Comments By David L.

https://cdn.truckingtruth.com/images/german-road.jpg avatar
  • David L.
  • Joined:
  • 5 years, 11 months ago
  • Comments:
  • 225

Page 3 of 12

Previous Page
Next Page
Go To Page:    

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

End of Week 2 with Swift Academy in Phoenix, Arizona

Congratulations! If your road training goes like mine you'll keep practicing skills each day to ensure you are "more than ready" for DMV. Good luck.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

Swift Orientation, Memphis, TN

Congratulations! Gotta love Memphis weather!! Enjoy the weekend and the anniversary! Sure hope you get a good truck Monday. Be safe!

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

Trucktographer's dad

I re-read my earlier post and realized it sounded pretty whiny!! Really didn't intend that but I was still a bit cheezed after busting the 3rd party testing twice!!

The Swift trainers get the job done. I'd advise NOT going in the winter as you do spend time out in the rain/snow/COLD and there is a pretty good chance of getting sick. Of course, this applies to areas like Memphis, Idaho, Utah, etc. It's too bad they don't have an academy in Florida!!

I catch a bus Monday morning to Ocala and start orientation on Tuesday. My mentor and his DM are working to keep him down south and his plan is to get to Ocala on Tuesday and take a 34 to reset his clock so we can launch out Thursday after I finish orientation. As I'm teaming with a Swift driver after the mentor time and he's my son smile.gif I've already met our DM and she's ready to pick up a new team!

I'm really excited to get this show on the road. Realistically, my wife properly stated that my journey through the academy with weather, getting sick, and traveling to TN and OH before getting down here for road training has been a lot like basic training and advanced school in the military. You will be challenged and as others have pointed out you are being watched and evaluated all along the way by the classroom, range, and road trainers. It is, indeed, one long job interview.

One of my classmates (for several weeks) has stayed with me this week and passed his DMV last this week and we'll meet up with a couple of Millington veterans at orientation. It'll be a bit like "old home week". Some of the guys didn't go with us to Ohio and so with the delays (due to shortage of road trainers) we're all finishing up at the same time! I hope others have had the experience of making new friends while training and have been encouraging each other. I know my son keeps in touch with a couple of Roadmaster alumni that are working for Swift and they share anecdotes and tips. Hopefully the bunch I've gotten to know will do the same.

I know many on this forum call Swift, along with Werner and Prime, beginner or entry companies but that's only true if you think that way. Over the last few weeks I've met Swift Diamond drivers and one Double-Diamond that's been with them for years. These guys are top notch drivers that have run for years and many thousands of miles with no accidents and impeccable customer service. I often think the drivel posted on various forums about "Swift" drivers is based partly on Swift being the largest carrier in the US and thus an easy target (a bit like Walmart in that respect).

So far I've been treated with respect and my son feels he's been given a fair shot at good loads and miles. His "gripes" have been mostly with shippers and receivers that don't honor pickup and delivery times and an occasional battle with the night and weekend dispatch. You aren't on their primary board and so wind up with their leftovers! But, that type of stuff happens in all businesses.

I'm proud to being starting with Swift and while I may not stick around to be a Diamond driver I expect to get a lot of experience and many miles.

I'll probably keep this thread active for a bit longer and then start posting more specific threads once I complete my training period. Hope to see some of you on the road!

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

Things are falling into place

Good afternoon David, thank you for your service. I retired from the USAF in 1993 and just completed my training with Swift and will start orientation next week. I'll be mentored by my son who will also be my team mate.

As a Swifty I can't answer your Prime specific questions, but have heard that Prime does not pressure you to lease. "Just say No!" will work - maybe soften it by I'd like a year's worth of experience to consider my options!!

Ensure you have documentation from your physician vis-à-vis the sleep apnea. This should be honored. As to insurance - you'd have to check with Tricare (I presume Tricare as you are retired military).

Congrats on getting the permit. That definitely puts you ahead of the game if most of the class are spending the first week getting ready for their tests. Swift required a permit before starting along with a physical so we didn't spend time in a holding pattern waiting on everyone to catch up - but that's just Swift. We wasted time other ways!!

Welcome to the forum and have great success when you start training next week.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

How to get new loads

Wow! Your post sounds a bit like "I just bought a restaurant. Can somebody tell me how to cook?"

With no experience I don't think even Landstar will take you on. Your best bet might be to lease back to one of the large carriers like Swift, Schneider, Werner, or Prime. The question you asked shows you don't know about brokerage or getting your authority to haul - or plates or permits, etc.

Really, I'd call one of the big guys and ask about signing on with them.

Good luck.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

Best way to get CDL without indentured servitude

Wow, I'm amazed how a lot of folks think "indentured servitude"!

1. You get out of training what you put in. My son went to Roadmaster in Tampa. He had multiple pre-hire letters before the first week was out. The cost, since he had to finance it is about $6K. He signed with Swift and after his three day orientation went out for about 5 weeks with an outstanding mentor (Ocala, FL, terminal). The mentor mentioned that he'll have to stop knocking Roadmaster so much as he was really impressed with my son's early skills and knowledge. Like I said "You get out of training what you put in".

2. I chose to go with Swift company training for several reasons: a. I'm a vet and they offer a 100% scholarship with one year of driving for them. b. I'm going team with my son who drives with Swift. As such, I get 100% paid training after 90K miles as a team driver. So, my training is paid no matter which way I go. c. If I was to choose to leave before the mileage or one year the payments would kick in and they are no worse (actually better than most) other financed training options. d. Now I will admit it's been an interesting road getting to my CDL and orientation. I picked up my CDL Tuesday afternoon and will start my three day orientation next week. I attended the first two weeks of training in Millington, TN, at the Swift academy. I like to froze to death! At Millington you do your initial paperwork, urinalysis, etc. and then learn to back a semi. Looking back it's boring as heck - but straightline backing and clutch control in a line with 6 or eight other trucks builds your left leg up!! Second week you work on offset (left and right) backing, parallel parking (sight side and blind side) and 90 degree alley docking. You'll use these skills in your state evaluation and often in your career. Millington has students from all over: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and several other states so they do know what you need for your state test. Most of us return the third week to our home states (terminals) to continue road training. Here you actually go more than 3 mph and learn to double-clutch while shifting up and down and how NOT to clip curbs and mini-vans. Many students will test out on Friday of this third week at either DMV or a third-party test site. Now, if you have issues: Swift has an academic probation (AP) week with no charge. Millington trainers try their best to get you OUT of Millington without using the AP as it is much more valuable at road testing. However, if you do use AP and need even more time you can then pay $750 to be recycled into training for an additional week. If you think about it this is reasonable (except when you are broke) as you've had four weeks to pass the Swift evals. You can't do your state test (within the program) without passing the company evaluations. Now if you pass the Swift evals and bust the DMV test, as I did, you get recycled back for another road test week and can come back two more times (total three) before the completely disenroll you and you must wait a year to re-enter the Swift program. However, if your test issue is the particular site or evaluator you can opt to go to a third-party evaluation site of your choosing. Several of us at Ocala have done this as week disagree with the results (fails) we received from the one evaluator at the third party site being used. Ocala is now using a second evaluator and most students are being more successful. Coincidence? I think not! A buddy and I failed last Friday, call a company in Crystal River, FL, to schedule a test on Tuesday and we both passed and start orientation next week. The Swift training did prepare me for the eval and I used a strange truck/trailer in an area I didn't know and passed with no issues.

Bottom line: any way you get school and the license is going to cost you time and money. For some staying close to home and using a local college or school works best. For others like me, we are ready to do the sweat equity and travel to complete school with fewer out of pocket expense even though this route is often physically challenging. The hotels can suck and you do get familiar with peanut butter and jelly and ramen noodles if you need to save money.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

Local Driving

Look round for the beverage distributors (Budweiser, Miller/Coors, etc.) and/or soda plants (Coca Cola/Pepsi). Look for national brand bakeries like Pepperidge Farms and other food distributors (Syscon, GFS, etc.).

Around here we have all these along with small local/regional truck companies that haul gravel, milk, orange juice, etc. Other opportunities include home/business water delivery (Cullingan, Zephyrhilles, etc.). Also, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, etc. have regional/local opportunities.

Most of these are multi-stop with driver unload so it's more physical than most OTR (except flatbed).

I'm sure others from the forum will chime in shortly.

Good luck.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

Swift Pay During Training

Training pay is for the 200-240 hours you are training with your mentor. You are paid your state's minimum wage when On-duty/Not Driving (4) and $1 more per hour when on the drive line (3). When you go solo you go to $.33 cents per mile (base rate).

The first 50 hours driving will be YOU and you alone. This 50 hours lets the mentor, who is riding shotgun the whole time, decide if you are ready to "solo" while he sleeps. After the 50 hours you will be "teaming" and the mentor gets paid for all miles run. This, plus some bonus for being a mentor, pays them for you scaring the cr@@PPP out of them for several weeks!! So, the first week or so you'll do "all" the driving and each will sleep when you are off. After that the truck will team and you will probably see some sweet routes out west!!

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

Finished with mentor/trainer John, Day 2 w/ own rig.

Glad you got clarification on the pay scale.

The best was to communicate with your Swift DM is Qualcomm. They will answer the phone but it's usually just as quick (often quicker) to get their attention with a message. I got this from a DM in Ocala - I was sitting with her while my son did a Face-to-Face training session with her. She let us both know she much prefers a message and often she can then research the answer and call you instead of trying to find the answer with you on the phone.

Stay away from the east coast right now. From about DC on up it's potentially nasty.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

Trucktographer's dad

I used all last week to hone up my backing skills and get more drive time. Unfortunately, I returned last Friday to the same Roadmaster evaluator that held me up the week before. I nailed the sight side parallel and then, according to Mr. Fail Half of All third-party test folks, impeded an oncoming pickup while executing a left turn from a strange "blind" left side/curve intersection. I'll admit I saw the pickup as I committed to my turn and I'll admit the pickup passed me on the right, but this was AFTER I'd returned to the left lane and was accelerating....dubious fail, but you cannot win any argument with an evaluator.

I fixed this problem of possibly returning to Roadmaster in Jacksonville for another retest by calling SMG Inc. in Crystal River, FL. It's a general hauling company that also runs it's own CDL school (for all class licenses) and does 3rd party testing for all classes. I drove up Tuesday morning and passed the road test in about 30 minutes. So, after returning home to Clearwater I had my CDL-A in my hand by about 2 PM.

I'm not saying the 3rd party testing in Jacksonville by Roadmaster is shady, but every group of four that I know about testing there had 2 failures...usually number 1 and 2 with number 3 and 4 passing. Now, obviously the Roadmaster students are not treated this way and they have the advantage of testing on all the test areas prior to skills or road testing. They also do not pay an additional fee every time they retest.

Bottom line: I have my CDL, I will call the coordinator tomorrow to get my bus confirmation to Ocala for Sunday, and will start orientation next week. My son should be routed down by Wednesday so we can get on the road.

Posted:  5 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Parallel Parking a Tractor-Trailer/Basic Skills Test

I love the parallels and they are just extensions of an offset...same angles. You need to master all the skills as in Florida you must do straight line and one offset chosen by the evaluator. Supposedly the computer picks either the 90 or a parallel..it's "random" but I believe weighted towards the 90. At my last attempt three of us had 90s and one guy got parallel.

Posted:  5 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Trucktographer's dad

Guess it's time for an update. I pointed out on the 90 last Friday at Jacksonville Roadmaster. Three of us got the 90 and one got blindside parallel. I'd have killed for the parallel...but didn't. So, I've been home this week resting up and taking care of chores. I return to Ocala Sunday to brush up and try again with DMV on probably Friday.

When the weather cleared today I washed my son's truck. We'd cleaned and straightened inside earlier.

Looking forward to next week. I'm not sure what happened last Friday as I had pretty much mastered the 90. I will, in my defense, say that having two Roadmaster trucks pull into and park within my pull up area did not help. But, I didn't get it in the box so I get to try again.

Posted:  5 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Trucktographer's dad

Dave, Academic Probation sounds bad, but it is your opportunity to work on what you missed and get it right.

I was in Millington just before you came up. Out of 20 or so in our class, seven stayed that extra week. (No extra charge for instruction or that wonderful hotel room!)

Yes, you do need to do the whole backing evaluation over, but you have those extra days to get that 90 down. The 90° alley dock problem got me the second chance myself.

Thanks, Errol. I'm not sweating it as you are correct that it's an opportunity to focus on the problem area. Re-evals are not a bad thing as they prepare you for the state exam.

Today had a couple of hours of quality road time and then a great session working on skills.

Posted:  5 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Trucktographer's dad

It is past time for an update: I got thru Columbus training but am officially on academic probation. Haven't seen the write up so I'm not real sure what the specific issue is/was but I need extra work on the 90 and trailer awareness. Four of us rode Greyhound for 27 hours on Saturday/Sunday from Columbus, OH, to Ocala, Fl. Today we met our trainer and got road time and skills practice. The weather is far better here in Florida. I was wearing one layer of clothing and a windbreaker for the first time in three weeks! If things go as expected all four of us will test with DMV in Jacksonville on Friday and start orientation next week. It has been a long, cold, sick three weeks. But, we didn't get any rain so didn't have to fight that discomfort and misery. Going to Ohio was the right decision as guys that came home from Millington last week won't start here at Ocala until probably next week. The trainers at Columbus are good and try to cover the other states requirements, but the roads up there suck, in my opinion, for training. But, it is what it is. I appreciate the extra instruction we all got from Bryan. Tomorrow we get picked up at 4:45. The other trainer and crew are headed to Jacksonville for third-party testing at DMV. Apparently Roadmaster is doing the evals. I'll try and update as the week progresses.

Posted:  5 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Trucktographer's dad

Day one of road training is in the books. Up at 5 pickup at 6:30. We had a little admin time and then out for pretrip and warm up the truck. Just as in the "real world" we wound up twiddling our thumbs for about 35 minutes with a regen. smile.gif

After regen it was out to yard to move a trailer out of the way in the backing pad area, hook, move, park, drop, and move our van. Hook up and around the yard we go learning to up shift, stop, restart, and finally a few laps each up and down shifting. So, about 10:30 we were out the gate and in the wild. I tell you, putting all this together with what you know of driving is THE challenge.

Evals start Thursday so the pay off is just around the corner.

Posted:  5 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Trucktographer's dad

I apologize for the slow updates. Not only has it been hectic with wake-up at 4 AM, class start at 6 and work through till 5, but I've been fighting a nasty cold and fever. But, made it thru the skills tests and graduated from Millington on Saturday, January 17.

I left Millington on a bus to Columbus, OH. A couple of Ohio guys were coming home before road training and four of us Florida guys decided to come to Columbus to start road training tomorrow, January 19, rather than go home for 1-2 weeks before a Florida road trainer could become available. We were advised this would give us priority here in Ohio and Florida.

The ride up was 14 hours of greyhounds finest hospitality! One bus change in Nashville and a short layover in Cincinnati. Called the contract taxi and enjoyed Mr. Toad's Wild Ride out to the Super 8. All I'll say is: the Super 8 feels like a five star resort after the Admiralty Inn in Millington. Two to a room instead if 4. Queen beds. Lights that really work and allow you to read your stuff. Sheets that actually stay on the bed. You get the idea. Much nicer experience. I'm feeling better after the bout with the cold but having a nice room makes this down day nice.

The four Florida guys walked to Walmart, about a half mike, but NO sidewalks. We have a fridge and microwave so sandwich stuff, soup, ramen, etc. were in order.

Road traing should start tomorrow with us leaving here next Saturday for Ocala. I really will try and update more this week.

Posted:  5 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Trucktographer's dad

Sorry for the delay in updating. It's been a bit intense.

Days 3 , 4, and 5 passed quickly. It's been COLD and that slows you down and wears you out!

Wednesday, day 3, was range orientation and beginning to straight line back...the first skill taught and, of course, the base for all other skills. We also began studying for the pre-trip. We got some snow in the morning and settled in to learning.

Thursday was more straight line backing and time doing practice pre-trip inspections. The pre-trip study and some backing skills are tailored to your home state. The study scripts for the inspection are developed from each state's CDL manual. The backing skills tested are also specific to each state...for example, SC does a 45 and not the 90. FL does 90, both side parallel parking, and both side offset. We have plenty of practice areas and about 40 trucks pre-positioned. Oh, by and by, the day started at 8 degrees.

Friday started pre-test evals. I volunteered but with others ahead of me I didn't get it done. We got a demo of offset backing and then were turned loose on the range.

Saturday was a schedule short day and we let out at 2 PM. I passed my pre-test and headed to the offset range until lunch. After lunch we were demoed the 90, parallel, and some states got the 45.

There appears to be about 50% failure on the pre-trip. They start with in-cab and brake check. The in cab must cover emergency equipment (fire extinguisher, triangles, etc) and then windshield, marries, horns, engine start, gauges, etc. You can miss a couple of these as with most other parts, but then the brake check: it must be performed perfectly and in order. This is an auto-fail eval and kicked a lot if butts due to nerves. After the in-cab I continued to the exterior. I got two parts, driver door to the back of the tractor and then the coupling system. I'm done with pre-test for school but need to stay focused to do it again for the FL evaluator.

I would recommend this school. Swift will be moving the school closer to the Memphis and will have new facilities. The current facilities are old and a bit primitive, especially for the number of student being brought through the program.

I cannot stress enough the need to bring appropriate clothing. Tuesday through Thursday were pretty miserable. I was wearing: two pair of milspec base layer long underware and jeans. If I'd had carhartt or hunting overalls I would have worn them. Wool socks and liners, base layer shirt, tee dirt, long sleeve polo, fleece outer shirt, and my lined jacket. I topped it with a watch cap, neck gaiter, and baclavak. It seemed every day for the first few everyone was showing up with new hats, pants, jackets,etc.

Today, Sunday, day 7 was classroom for logging, trip planning/map reading, and life on the road discussion. Some guys griped about wasted time but with a high of 39 and rain all day it was good to be inside. And, I have noticed that a lot of students homestead in the trucks with the bunk heater running but no engine starts for pre-trip, etc. We are on the downhill run...focus on passing skills and one final written test before heading back to Ocala for a week of road training and the CDL state exam.

Very fast paced. You can't screw off. No absences means no absences. Don't be late and don't stay up all night on the phone, computer, or games...get your rest! The bus arrives at the motel at 5:15 departs at 5:30...class starts at 6:00 and it's game on!

Posted:  5 years, 6 months ago

View Topic:

Trucktographer's dad

OK folks, here we go!

Lest Tampa Saturday afternoon, 1/4/15, and arrived in Memphis about 22 hours later, Sunday afternoon. Nothing special except that's a long ride on the dog! Two buses were late so the shuttle before mine at 3 pm had one passenger, one of my roomies, and the one I took had 12 of us in a 9 passenger can and left a couple of guys hanging.

The Admiralty Inn is in Millington about 20 mikes up the road and about 15 minutes from the academy. We have four guys in an efficiency type room. We're on twin beds and fortunately get along. Kroger and Walmart are pretty close with lots if eating places within walking distance. It's not fancy but beats paying "retail" for a couple of weeks.

My schedule is 13 days here and then to Ocala, FL, to take my test with a third party tester in Ocala. The test fee is now $150 (down from $200). Millington has students from all over and most will be heading home to finish up: GA, FL, KS, WI, IL, OH, PA, ETC. Started with 40 and with a couple of guys back to finish from other classes we are still around 40 on day 2.

Lots of hurry up and wait on Monday. Checking permits, physicals, urine test, etc. The bus provoked us up with Anthony "Tony" Wisner, the classroom instructor driving. The weather has cleared, but it's getting cold, especially for this FL boy. Hot lunch is provided on Monday. Grocery shopping is a must. The rooms have kitchens with an odd assortment of utensils so you might need to buy some things...maybe. I bought my own plastic tumbler and a water bottle for lunch.

Tuesday, day 2, was a sleep-in with class starting at 7:30. More admin like contracts and financing paperwork. The printer was down (network) so the morning was pretty slow. Wrapped all that up around 4 pm and got an hour or so of log practice. Looks like I qualified for two different scholarship options: as a vet I can defer tuition for a year and if I complete the year I pay nothing; second option is that since I am teaming with my son I get full loan forgiveness if I/we drive with Swift for a year. I will have to pay the $500 housing fee but that's done with weekly withholding for 21 weeks.

Day 3 is Wednesday on the packing range. Backing and pre-trip. It's forecast 10 degrees to start the day and the range is on the edge of an airfield. It'll be cold. The weather should be clear, but cold with a little warm-up the rest of the week.

Overall I'm pleased. Some guys are griping about the rooms, but it is what it is! No worse that basic training or a low budget road trip. I'm excited to finally get in a truck.

Posted:  5 years, 6 months ago

View Topic:

Swift Academy, Memphis, TN

I just finished up day 2 at Millington. Finally got the admin stuff done, did class time on logs, and hit the backing range tomorrow AM to start backing and pre-trip. I'll try and post regularly in my thread "Trucktographers dad"

Posted:  5 years, 6 months ago

View Topic:

Are all DOT physicals the same?

I posted awhile back with a question about the DOT physical. I wasn't sure I could pass the vision test due to a lazy eye. I took the test recently after accepting a job driving for Yellow Cab. I passed and was given a medical examiner certificate. The person doing the exam said he would rewrite the certificate to say cdl if I needed it at a later date. I've heard that exams can vary depending on who you see. This being said, I'm considering going to a private school close to NY home. If I already have the dot physical card, will I have to take it again if offered a job later at a trucking company?

The form is standard. But, how strict or interpretive the exam results are is up to the examiner. My PA thought oral medicated Type II diabetes was a disqualifier...it's not and I will use a different examiner next time. I got my one year so this time is not a problem but I shouldn't need to argue with the physician! You should be conversive about the regs but you don't need to be a paramedic!

You shouldn't need another card, but some schools do them as part of the orientation.

Page 3 of 12

Previous Page
Next Page
Go To Page:    

Join Us!

We have an awesome set of tools that will help you understand the trucking industry and prepare for a great start to your trucking career. Not only that, but everything we offer here at TruckingTruth is 100% free - no strings attached! Sign up now and get instant access to our member's section:
High Road Training Program Logo
  • The High Road Training Program
  • The High Road Article Series
  • The Friendliest Trucker's Forum Ever!
  • Email Updates When New Articles Are Posted

Apply For Paid CDL Training Through TruckingTruth

Did you know you can fill out one quick form here on TruckingTruth and apply to several companies at once for paid CDL training? Seriously! The application only takes one minute. You will speak with recruiters today. There is no obligation whatsoever. Learn more and apply here:

Apply For Paid CDL Training

About Us

TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

Read More

Becoming A Truck Driver

Becoming A Truck Driver is a dream we've all pondered at some point in our lives. We've all wondered if the adventure and challenges of life on the open road would suit us better than the ordinary day to day lives we've always known. At TruckingTruth we'll help you decide if trucking is right for you and help you get your career off to a great start.

Learn More