Swift Training Academy - Corsicana, Texas

Topic 17006 | Page 2

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ACO476's Comment
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Day 4 -

Today started out with three hours of straight line backing practice. At 9 a.m. we took a 15 minute break, and then everyone tested out on straight line backing. Thankfully everyone passed. I don’t even think anyone lost any points. Practice for straight line backing was plentiful (probably close to 12 total hours worth). Tomorrow a cold front is supposed to make its way into the Corsicana, Texas area, so we skipped the full pre-trip class which was scheduled for this afternoon and tested out on mapping and trip planning instead. This test ended up taking about 3 full hours to complete, and was only 40 questions. Make sure you study the material you are given at the beginning of the week. Pre-trip was moved to tomorrow so that we can be out of the rain and cold for most of the day (the tractor and trailer will be inside the fuel barn).

Not much else to report from the Swift Academy today. We’re all waiting on this supposedly powerful cold front to move in. I planned ahead and brought a rain jacket, but others did not. Keep things like this in mind when you are packing to go to whatever school you choose, even if it is local to your residence.

OOS:

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.

's Comment
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So "testing out" is mainly to see how far you're getting within swift? If one is not doing too well they concentrate on that?

ACO476's Comment
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So "testing out" is mainly to see how far you're getting within swift? If one is not doing too well they concentrate on that?

Its a skills test. You need to pass all of them to continue with the course and to graduate. You practice a skill until you have it down, then they test you on that skill. If you fail the first time, you get extra training. If you happen to fail again, you are dismissed from the course.

ACO476's Comment
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Day 5 -

The day today started out in the low 70s, and about 8 a.m. the cold front hit with rain as predicted and it got REALLY cold. Today we started learning the full pre-trip inspection. The instructors here want everything checked from top to bottom, front to back. I honestly found the pre-trip to be rather easy. Check to make sure everything is properly mounted and secured. If the part is metal, make sure they’re not cracked, bent, or broken. If the part is rubber, make sure there are no cuts, bulges, fraying, or leaking. If it is a wire or bundle of wires, check for cuts, fraying and exposed wires. If it is a hose or a pipe, check to make sure they are not leaking. If you are not familiar with components underneath the hood, you might struggle for a little bit, but once you memorize what the part is and what you need to check for (see above), you’ll do fine. The air brake check on the other hand has me frustrated. There are quite a few steps that need to be done in a certain order or you fail. Unlike under the hood/outside tractor/outside trailer, you can’t go back on the air brake check if you forget something.

After we were introduced to the full pre-trip, we practiced several times pre-tripping a truck, then practiced the in-cab and air brake inspection on a truck. Once we were familiar (not comfortable) with these inspections, we spent about two hours learning how to couple and uncouple a tractor and trailer. Fairly easy if you are gentle on the clutch and follow every step that is taught to you.

Finally, when we returned from our lunch break, we started practicing on more backing maneuvers, including offset backing and parallel parking. I was only able to practice these maneuvers one time due to some students having trouble understanding what they need to do with the tractor and the trailer during these maneuvers. I thought they were fairly complicated and although I nailed both on my first try, I would have failed an evaluation because my steers went over a line. I really wanted more practice today, but other students needed way more help. Luckily we will be practicing these maneuvers for roughly the next week.

From now until the time we test at DPS, we have to do full pre-trip inspections every day on each piece of equipment we will be driving, so there should be no reason to fail a pre-trip during our CDL test.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

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.
ACO476's Comment
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Day 6 -

Today is Saturday and we’re right back at it learning at the academy. We started the very cold morning doing a full pre-trip inspection including an in-cab inspection along with an air brake test. Luckily when you are doing a pre-trip, a lot of the parts from the firewall back are identical (brake chamber, brake line, push rod, slack adjuster, spring mount, etc.), so when you’re done under the hood, the inspection goes a bit quicker. After our inspections, we got right in to offset backing and parallel parking. Offset backing is fairly easy. I’m having a hard time parallel parking within the space given for the procedure. This academy shrinks the dimensions of the box, making it harder on the student in hopes that when you test at DPS, their bigger dimensions will make it seem a lot easier. While I understand and appreciate this, it is really frustrating. This is pretty much all we did all day long. Practice, practice and more practice. Its supposed to be below freezing tonight, but we luckily have tomorrow off (we’re told that this doesn’t happen often). I plan on sleeping in, but studying the pre-trip inspection and air brake inspection procedures as much as I can tomorrow. We will begin testing on these inspections and procedures on Wednesday, finishing up by Friday and if anyone still fails, they’ll have the weekend to get some extra practice.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

ACO476's Comment
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Day 7 -

Today is Monday, 11/21/2016. We had yesterday off, which was a somewhat welcome break. Got to do some laundry and studied the pre-trip and air brake inspections for about six total hours. Today in class we went straight to a full pre-trip first thing in the morning. I pre-tripped the entire tractor, trailer, and fifth wheel as well as the in-cab inspection and air brake test. There were only two or three things I struggled with and I only would have lost a few points. After that, we coupled to a trailer and continued practicing offset backing and parallel parking. Most of the class is doing pretty well, and there are a few of us that nail both backing maneuvers every time. The instructors are hinting at letting those students take their test on those two maneuvers tomorrow (if they want). I think I’m ready to finish both the pre-trip and air brake tests as well as the backing maneuvers. Once those tests are passed, we are cleared to go on the road with a tractor and trailer, which should be exciting and fun.

Those students that are struggling get extra tutoring by the instructors. If they happen to fail any of the tests, they get a second chance to test later this week after additional study and help by the instructors. If they fail a second time, they go back one week and join the class behind us. If they happen to fail there, they are dismissed from the program. This is just something to think about. Make sure you take everything seriously in whatever program you decide to attend so that you don’t end up at home with no CDL. Study, study, study!

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.
ACO476's Comment
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Day 8 and 9 -

On day 8 which was Tuesday, 11/22/2016, the class was able to start testing on the following items: Straight line back, offset back, parallel park, pre-trip inspection , in-cab inspection and air brake test. I was able to test on all three backing maneuvers and was able to pass all of them. Three other students also passed all backing maneuvers and a few did not pass. Four different students tried testing on the pre-trip, in-cab and air brake tests and none passed. Please, STUDY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE! I wanted to take the pre-trip, in-cab and air brake tests, but was not allowed to due to the amount of failures. The rest of the day was spent practicing backing.

On day 9, which was today, 11/23/2016, I was able to take the pre-trip, in-cab and air brake tests and I passed all of them. At the end of today, there were four students that passed all of their tests. For those that are able to pass all of their tests by tomorrow, they will get a few days off for the thanksgiving holiday. If they fail to pass, they will need to stay in Corsicana, practicing the areas they need to work on. I should note that if you fail any test twice, you get moved back a week into the class behind yours, and if you fail again, you are let go. I can’t emphasize enough that you need to take school seriously and study as much as possible. It’s looking like some students might not be with us much longer, which is sad.

I’m headed home as of tomorrow at 10 a.m. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, and I’ll update when I get back!

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

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

's Comment
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Thank you, have a happy thanksgiving.

ACO476's Comment
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Day 10 -

Back from a refreshing few days at home for the holiday, today was the start of road training. We started out at 6 a.m., as usual, doing a full pre-trip, in cab and air brake inspection. After that, our instructor took us on a route to show us double clutching and upshifting/downshifting. After this short demo, we practiced on our own under the watchful eye of our instructor. I should note, you are given classroom instruction as well as material to take home and (you guessed it) STUDY before getting into the truck and actually learning how to drive. If you were attentive in class and did your homework and self study, you should know the shifting pattern, where your RPMs need to be to upshift and downshift, recovery gears and speeds, emergency stop procedures, and railroad crossing procedures. I’ve said it before and I’ll stress it again, study study study!!! There can be a maximum of four students in a truck with an instructor during this phase of training, but luckily it is only me and one other student, which seems to make the training much more personalized. We drove pretty much all day, which also happens to be the schedule for tomorrow and Tuesday. We are both scheduled to test on Wednesday in Waco, Texas and from what I can tell, neither one of us will have any problems passing the DPS road test.

More driving tomorrow, but until then, I’m off to study…

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.

ACO476's Comment
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Day 11 -

Today was more driving pretty much all day long. We started out with a full pre-trip, in-cab and air brake inspection/check followed by driving on city streets, county roads, state highways and interstates. Lots of heavy traffic, small streets, railroad crossings (remember to slow and roll your windows down/look both ways), etc. Today was also a bad day for weather with very heavy winds and a lot of rain, which made things even more interesting. Tomorrow we are scheduled for the exact same activities with our test being scheduled on Wednesday in Waco. Prior to the DPS road test on Wednesday, we will get a chance to be on the road to squeeze in some more practice. We’re almost done, and I’m getting excited to head to Lancaster for orientation!

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

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