Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Topic 20605 | Page 6

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MyNameGoesHere's Comment
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From an outside, rookie, perspective, I think you handled it the best you could considering the circumstances. Finally standing up to your mentor I'm sure took a lot especially after his comments about how he's threatened previous students. Unless you can see the future (doubtful), there's no way of telling how it would have played out. How you approached it could have helped a lot too. Your actions may have made him a better mentor, not just for you but for many students following. On a side note, his threatening previous students could just have been his way to make sure they don't drive 3 miles down a boardwalk or forget to 'swing wide it's a trailer' moment.

In any case, KUDOS to you.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Blue Zombie Trucker's Comment
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From an outside, rookie, perspective, I think you handled it the best you could considering the circumstances. Finally standing up to your mentor I'm sure took a lot especially after his comments about how he's threatened previous students. Unless you can see the future (doubtful), there's no way of telling how it would have played out. How you approached it could have helped a lot too. Your actions may have made him a better mentor, not just for you but for many students following. On a side note, his threatening previous students could just have been his way to make sure they don't drive 3 miles down a boardwalk or forget to 'swing wide it's a trailer' moment.

In any case, KUDOS to you.

Thanks, My Name. My mentor is taking a couple of days hometime right now so I'm hanging out relaxing. It's nice to relax a bit. We were pushing it pretty hard, being dispatched on team loads, and we'll be back to team status Sunday morning. I was planning to study a lot but my mentor asked me to just take it easy and get rested up for another intense week.

I watched a couple of movies today, walked about 5miles, and showered twice. It's funny how something like a shower is suddenly such a luxury.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Han Solo Cup's Comment
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Your threads have been probably one of the most helpful and insightful to me, Blue Zombie. I really appreciate you detailing everything instead of just saying "issues with trainer, poof magic, all is good." It was beneficial to see the not-so-good side of a trainer/trainee relationship. Your experience will for sure be one of the ones I carry with me in the back of my mind when my time comes. Thanks a lot!!

Blue Zombie Trucker's Comment
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I passed my written and road tests at the swift terminal in Denver Colorado today.

I feel that I made a huge mistake by sticking with this Mentor. He went right back to his same bipolar toxic cynicism after a few days. The last couple weeks have been hell.

So my advice to new students would be if you have any red flags with your Mentor just request a new one don't waste your time. I got through it in spite of my mentor not because of him. I don't feel that anything I Learned was because of him at this point.

I I realize that my attitude is bad about this but that's what happens when you're locked in the truck with a toxic cynic for a month.

Anyway I get my tractor tomorrow morning and then I'm on my own so I just want to thank everybody on this forum again; you guys have been incredible and the advice I got was spot-on and I should have followed it a little better than I did but I hope that someone will benefit from my experience and do the right thing.

Don't try to ride out a bad mentor, just get a new one. Don't waste your time, it's your time and you have to take control of it just like G-Town has said.

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.

G-Town's Comment
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Congratulations!!!

Blue Zombie Trucker's Comment
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Congratulations!!!

Thanks G-Town! Too excited to sleep. Much. ;)

Blue Zombie Trucker's Comment
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I am now out on my first solo run and it's going quite well. My truck is a 2015 Freightliner Cascadia 12 speed automatic. It's been abused a little there's some breaks in the fairings in like five or six different places but it's mechanically very sound.

I'm really liking this truck. I've put about 400 miles on it so far and I'm really liking it. I like the 12-speed.

It's going really well. I'm learning the things that I didn't learn during my mentorship (such as route planning, accepting loads, etc) and the support staff: the dispatchers and the load planners and the driver leaders are very very supportive. I'm learning a lot in a hurry and it's going very well.

Dispatcher:

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.
PackRat's Comment
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Enjoyed reading your posts.

Blue Zombie Trucker's Comment
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Thanks, Pack Rat. :)

So Saturday was pretty interesting. I picked up a load of breakfast cereal in Salt Lake City.

The routing for this load was a little bit strange. I took the interstates up to I think Rexford Idaho and then took State highways from there up to Ennis Montana and then over to Interstate 90 near Bozeman and then from Bozeman to Billings Interstate 90 all the way.

During the stretch in North Eastern Idaho just before I got into Montana I missed a turn. I realized my mistake immediately and found a very small pull out and got off the highway and got parked. I called dispatch and asked for advice.

There was a loop I could have made that would have added maybe 20 or 25 miles to my trip but the dispatcher got on and started looking at maps and saw that there was another turn out a couple miles up the road that I could turn around in.

To make a long story short the turnout was one of those ones it's kind of a loop off of the road kind of D shaped and I missed the first leg of it and had to kind of back into it.

This was in the dark and there was snow in the turnout and stuff and anyway what should have taken less than a minute to get turned around I turned into a half hour ordeal.

But: I managed to stay out of the ditches and didn't break anything, I didn't jackknife, didn't get in a wreck so it worked out. There was about a million ways that could have gone wrong and it turned out for the best. I definitely did the right thing by calling dispatch and ask him for advice because if nothing else while I got good advice but it also made me kind of slow down think it through and stuff.

The dispatcher did use the tool that I wouldn't have thought to use which was basically Google Maps and satellite photo view, and there it was. Good lesson learned.

Anyway instead of proceeding on to Bozeman which would have been about another hour and a half or so on two-lane highways after about twenty or Thirty miles I came across a rest area at Raynolds Pass. I spent the night there, and it's good that I did because I would have missed some really beautiful scenery in the dark and also that there's a section of that road between Raynold's Pass and Bozeman that's pretty twisty and narrow 2 lane. I would not have wanted to do that in the dark it's pretty twisty and narrow and it was bad enough in the daylight.

Anyway it all worked out for the best I made it to Billings in a very casual pace today. I did some tourist Trucking, stopped and took some photos and just had a really nice relaxed day. Saved my 70 hours and the next three days are going to be a little bit intense but all good.

I deliver at 5 in the morning tomorrow morning (Monday morning) and then I have to run back to Butte to get a load that I'll drop in Edwardsville, Nebraska and then turn around and get a trip back home for my first home time since before Labor Day and get the RV moved and see my beautiful wife and our fur factories.

I love this job.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Dispatcher:

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.
Blue Zombie Trucker's Comment
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Okay first of all it's probably not fair to include Volvo in here because I only drove Volvo's at the Swift Lewiston CDL Academy. The Volvo's of the academy at the time that I was there were all manual transmissions 10 speeds and the other trucks that I've driven recently a Kenworth and a Freightliner have both been automated manuals. So it's not a fair comparison.

So the Kenworth versus the Freightliner is a fair comparison however.

The Kenworth is aesthetically more pleasing it's a sexier looking truck. I like the fact that the Kenworth has way better and more cup holders.

The Kenworth that I drove for a month during training was a 2018 T680 Cummins and a 10-speed automated manual what some people call an automatic transmission.

The Freightliner that I'm currently driving is a 2015 Cascadia Evolution with the 12-speed automated manual and I'm pretty sure it's got a Detroit Diesel. ( I did Download a pdf of the owners manual for the Cascadia from the Freightliner website and it only mentions a Mercedes Benz diesel but I believe this has the Detroit.)

The fit and finish of the Kenworth and the Freightliner are pretty similar. The cupboard space in the sleeper of the Kenworth is maybe a little bit better I don't know pretty negligible difference there.

The ride of the Freightliner is way better than the right of the Kenworth.

The Freightliner has a 12 speed automated manual transmission and I like it way better than the automated 10 speed manual that was in the Kenworth.

The jake brake on the Kenworth is stronger than the jake brake on the Freightliner but I still prefer the Freightliner. The cruise control on the Freightliner actually engages the jake brake to keep you from over-speeding on down Hills which the Kenworth does not do. That to me is a tremendous Advantage. Also I like the fact that all the cruise control buttons on the Freightliner are steering wheel-mounted where on the Kenworth they're on the center console on the dash and it's pretty inconvenient to be honest.

Overall the 12-speed blows away the 10 speed. The Freightliner seems to pull Hills a lot better than the Kenworth did but I think that's probably because of the two extra gears in the transmission.

The Freightliner 12 speed does skip shift in the lower gears getting off the line so that's a huge Advantage especially in traffic and in City Driving. The Kenworth does not skip shift its goes through every gear so it takes you three and a half hours to get through an intersection after a stop light.

I did like the air seat in the Kenworth better than the one in the Freightliner. The Freightliner doesn't have an adjustment for the tension on the air ride so that actually does make for a little bit better comfort in the Kenworth. Although I don't remember if the Kenworth had armrests or not but I use the armrests in the Freightliner all the time now and I love them.

One other thing about the Kenworth that I really did like over the Freightliner is the fender mirrors. I know some people don't like Fender mirrors but I do. I use them all the time.

The fender mirrors on the Kenworth were round fisheye or convex mirrors and they were mounted farther out than the sort of square convex Fender mirrors on the Freightliner. So the Kenworth Fender Mount mirrors really allow you to see your blind spots along the side of the trailer way better than the ones on the Freightliner.

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.
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