My Journey Into Trucking

Topic 20775 | Page 1

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Robby W.'s Comment
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So, I'll start with a little about me. I'm 33 years old and have been in law enforcement in a sworn position for about 12 years. During that time, I've also worked in the security industry, and even as a licensed PI. But, I'm ready to try something new, and after a couple months of contemplation/research and talking with my brother and step-dad (my brother is an owner/operator and my step-dad drives for a logging company) at great length, I came to the conclusion that perhaps driving would be that new profession.

I studied my tail off and was able to obtain my CLP with all the endorsements (save for passengers and school bus) all in one go. I just need to get to the TSA agent and get my clearance started for my HAZMAT endorsement, and/or perhaps start the process to get my TWIC card.

After countless hours of research through this forum, company websites, YouTube, Facebook, talking to recruiters, and more, I decided to go with Prime, Inc. Many things played into this decision, and I believe I've made the proper choice to begin my career.

So, today, I put in my application with Prime after speaking with the recruiter again. Since I'm from California, it sounds like I will be headed to the Salt Lake City terminal for training once accepted. The recruiter said it may be possible for me to head out as early as this Sunday (apparently orientation at the SLC facility starts on Tuesdays instead of Mondays). So, tomorrow either the recruiter will call me or I will call him, and go from there.

My family and I have discussed at length the impact this job/transition will have on us, and believe we are ready for it. We've had to spend time apart for work before, but this will still be different.

I'm both excited and nervous at the same time to begin this adventure. Excited to begin a new career, but nervous because it's completely different from what I've done for work for over a decade. Anyway, I just wanted to start a training diary so to speak to be able to document my progress. I'll try to update as updates come along.

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

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.

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.

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.

Peter M.'s Comment
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Best of luck to you. Sounds like you've thought this through. Looking forward to your updates.

Robby W.'s Comment
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Best of luck to you. Sounds like you've thought this through. Looking forward to your updates.

Thanks! Talked to the recruiter again today and he has begun to background check portion of the process. Still might possibly be able to head out Sunday!

Robby W.'s Comment
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09-21-2017 Update: Got a call from my recruiter today, and I've been cleared by the Safety Department, and will be shipping out Sunday (09-24-2017) afternoon to the Prime Inc. Salt Lake City facility. They've given me a Greyhound ticket, but I'm hoping to maybe take the train (Amtrak) instead if I can. It's only two hours less on the train, but I'd rather be able to get up and walk around and not deal with overflowing on-board bathrooms (I've had a couple not-so-pleasant Greyhound experiences when I was in the Navy, lol).

Anyway, I am excited to get started! I will continue to try to keep this thread updated as my experiences continued!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Robby W.'s Comment
member avatar

09-27-2017

Sorry I'm running a bit behind, I've had a busy past few days. So, here's a catch up of sorts:

Sunday 09-24-2017 & Monday 09-25-2017: I opted to get an Amtrak ticket and left Sacramento a bit after 1230 that afternoon. I arrived in Salt Lake City at about 430 on the 25th. I contacted the hotel (SLC Airport Ramada) and got a ride from their shuttle (note: they said they couldn't pick me up from Amtrak, only from the Greyhound station, which was literally across the street). I got to the hotel and was assigned a room. I was told I would have a room mate, but either the guy was a no show or checked out that morning, and I haven't had a room mate since. It's been nice, haha. Anyway, I took my stuff to the room, and after confirming with my recruiter I didn't have to report to the terminal until the next day, I got some of the breakfast from the hotel (good food, btw for a free breakfast: scrambled eggs, sausage links, toast, waffles, yogurt, sliced peaches, etc.). After that I went back to my room and slept until about 11am. I didn't get much sleep on the train, just too anxious about things to come. After getting dressed and making some phone calls to my family and such, I ventured across the street to the "food court" which consisted of a bunch of unoccupied buildings and a Subway. I got a sandwich, ate half there, then returned to the hotel for the day.

I should mention I ran into some guys upgrading to solo from Prime that were headed to their class that day. They all seemed pretty laid back, which helped me to relax.

Tuesday 09-26-2017: I got up at about 0550 hours. No automatic wake up calls at this hotel, btw, you have to request them. I got ready, got something to eat from the breakfast area, and caught the shuttle with a few of my new classmates to the terminal. The first thing we did was fill out a paper application, followed by taking the drug screen/urinalysis. For some reason, they don't test the samples in the area and ship them to Illinois or something like that, so we won't be cleared to get our ID's until the results return on Thursday or Friday. After that, we were shuttled to Concerntra (an urgent care place) to have our new hire DOT physicals completed. It was the same as the one California required of me to get my permit, but Prime requires it for all new hires no matter what. I previously had a 1 year medical card I got at the beginning of the month (I take meds to control my blood pressure), but ended up with a temporary 3 month card as I had a BMI of 39, and Prime requires those with a BMI of 39 or higher to have a sleep study done (for sleep apnea , etc.). Once I have the sleep study done, I'll either need a machine if I fail (I don't believe I have sleep apnea, I don't have any of the symptoms, but I guess we'll find out) or I'll get my 1 year card back, I guess. I'll have to update on that later, because I think the sleep study is done after I come back from my PSD phase. NOTE: Bring your permit and ID with you to the physical. They will need both. (If you go to SLC for your orientation, you're required to first have your permit. I think this is based upon which state you come from-I came from California)

Anyway, after we were all done (there were only 9 in my class including me), we went back to the terminal, had our lunch (catered by a place called Apple Spice-good food btw), and finished the afternoon completing our CBT's (computer based training), which is mostly videos with a small test at the end of some of them. We were given a $10 meal voucher for the restaurant at the hotel (Amelia's Grill & Bar). You can get a pretty good burger/fry combo, or several other different things with the voucher. I'd recommend having a few bucks to spend with each meal if you're going to get something to drink besides water, info only.

Wednesday 09-27-2017: Got up about the same time, got breakfast, then took the shuttle to the terminal. Started with a few more CBT's, had a class on elogs and paper logs (we were issued a paper log book which we are required to have with us in the truck in case the Qualcomm fails), then a class on tires with a trip to the yard to look over some trucks, trailers, their tires, etc. We were also given a tread depth gauge. After that we returned to the classroom and had a couple more quick presentations, including one on benefits for once we're eligible. After that was lunch and we finished (well I did, at least) our CBT's. Sounds like we don't all have trainers yet (I haven't been told I have one). I think they said if they don't have an OTR trainer for us, we may stay with a local trainer for our PSD portion, but more on that later if it turns out to happen to me. Tomorrow I think the class is going to be split, with half on the simulator and the other half on pre-trip inspections, with a swap at the mid point of the day.

I'll continue to update as things progress. Thanks for reading!!!

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

Elog:

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.

Elogs:

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.

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.

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.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

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.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.
Robby W.'s Comment
member avatar

Thursday 09-28-2017: Today was a pretty easy day. We started the day on the simulator. We first went through just the shifting pattern with the simulator off, followed by double clutch shifting with the system off, then went to up shifting (double clutch) with the system on. We later went through down shifting climbing and descending hills. While I had a fairly easy time, some of my classmates did not, but they started to get it before the end of the day.

We also watched a few videos on and went over the pre-trip inspection. We then went over some power point presentation about the required backing maneuvers.

I was informed I have a trainer, and I think they are supposed to be here this weekend. It will be nice to get out on the road.

Tomorrow it sounds like we may actually get out onto the training pad and get cleared/get our ID's and safety vests issued. It will be nice to drive an actual truck. I'm off to bed, I'll update more later on!

Also-Thursdays in SLC they order pizza for the students!!!

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

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.

Robby W.'s Comment
member avatar

10/13/2017 Where to start? I've been busy the last couple weeks, but I'll start by saying today I got a TRIFECTA on my testing this morning and am now an employee of Prime, Inc!

I ended up getting a great trainer who happened to be flatbed. I liked the experience enough that I am sticking with the flatbed division. We left early last week and made a couple runs to southern Utah (I am training out of the Salt Lake City terminal), then onto Fontana where we picked up a 48,000+ lbs steel coil. I got to drive that thing down the Grapevine and Siskiyou Summit-an interesting thing haha. After dropping that off in northern Oregon, we picked up a nearby load of lumber and brought it back to the terminal. I spent the next two days after that driving a manual truck (my instructor had an automatic), learned to float gears , drove around the area a bunch, and spent plenty of time backing and going over pretrip inspections.

I was scheduled to test at 0800 this morning, so we decided to hit the training pad at about 0600 to go over some last minute stuff. We went for another drive around the area before the sun was up, came back and did backing practice, and went over the in cab and lighting inspections one more time.

For the test, my pre trip consisted of the thre required sections (coupling, external lighting, and in cab), and trailer. I nailed my inspections with a 100% pass (didn't miss anything). For my backing, I drew a straight back, off set back to the left, and a driver side parallel. I had been nailing parallel in practice, but took 3 points for one encroachment and one extra pull up on my parallel (nailed straight back and offset). I had set up my angle of approach wrong for my parallel and ended up with an encroachment when my truck's left mudflap crossed the boundary. I used my first two pull-ups trying to correct my mistake, it took the third pull up to straighten the truck out when it was in the box. For the driving portion of the test, I only took six points. I apparently forgot to signal at the Y in the road to get onto the interstate , and at one point I had a difficult time finding a gear between shifting, and got dinged for a coast. I do not recall what the other points for for. I was told by the examiner that basically anything under 10 points was an excellent score, so on top of the trifecta, that was a great feeling. I believe he even told my PSD trainer when we got back that he would "ride with me anytime."

Unfortunately, my PSD trainer who I really got along with, does not do TNT. However, I have been contacted by my TNT trainer, who is on his way from Missouri to pick me up. We really seemed to get along over the phone, and on the bright side we live in the same state, so going home for the holidays sounded like it was going to happen. I am thinking it is going to be a good 30,000 miles together.

It is sounding like I will have the next couple of days to myself here at the hotel until my TNT trainer arrives. I will spend the next couple of days relaxing, catching up on my laundry, and enjoying not having to wear shoes while I take a shower LOL. As I go through TNT portion of training, I will do my best to keep this training diary going for everyone to read. If anyone has questions about the Salt Lake City terminal/orientation, I will be more than happy to try to answer any questions.

Thanks for reading!

Float Gears:

An expression used to describe someone who is shifting gears without using the clutch at all. Drivers are taught to "Double Clutch" or press and release the clutch twice for each gear shift. If you're floating gears it means you're simply shifting without using the clutch at all.

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.

Interstate:

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

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

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