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PR aka Road Hog's Comment
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I've kind of been in no man's land these past few days, as I passed my written's in Georgia, but was not issued a permit due to the fact I did not have my DOT medical card.

I was first in line at 8:30 in the permit test taking room, and the lady there seemed to think my notarized copy of my scores would be ok. So I headed over to the SIM room and took my CBT's. These are just videos on various things like roll overs, sexual harassment, hazmat , Hi Value loads, electronic logging, staying healthy on the road, mountain driving and the Surelok system.

The rollover video was particularly eye opening, as they had dummies (crash test, not trouble makers) inside with a camera so you could see what will happen inside the cab in the event of a rollover. The passenger dummy was not wearing a seatbelt, and it was amazing where she ended up. There were 7 or 8 videos, followed by a quiz, and took me about 3 hours to complete. A note, you must score a perfect 10/10 to move on, but if you miss 1 or 2, you have a few chances to change the answer you think you got wrong, and re-score your test until you have a 100.

The first part of the rollover video states that rollovers are the #1 insurance claim year after year, and is the #1 unforgivable act in trucking. The next part was really chilling. IF you survive, you will be fired. Note the IF.

I was done by noon, and was told to come back at 1 for some sim driving. The other group was doing Pre trip and they all came in for lunch at about the same time. Thankfully the lunch line moves quick (say hello to Donna, Lisa and Kay), and I had time to eat and head back to the room before sim time.

Unlike other groups I've seen, my group was small, like 6 of us and with 4 sims machines, I had several runs. Mostly you are working on shifting and double clutching. Each run gets progressively more complex, the first is just you on the road, a few stop signs and a Single turn. A few runs later, you're running through towns with cars, dogs and people running into the road out of nowhere. At one point I ran over Dog, a person (twice) AND turned my rig into a convertible (low bridge). It was a wreck. Literally. The instructor was razzing me and I mentioned I was focusing on everything I was doing, that I didn't see the signs.

Oops, wrong answer. He put me back into the seat, re-ran the module and as I approached the same intersection, he told me to pull over. 13. That's how many signs I missed. 4 low bridge, 2 wrong way, 3 truck route signs and , geez, I can't even remember the rest there were so many. I was embarrassed, but we were all laughing because it was just so ridiculous. There were so many things to think about, double clutching , down shifts, rpms, vehicles coming at me, vehicles in the lanes next to me, train tracks, dogs etc etc, it was Sooo easy to miss the signs. THANK GOD it was just a Sim.

Which is the point.

So, yes, I laughed at myself, but the lesson was well learned, and made a HUGE impression on me. Don't let your guard down for a second, or somebody might die.

Like driving a car, I expect this will all become 2nd nature, and I will see everything on that road, but WOW !!

DOT cards arrived and it was off to the DMV to get our permits. First thing the lady tells me, "we don't accept out of state scores." Seriously? Somebody couldn't have told me this sooner ?? (I think to myself) oh, well. No big, I pop downstairs and take my tests on the spot, pass them, and get my permit. I could have gone back to Prime and taken the tests tomorrow, but I would have had to go back to dmv anyway, and heck, I was already there, and confident I would pass them on the first try (thanks to the High Road CDL Training Program !) and I was 2nd in line. Otherwise, I would have waited. Turns out I should have waited, my permit mates ended up waiting on me because the shuttle wouldn't come back for them without me. (Sorry all).

It was dinner time when we all got back, and afterwards I went back to get more sim time, but it was full up, so instead I went back to the room took a shower and typed up this post.

Now, Prime requires you to be checked out by their doctor whether you come with your permit or not. In Georgia, that would have cost me $100 or so, and here it's included. Knowing what I know, I may have waited to take my tests here, but I DEFINITELY and HIGHLY recommend the High Road Training Program. So many people here have failed at least one section, where as I was able to sail right through. None of my scores was less than a 90. I'm not bragging, but rather giving testimony to the advantage of using Brett's training program.

Like nike says, just do it.

Breakfast was 2 scoops each of eggs and grits with a big ol cup of coffee, no cost, fried chicken, mashed taters gravy corn and a biscuit for lunch, with tea, no cost, and dinner was brisket mashed taters corn a roll and extra gravy and tea, no cost.

These mashed taters are gravy are really good.

Like these past few nights, time to kick back, watch TV and call the family. No need to study in this room.

Thanks Brett.

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.

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

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.

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PR aka Road Hog's Comment
member avatar

Oops, this have been posted before the one above. Maybe the moderator can fix that for me? Maybe not. Anyway ....

As a follow up to Day 1, we had our first casualties, and oddly enough, two from our group. My seat mate on the bus, Tom, told us his story on the way up, and was very open in general. He was also very laid back, and what I call sneaky smart. Meaning, if you were to just happen upon him, you would certainly like him, and get along with him, but you might not realize how intelligent he is (something I was able to pick up after 22 straight hours of sitting side by side. Tom Moved from NJ to Fla recently, and had his drivers license swapped over. He even showed us where the corner of his old license had been cut. (A common practice among states to show a deactivated license). While I expressed concern about how close this had been done to his being accepted to school, he assured me he had spoken to his recruiter, and all was good. Well, apparently, it was not. I do not know all the particulars about his situation, or his history, but of the 4 of us that road up from Atlanta, Tom was the last person I expected to have issues.

What I do know is Tom is now attempting to contact his recruiter to resolve this issue before being shipped home. Obviously, Tom is quite distraught. I guess the lesson here is make sure all your paperwork us in order, AND allow enough time for everything to be processed. I truly hope Tom gets everything worked out, he really struck me as a good guy, and a great candidate for driving a truck. (He did not, and was shipped home. I hope he doesn't give up, gets his stuff in order, and is able to come back. Good luck Tom)

Our second incident also came from within our group of 4, remember the guy that was argumentative and nearly got thrown off the bus? Well, he has been studying for his permit at every chance, and apparently he thought it a good idea to study, on his cell phone, while the Dr. Conducted his examination. This is only hearsay from a bunch if guys in the dining hall, (Cafe) but he was told to get out of the exam room and was sent back to the end of the line. I'm betting an instructor would not have been so lenient.

Be smart, be honest, be attentive, and be proactive, and save yourself some heartache and stress.

More to follow.

PS. Stay away from the salisbury steak. And the cheesecake us wonderful.

PR aka Road Hog's Comment
member avatar

I mentioned the guy I rode up with, Tom, had to leave due to some paperwork issues, and how he was the last person I expected to leave. I've also talked about Mr. Argumentative, and quite frankly, I'm quite a bit surprised he is still around. He argued with the bus driver on the bus, argued with a bus driver before boarding the bus, was told not to ride the bus and was even studying for his permit while being examined by the doctor.

Remember those CBT videos I was telling you about a few posts ago? Turns out Mr Argumentative didn't feel the need to watch them. He and a buddy would roll the video, go outside to smoke a cigarette, then go back in to answer the questions. Roll the next video, go smoke, answer the questions. rinse and repeat.

And it seems he got away with it too. He and his buddy are still around. It's almost like he wants to get tossed. I'd rather he just straighten up and fly right.

But anyway, back to the real stuff.

Several people need to report tomorrow for sleep apnea. I will update on that when I know more. What I can share, is that they all seem to be bigger people, over weight people and / or folks with a high BMI. All things I've read about on here. The cost for the test is $600, and it is the students responsibility to pay for the test, and if needed a $2000 CPAP machine. The test, however, will not be administered until after the student has their CDL license in hand.

I heard one story that one person yawned during his DOT physical, and apparently that is an automatic cause for a sleep apnea test. The only saving grace these folks may have, is that they have until Tuesday to decide if trucking is right for them.

On a side note, I have not found a single person that had a good thing to say about their bus ride experience. Everyone, to a fault, would have rather walked, then do the bus again.

So just a thought, if you don't live forever away, or can catch a ride, I believe Prime will give you the cost of the bus ride if you can get yourself here. If you can, you might consider it. Again, just a thought. Of course, in the grand scheme of things, it's just one awful miserable day and experience in your life. And a trial run for life on the road.

I am writing these updates, for the most part, everyday, and then posting them when I can. So, I have an update on the sleep apnea tests.

The test is $600 which Prime will front, and take it out of your check $40 per week for 15 weeks. Prime is real good about paying for your stuff up front, and letting you pay it back weekly, once you start drawing a check. The whole apprenticeship feeling I alluded to in another post.

For example:

My recruiter said they will pay the $150 for my passport, deducting $10 a week, and the website mentioned Reefer drivers will need to purchase a lock set, consisting of Abloy locks and Cuff locks before going solo, and again, will take out a few bucks a week until it's covered. All drivers can have up to $200 "road" money the first few weeks at a repay cost of $25 a week. The best thing of all, is they offer this at no interest.

But again, back to sleep apnea. The test won't be performed until after you receive your CDL, and if you need a CPAP machine, the cost is $2000 and the repayment for that is $50 a week for 41 weeks. Now, apparently, that is all inclusive, meaning that $50 covers both the test AND the machine. You get your choice of masks also, just a nose cap, a mouth and nose mask, or the tubes that hook into the nostrils. Furthermore, I am told by a sleep apnea student, that the machine itself has a way of sending the information back to central. This means that if you don't use it, Prime will know, and will cancel your driving agreement, putting you on the hook for any unpaid fees, which, at my count would be over $5,000.

It continues to amaze me just how much Prime is putting out there to get drivers. I have not found this experience to be overly demanding, the instructors are nice, the cafeteria people are helpful, always telling you how much you have left on your allotted amount, and even offer suggestions on what else you can get. They refresh our rooms every day, making our beds, fresh towels, soap and shampoo, and that not even counting the training. I truly hope this experience continues while on the road, because if it does, I may never leave.

On top of all that, I haven't even seen the Millennium building yet, which is a driver's paradise, from what I understand. Gym, showers, massage, spa, shopping, dining, theater, and probably more. I will update after I visit there this weekend.

And something else that has occurred to me. Maybe its the instructors and the personnel, maybe its just the group of folks that are here this week, maybe it's me or maybe it is a combination of all three, but there is a sense of ... camaraderie.

Now, I am always aware of my surroundings, and, I am not the most trustful person in the world, but not once have I had the feeling that I needed to be cautious. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to leave my iphone or laptop lying around unattended while I hit the cafe or the restroom, but at the same time, I have no qualms about asking another student to watch my bag or laptop while I get a drink. There is definitely a team spirit here among the students.

I'm not sure what else to add to this post, and I must be near the maximum limit, so for now I will sign off.

Peace

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.

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.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

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.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PR aka Road Hog's Comment
member avatar

Today is more classroom stuff. Insurance info from 8-9:30 videos on sexual harassment and Hi Value loads (HiVal) and how theft is a 30 Billion dollar industries, and a quick speech on anti terrorism protection. 2 of the 3 videos we saw were the same ones we saw on the CBT's

After that, those that got called for sleep apnea had to go for info on costs, and financing that will be required if and when they receive their CDL license. For the rest of us, it was lunch and down time until 12:45 where we meet up for roll call, and then at 2pm, we receive instruction on the Smith System.

The scuttlebutt around campus is that we lost 20 people between the drug screen and DOT medical tests. Maybe they thought they could beat the system, maybe they had high blood pressure, I don't know, but head count is down to 56.

Those that needed to, had another opportunity to re-take any portion of the written they failed, and also another opportunity to go to the DMV to get their actual permits.

Finally, Wally gave a meeting on the Smith system, which is really a smart driving or awareness course. It was a couple of videos and a worksheet that was something of an eyeopener.

The first video discussed smart driving skills like looking ahead, anticipating traffic, being aware of people around you, low maintenance driving lanes (ie, not the right lane with traffic turning into and out of) and making eye contact.

The 2nd video was about multi tasking. You know, like eating, drinking, changing music, phone calls, texting , talking to a passenger, reading, putting on make up, etc. all the stuff we all do when driving our cars. It talks about the hazards of doing so, even though we all feel as though we are accomplished drivers, and can handle these sorts of things. It has a nice graph showing how risks happen, how your attention drops when multi tasking and how when the two meet, disaster strikes.

Without giving it away, there is an exercise afterwards that really brings it all home. It wasn't a big "AHA" moment, but it did make me realize I am not the 'excellent' multi-tasker I thought I was, and just how lucky I have been all these years. While this is extremely important to understand driving a big rig, I can honestly say it will change the way I drive my car also.

The rest of the evening is free time unless you didn't finish your sim training, and for those interested, there is a Thursday night church service down the road a piece. Apparently some bluegrass, good fellowship, and I'm guessing maybe even pot luck.

I want to study my Pre-Trip, but the bluegrass does sound a bit interesting. The past few days, classes have started around 8:30, but tomorrow is a 7am call. I think this is to see how well people can (a) follow directions, and (b) change sleeping habits and start times. Finally, another thought on the food here that occurred to me around lunch time. Nobody is going to accuse this place of being a 5 star restaurant, but the food ain't half bad, and I am not going around hungry. Quite the opposite. I found myself wondering if I really wanted to eat lunch, as I wasn't all that hungry. In the end, I am a guy, and I like to eat, especially when it's free food.

Speaking of which, it's dinner time.

One last thing, while all the criminal checks have not been completed, it seems pretty safe to assume, that if you made it this far, you are in pretty good shape. Yes, you can still be dismissed for medical reasons, but I get the feeling one would have to "ring the bell" and 'opt' out.

We get the chance to find that out soon, as pad training is tomorrow, and instructors get assigned tomorrow afternoon.

One of few things I liked about Prime was the fact that they never take money out of your check for the training. Other companies take money for 13 months, then, if you stay they give you back money, so it ends up being free, but after over 2 years. Here at Prime, simply stay a year, and it is free. I also liked the 401k they offer, they match up to 3% $ for $, and the next 2% at .50 per $.

Another big draw for me was the training they offer. It's less classroom time, and more road time, with a trainer. I can read a book all day long, but I prefer to learn hands on, and Prime offers that.

Perhaps the biggest plus for me though was the chance to walk away and say no thanks, this just isn't for me. I have a full week to be trained, and then drive with a trainer to see what its like to actually be on the road. If at any point I think it's too much, I can simply walk away. No harm. No foul, nothing owed. Try before you buy, you could say.

We have a meeting tomorrow where the actual program will be explained in full, and I will get the low down on the last chance to say no thanks.

Until then,

Peace.

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.

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.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PR aka Road Hog's Comment
member avatar

PS. In case the last post was misleading there at the end, I have no intention of walking away. I think I have tar for veins, asphalt for bones, and diesel for blood.

rofl-2.gif

John B.'s Comment
member avatar

Reefer drivers will need to purchase a lock set, consisting of Abloy locks and Cuff locks before going solo.

Can you explain those? Thanks

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Roadkill (aka:Guy DeCou)'s Comment
member avatar

So, PR if I'm reading you right, you say it's better NOT to have your permit before you go as you can get it pretty easily at Prime?? I've been looking at this before I go and if it's one less thing I have to do, then I Won't..

Joshua K.'s Comment
member avatar

So, PR if I'm reading you right, you say it's better NOT to have your permit before you go as you can get it pretty easily at Prime?? I've been looking at this before I go and if it's one less thing I have to do, then I Won't..

Holly told me I had to have my permit before I went...

R. Picante's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for all the great info, Im talking with a recruit right now to start Prime school in Mid Oct.

Fuddruckers's Comment
member avatar

Reefer drivers will need to purchase a lock set, consisting of Abloy locks and Cuff locks before going solo.

Can you explain those? Thanks

the abloy locks is 2 locks and an air cuff lock, that all use the same key, the air cuff lock is for when you leave the truck for a longer period of time, as well as to be used on high value loads, and the 2 other locks are for the main trailer door, and for the inspection door, it comes as a set, and is required on your truck when you go solo, costs about 130ish dollars and is taken out of your check in payments, as well as whatever else you have primes company store charge to your account when you are stocking up for your maiden voyage.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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