Comments By Oak and Iron

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Posted:  5 years, 11 months ago

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Training with Drivers Solutions in Philadelphia

Good luck Jamie! and as I stated above...I'm absolutely 100% supportive of the High Road Training Program here. Take your time and go through it...the results are well worth the effort.

Day 6 July 9: Monday. Another testing day here at the range. So a repeat of Friday for the morning. :( I'm getting a little discouraged with the lack of instruction from instructors. I'm pretty sure I have pre-trip nailed...but how to know for sure? Folks follow me around and listen and I recite the words and no one is correcting me and saying I miss something. But, it would be nice to have an instructor for a walk through. Can't get a truck to try air brakes...that's frustrating. I can say all the words in the right order but i kinda want to get my hand, leg movements in sync with the words. Perhaps tomorrow. After lunch, my little group is told that we can't move on to Offset until we demonstrate that we can do Straight Backs. WooHoo! Seat time with an instructor! Yes, I am that guy in your class that always jumps into the drivers seat first. And yes, I jumped into the seat to test out of Straight backs. 3 times through the cones without hitting them or showing any mechanical issues (stalling, excessive grinding, etc). 3 times...Done! In fact, my tiny group of 4 made in through. Sadly, those handful of minutes doing the 3 trips was all my seat time for the day. BTW, the rules for the range are pretty simple. No high gear reverse...Do not touch the accelerator....and 1st or 2nd gear only. So mechanical issues really shouldn't happen on our range once a person gets the feel of the clutch.

I'd like to take a few seconds to tell you about our hotel. We are set up in a Motel 6 in Maple Shade NJ. I have no complaints with it. Its clean. Housekeeping does their thing everyday. And my interactions with the staff have all been good. The room itself has a microwave and an apartment sized refrigerator. There's Popeye's and a Dunkin Donuts right beside the hotel. There's a fresh produce market close enough to throw a rock at with decent prices and great selection. A Shop Rite supermarket within walking distance and an Acme Market a little farther down the road, Burger King across the street and a 7-11 right by the produce market. The hotel itself has an onsite laundry. There's even a mall within walking distance. So all your amenities are close. The downside is that its in New Jersey and the school itself is across the bridge in Philly. So if you're driving, there's a $5 toll everyday. The PAM drivers do get that $50 a week each of their first 3 weeks of training so that helps them a little. And although I believe Philadelphia has one of the greatest public transit networks in the country, you can't really access it. To get from one side of the bridge to the other is a bus to a train and over an hour of travel time. Then another train, another bus, and another hour of travel to get to the range. Getting back out of Philly to NJ is even scarier. There's a NJ Transit that leaves from Downtown Philly at 5:30 and another at 7:30. If you miss that 7:30 bus, the next is at 4AM. The recruiter and school recommended carpooling from the hotel to the range but I'd caution against that (more on that later.) If I had to do it over again, I'd have driven here and used my personal transportation.

Posted:  5 years, 11 months ago

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Training with Drivers Solutions in Philadelphia

Day 4 July 5: So our schedule says that anyone that has permits is to go to the range. Anyone without permit has to go back to DMV. So, back to the DMV I go. Fortunately, by 10Am the problem is corrected and they are able to print my permit! yay! And off to the range! I'm so pumped to finally be able to start driving the truck! Not so fast. Before we can drive we have to have our Pre-Trip down. Fortunately, Trucking Truth has some great tools for that too! I've learned some but getting to walk around the actual truck to see and identify the various parts is very helpful. So we spend a couple hours walking around the truck and taking notes. I'll be honest, I'm a little concerned that we are learning this from other students in the area or by pulling stuff up on our phones. But, I had to learn the CDL Manual stuff on my own so no problem...I'll do this. I take a bunch of notes and meander over to the area where folks are doing maneuvers. I learned a bunch of valuable info from random conversations. It turns out, there are 2 instructors here that are DOT certified testers. So I know that i wont have to go schedule a test or go back to the DMV until I need my picture taken. One of the testers doesn't actually spend time training the students. He seems to be there for testing only. I guess that's to help eliminate any signs of favoritism during testing. Oh yeah, and the conversations other folks have mentioned in their diaries about the folks planning to change companies as soon as their year is up...they are here too. I guess they are all over. But day 4 ends...I have a permit....and I still cant drive a truck. :(

Day 5 July 6: Our happy little starting group is dropping like flies. Not sure what happened to the others, but its Friday and we are down to 4. Its a test day, so the test truck is busy as is the tester. One of the trucks is being used by the folks testing today to practice maneuvers. One truck no one is allowed to touch because someone broke it once upon a time. One truck is being used on the road for practice. And, one truck is just sitting there. That's it. 5 trucks...and there appear to be about 50 people waiting to get into one. So, we use the sitting to truck to walk through pre-trip but cant try air brakes test because its locked and no one has a key. :( And we begin the waiting game. Around 1:30, one of the instructors brings sitting truck over to far lane and puts my little group in it to start Straight Backs! Yes! We are driving! I guess we are lucky to get the truck to practice and that we are only 4. We each take a couple trips through the lane...switch.....repeat. 2 of the guys in my group had never driven a standard before so we all had a good laugh as they bunny hopped us a few times. A few more laughs as we squashed cones. But you know, just the 4 of us switching seats in the truck with no instructor and we managed to do pretty well. Also, kinda scary because if any of us developed bad habits...there wasn't anyone there to correct them.

July 6-7: First Weekend...I took the time to make flashcards for my pre-trip. I used a ton of different sources to cover everything but I'm comfortable with where I am with them.

Posted:  5 years, 11 months ago

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Training with Drivers Solutions in Philadelphia

Hey all! I'm a few days late posting a diary of my training here in Philly. I posted elsewhere on my drivers license issues and limited opportunities that arose from them but here I am. I was recruited by Drivers Solutions for Swift with training at the training center in Philadelphia by a company called AAA Trucking.

Day 1 July 2: Classes began at 10AM at the classroom and ran til 10:45 PM...at least according to schedule I was given. I was told there would be 10 of us starting that day. As I looked around the room, I counted 9. Oops we lost one already. We filled out a pile of paperwork and waited til noon for the physicals to start. Oops...we lost another one...class is now down to 8. Got a long lunch break in the afternoon...like 2-5. As it turns out, the folks in at 10 were the driver solutions people that were going to Swift or PAM. At 5:00 a bunch of other groups joined ours. I remember CareerLink was represented and several that were initials (DHP, ADP, something like that) but we had a packed room to do a General Knowledge class/test, another for Air Brakes, and a third for Combinations. I call it a review just because the material covered was all the stuff you'll find in the High Road CDL Training material. It was a long day and lots people but Id have to say it was interesting to see how many people were woefully unprepared to go to the DMV the next day for testing.

Day 2 July 3: DMV Day We were warned at the classroom on Monday to get to the DMV early because they would be busy and they stopped CDL testing at 2PM. The only other warning that sticks in my mind from that day was to ONLY take the General Knowledge, Combination and Air Brake tests. We were told that if you took any of the endorsement tests and failed one that it would hold up your permit until you passed. So we got to the DMV around 8 and there was this massive line. There must have been 40 people there already. By the time the door opened at 830, I couldnt see how far back the line went around the corner! But, they were super quick getting people in and separated. My magic number was G600. Turns out, I was the first person in that line solely for the purpose of taking the CDL test! My number got called before i even got to a seat. I explained to the lovely lady that i wanted all the endorsements but i didn't want my permit to get hung up. She told me to pay the fee at the start and i could take the tests whenever I wanted that it didn't need to be the same day or week just whenever. So i had her set me up for General, Combos, and Air Brakes. I sat down to take the test and my room mate was sitting 3 desks away taking his tests. I started and about 15 minutes later I was done and passed all three. My room mate (he drove btw) was still testing so I told her i wanted to take tanker and double/triples. She added HAZMAT to the list before i got to the desk. :) Just as my room mate finished his testing, i was finishing HAZMAT. At this point, I can tell you that the High Road training works and works well. It was probably 90-95% of all my preparation. The information is in there and in showed in my results 6 tests 6 passing grades. I couldn't be happier. Then disaster struck. All my results were in the system....right there...you could see it on the screen...but it wouldn't print. Wont print...I have no permit! Sadly, I was at the DMV until they closed the place at 430. Numerous people in the building were working on it. The fine folks in Harrisburg were working on it. Yet, no one could get it to print out. :(

Day 3 July 4: Holiday!! Like a little kid...no school :)

Posted:  5 years, 11 months ago

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Everyone has a story....

Errol, thanks for the reply. Sadly i wont be able to see you in Memphis. I have been confirmed today with a start date of July 2 with Driver Solutions in Philadelphia. According to my recruiter, there are 10 folks starting that day...2 for Swift and 8 for PAM. On a sidepoint..when i drew up my list of what I wanted from my trucking company was: OTR with opportunities to see all lower 48, allows passenger, and allows pets...the only reason I wasn't initially excited about Swift was the pet policy. But...they've offered me training and a position on completion. Ill take that and I'm glad to have it!

I am excited to get this adventure rolling. And there aren't enough words to thank everyone for the great articles and tips Ive read over the last couple of months. Most of my questions have been answered in one form or another somewhere here....and I appreciate that.

I have a couple left that I cant seem to find answers for:

1. Can they do a hair follicle test on someone that is bald? I don't care if they check it 20 YEARS back...it'll be clean. But I generally do the head shave thing and its getting kinda bushy.....so I'd REALLY like to shave for comfort.

2. What tools should I have or carry with me to school and beyond? I'm guessing a tire gauge would be at or near the top of the list...but...

3. Is there any type of cheat sheet permitted when doing the Pre-Trip Inspection for the test?

4. How long does background check take for HAZMAT? I was told that i could add it near the end of school. I was wondering if on the day I did written tests for CDL permit and endorsements (second day of school) that I could start that process. Then, just stop in DMV and take written HAZMAT test when i was ready to get license.

thanks all!

Posted:  6 years ago

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Everyone has a story....

First, let me thank the mods and contributors for the amazing wealth of information on this site. It has been more helpful than you may ever know. Thank you!

Now my story: Both of my children are now grown and living happy lives without my daily interference. Son is stationed in Japan and Daughter is doing the college thing in Arizona. I had planned to buy a class C RV and travel around just doing temp work to keep busy. And then a lightbulb...why not get paid to do the traveling! I can still hike in the Rockies...see the sites and knock out the states i haven't seen yet (the Dakotas and Montana) and get paid for it! Great idea! Background check:no problem! Drug test:no problem! Physical: no problem! CDL:hmmm...slight problem.

I remember it well....now. I was working in Philadelphia and living in northern Delaware in June 2006. I had taken my sisters Jeep down to get tires on it for inspection. No sales tax in Delaware and I could save her a few bucks. I did a California stop at a stop sign coming off the interstate and got caught. Tossed the citation in the glove box.....and forgot about it. Took my sisters Jeep back to her a few days later and never thought about it until I went to renew my license. Aurgh! I cant renew because I'm suspended. Sadly, my adventure was just beginning. A couple years had gone by and that district court no longer existed. So all the phone numbers and addresses i could get online or from the various dmv's went no where. No one seemed to know where I needed to go to take care of it. I wont go into all the gory and irritating details but suffice it to say I was finally able to get it resolved and get my license restored in March of this year. And a lousy $58 was all i had to pay for a failure to appear and citation.

With driving privileges restored I used this site to apply to all of the company sponsored CDL courses with one application. Ive had some great conversations with recruiters and following the advice you folks gave me...I told them the whole story at the start. I don't really know how long I was suspended but I have told them I was chasing it for over 3 years but it could have been as long as 11 years. Several thanked me for interest but they couldn't help. Several others told me to check with them again when i had license back for 6 months or a year. I did receive one which I accepted and will begin school July 2. (side note: Son is home on leave June 12-27 and I wouldn't start until he went back). the only offer I have is from Swift.

My thinking is that I can get my CDL and miles in the next 6-12 months that others want me to wait. Since the overwhelming advice is to stay with your first company for at least a year, I figure i have time to prove to them they were right for taking the chance and i can get the experience ill need if i decide to leave later.

I have been compiling a list of questions. Some for my recruiter (btw some similarities between trucking recruiters and Army recruiters :) but I'm old enough to not believe all of it this time) and some for you folks. I'll post them here if I cant find them within this training manual.

Thanks again for all the useful info.

Oak

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