Settling In At Swift

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Sheffield Mick's Comment
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I might have been negative on a few things before when I wrote my blog....but as I was told on here that driving gets into your blood after a while. I have been driving solo now for a month.....not a long time in the over all scheme of things I know, but enough for me to let it seep in. There is a loneliness too it and I knew that would come. I think if you are prepared for this and some of the other scrapes I've gotten into then you can brace yourself better for them when they get here.

I still have a problem working out my hours through the Qualcomm.....I'm currently on re-set and need to sit for 36 hours, which I was mad at to start with.....now....not so much. I'm sat in Loretta Lynn's Kitchen in Hurricane Mills, TN. I have to admit that I don't have allot to do with the rest of my time, read my book, download some movies (free WiFi here) and kick back. When I drive I do my full 11 hours of driving, I'm getting the miles in now, my wife is happy that I'm finally making some money.....although I'm still on the .25 cents a mile. This goes up after three months, then six, then twelve. I'm staying with Swift and I know they have their problems, like everywhere else I would suspect but they pretty much leave me alone. I do my work, I believe that I have the right attitude to do the work they put out to me so nobody troubles me.

Just a foot note here to Brett and the guys who have helped me on my way....your encouraging words really did help me when I needed it and at times I did think about throwing it all away.......soooo glad I didn't. Winter is coming and that was another of my fears.....can I handle it.....well I'm still here to find out. Thanks again guys.

Sheffield Mick

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Tim L.'s Comment
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I might have been negative on a few things before when I wrote my blog....but as I was told on here that driving gets into your blood after a while. I have been driving solo now for a month.....not a long time in the over all scheme of things I know, but enough for me to let it seep in. There is a loneliness too it and I knew that would come. I think if you are prepared for this and some of the other scrapes I've gotten into then you can brace yourself better for them when they get here.

I still have a problem working out my hours through the Qualcomm.....I'm currently on re-set and need to sit for 36 hours, which I was mad at to start with.....now....not so much. I'm sat in Loretta Lynn's Kitchen in Hurricane Mills, TN. I have to admit that I don't have allot to do with the rest of my time, read my book, download some movies (free WiFi here) and kick back. When I drive I do my full 11 hours of driving, I'm getting the miles in now, my wife is happy that I'm finally making some money.....although I'm still on the .25 cents a mile. This goes up after three months, then six, then twelve. I'm staying with Swift and I know they have their problems, like everywhere else I would suspect but they pretty much leave me alone. I do my work, I believe that I have the right attitude to do the work they put out to me so nobody troubles me.

Just a foot note here to Brett and the guys who have helped me on my way....your encouraging words really did help me when I needed it and at times I did think about throwing it all away.......soooo glad I didn't. Winter is coming and that was another of my fears.....can I handle it.....well I'm still here to find out. Thanks again guys.

Sheffield Mick

Thanks for posting, Sheffield Mick. Swift has asked me to attend their academy in Corsicana TX within a month. I have also been contacted today by Stevens. I have not decided yet on what company to go with, as I have applied for a number of others as well, however, Swift may be a good fit for me for a number of reasons. I hope you can remain positive, although I know there are many tests one must endure in this industry. I'm glad you are intent upon doing so. One thing I have gathered after researching trucking is that the kinds of problems you are encountering happen with all the other starter companies, and not just Swift.

As for the loneliness, I am actually more alone right now than I have ever been in my life. There are days that I don't speak to another person at all. It does not bother me at all, although I do enjoy company and other people. I am one of those folks that am comfortable in that respect, and I hope that helps me a lot in trucking OTR. The money is not even that important to me as long as I can feed myself with enough left over to keep entertained when sitting in the sleeper when off duty. My ultimate goal is to get hired at this point, then stick it out no matter what happens and get that first year or so of experience safely.

My biggest concern, after of course actually being hired, is nervousness driving a big rig in traffic and not being fully comfortable in my shifting abilities. If I am worrying about that, then I am not going to be as safe as I want to be. Was it tough for you to get through that so far? Have you learned to float the gears yet? What kind of truck/tranny did you get for your first? How is your comfort in the sleeper? HOS is also completely confusing to me at this point, and I am sure I would have problems with that too when getting started solo. Anything you could share about these experiences I would like to read about. Thanks.

Float The 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.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Roadkill (aka:Guy DeCou)'s Comment
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Heya Mick, glad to hear you back on the boards and happy to know your starting to settle in and get your feet back under you..you sound a lot more upbeat in this post and your last one, so I am happy to hear that, too..sucks you have to take a reset, but as you get more experience, I think you will figure out how to maximize your hours..are you running long because you want to or because you have to?

Sheffield Mick's Comment
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Thanks Tim and Roadkill for your replies....yes I'm allot happy now. I still have to work on my hours as my 36 re-start could have been in a rest area and that would have truly sucked. I know that your supposed to run around 9 hours a day and save on the hours you don't use so that you don't have to do a re-start. Having said that I do like to do a 36 hour break in a place I want to see....for example I did this in Chicago. Still figuring out the way the logs work is my biggest problem. I basically work my 11 hours driving or as near to it as possible. Swift are giving me over a thousand miles to run on jobs so I don't have a problem with miles.

As for the fears of driving the big rigs....I was terrified and that was what nearly got me in the end. I had a good tutor and he lead me through my fears....telling me of his own fears when he first started. You have to confront them and believe me they do go away. I would hate going into the truck stops or up the ramps as I would need to change gears....crashing them or grinding them as I went. I still do grind the gears but just allot less so. Its all down to practice and training.

The good news is that all the drivers have to start from some place and nearly all of them will tell you they also went through it. My other problem at the moment is parking.....I am always looking for the easiest place to put my rig into when I park up at night. I have to watch my DOT hours as I drove over by 2 minutes the other day.....while looking for that perfect parking spot...but I'm still learning.

Its great when you finally overcome all these fears....I'm looking forward to the 585 miles left that I have to drive from here tomorrow. It's not been easy for me.....and I do mean any of it....like I said in the last blog...I'm still here and I will have to face new fears that winter will no doubt bring on.

Cheers guys I hope you both make it and I look forward to seeing your own journey on here.

Sheffield Mick

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.

Tim L.'s Comment
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Good to see you are getting good miles starting out. How is your first truck? Is Swift letting you keep it reasonably comfortable in the sleeper in hot weather?

PR aka Road Hog's Comment
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I'm curious to know how comfortable the driving seat is. Crazy right? but you're in that thing 10 hours a day, I hope its softer than a La-Z-Boy and more comfortable than my wife's arms ....

Sheffield Mick's Comment
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I'm curious to know how comfortable the driving seat is. Crazy right? but you're in that thing 10 hours a day, I hope its softer than a La-Z-Boy and more comfortable than my wife's arms ....

The seat can give me backache, but with the cruise control on and me shifting from cheek to the other I don't have that much of a problem ;-)

In all my eight weeks of training with either truck I never had a back problem, but with my own I have to admit I do. They all have those air ride seats that can be adjusted which ever way.....just haven't quite got mine to sit right I think.

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.
Sheffield Mick's Comment
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Good to see you are getting good miles starting out. How is your first truck? Is Swift letting you keep it reasonably comfortable in the sleeper in hot weather?

I sleep fine in my sleeper, I'm usually very tired anyway by the end of my shift. I only just worked out how to keep on the idle as the engine would cut out after only five minutes. I don't keep the engine running all night as Swift try to discourage this, drivers do by the way, but me being new I don't really want to push anything.

I am a solo driver which for me makes all the difference. I couldn't sleep well when I was in a team. The truck bouncing along the road put paid to that.

Tim L.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

Good to see you are getting good miles starting out. How is your first truck? Is Swift letting you keep it reasonably comfortable in the sleeper in hot weather?

double-quotes-end.png

I sleep fine in my sleeper, I'm usually very tired anyway by the end of my shift. I only just worked out how to keep on the idle as the engine would cut out after only five minutes. I don't keep the engine running all night as Swift try to discourage this, drivers do by the way, but me being new I don't really want to push anything.

I am a solo driver which for me makes all the difference. I couldn't sleep well when I was in a team. The truck bouncing along the road put paid to that.

Idling policy is my number one concern with Swift. Otherwise I believe Swift would be a good fit for me. A tired, irritable driver is not a safe driver though, and if I have to try and sleep throughout the hot summer in a pool of sweat, I would not be a happy camper. If they overlook the drivers that idle anyway as you say, I might be okay. It would balance out, because I can save them on fuel costs in the winter, because I love sleeping in very cold weather, and don't require a heater with a good sleeping bag or blankets except in sub freezing temps. I really miss the winters in Colorado.

Are your loads majority drop and hook as opposed to live? Do you have to touch any freight yourself?

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

Sheffield Mick's Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

Good to see you are getting good miles starting out. How is your first truck? Is Swift letting you keep it reasonably comfortable in the sleeper in hot weather?

double-quotes-end.png

double-quotes-end.png

I sleep fine in my sleeper, I'm usually very tired anyway by the end of my shift. I only just worked out how to keep on the idle as the engine would cut out after only five minutes. I don't keep the engine running all night as Swift try to discourage this, drivers do by the way, but me being new I don't really want to push anything.

I am a solo driver which for me makes all the difference. I couldn't sleep well when I was in a team. The truck bouncing along the road put paid to that.

double-quotes-end.png

Are your loads majority drop and hook as opposed to live? Do you have to touch any freight yourself?

The majority of my loads are drop and hook. I do live loads as well....but never had a problem that I hear about on this forum. I'm usually in and out in good time. As for the engine idle side of it, my manager told me about Swifts policy on it when I joined her team, but like you she also commented on tired drivers making bad drivers.....and left it up to me if I needed to leave the engine running. But with it all being monitored that is what puts me off running it all night. I'm with you on the hot nights....cold I can put up with.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

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