically lasts for about two to three weeks. During this time you'll be paid 14 cents per mile for every mile the truck rolls, and you'll qualify for detention, layover, etc.

After Phase II you upgrade to become a Phase II Lead driver, similar to the driver you were just teamed with. That's when you get 'your' truck. You'll be given a raise to 16cpm for, again, every mile the truck rolls. This lasts about another three to four weeks and ends when you either get a position with a division you applied for(such as Regional , a dedicated route , etc) or in three months when you have the opportunity to become a Phase II Advanced Lead by taking the Train the Trainer(TTT) class, where you will take rehires or experienced drivers out instead of recent grads. I went regional instead, but I believe Advanced Lead gets you another two cent raise up to 18cpm, but I could be wrong on that.

After six months with the company you have the opportunity to take the TTT class if you haven't already and become a trainer, which comes with a raise to division pay(somewhere around 30cpm, but it varies depending on what division) for every mile the truck rolls, plus bonuses for students that successfully get their CDL and upgrade to Phase II, and you get two cents per mile for every mile they run with the company for the next several years.

Some pertinent facts you might also want to know: we're limited to 60 on the pedal, 62 with cruise. Trucks are a mix of manual and automatic, with the manuals being phased out. We are allowed to have inverters, basically can put whatever we want in the truck so long as it's legal, isn't alive, and doesn't change the exterior look of the vehicle(any damage to the inside you will be charged for, but it's rather reasonable from what I hear). I did mention 'alive' as the pet policy is quite restrictive. I think you can get one after a year, but before that it's service or therapy animals only, and they're quite particular about that no matter the animal. I once saw a lady who was terminated because she had snails in her truck.

We're US only, so no need for a passport. I think at the moment we have one team in a division that does hazmat and they've only got a dozen or so people, and unless you're going for that you don't need any additional endorsements. It's a financially sound company with revenue going up, so it's unlikely you'll find yourself in an Arrow or Celedon situation.

The parts that kind of stink are pretty universal to the industry. Weekend and after hours dispatch stinks, avoid when possible. Pay isn't great, especially starting out, but again, that's pretty universal, at least for big carriers. There's a general lack of respect from other drivers, but again, every big carrier gets that. Their alcohol policy is a bit dated, if you're into drinking, and basically says you can't drink while you have 'command and control of the truck', which basically means that unless they slip seat you for 34's or home time, tipping one back during your off time is against policy.

Wow that's a pretty detailed write up! I have a couple of follow up questions if you don't mind. Ten days is pretty darn short, did any of the training feel rushed at all? Do you feel like they adequately went over things you'd need to know? And lastly, while not super important, I've heard horror stories of the motels they stick trainees in; what was your experience as far as that goes?

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
I haven't had a job in nearly 2 years now. I also had a couple of speeding tickets and 2 unrelated misdemeanors 4 years ago so one of those could be a factor too.

To be honest, with that recent history I'd consider it nothing short of a miracle that anyone offered you a position at all. I'd be delighted for any opportunity you get and I highly recommend making the most of it. Wherever you go, stick with that company for a minimum of one year and then you'll be on solid ground. But if you quit or get fired from your first company, combined with the previous stuff, it's going to be very, very difficult to find anyone that will give you a shot.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

double-quotes-start.png

I haven't had a job in nearly 2 years now. I also had a couple of speeding tickets and 2 unrelated misdemeanors 4 years ago so one of those could be a factor too.

double-quotes-end.png

To be honest, with that recent history I'd consider it nothing short of a miracle that anyone offered you a position at all. I'd be delighted for any opportunity you get and I highly recommend making the most of it. Wherever you go, stick with that company for a minimum of one year and then you'll be on solid ground. But if you quit or get fired from your first company, combined with the previous stuff, it's going to be very, very difficult to find anyone that will give you a shot.

Oh you're absolutely right, no doubt about that. It's like I turned 18 and decided to make as many bad decisions as I could in that one year. After a brief stint of living in my car and a year and a half of feeling lows I didn't know existed I'm so ready for a real opportunity to turn my mess of a life around for real.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

1. It's considered an accelerated course. It does require self study before you arrive, at night after class, and after the school. It's not designed for if you get hung up on an issue, but if you do fail the test you CAN get placed into the next class without paying extra. After that if you need any repeats they require you pay for the school up front before continuing.

2. As I mentioned in number 1, if you study it's definitely doable. They do go over everything you need to know, but unlike other schools they don't grind it into you. You need to do that yourself when necessary in self study. They do provide frequent quizzes so you can see how you're coming along and areas you need to focus that study on, however.

3. It depends entirely on where you are for school. In our Chicago-area school it's a decent hotel, not five-star or anything. In SLC it's dormitory style, eight to a room in bunk beds. I won't sugar coat that aspect like they will, it can be a bit rough, but it's for a very short period of time. Your time during school and training is easily the worst, most uncomfortable time you'll have in this career, but it's definitely worth it in my opinion.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Wow that's a pretty detailed write up! I have a couple of follow up questions if you don't mind. Ten days is pretty darn short, did any of the training feel rushed at all? Do you feel like they adequately went over things you'd need to know? And lastly, while not super important, I've heard horror stories of the motels they stick trainees in; what was your experience as far as that goes?
Justin C.'s Comment
member avatar

1. It's considered an accelerated course. It does require self study before you arrive, at night after class, and after the school. It's not designed for if you get hung up on an issue, but if you do fail the test you CAN get placed into the next class without paying extra. After that if you need any repeats they require you pay for the school up front before continuing.

2. As I mentioned in number 1, if you study it's definitely doable. They do go over everything you need to know, but unlike other schools they don't grind it into you. You need to do that yourself when necessary in self study. They do provide frequent quizzes so you can see how you're coming along and areas you need to focus that study on, however.

3. It depends entirely on where you are for school. In our Chicago-area school it's a decent hotel, not five-star or anything. In SLC it's dormitory style, eight to a room in bunk beds. I won't sugar coat that aspect like they will, it can be a bit rough, but it's for a very short period of time. Your time during school and training is easily the worst, most uncomfortable time you'll have in this career, but it's definitely worth it in my opinion.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

double-quotes-start.png

Wow that's a pretty detailed write up! I have a couple of follow up questions if you don't mind. Ten days is pretty darn short, did any of the training feel rushed at all? Do you feel like they adequately went over things you'd need to know? And lastly, while not super important, I've heard horror stories of the motels they stick trainees in; what was your experience as far as that goes?

double-quotes-end.png

Thank you so much for all of your input! It's looking like I'm scheduled to leave for Burns Harbour this Sunday, I'm definitely a mix of nervous wreck and excited right now. Especially not looking forward to the long bus ride there. If you have any suggestions on material to read before I head out or anything I should consider bringing along that they may not have mentioned I'd like to here them. And thanks again, I tend to overthink things a lot and it helps to hear other's experiences.

Dan R.'s Comment
member avatar

Your state CDL manual and working your way through the HIgh Road Training here should put you in a good position. Keep in mind, it's an accelerated course, so if you feel you're not getting something they're going over it is up to you to put in the time after school to study that material.

It'll be really tempting to either hang out with the other students after class or to go to bed. I suggest not doing either of those, instead study. Even if you feel you've got things down, study. You can't over study for this stuff!

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.
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