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Swift Edwardsville CDL School and my journey through OZ.

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MyNameGoesHere's Comment
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I'm not one to do this type of thing but, in my search for information of what to expect I haven't really found anything for this particular location, the on exception being a started thread that doesn't finish. Most of what I found was either far east coast or far west coast. Any that I've seen from California include training to get permit. I'll be going in with my permit already, per school requirement.

I may spread this into multiple post. I was working on this throughout my busy day and had a kid jump on me while I was adding to it and lost about 3000 characters. So here I am starting over.

A little about myself: I love driving, I would drive race cars if I could, I would even drive the truck to move the car from race to race. I have wanted to drive an 18 wheeler since I was a kid. Married with children, so of course I'm inclined to be home as much as possible. It's been the reason that's kept me away from getting into this. More recently I've discovered that there are options available that will make this more of a possibility.

This all actually started a few months back when I started training at First Student to drive a school bus. They gave us 4 days crash course to get our permits (general knowledge, passenger, school bus - no air brakes since they had to many people leaving to drive city busses after the paid training), then we came back for the extra stuff for local schools and first student and then the behind the wheel stuff. I am now a proud owner of a Smith System certification and a CPR certification and I currently hold a CDL B with passenger and school bus endorsement with air brake and automatic only restrictions. Since work is only during the school year it gave me a couple months to wait and rethink things. I'm sure by now you've figured I decided to not be a school bus driver and go with swift. The unpaid time gave me plenty of time to think about not getting paid during the summer and realize I don't really want to put up with other people's snotty kids. After speaking with a few recruiters Swift became my final choice. I start the school on September 5th and make the trip there on the 4th. Haven't decided on driving or not, not sure I want to leave my vehicle at whatever random place for however long when I get to the part of going out with the mentor.

First company I contacted was either Swift or Pam, they're one of the 2 common ones I see on my local Craigslist. There's a school nearby that does 5 weeks but, that's money I don't directly have. I decided against Pam, I really don't remember the reason. Might be something that I would just deal with now after everything, haha. I spoke with Swift somewhere in there as well. I think it was bad reviews that kind of caused me to search elsewhere.

C.R. England, was one of my searches. Sounded appealing with there short CDL training before going out with mentor. Down side at first was that they don't teach on manual. Since I haven't been driving one for years I probably won't care which one and from what I hear it's great for in the city. I just want to make sure I can still be able to drive a manual if needed. Never know if my truck would break down and all they have are manuals available or I go to another company and that's all they have. I don't want the restriction. Come to find out later they have some of the worst pay for new hires.

Spoke with CRST, that was unintentional. I had applied at one of those sites that puts you in for many places. Not a team kind of person.

USA Trucks, was also apart of that group application. Pretty much anything locally available that uses tenstreet. They kept emailing me (2 or 3 times) then eventually realized where I was (that's what he said anyway) and said he didn't have any positions available here.

Roehl, they were appealing since they say they pay you even during your schooling. Never heard from them even though I put in my application. No I didn't call, but they still send emails once in a while suggesting to apply. Apparently they're not that interested.

I then saw someone suggest Prime Inc. or KLLM. KLLM, doesn't have anything for my area so Prime became my "Prime" (haha, lame pun) choice. They still remain a top option even now but, most of what they have is OTR. As stated earlier I have a family, as many others do, and would prefer to be home ad much as possible. It was at that point I looked back at Swift and seen they have more regional stuff that is available in my area. Prime only had it in areas that aren't where I live. Another thing was that the recruiter for Prime told me I'd have to change my DL over to Missouri then test over there. Swift, I just needed to take the written that I'd need. General knowledge was done already and the others were super easy.

I'd have to go back and re-read to see what I may have forgotten to add from my earlier attempt that may have missed to put in here. Since I did put it down at one point I just don't know if it was first attempt or second.

When it's all said and done 6 to 12 months for the experience and if I don't like what I've got then I can find something more suited to me.

Running out of space now. Part 2 will come later. It's time for me to get some sleep.

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.

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.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
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Mynamegoeshere wrote:

I spoke with Swift somewhere in there as well. I think it was bad reviews that kind of caused me to search elsewhere.

Your handle, is very amusing. Please try not to fret over bad reviews. I was schooled, road-trained with Swift over 5 years ago. I am still driving for them on a NE Regional Dedicated Walmart Account. Happy, no complaints. The reviews? It's rare that a terminated driver will say anything good about their experience with Swift or any company for that matter. Accepting responsibility and accountability for repeated mistakes, violations and poor attitude is difficult for the myriad of driver failures.

Swift has a training process that is fairly consistent throughout their system. Try to keep in mind the school's single purpose is to teach you just enough to pass your CDL tests,...that's it. Nothing more.

Their are numerous Swift journals; Errol's is the best. Search on his name with the words Swift Journal. Search bar, is in the upper left hand corner. Let me know what else I can help with.

Good luck!

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.

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.

MyNameGoesHere's Comment
member avatar

After looking at reviews for different companies and seeing pretty much same complaints across the board I realized that those are just common issues. Most companies showed pretty much the same approval rating on (I think it was) indeed dot com. In the end I was looking through negatives that were different and stood out among the other various pieces of hay in the proverbial haystack. I never really found that needle for Prime or Swift. I honestly wish I could remember what turned me away from Pam. It was the first one I looked at. Reviews in the end only became a filter to weed out companies like C.R. E.

It was funny to watch some YouTubers who were happy and all excited to promote their company until their last video of them with the company when it's all negative.

I am truly excited and can't wait. Only real thing I'm nervous about is the riding with a mentor. I've read so many horror stories.

Beyond that, my current thing is trying to get my DOT long form from Via Chrsiti clinic. They claim that since First Student paid for it, they're not allowed to give me a copy. I have yet to speak with First Student.

Thanks, I'll have to look for those and thanks for everything else as well.

I'll try to keep this as updated as possible. If anything just to document my experience. As for the name, I wanted something different and something that isn't my usual gamer name.

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.
MyNameGoesHere's Comment
member avatar

I have a question, how much different from learning a manual in a tractor compared to a 4 wheeler is there? Is it easier to learn if you already know how to drive a manual in a car or more difficult?

Just curious. I'll find out for myself next week.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

I have a question, how much different from learning a manual in a tractor compared to a 4 wheeler is there? Is it easier to learn if you already know how to drive a manual in a car or more difficult?

Just curious. I'll find out for myself next week.

I'll be blunt this time...all those reviews? A waste of time.

Moving on...shifting a tractor trailer is a world of difference from a car or light truck. In a car there are synchronizers, in a heavy class 8 truck there are none. You must learn to match speed and rpm in order to mesh the gears. As you are learning; double clutching is required.

Click this link: Shifting a truck

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Well, it the departure day is quickly approaching. Making a list and checking it twice to make sure the list covers all that I'll need so I can make sure to check it off as I pack. Gone through the list on this site and the list I was emailed from Swift.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Well, it the departure day is quickly approaching. Making a list and checking it twice to make sure the list covers all that I'll need so I can make sure to check it off as I pack. Gone through the list on this site and the list I was emailed from Swift.

Good luck. Thanks for continuing your journal.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

MyNameGoesHere's Comment
member avatar

Just a quick update before I head to bed. Took the bus, it was an hour late and of course a 5 hour trip that could've been 3 hours if I drove myself. Positive note, there were maybe a dozen or so on the bus so it was a peaceful ride. Looking forward to tomorrow.

I chose to take the bus so I didn't have to worry about my car when I get to the mentor phase.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Day 1

Breakfast is provided and they begin serving at 6. Go to front desk to get the voucher. Then head into restaurant have a sit and give your voucher. They go back and prep it for you. Doesn't cover any drinks but, coffee is free in the lobby and they give you a glass of water. It can take a bit to get your food so I would advise to arrive as early as possible to give time to get food and eat to be prepared to leave at 6:30.

Hotel shuttle (van) leaves at 6:30.....or when they finally find van and/or driver.

Class starts at 7. Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. Need DL, CLP , and DOT card and long form. Turns out that it is just me this week. Pro: more one on one time and no groups to contend for drive time. Con: ALL eyes are on you, literally. They do not have other students to look at and deal with.

Started with the typical contract and agreements for being there and the loan. Then I was dropped off for the wiz quiz. Again, just me, so there wasn't a huge wait. There were others from other companies or whatever (they weren't my concern so I didn't care enough to pay attention). Then back we came for more paperwork.

Finally, once all the paperwork was complete we moved on to log books. Just me, so it went quickly. There was a bit of a slide show and some Q & A. Log books (printed paper copy) will be filled out daily to get into the habit and to understand the paper form in case it is ever needed due to equipment failure.

Next....lunch. Swift covers first day. YAY! FREE FOOD! Sadly, it's the only free food other than breakfast so eat up and enjoy.

Next was maps and route planning. They have a slide show and more Q & A. I didn't see those since they figured it would be easier to just sit down for a one on one.

Then I moved out to the range for straight line backing. Was easier than I expected. After last break I was evaluated on my straight line backing. Nailed it every time and never even needed a pull up. After that we moved to offset backing. It is not as easy as a bus or straight truck. Being bendy and limited rear view that is made even more limited because of the trailor blocking line of site in a mirror. GOAL (Get Out And Look, for those that don't know) come in to play and is needed here. Around 4 we wrapped up on the range and headed in. Closed off the day by finishing up the log book for the day. Class ends at 4:30, hotel shuttle picked me up and took me back to the hotel.

Hotel does take people on Mondays to the store. Since there wasn't any class on Monday they said they would take me tonight if I wanted.

It is Taco Tuesday, all you can eat Tacos from the hotel kitchen. I may have to take that up. Last night I walked about a block to a small burger place called Tay's burgers. It was totally worth it.

Tablet is dying, stomach is rumbling. Time for food. I think that covers as much as I can remember. That's it for now.

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.

CLP:

Commercial Learner's Permit

Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

MyNameGoesHere's Comment
member avatar

Day 2

Today started out just like yesterday. Wake up, get ready for the day, breakfast (same as yesterday, no choice, it's good but sometimes so is variety), leave for school. All made easier since you know what you're doing, where to be and go, what to do, and what to expect.

Class starts at 7. Today, pre-trip. Went over it all. Tomorrow, we do it again. Need to really work it in to memory. After, we moved on to parallel parking, of which I managed to get it in the box consistently with only one pull up. Next was 90° backing. After being given some additional pointers to help with parallel parking and offset backin, of which I feel more confortable with after hearing it (of which I will apply tomorrow), I was given a demo on 90° backing. What can I say about that, OMG that's difficult. Towards the end of the day I got to see a hook and do a hook. Then I spent the rest of my day working on 90° backing. It's my weak area at the moment. I can do 2 out of 3 with 1 or no pull up, then the third gets completely botched. I struggle with getting back under the trailer to keep it straight and to "see" where the trailer and tandems are going. Practice, practice, practice. Being the only one has its benefits, all practice time is mine but, the downside is that I don't have the mistakes of others to learn off of.

4:30 comes along, day ends, shuttle arrives, back at hotel.

That's all for today. Sorry, nothing special to report. Just thought I'd share what my day was like.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

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