Schneider Orientation - Charlotte, NC

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Hawkeye's Comment
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Schneider Orientation in Charlotte, North Carolina.

After months of research and going through CDL School to obtain my class A CDL license, I am in Charlotte going through a three-week orientation course with Schneider.

Just a little background on myself. I am 57 years old and have had various careers in the military and civilian sector. However, at this point in my life I decided I wanted to do something I’ve always wanted to do all my life and that was to become a trucker.

So why Schneider? There are a lot of great companies out there, but after much research to include talking to truckers, I decided on Schneider. For me the great reviews they receive for safety and training pushed me towards them.


Once I decided to go with Schneider, I applied through their website for an OTR position. A representative from Schneider who guided me through the process of getting hired soon contacted me. Prior to attending orientation I had to get a drug test. This test consisted of a urinalysis and hair follicle test. A week prior to heading to orientation there is a conference call with a representative who gives you a brief overview of orientation and answers your questions.

Day 1:

Schneider will either pay for gas if you are driving to orientation or will provide you with a bus ticket, your choice. Your accommodations will be at a local hotel, Extended Stay America and you will be paired with a roommate. If you would rather have your own room, you will be responsible for payment. Shuttle leaves the hotel at 6 am and class starts at 7am. Breakfast and lunch is provided at the orientation facility; they issue you food coupons in class.

Once I arrived at Schneider, I was asked to wait in the cafeteria with other students until the instructors arrived. At 7 am the instructors showed up and led us to the classroom. My class was supposed to have 14 students, but only 10 showed up. The morning was spent taking another DOT physical. Yes, even though I had a DOT physical, I had to take another one by Schneider. There is also a pre-work screen where you have to perform several tasks (you can find a video on Schneider’s website which describes the pre-work test). After every task they will measure your heart rate. The maximum heart rate is determined by the following formula. (220-your age x .9).

After the physical tests, we filled out paperwork and got issued safety vests and safety boots. Schneider requires oil resistant and slip resistant soles on footwear. If you don’t have them, you will be issued a pair at orientation; they will deduct $35 from your first paycheck. You can choose either Rocky boots or athletic shoes…they look like sneakers and they all have composite toes. (Note: every year you are with Schneider you get a free pair of boots). After lunch we had classes on backing, coupling and uncoupling, and how to make turns. We finished around 3 pm.

So a good first day, I’ll try and keep you all up-to-date on the rest of my training.



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.


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.


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.


Operating While Intoxicated


When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Steve L.'s Comment
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Congratulations and welcome to the Big Orange. Good luck and keep that positive energy going.

Hawkeye's Comment
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Thanks Steve! I appreciate you taking time to talk with me when I was deciding which company to select. Hope to see you on the road in the future.


Hawkeye's Comment
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Day 2:

Class started at 7:00 am in the cafeteria where we were pair off and met our truck instructor. My instructor Gary has worked for Schneider for 29 years. Gary spent the morning demonstrating how to couple and uncouple a trailer. We then went over pre-tripping and air break integrity tests before heading out on the road. Gary demonstrated various turning techniques, then handed the truck over to me and my fellow student to drive around Charlotte the rest of the morning.

We spent the afternoon in the classroom learning how to fill out driver logs and class was let out at 4:30 pm.

More to come.


Hawkeye's Comment
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Day 3:

Class started at 7:00 am in the cafeteria. Spent the first hour taking care of administrative tasks such as setting up direct deposit for my paycheck.

Around 8:00 am went into the yard and practiced coupling the tractor and trailer then went out on the road for an hour and a half.

After lunch spend the entire afternoon practicing ally docking and running an optical course.

I cannot over state how great my instructor Gary has been this week. He has worked for Schneider for 29 years and has been driving for over 34 years. I'm lucky to be able to learn from a real professional and grateful to have him as a teacher and mentor.

We finished up around 5:00 pm.



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.
sgtwilldog's Comment
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Good stuff

Hawkeye's Comment
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Day 4:

Started at 7:00 am in the classroom. We meet with the head of the business department who oversees the DBLs (Driver Business Leaders). We each will be assigned a DBL prior to graduating and they will be our managers while we are on the road.

We also found out who our TE (Training Engineer) will be for week two. During the second week of training, we will be out on the road with drivers actually delivering freight for Schneider. We head out with our TE either on Sunday or Monday. Since these are actual drivers and not instructors at the school, the day we meet with our TE depends on their schedule. Of the ten students in my class, five will be picked up at the school while the other five have to meet their TE on the road. Schneider will either arrange transportation to the TE or allow you to drive. (They will reimburse you for your gas). I'm driving down to Cowpens, SC. to meet my TE Monday morning at 6:30 am.

After the meeting, I had my driving test, which I passed. Then spent the rest of the morning working on video modules. Schneider has a bunch of videos you have to watch before you graduate. They range from hazmat to sexual harassment.

In the afternoon we spent time in the yard practicing backing and going through the obstacle course. Finished around 5:00 pm.

Day 5:

Met at 7:00 am in the classroom going over Schneider's website called Crossroads. Got issued our fuel card and talked about how to sign up for the Flying J rewards card.

The class was then divided in two with one half going to the simulator and the other half going to the yard to practice sliding the tandems.

In the simulator we practiced how to react to slipper conditions, blown steering tire and how to properly break going down a hill.

In the yard we learned how to slide the tandems on the trailer and the fifth wheel. Also practice getting in and out of the trailer and how to properly open and close the trailer doors.

Spent the rest of the day working on videos and finished up around 4:00 pm.

Day 6:

Today is a rest day for me since I don't meet my TE until tomorrow morning. More to follow when I return from the road.



Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations


Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".


Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Lil's Comment
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I'm enjoying reading your thread and glad it's going well for you. I hope to drive for Schneider one day, so this gives me a good idea of what to expect.

Your profile name reminds me of one of my favorite old TV shows, Mash.

Code Red NV's Comment
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Very cool, it looks like we are almost on the exact same track with Schneider, but I'm doing my orientation in Phoenix.

Keep up the great blog, and the great work

Hawkeye's Comment
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Day 7-12:

Just finished my week driving with my TE and it was a great week. I drove from Monday through Friday and racked up around 1500 miles.

Thomas was my TE for the week and he runs a dedicated route. This allowed him to get home on weekends and occasionaly during the week. Thomas was a former instructor for Schneider, so I not only had an experienced driver to mentor me, but a seasoned instructor who could help me out with my weaknesses.

Monday we picked up a load of paper and delivered it to Atlanta. This was a great learning experience on several fronts. First, paper is heavy and the truck I drove that day weighed around 78,000 pounds. After learning to drive with empty trailers, it was definitely different driving with all that weight especially going down hills. 78,000 pounds will really push the truck down the hill and I found myself hanging on as the truck sped up to 70 to 75 mph going down hill. Even though Schneider governs their trucks at 60 mph, when going down the hills the truck can exceed that speed.

The second fun part was driving through Atlanta traffic. It's bad enough if you're driving a car, but imagine driving in 5 lanes of rush hour traffic with a semi, it's definitely stressful. However, over time I learned to relax and definitely improved my shifting skills. I must have shifted a 100 times in heavy traffic, a great learning experience.

Another eye opening experience was backing. While they schools do their best to prepare you for backing a semi, the real world is different. One place we went I had to let Thomas back in while I watched. You have never seen so many hair pin curves in your life. Another drop off point was so crowded with moving trucks I was surprised their wasn't an accident. However, throughout the week I took my turn backing into these challenging spaces. While not an expert by any means, I definitely got better as the week went on. And while loading docs were challenging, some truck stops were just as chaotic. One thing I learned from this week is if I can park at a Walmart, I'll do that before I'll park at a truck stop. Just less congested and a lot more quiet.

The first night we parked at a Walmart near where my TE lived. So I got to spend my first night in a truck by myself. So how was it? Well, I enjoyed it. The sleeper was comfortable and I slept pretty well. You do have to get used to different noises such as passing traffic and if when I woke up around 2:00 am in the morning, I had to walk over to Walmart to use their facilities. Another nice thing about parking at Walmart was the ability to shop for food. Instead of eating at the nearby Waffle House, I went to Walmart and picked up a banana and yogurt for breakfast. Also, since we stopped early in the evening, I was able to get an hour walk in walking around the parking lot.

The rest of the week was delivering to locations around Charlotte, North Carolina and another return trip to Atlanta.

The longest day I put in driving was a 10 hour day driving almost 500 miles. I will tell you by the time I was finished with that day I was totally exhausted. However, the great part was I slept like a baby that night. But when I woke up in the morning I was definitely sore...but a good sore.

Along my travels I was able to pick my TE's brain and get advice on life on the road. Since he had been an over-the-road trucker he gave me great advice about what to expect and taught me many things about being a truck driver.

Thomas did ask me as we were neared the end of our week, what I thought about truck driving. I told him I really enjoyed it and was looking forward to getting my own truck.

I started the week nervous I wasn't ready to be on the road with my own truck. However, by the end of the week I was more confident I could handle the road on my own. I still have a lot to learn and I am not an expert by any means, but having a great mentor helped boost my confidence and I fell a lot better about going on the road by myself.

So a great week and I want to definitely thank Thomas for being a great mentor.

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."


When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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