My Prime First Week TNT Update

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Miss Miyoshi's Comment
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Hey everyone! I've been out with my trainer for a week now and it's really awesome! As some of you may remember, my CDL school used day cabs and 32' trailers, so driving a big Freightliner condo with 53' trailer was slightly nerve wracking, but after about a day on the road I'm really loving it. My trainer had us take loads on solo routes so she could be awake with me when I was driving to help me with anything I was unfamiliar with (which seemed like everything, funny enough). She also wants me to float gears both upshifting and downshifting. Upshifting is great. Downshifting....not so much. I'm also learning how beneficial engine brakes are (jakes?) on down hill driving, and having a silencer on them is great because we can use them when places have restrictions. Honestly I didn't even realize they were on at one point because I never heard them. We also do not use a GPS whatsoever. Just a map and a notebook with key highway changes listed.

First run was from Springfield, MO to Los Angeles, CA. Thankfully, Paige (my trainer) said that while I need to learn how to drive in the city, Los Angeles wasn't the place to do it. Yet. So she drove the last leg and so far has done all the backing into loading docks except one time, which I didn't do too badly on. So it was a scenic ride on I-44W and I-40W. Then we had a load to pick up at a farm somewhere else in California, and that was my first time getting to a destination an hour prior to our scheduled time, then just sleeping until they finally loaded us almost 9 hours later. (Which was good, because yay reset clock!)

Oh, speaking of which, hours of service is pretty simple in concept, but kind of complicated in application. I'm still learning when I'm supposed to be off duty, in the sleeper berth , on duty, etc. That probably sounds silly to you guys who have been doing this for a while, but how it all affects how much SB time vs off duty time we get when sitting at a dock for hours is confusing me.

So, after we finally got loaded we headed back to Springfield for a quick overnight stay before heading up the next day to Illinois, where we dropped that load then picked up another to head back to Springfield to drop off at Kraft. THAT WAS AN AWESOME DROP!! They have underground offices! I was totally geeking out. I kept imagining how cool this place would be to film an alien invasion/safety bunker scene, or something from The Avengers, or possibly a zombie/post-apocalypse kind of thing. And speaking of geeking out, Paige probably thinks I'm completely nuts. She grew up on a working farm, and honestly I never realized how much the US is farmland! So I had a bazillion questions, and she was kind enough to answer them and placate my childish enthusiasm. The other thing I realized is that even though I say I would love to just move into the mountains and get away from everyone one day, when faced with the reality of people living in remote areas, I am absolutely, 100% a city girl. Hahahaha!

Paige had a bunch of appointments she had to keep this week, so when we got back to Springfield after dropping off our load at the Underground Offices of Doom I napped on her sofa for a few hours then jumped into a rental car and drove home, where I'm spending a few much needed days cooking, cleaning, and cuddling all the fur babies (fuzzy Wookie of a husband included). That drive took me through the mountains of West Virginia on I-63E, and I was SO THANKFUL I wasn't in a truck! It was getting dark, and the thickest fog I've ever seen settled in. I ended up driving about 20mph with my hazards on for about half an hour. It was a surreal, yet strangely beautiful, and anxious drive. But I'm glad I am learning to earn my "iron butt". That drive home was almost 17 hours, and I did it on about 2 hours of sleep and only stopped twice to refuel and use the bathroom. I'll be making the return trip Sunday morning starting out around 4am or so, then I think we're back at it again on Monday, this time in a true TNT setup. Team routes, and I'll be driving midnight to noon. I'm definitely looking forward to it. I enjoy night driving, even if I miss out on some scenery during the day.

And one last bit of awesomeness: My TNT training should officially end around the first week of August or so, as that's when I should have my 40,000 miles in. I'll come home for a week or two while Paige takes some needed time off for personal obligations, but then we're going to be teaming in a semi-training mode until early next year. I expressed my hesitation about going out on my own after training just a few months before winter starts happening to different parts of the US, and she said she was willing to keep me on the truck if I was willing to "run hard". She would be there when I had to first drive in snow, ice, in mountains, etc., and this would guarantee her the ability to make money before the winter slump hits. It's an amazing opportunity, but I think she's appreciative that I am not in a rush to just get out there and start driving. I want to KNOW I can operate safely to the best of my ability. She's had over a 9 years of driving experience and over a million safe driving miles, so I know I'm in good hands.

So that's what's been keeping me busy lately. Hope everyone is good! I lurk occasionally, but finally had some time to sit at the computer and type this out instead of attempting it on my phone where Big Thumbs Little Keyboard Syndrome is bound to happen.

Stay safe everyone!!

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.

Float 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.

Day Cab:

A tractor which does not have a sleeper berth attached to it. Normally used for local routes where drivers go home every night.

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

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.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14ยข per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

G-Town's Comment
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Great story, enjoyed reading it. Your trainer sounds like the benchmark for what a trainer should be. Consider yourself very fortunate. Best of luck for continued success and enjoyment.

Safe travels!

Miss Miyoshi's Comment
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I lucked out so hard with her it's not even funny. She's spent her entire career at Prime, and does what she can to turn out the best students ever. I would like to eventually train as well. Nonsmoking female trainers are a scarce commodity, but I feel like I need to have a few years under my belt before being a trainer.

Errol V.'s Comment
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You are showing the coolest thing about starting a trucking career. (ChickieMonster did the same): school is such a P.I.T.A., but once you get out on the road, everything's awesome!

Good story, Miss M!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

ChickieMonster's Comment
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You are showing the coolest thing about starting a trucking career. (ChickieMonster did the same): school is such a P.I.T.A., but once you get out on the road, everything's awesome!

Good story, Miss M!

I don't know if I'd say EVERYTHING is awesome Errol, but for the most part it's the most incredible thing I've ever done in my life!

I've gotta say, you are super lucky Miss M! I only got 7 days with a trainer and I learned next to nothing except how to maintain my lane and make turns. I never bumped a dock in training and trip planning was non-existent.

Most if not all of the tools, tips and tricks I use on a daily basis came from TT. And I am so thankful for it every day!

It sounds like you have hit the ground running! I'm so glad you are in such a positive situation and wish you the best of luck!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Matt M.'s Comment
member avatar

Great beginning!

Just make sure you aren't taken advantage of in the continuing on after training. If you are a prime employee and paid as a team company driver, no problem. I've known a couple folks that did that on a 1099 and were taken advantage of, or never went in to upgrade.

That said, it would be hard to believe such a trainer would do you wrong. Glad to hear you are off to a great start!

Kat's Comment
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That's awesome! I'm headed to Prime in a few weeks and have the same concern about winter driving. I'm afraid my official training will end before I get experience with it. Glad to know that there are options if you feel like you need more time. Makes me feel better.

Miss Miyoshi's Comment
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Great beginning!

Just make sure you aren't taken advantage of in the continuing on after training. If you are a prime employee and paid as a team company driver, no problem. I've known a couple folks that did that on a 1099 and were taken advantage of, or never went in to upgrade.

That said, it would be hard to believe such a trainer would do you wrong. Glad to hear you are off to a great start!

We already talked about the pay. We have agreed on a CPM that will be equivalent to what I would have made as a solo driver, which I believe is fair because she is extending my training, which cannot be measured in dollar amounts as far as I'm concerned. She's definitely not trying to take advantage of me. I'm not sure how it all works out but I Prime will pay me and take out all my taxes, but my pay comes out of her expenses. Or something like that. Likely a side of lease op I am unfamiliar with as of yet.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Miss Miyoshi's Comment
member avatar

That's awesome! I'm headed to Prime in a few weeks and have the same concern about winter driving. I'm afraid my official training will end before I get experience with it. Glad to know that there are options if you feel like you need more time. Makes me feel better.

I would definitely talk to your trainer about it and see what they are willing to do. They will work it out with the FM , and at worst talk to someone in the training office. I'm fairly certain if you're adamant about wanting to be the safest driver you can be they will work with you. Too many people are in a rush to get into their own truck.

Fm:

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.
Miss Miyoshi's Comment
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And ChickieMonster, WOW. I would have demanded more out of my trainer and refused the truck until I knew I was sufficiently trained. But I'm a mouthy ***** so there's that. Hahahaha!

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