Swift Orientation Monday

Topic 20894 | Page 1

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Tom's Comment
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Finished school and got my cdl this week (hooray!). Took forever. I ended up going to a local school paid for by Swift rather than going to one of their academies. That experience had its pros and cons. On the plus side I got to go home each night and see my kids however the downside was that they had way too many students and not enough instructors/equipment. They had a bunch of people ahead of me so I had to wait for them to test out before I could get my feet wet. Kind of wish I had just gone down to an academy. Oh well. Its behind me now. Just a temporary headache and now I get to begin this incredible career. As I said previously, I'm scheduled to go to orientation next week for 3 days. After that on the road with my mentor. Can't wait to get started. I was hoping some of the Swift drivers here could elaborate on what to expect during orientation as well as the actual mentor/training process. I wasn't really able to get much out of my recruiter. I assume he's a busy guy. Do Swift trainers follow similar guidelines or is it something that will drastically vary from trainer to trainer?

I also wondered if there's anything I should consider taking with me on my first time out besides the basics (clothes, sleeping gear, toiletries etc) Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

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.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

Errol V.'s Comment
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Hey Tom, so you made it to orientation! Congrats! And welcome to Swift Transportation.

Orientation is two and a half days of paperwork, company policy, some Hazmat (nothing that will get you a qualification), and other odds and ends.

My mentor was waiting outside for me, I've heard others have to wait even a day or two.

Mentors are the final judge of your driving ability. This is probably your first experience rolling On The Road. Real trucks, real dispatches, real traffic, and your first try at backing into a spot at a truck stop (been two shiny trucks that have mirrors that stick out!) for the night.

Your mentor will provide an opinion on your driving to the office. He will also record up to 40 various backings you'll do. (No more cones or barrels. Backing to a dock or a trailer drop area. Both sight side and blind side)

After a week or so with your mentor riding shotgun and keeping the same hours you do, it's Team Driving time! Mentor will be available, but often sleeping so he can drive on his shift.

You might have some space in your mentor's cooler. Expect to literally live out of your duffel/suitcase the whole time. Mentor should give you time to do laundry and he should buy your showers.

All mentors/trainers choose to help new drivers. Most are sincere in getting you started. All mentors get paid for your miles, you get hourly training pay. I've read on Trucking Truth about some lease operators that might push you a bit harder to get your "free" miles.

I hope you will be able to enjoy the experience. At Orientation they will tell you how to contact them if something goes wrong. But I'm 7-8 weeks, you'll be your own rookie!

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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

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.

Tom's Comment
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Thank you Errol. Yes I've heard the same thing about owner op mentors but tbh I don't mind being pushed a little. I think it'll make me better in the long run. I've got thick skin I can handle the abuse lol. What I need is experience and that will be one way to get it.

Tom's Comment
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My mentor was waiting outside for me, I've heard others have to wait even a day or two.

So I should show up to day 3 of orientation packed and ready to roll in case I have a mentor ready and waiting?

Tom's Comment
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Sorry I haven't figured out how to use the quote feature yet

G-Town's Comment
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So I should show up to day 3 of orientation packed and ready to roll in case I have a mentor ready and waiting?

Yes, be packed and ready to go.

G-Town's Comment
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Tom, we have many good informational pieces and threads on road training (Swift-Speak: mentoring).

Here the link: What to Expect During Road Training

Good luck.

Tom's Comment
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Thanks G-Town!

Errol V.'s Comment
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Tom, here's how quotes work:

Sorry I haven't figured out how to use the quote feature yet

The "QUOTE" button next to the REPORT button just automatically copies whatever post you're quoting into the answer space. You can then write above it out below. Advanced users can edit anything that is from the original text.

You can also make your own quotes by selecting/ highlighting some text then push the QUOTE button that's in the blue squares just above the answer box.
Quote away! dancing.gif

Use the Preview button to make sure your post looks OK.

Dart's Comment
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If the orientation experience is similar at all terminals (I went to Lancaster for mine on September 18th), it should go something like this...

Day 1...surrender CDL and short/long form DOT medical cards (you'll get your CDL back before the road test and medical cards back by the end of day 3), drug tests, road tests, and A LOT of waiting around.

Day 2 and 3...wrapping up road tests that didn't get completed day 1 and retests for some of those that didn't do well enough on day 1, then death by PowerPoint for the remainder of the day and day 3.

Before you leave on day 3, you should at least know who your mentor will be and when he's (or she in some cases) supposed to be there.

Once out with your mentor, you will be doing most, of not all, of the driving for your first 50 hours of behind the wheel time. After that, your mentor will decide if you are ready to run teams (some may prefer to run "super solo" for the majority of your time with them). The remaining 150 hours may be run as a team (you have to have at least 200 hours of behind the wheel time before you can take the upgrade tests to go solo.).

For at least some of the time that you are with your mentor, you will be doing paper logs to ensure you know how to do them just in case the Qualcomm goes out.

You will also be logging all of your backs (at least 40 of them). There are some backs that you have to do. Day, night, angle, straight, and blind side backs have to be logged. You have to do a certain number of each back, then just log what type of back you do.

You should also receive several performance reviews from your mentor as you reach landmarks (50 hours, 100 hours, etc...).

Hopefully this will give yoy a bit more of an insight as to what to expect. If you have any more questions, I'll do my best to answer them.

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.

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.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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