Swift Edwardsville CDL School And My Journey Through OZ.

Topic 20577 | Page 5

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MackMall's Comment
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Awesome report...I feel like I'm there with you lol Congrats on passing and keep up the good work!

MyNameGoesHere's Comment
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Thanks, thanks and thanks. I'm glad to have passed it and get that part all done and moved on to the next phase.

My goal with the diary was to be as detailed as possible without giving so much that it is boring to read. If something doesn't hold my attention I end up glossing over things, especially long text. Typically I just start at the beginning then I just get carried away. Sometimes I have to go back and edit or delete ling winded or overly detailed stuff. I did push myself to write something each day while it is fresh in my head even when I was tired and just wanted to relax and sleep. I try and keep the information I give from an un-biased perspective. That way anyone reading it and going into it won't go in with a predetermined outlook. I want to put in enough detail that someone would have an idea or understanding of what happens and what to expect. While the basic fundamentals are going to be the same across the board, each school or academy does things differently. We had one guy transfer from the Memphis school and I heard about the differences between the two. Even now I edit long winded bits out.

I would like to post a review of the Kansas City school but, I want to wait a day or two to try and make sure I keep it as un-biased as possible. Overall, I would say from what I've experienced at the Swift Kansas City School, I highly recommend it if given the option. Even if it means waiting a bit longer to start. More details to come.

MyNameGoesHere's Comment
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Just a quick update. Everything is pretty much all set to head back to Kansas City tomorrow to be there for orientation on Monday. Bus tickets have been purchased, bags are packed with everything still in the go bags from before. Squeezing the inside liner of my jacket and a hoodie into the two bags (one duffle and one backpack) for the colder weather coming and potential for being in much colder climate. Going to get the final stuffs crammed in the bags tomorrow morning then I leave in the afternoon.

Still excited and nervous all at the same time. Mostly just nervous about the mentor phase. With so many horror stories (a few successes in the mix, have to mention those since they do happen) out there. Being stuffed inside an oversized closet with some random guy will be bad enough but, to possibly make it worse to be stuffed in there with a ****** canoe just looking for a paycheck. I will make it my own. In the end, if all goes well, it'll just be a short time in the grand scheme of it. Thanks to the dump truck loads of advise on here I will be prepared to handle a poor mentor. Just going to stay positive, I may get a cool mentor. I was fortunate to get a good roommate, maybe the fortune will continue.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
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Considering you're with Swift, you might find this helpful... Going on the Road with a Trainer

Safe travels. Good luck!

MyNameGoesHere's Comment
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Considering you're with Swift, you might find this helpful... Going on the Road with a Trainer

Safe travels. Good luck!

Thanks, I'll give it a read on my bus ride.

MyNameGoesHere's Comment
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My Review

Starts with the nightmare of traveling on a bus. Personal opinion, for the academy portion, if you're not to far, then driving is best option. Gives you wheels to go places while in town and gives you the ability to go home on weekends. If you so choose, it gives you the ability to drive to and from class. I only drove on Friday's so I could head home right after class. Might as well save your fuel cost and let the shuttle take you to and from. Only down side is you're stuck waiting for your shuttle which may or may not be on time. Most of the time it wasn't on time picking us up but we were never late for class.

The motel wasn't spectacular by any means. It provided the basics of what you would need while staying there and of course it is not that far from the academy. My only complaints were having to have card reactivated every day was also a bit irritating. Reasons were explained as to why they did it but I don't rememeber what it was. Final complaint of the hotel actually comes from Swift and not the hotel. I would like to have had my own room. I was fortunate to have a decent roommate that I got along with. Even gave him my number before I left. Others not so lucky. I understand it's to cut cost but if I'm going to be paying it back anyway then I should be allowed the option. Bad enough I get to look forward to a large closet space with a mentor but sharing a motel room with too while in the academy. Overall it was a good place to rest my head and the staff were always super friendly. I would definitely pay to stay there again (if I'm ever in the area). It's not far from World's of Fun and Ocean's of Fun, so it is a likely possibility.

The academy itself. I will start off by saying something I have said before, totally worth it even if it means waiting a short while longer. The academy itself is operated out of Metropolitan Community College (MCC) in Kansas City, Mo. Swift loans MCC trucks and in return MCC loans a classroom and parking lot to operate out of. There are new classes that start every Monday. First week students sit in the front row, second in the second row, and so on. The small class sizes mean more one on one attention from the instructors. The instructors do really want you to pass, it's what they are paid for and it reflects well on them for every passing student. No, they don't hold your hand or allow you to skate by. Your license isn't acquired from them, they only teach you how to drive to grt your license. They have a limit of 3 DMV failures before they stop taking you up there. They will however, expect you to be able to pass their skills course (which is the same as the DMV) before they will take you. You get one less of everything for theirs compared to DMV (one less free pull up, one less get out and look, one less points needed to fail).

The head instructor is super awesome. He will work with you as long as it takes (as long as you are showing an equal effort). I saw him spend an entire day with someone. This someone wasn't doing well and was going to stress himself to failure. I thought for sure he wasn't going to make it. This same someone after working with this instructor was able to pass his DMV exam the same day I did. There was another point (different day) where this instructor looked mad or extremely frustrated. Not once did he raise his voice in anger or yell at the student, you could tell he was mad though.

The other instructor. She may have had the experience and time behind her but, she hadn't driven in quite some time. She was recruited from the DMV, she was an examiner. Her ability to teach, maneuver, or even drive were lacking in many areas. Her inability to perform maneuvers made it impossible for her to teach correctly how to do them, let alone the correct reference points needed for them. Her driving on the road was at times scary and hypocritical at best. She would do the very thing she tells you or gets on to you for doing, example being, when someone would be driving and cross a line, she would be all over it, yet I would lose count how many times she would cross over one. When performing maneuvers on the range, she would constantly come up and start directing you (incorrectly) she might not give a direction leaving you waiting and over shooting because you were waiting on her to say something. I sat and watched her tell a student to turn the wheel in the wrong direction even though the student really wasn't doing to bad, the incorrect instruction caused the student to be way off target. You couldn't ignore an instruction, no matter how incorrect it was because she would get mad for not doing what you're told when she told it to you. Yes, I agree that you should listen to instructors and do what they tell you but for her to have a cow because you don't turn the wheel in the direction she tells you even if you know it will put you outside of the box. I could keep going, yet I will probably edit some stuff out. Outside of her inability to instruct she is a great lady. She was an examiner for the state of Kansas and knows her stuff when it comes to what you need to know and what will fail you.

In the end, you will know what you need to know and be able to do what you need to do to pass the exam. I highly recommend this location and I am glad I went to the Swift Kansas City Academy.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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.

MyNameGoesHere's Comment
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Had a bit of an issue and lost the first part. Was basically a long winded text. I'll summarize.

Basically, it was thanking everyone on the forums. All the way from the top (originator of TT) all the way down to the bottom (us rookies who ask questions). You're ALL awesome keep doing what you're doing.

MyNameGoesHere's Comment
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One more thing. Be prepared to have your excuses or money ready. There are a ton of people constantly asking for money (some just ask for you to buy them food). Pretty sure the one guy who asked me is the same guy who asked me the last time I was here a month ago. I hear quite a few others asking other people.

MyNameGoesHere's Comment
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I want to start with the night before. My trip up on a bus slightly more occupied than my first bus trip, was...how can I put this....interesting? It was pretty uneventful. I turned on my mobile hotspot since the WiFi on the bus won't let me run Netflix. Streamed some shows and wrote my review and read the blog from G-Town that is linked above. It actually took me quite a bit of time to write that. I had a prelude to my review all written up. It was just a long winded way of saying how awesome everyone on this site and how great the site itself is. Long story short, I got so long winded with everything I had to split it up and accidentally lost the entire prelude.

Next up was a wonderful moment with passenger body odor. Blech! Then on to some kid picked up along the way. I took my headphones off to get up to use the restroom and he decided it was a good time to chat. After a simple "hi", he then began by telling me his friends call him 'president' for some reason. I mistakenly inquire about it to which he told me it had to do with an interest he expressed some time ago on Facebook. I asked if he was still interested, he then told me that he is but he isn't. Only if (when he's old enough, he looked like he was in his 20's) the country was bad enough, as if he was so great he could single handedly make it better. It's always the crazy ones who insist on speaking. I made it to the restroom and back all the while he's still trying to chat as I am walking away and after I walk out of the rolling stainless still porta potty. I eventually put my headphones back on and continue to ignore him.I think he still continued talking for a little while after. Haha.

Next up is the final bus terminal. My paper says shuttle pick up at 8. After calling to confirm with hotel I discover that pick up is 8:45. Not long after being there, I was yet again asked for money, just like last time and I think it was one of the same people as last time. I had a 2 hour wait. 2 hours of potentials asking for money. 2 hours of me wondering if I should just be rude or think of polite excuses. How much am I supposed to tolerate? (Rhetorical question) I put my headphones in. No music. No audio. A disguise. My phone battery was to low to really play anything and I didn't feel like digging out my tablet. 2 hours passed and I made it undisturbed. I overheard others getting asked for change or money with some excuse. Don't get me wrong, people get in bad circumstances and actually could use assistance. It gets ruined by everyone else constantly asking.

Night continues at the hotel. Shuttle was nice enough to run us to get food after we checked in and dropped off our stuff. I think I have a room to myself and then eventually I hear someone entering. =( Oh well, it's only a few nights. He then leaves after he arrives (I'm assuming it's for food). At this point I get locked in the bathroom. Latch won't pull in when handle is turned. Still doesn't. It's rigged now so it wont latch. Now no secure door while sharing a room. Yay. I would have tried prying the latch but I had nothing to do it with. Only thing I had was my phone. I called down to front desk to finally be rescued. Maybe 30 minutes stuck, not a huge deal. Now tired and frustrated I then go to bed to get some sleep.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

MyNameGoesHere's Comment
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Orientation Day 1

Finally a different breakfast. Something other than biscuits and gravy and scrambled eggs. They have an all american breakfast setup and a room right next to it for made to order omelets.

Now off to the shuttle. Room for 14 passengers. Enough room to feel like we are crammed in like sardines. 14 passengers in, still more waiting to pile in. Haha. They made it somehow, not sure how but, they made it.

Orientation is upstairs. 14 ish of us standing in the front area not sure where to go for a few minutes when someone ask where we go. Upstairs. Once upstairs there are signs directing you. Check in while entering the room and find your seat with your name tag (just a table display type name tag). 26 people expected. 21 show up. Most are Swift students from other areas and the rest are existing CDL holders.

Introductions start (I really hate this part). Medical card and long form are collected. Then on to some videos. During which the existing CDL holders begin slowly sent out for their road evals and others sent back in groups for the wiz quiz. The first half of the day is pretty much that. Replaying the videos for those who missed and one bit about Reefers. It was short and to the point and there were only 6 videos. I don't remember exactly what they were, but they were important, ish. Haha. Basic stuff really. Not to terrible for a single sit through. Rough to have to sit through it all multiple times. Somewhere in there you'll sign off on some forms (all paperless, you can either do it on your phone or on the computers in the back, most of us used our phones).

After lunch (lunches a free and provided by swift, you'll get a coupon to take to the food court thing for one free lunch each day of orientation), we then finished catching the last of the people up on the videos. By now we lost 4 people. Down to 17. There are some who need to get their physicals done, they were lacking long forms and just had to redo it. They were sent off for that and the rest of us went on to safety. After safety, we went over hazmat. Those took the rest of the day and those parts helped the rest of the day go by pretty quickly.

Excitedly, one of the lost was my roommate, regretfully, he'll be here until tomorrow. Oh well. Not sure why he didn't make it. Sucks he made the trip and didn't get the job. FYI, he is one of the already has a CDL peoples. Tomorrow should be a little more productive. Those few who had to redo their DOT physicals will have to take short lunches to catch up on what they missed today, over the next couple of days.

Until tomorrow....

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

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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