Questions/advice Re: Swift?

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Bsrlinmaz's Comment
member avatar

I'm currently in a private 160-hour CDL school in Phoenix, AZ (start 4th week tomorrow, Monday), and have some questions after talking to recruiter who came to the school from Swift; and hoping current Swift drivers can give me some answers and/or advice:

1. When I finish the training at the Phoenix facility, I then go out with a driver/trainer...how long does that last and what is the pay rate?

2. Recruiter "says" I can get a dedicated route , where I would drive to same stores/locations, and know where/when I'd be driving each month...but aren't those type of positions something a driver with more Seniority would be getting, while the F.N.G. (me) gets left-overs/crap, until I can demonstrate dependability, skills, etc.? (And I have no issue with that...the new guy/gal always has to "earn" their way into a job, no matter what industry it is, in general...)

3. Because of legal issues (which I'm not going to go into here) I cannot do O.T.R. in the normal sense (where I would drive and deliver, but not know where next trip would take me until I get the next load from dispatch)...so I need a position where I would know ahead of time where I would be going to/from each month...that's why I asked question 2 above -- so the recruiter "says" I should be able to get a dedicated position. But my experiences with big corporations is that generally the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing...so I'd go from the recruiter into training, finish training and then get a truck somewhere down the road and when I ask about dedicated positions be told something like "Don't know who told you that...currently have no available slots in that section/division..." and then I'd end up sitting and not be able to drive?

The length of the runs does not matter, I can drive to any of the lower 48, as long as I would know where I will be going to/from before hand for each month. Can a driver from Swift with experience regarding how such things function there advise me whether I'm going to be able to drive there with the current restrictions I'm dealing with? I currently have my CDL-A Learner's Permit, with all endorsements except Haz-Mat and passengers/bus (the legal issue prevents me from ever getting Haz-Mat and/or TWIC card), if that will further complicate things for me?

It appears to me that all the big companies like Swift that are willing to hire someone like me with no experience, and brand-new CDL have a bad reputation, if one believes all the negativity on the internet...but since I am brand new with no experience, etc., my options are limited, so my thinking is pick one and make the best of it until I get the experience...because without the experience I do not have enough information to base a decision on, regarding what makes a good company to drive for, etc. And after I get the experience/miles under my belt, I may find that things aren't as bad as so many make them out to be, and I end up staying. Anything really wrong with that way of thinking, am I overlooking something, etc.?

Sorry for rambling on...but have a lot of questions/concerns, and have mortgage payments etc. looming and need to get into $$-making gear soon. Really hoping I've not screwed the pooch by paying all this money to go to the CDL school, and then finding out I can't make money with it (because of my legal issues) -- if it comes down to it I'll drive a garbage truck in the city if that's what it takes to keep the roof over-head, but that is way down on my list of options/preferences.

Thank you for your time and assistance.

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.

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Bsrlinmaz wrote:

I'm currently in a private 160-hour CDL school in Phoenix, AZ (start 4th week tomorrow, Monday), and have some questions after talking to recruiter who came to the school from Swift; and hoping current Swift drivers can give me some answers and/or advice:

1. When I finish the training at the Phoenix facility, I then go out with a driver/trainer...how long does that last and what is the pay rate?

I graduated from Swift Academy several years ago. The term for the driver/trainer is mentor. The minimum is; the student must drive no less than 240 hours, the initial 50 hours is supervised. The remaining 190 is in a team fashion; when you drive the mentor sleeps, when the mentor drives you sleep. The pay rate when you are in training is hourly; your state minimum when you are on-duty not driving (observing) and several dollars higher when you are driving. It's quite possible these numbers have changed slightly but this is basically what to expect.

2. Recruiter "says" I can get a dedicated route , where I would drive to same stores/locations, and know where/when I'd be driving each month...but aren't those type of positions something a driver with more Seniority would be getting, while the F.N.G. (me) gets left-overs/crap, until I can demonstrate dependability, skills, etc.? (And I have no issue with that...the new guy/gal always has to "earn" their way into a job, no matter what industry it is, in general...)

What the recruiter may have overlooked is that most of the dedicated accounts potentially service 100 or more stores/vendors in a given distribution center (DC) territory and have no real way of knowing the make-up of their routes a month in advance. Do you know what dedicated account the recruiter was referring to or was this a general statement? My opinion, unless your mentor happens to be a dedicated driver on the account they intend to assign you to, I would suggest getting at least 3 months of OTR experience before committing to a dedicated account. I am a dedicated driver assigned to Swift's Walmart account so I speak from personal experience and observing other drivers fresh off their mentor's truck. I had 240 hours of driving with a mentor and another 3 months of solo OTR before I accepted an assignment on the Walmart account. With that said considering the circumstances, you might be able to get a dedicated assignment immediately after you complete your road training.

3. Because of legal issues (which I'm not going to go into here) I cannot do O.T.R. in the normal sense (where I would drive and deliver, but not know where next trip would take me until I get the next load from dispatch)...so I need a position where I would know ahead of time where I would be going to/from each month...that's why I asked question 2 above -- so the recruiter "says" I should be able to get a dedicated position. But my experiences with big corporations is that generally the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing...so I'd go from the recruiter into training, finish training and then get a truck somewhere down the road and when I ask about dedicated positions be told something like "Don't know who told you that...currently have no available slots in that section/division..." and then I'd end up sitting and not be able to drive?

Your "legal issues", depending on their nature may require disclosure to your potential employer. Something to keep in mind. Most dedicated accounts (the ones I am familiar with) will load trailers 12-24 hours in advance of the dock-out time (departure). The driver is typically planned up to 24 hours in advance of the loading (many times planned less in advance, say 4-5 hours). For example, I can't tell you exactly where I will be routed to this Friday or even this Wednesday, but I know I will be within the territory and if all goes well, likely start the next day at the DC where I am assigned. Part of this is because 80% of the time I run perishable grocery, so I am on a much tighter schedule.

The length of the runs does not matter, I can drive to any of the lower 48, as long as I would know where I will be going to/from before hand for each month. Can a driver from Swift with experience regarding how such things function there advise me whether I'm going to be able to drive there with the current restrictions I'm dealing with? I currently have my CDL-A Learner's Permit, with all endorsements except Haz-Mat and passengers/bus (the legal issue prevents me from ever getting Haz-Mat and/or TWIC card), if that will further complicate things for me?

Maybe some of the other experienced drivers can shed some light on this, but from my experience it's unlikely that you will know exactly what routes/trips you are planned 1 month in advance. With many dedicated accounts you can count on a region or a sub-set of a region (mine is Central-Eastern PA, all of New Jersey, all of Maryland, all of Delaware, and occasionally South Central New York state). Best case is (like I said previously) 24 hours in advance is what you will have a pre-plan for. If you have the recruiters contact information, reach out to them and present your situation.

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.

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

It appears to me that all the big companies like Swift that are willing to hire someone like me with no experience, and brand-new CDL have a bad reputation, if one believes all the negativity on the internet...but since I am brand new with no experience, etc., my options are limited, so my thinking is pick one and make the best of it until I get the experience...because without the experience I do not have enough information to base a decision on, regarding what makes a good company to drive for, etc. And after I get the experience/miles under my belt, I may find that things aren't as bad as so many make them out to be, and I end up staying. Anything really wrong with that way of thinking, am I overlooking something, etc.?

Keep in mind that Swift, Schneider, Prime, all of the larger training companies hire thousands and thousands of drivers. Many of those hires for a variety of reasons don't work out. Much of the bad press that you read results from a former, disgruntled employee unwilling to take responsibility and be held accountable for their unsatisfactory performance. All of the companies described on the TT website (see Companies button top/center of page) are reputable and a great place to start a career in trucking.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Bsrlinmaz has constraints:

3. Because of legal issues (which I'm not going to go into here) I cannot do O.T.R. in the normal sense (where I would drive and deliver, but not know where next trip would take me until I get the next load from dispatch)...so I need a position where I would know ahead of time where I would be going to/from each month...that's why I asked question 2 above -- so the recruiter "says" I should be able to get a dedicated position.

I'm, a Swifty. In the Spring, I was offered a shuttle run. Same start, same route, same destination every day. all on a four on - two off schedule. It's not an "average", I go 256 miles each way every day, making for just over 2500 miles a week, home every night. (Yes, you need to live near the terminus of a shuttle leg.) Can't get more predictable than that. Check with your DM or recruiter about shuttles.

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.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Bsrlinmaz has constraints:

double-quotes-start.png

3. Because of legal issues (which I'm not going to go into here) I cannot do O.T.R. in the normal sense (where I would drive and deliver, but not know where next trip would take me until I get the next load from dispatch)...so I need a position where I would know ahead of time where I would be going to/from each month...that's why I asked question 2 above -- so the recruiter "says" I should be able to get a dedicated position.

double-quotes-end.png

I'm, a Swifty. In the Spring, I was offered a shuttle run. Same start, same route, same destination every day. all on a four on - two off schedule. It's not an "average", I go 256 miles each way every day, making for just over 2500 miles a week, home every night. (Yes, you need to live near the terminus of a shuttle leg.) Can't get more predictable than that. Check with your DM or recruiter about shuttles.

Learn something new everyday. smile.gif

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.
Bsrlinmaz's Comment
member avatar

Thank you very much to both of you for the information and advise.

Bsrlinmaz's Comment
member avatar

Just found out this site doesn't allow me to edit or add to a post once I have submitted it...

but I wanted to add that I am aware that I have to tell employers about my legal issues...made sure I spelled it all out in detail to the Swift recruiter when I spoke to her...I won't be let go because I failed to fully disclose something.

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.

Bsrlinmaz's Comment
member avatar

Also, I overlooked your question about which dedicated accounts the recruiter was referring to: she called them "Dollar Accounts", but admitted that she referred to all the accounts such as Dollar General, Dollar Store, and Family Dollar, etc. as "Dollar Accounts"...so I feel she was purposely not being specific. (I did not know there were so many stores with similar names).

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.
murderspolywog's Comment
member avatar

You would go out with a mentor for 200 hours. 50 hours with the mentor in the left seat and the remaining 150 hours as a team. If the mentor is comfertible. You get payed by the hour. I think it's the same weather on duty driving or just on duty. I drive a dedicated route ca, or, wa, id, ut, and nv. But every once in a will they send me out to wy, to repower a load for the dedicated account. And sometime I run to nc and sc to take stuff to are plants out there. The shuttle routes, are hard to get on I have been trying for the one out of sparks nv for 1.5 years now. Same with local driving jobs I think you have to wait for someone to get fired or die to get on there. Or in Errol case just be in the right place and the right time. I would see if there would be a dm that would be willing to accomidate you. Best of luck.

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

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.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar
Or in Errol's case just be in the right place and the right time.

No driver died on my route, but I know two drivers were recruited though out of Swift's school. Right place, right time.

It's also the power of ASKING for what you want. What's the worst that can happen? "No".

What's better? "A driver named Clemente asked me about that job a while ago. I'll give her a call, see if she's still interested."

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