School Bus To Truck 160 Academy In Illinois With Swift

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Tina A.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi All,

I’m hoping this is not supposed to be “Just the facts, Ma’am because that’s not my M.O.

Most of this will not be directed at former bus drivers, just in the beginning.

I’ll be starting at the 160 Driving Academy in Crest Hill, Illinois on 09/03/19 through Swift. I’ll do my best to fill you in on what might give you a heads up.

Illinois is one of those states where you must get your license in Illinois. No out of state school so that narrows your options down a lot.

I do want to write the biggest things for school bus drivers to take note of. I have a feeling that something’s will need to be unlearned. Like “HEY! SIT DOWN!” Or “WHO’S SCREAMING?!” Or “Are they going to throw up?!” “Try not to bleed on your seat mate, please.” Well, school might be tough so maybe not the last one. I will tell any instructor that they, in fact, can NOT Moon the car next to us though. No stopping at every railroad track! THAT will be weird. I even do it in my car at times.

Ok, the positives of being a bus driver first. Most of these things will just be amplified by 100 but you are already familiar with them at least. You’re already aware of how to deal with traffic. People constantly cutting you off. Motorcycles cutting so close in front of you that you lose visual of half the bike just so they can turn RIGHT THERE. Here in Illinois, maybe national wide(?), there is a campaign “Start seeing motorcycles”. I want to start one for motorcycles. “Start driving so that trucks and buses can see you, idiot!” Ok, leave off the idiot. It’s already implied. Air brakes, like a pro! I HATE driving a bus with ABS! We already had to test out for basics. Really hoping that I don’t have to test on air brakes and basics again. I almost failed on basics! It was so, basic! I thought they were trick questions! They weren’t!! We are familiar with some of the lingo. Off set parking and all that. Less new stuff, easier to understand more new stuff! We’re already used to being watched and scrutinized the ENTIRE TIME. All those cameras and microphones as well as every parent on the road watching our driving. That should help a little with the pressure. We already are familiar with the West Chicago CDL only DMV. Love that place!!

If I were to ever go for Hazmat , I’m already used to hauling hazardous materials. If 50 2nd graders hopped up on sugar from Brookfield Zoo + 95 degree weather + traffic jam on I55 doesn’t make things hazardous, I don’t know what does. All the cars are non stop jockeying. “Must get in front of that bus!” One kid pukes, they are all hot, the teachers are either on the edge or their phones, and the look on the parents faces. You know the one. “I’m never doing this again. Ever. I knew I should have brought a flask!” Which means you get to deal with all of it yourself. That’s hazardous. LOL

I, myself am a charter only driver. I go downtown Chicago and as far as I possibly can. Yes, I’m a “your children are precious but I don’t want to deal with you” kinda person. Besides, I did it to drive. And money. But to drive. This means, I already know what it’s like to drive 4 hours one way without stopping on a regular basis.

I’ll add more to the bus driver difference part later.

160 Driving Academy: Before school starts, you go for drug testing. Not sure when I will be sent for the physical. The card doesn’t cut it. You must have the long form.

Have to complete an English comprehension test. I’m doing that in a bit. It says not to do it on a phone so the office is letting me do it there. I heard it’s easy.

Unlike other schools, this one Monday - Friday 8:00 - 5:00.

Ok, more later

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

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.
Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

160 Driving Academy: Before school starts, you go for drug testing. Not sure when I will be sent for the physical. The card doesn’t cut it. You must have the long form.

Have to complete an English comprehension test. I’m doing that in a bit. It says not to do it on a phone so the office is letting me do it there. I heard it’s easy.

Unlike other schools, this one Monday - Friday 8:00 - 5:00.

I attended the 160 academy school in Moline Illinois just over 2 years ago. The first week you will get physical, the day depends on when they could get you in to the clinic they use. Everybody at all locations were instructed to go straight to DMV for permit on thursday then report to class. The classroom portion was on laptop computers with 1 instructor teaching all students in the 160 schools that week. After the first week we went to the yard and hours were 7 to 4. Your results may vary but thought I'd share that info to help give you a little insight.

I look forward to following along in your journey and seeing if experience in a bus helps you adjust to driving a truck.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Welcome Tina.

I noticed your post in the General Forum late last night. I've been with Swift over 6 years now, trained at their Academy in Richmond, continue driving for them assigned to a Dedicated Walmart account serving stores and Sam's Clubs in the NorthEast region. The schooling I received at the Richmond Academy was very, very good, it adequately prepared me to pass the CDL-A tests...can't expect much more than that from any school (fact). Keep in mind schooling and then the subsequent Mentoring (Swift-speak for road-training) is one, very long job interview. Conduct yourself accordingly.

A final thought... I strongly recommend going into this with a completely open mind, and accept the fact; learning how-to pre-trip and operate (especially backing) a tractor trailer is like nothing you have ever done before and will challenge you to the core.

Here is a link to: High Road CDL Training Program. This takes the guesswork out of passing the CLP tests, including the brake topic.

Here are are links to a Pre-Trip Inspection Study Guide:

You can see how PTI for a heavy (up to 80,000lbs) combination vehicle is very different than a bus.

Good luck!

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.

Combination Vehicle:

A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.

CLP:

Commercial Learner's Permit

Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

Tina A.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi Rob T,

I look forward to following along in your journey and seeing if experience in a bus helps you adjust to driving a truck.

Thanks, it’ll be interesting I’m sure. LOL

Hi G-Town,

Please don’t think I’m arrogant in what I say. I know it’ll be a lot more difficult than what I have done. I just feel lucky that as with anything new, I’ve had a peak inside. Not with the truck itself but there is more than the physical act of driving and if I have a few basics down already, well, it’s kinda like learning a new language. If you learn some of the the curse words, thank you, and where’s the bathroom, the rest will come easier when you finally get in front of a teacher. It may still be a foreign language but at least I know how to pronounce a few words. The more I’m already familiar with the less to bog up my mind. I would like to encourage other women who drive a bus that would rather drive a truck. I think by pointing out where they already have a first step may help. Yes, there is a full mile to go yet but it’ll never start without that first step. Know what I mean?

Thank you for the great links. I’ll definitely be reading them!!

Drug test - Done! 3 bald spots later but it’s done!

Physical - Done!

All paperwork - Done!

School starts Tuesday 🤯

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Tina...I don't think you are arrogant. I like so many others before, you are trying to confirm what you know about bus driving will convert to providing you an edge when learning how to become a truck driver... like I have already said, the best thing you can do is go into it with a blank-sheet of paper and clear your mind of all distractions, and any preconceived notions. It's unlike anything you have ever done.

Please if you have the time, focus some energy between now and next week on these links:

The time you invest on the above is going to pay back dividends by realistically setting your expectations, establishing a primary knowledge base and a computer based training program that is arguably the benchmark of CLP training.

Good luck.

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.

CLP:

Commercial Learner's Permit

Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

I'll give you a bus driver heads up: It may be silly to say that a bus doesn't bend but a tractor trailer rig does. As an instructor at Swift, I saw two experienced Greyhound bus drivers fail the simple "straight backing" test. They had to go home.

I'm not saying bus drivers can't make the change, I'm just warning you to watch it when you start that first backing maneuver. The trailer won't be doing what your shoulders and elbows think it will.

Adirondack Bob's Comment
member avatar

Hi Tina!

I’ve driven school buses for the last 3 years and am taking my class A road test Tuesday, 9/3. This company has seen several coach bus drivers fail miserably but, coaches are never allowed to back up. We had to back up our school buses at least twice a day, many times routes required it. I, and a fellow school bus driver who went thru the same class A training, found huge benefits from our school bus driving experiences. Some will say there’s no comparison. That’s rubbish or ego. The best advise I got on here about the transition was that while driving and backing a semi you have to turn that steering wheel much faster. And man was he right on!

Keep your eyes on those mirrors while turning and good luck to ya!

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.
PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Hi Tina!

Some will say there’s no comparison. That’s rubbish or ego.

So there you go again, Bob, discounting the facts put forth by drivers much more experienced driving buses and tractor trailers.wtf.gif

Adirondack Bob's Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

Hi Tina!

Some will say there’s no comparison. That’s rubbish or ego.

double-quotes-end.png

So there you go again, Bob, discounting the facts put forth by drivers much more experienced driving buses and tractor trailers.wtf.gif

I'm discounting them as much as they're discounting me, and others. No more. No less.

Banks's Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

Hi Tina!

Some will say there’s no comparison. That’s rubbish or ego.

double-quotes-end.png

double-quotes-end.png

So there you go again, Bob, discounting the facts put forth by drivers much more experienced driving buses and tractor trailers.wtf.gif

double-quotes-end.png

I'm discounting them as much as they're discounting me, and others. No more. No less.

I've driven plenty of straight trucks varying in length. None of them backed up like a combination vehicle. Something as simple as not catching a drift sends a trailer in a different direction. You can back a straight truck or a bus straight by holding the steering wheel firmly. Doesn't work on a tractor trailer.

You're taking information as an insult, when that's not the case. It's just information.

Combination Vehicle:

A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.

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