CDL Schooling At Career Tech And Swift Orientation In Ocala,FL

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Ethan B.'s Comment
member avatar

This is my first forum post ever so bear with me if I seem boring! I started CDL Schooling by applying to PAM Transport. I got accepted by PAM and did all of my schooling through Drivers Solutions. Started off by going to Career Tech in Lakeland, FL. I cannot commend this school enough for the training I received from them. You show up and it's not the big schools with 20 trucks and a huge asphalt training area but the training I received there is training that I know will stick with me during my entire career. I'll say this to study for your permit download the app CDL Prep. They give you all kinda of practice tests that are almost identical to the ones you will take at the DMV. Each of the trainers at Career Tech have their own personality and are fun to learn from. They'll teach you as long as you're willing yo learn and they'll have fun doing it. I got about 3 weeks in and received a phone call from PAM asking me to do a sleep apnea test. I'm 6'5" tall and weigh 350 but I hold it well (think D1 college offensive lineman.) They wanted me to pay for this test out of pocket ($2000) with no guarantee that I'd have a job so needless to say I wasn't going to do that. I got offered an opportunity with Swift making more per mile and no forced team driving. (Big plus for me!) I started orientation this morning after checking into the hotel just up the road. Cool thing is since I already got my medical long form during schooling and did my road test literally last week they don't require that of me so here I sit in the drivers lounge in Ocala waiting on the rest of my class to finish their shenanigans until 11am when lunch time rolls around. Your choice of lunch with Swift here is Chinese food. I will try to post an update every day as much as I can until I become a first seat driver. I'm excited for the beginning of a new career! If you have any questions feel free to ask. I'll try to answer to the best of my abilities!

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.

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Welcome aboard Ethan and best of luck! We'd love to hear how things go for you during training.

To be honest, I don't blame you for not forking out $2,000 on a sleep apnea test with no guarantee of employment. That's asking an awful lot of someone I'd say.

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.

Ethan B.'s Comment
member avatar

My first day at Swift Orientation finished up pretty uneventful. Ate lunch and watched a few generic videos about keeping up with your health and was offered a cdl law thing paying a dollar a day to get people out of tickets. I couldn't really justify paying $400 a year for a service that I won't barely ever use. Not to mention if I break the law it's my own fault and I should own up to it. Just my 2 cents. Anyways, finished up at the terminal and waited for the shuttle back to the hotel and just relaxed the rest of the day. Good thing is there's a burger king right next door and a waffle house right across the street from the hotel. Woke up and had breakfast at the hotel which consisted of either frosted flakes or bran and a cinnamon roll. It's free so I can't complain. Today we're supposed to get into more stuff so I will give y'all an update around lunch time!

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.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Not to mention if I break the law it's my own fault and I should own up to it. Just my 2 cents.

You don't have to get the legal protection but you should intend to protect your CDL. Not every ticket written is justified. They're not always black and white. A lot of them are judgment calls and they don't always make the right call.

Not only that, but most of the time the courts really only care about the money. Putting points on your license doesn't help the State pay its bills. So they'll negotiate with you and have you pay a fine without putting any points on your license. That's the most reasonable outcome for everyone.

Don't forget also that you have the CSA - Compliance, Safety, and Accountability Program which is kind of a scorecard for drivers and companies. You want to avoid getting anything on your CSA record also.

So if you do get a ticket, and you likely will at some point, you should fight it using an attorney. You have to protect that CDL.

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.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

Ethan B.'s Comment
member avatar

I appreciate that Brett! I'll take in any helpful information I can get. I definitely will do everything I can to protect my cdl it just seemed like the company that offered the "protection" Just didn't sit right with me. One of those gut feelings I suppose.

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.
Splitter's Comment
member avatar

I appreciate that Brett! I'll take in any helpful information I can get. I definitely will do everything I can to protect my cdl it just seemed like the company that offered the "protection" Just didn't sit right with me. One of those gut feelings I suppose.

I would add this, most of the time it's better to find a local attorney rather then going with these "fund" attorneys who, from my experience here in NYC, will farm out the work to the very local guys you should have contacted in the first place. I heard many "local" attorneys bad mouth one of the taxi industry fund attorneys while at court. These local guys have relationships with many of the people who steer their cases toward more lenient judges. You used good judgment in not paying that much when most traffic attorneys here in NYC don't come close to charging $400 for most, unless it's DUI or something else of that severity.

I would second the advice to have an attorney represent you as they are not emotionally attached to the events and will speak to the "exculpatory" statements by finding fault in the testimony of the officer/official who presented the facts against you as they saw them. Just a little example, a stop sign violation was dismissed because the officer did not state that the sign was octagon shaped. Lawyer said nothing other than asked for dismissal on this ground!

Congrats on your good fortune & continued good luck on your progress. Am waiting for Swift recruiter to get back to me after my security interview today. Will Swift pick up the tab for the school? I may go with paying it out of pocket (with a loan of course) if I don't get any shots with company paid training programs.

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.

DUI:

Driving Under the Influence

Ethan B.'s Comment
member avatar

Sorry I didn't get to the update at lunch. Totally skipped my mind! A quick little sum up of the day since it's just a little passed bed time. Prior to lunch we had a class about paper logs and a basic rundown of the Qualcomm. Pretty much the same information I received at Career Tech. I try to absorb as much information as I can but it is orientation so I suppose it's a rough introduction and that I will learn more with my driver mentor. Had lunch (supplied by Swift) which was pizza. Came back from lunch and got out comdata cards issued to us in preparation for tomorrow. Went over some more basic stuff you would do with any company orientation (sexual harassment, bullying, drug /alcohol policies, etc.) We receive the results of our drug tests tomorrow. I have no problems with that because I studied really hard 😂 *insert sarcasm*. But on a serious note I know I won't have any issues with that. We check out of the hotel first thing in the morning and go to our final day at orientation and I meet the man I'm going to become very well acquainted with over the next month. (DM). Very excited yet nervous to finally be out on the road! Apparently we are going to be issued our driver numbers and have access to the kiosks here at the terminal. Seems like all this has been just out of my reach but I'm finally able to start my new career. I will do my best to update this thread with any new things that pop up. Remember I'm a student as of right now so if there is any helpful information anyone wants to throw at me I will gladly take all I can get!

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.
Ethan B.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

Congrats on your good fortune & continued good luck on your progress. Am waiting for Swift recruiter to get back to me after my security interview today. Will Swift pick up the tab for the school? I may go with paying it out of pocket (with a loan of course) if I don't get any shots with company paid training programs.

Reyn thats what I was thinking! And swift should pick up the tab. They do tuition reimbursement up to 5k dollars. That's what they told us anyways.

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