Swift PHX Part-time Academy

Topic 26699 | Page 2

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Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Blair's training goals include:

2.) Be an engaged learner

I have taught at Swift's Academy in Memphis, now I manage a smaller school in town. #2 on your goal list is important. I tell my students that although they might not be sitting in the driver seat, they are still in school to learn truck backing. So, when they are waiting their turn, they need to be watching the current driver, and how his/her truck is moving. Not to kibitz or criticize, but to learn the relationship between the tractor and the trailer.

The key to getting through the backing exercises (one third of your final CDL examination) is the backing. So don't stand around in the sun talking about a pennant race or World Series, or even the Phoenix Suns. Watch the trucks move around. Make sure it doesn't become a circus as it did once: The Backing Range At Trucking Driving School - It's Like Clown Soup For The Soul, by Brett Aquila

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.
Blair's Comment
member avatar

Good Morning Everyone!

Our class of 4 shrank by 50% this week, on the same day no less! One that dropped struggled with expectations the entire time, and became overwhelmed by additional knowledge and skill required. The other plans to join the next cycle of classes near the end of 2019. Our instructors explained upcoming changes in CDL testing for future classes. More range/road practice will accompany straight back, offset, parallel, alley dock, and one other parking style (maybe?) with any random 3 drawn by the examiner.

With a class of 2 students and 4 evening instructors, our drive time has become a 1-on-1, 4 week skills course from this point forward. We have been drilling pre-trip Thursday and Friday, and I am seeing progress. Association is a technique with good results, thus my classmate and I are working with numbers. 4 things on approach, 4 on passenger side, 8+1 driver's side, 4 suspension, 6 brake, 3 tire, 4 rim, etc. down the truck. Last night was our first opportunity behind the wheel and I had a great experience! Creeping around the closed course at 3 mph, learning positioning, reference points, and smooth accelerator/brake application was awesome! Our week 2 closer was early instruction in straight backing. The instructor said since we have significant skill time, they will try to teach more about setups and how to correct when a maneuver goes haywire, enhancing our skills. What good is a skill if you don't know how to "right the ship?" Entering the academy with no expectations, I am thrilled by the pace, knowledge, and candor of staff. Have a great weekend everyone!

-Blair

smile.gif

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.
Army 's Comment
member avatar

Gotta like that student to instructor ratio.

Blair's Comment
member avatar

Week 3 begins!

A new class started Monday with 6 learners. Our class remains at 2, with 2 more held over from the previous week of testing. Each day begins with a pre-trip, which I have fairly complete. A few tweaks of language have occurred and I need to nail them down. I have learned everything on the pre-trip has a blend of acronyms: Properly Mounted and Secured (PMS); Cracked, Damaged, Leaking (CDL); Abrasions, Bulges, or Cuts (ABC.) Pointing out each component and verbally confirming the number of parts -- 6 for brakes, 4 suspension, 7 drive suspension, 11 in-cab, helps me retain both muscle and oral memory.

Monday and Tuesday have been split between pre-trip and backing practice. Monday was straight backing, Tuesday offset, tonight is parallel. Thursday and Friday we will be out on the street! In Brett's book he accurately describes the circus of first-day backing. With only 3 of us on range, I still expected a Mini-Cooper full of midgets to come pouring out. Rather than working off feel, we are doing analysis and working our initial backing from notes. I am still tight on the "key cone" during set up, but feel confident this will all work out with practice. I can't imagine the chaos of day academy and their 12 students.

Have a great week everyone!

-Blair

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.
Blair's Comment
member avatar

Week 3, the first week of road and range skills is complete. I missed Friday but some things are just unavoidable. My classmate and I are forming a solid bond during training, feeding off each other to improve each day. I aced my pre-trip drill on Wednesday and am drilling this weekend to stay fresh. Thursday was our first road day, 4 right turns, 4 left turns, and "figure 8" for a 3 mile loop. I am shocked how much torque an empty combination vehicle has considering inertia and mass. We both received nice compliments from our instructor about driving safety and spatial awareness. Almost immediately the awareness during city driving was present. I thought my head was on a swivel during back ups! This seemed to pale in comparison to working through intersections, commentary driving, and getting a feeling for acceleration and braking. Our training truck was almost side-swiped by a Fed Ex pulling doubles and a few 4-wheelers with no patience. What an eye-opening experience sprinkled with some great fun and excitement! Stay safe this weekend everyone.

-Blair

Combination Vehicle:

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

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Blair's Comment
member avatar

Greetings everyone, Week 4, and our first two days were split between road and range. I am struggling to locate various markers when backing. School is at night, in a very average parking lot with very average lighting. Our parallel backing has standard cones. Here in PHX we had a dust storm, leaving little light from the overheads, no stars, no moon to guide me into cones I cannot see. I appreciate this is "real world" conditions, but everyone in class was frustrated and unable to locate our markers. We even asked instructors to demonstrate this, and they agreed, reluctantly, they were unable to complete this maneuver as well due within MVD CDL test guidelines ( 2 GOAL, 2 pull ups before points).

Here are my major concerns which I am still tweaking -

1. I need to move my seat back. Although I cannot move my mirrors during backing procedures, I can still move my body around to see what I need to. When we do road skills tonight I will play with these settings.

2. I also need to stop completely between directional changes in backing maneuvers. When I continue to roll between corrections my reference points become null and void.

3. I might be night blind and not know it? Our straight-back and off-set cones are reflective. I can see these better (duh) when our 4-ways are flashing off them and can still pick out terrain and changes. Our parallel boxes are set up so the truck is between the light source and non-reflective cones, diminishing vision further. I don't believe I am night blind, based on my research and recent eye-exam. I think last night was just a rough experience.

I still feel very confident in my ability to pass. Last night was just one of those nights where everything was skewed, much like days or weeks I will encounter out on the road.

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.
Blair's Comment
member avatar

Greetings Everyone! Today we near the end of week 5 in training. Week 4 saw a turn in skills, and I finally feel comfortable parking with straight line, offset, and parallel. There comes a point when you have to "feel" a maneuver rather than analyze, and I believe my classmate and I have reached that threshold. Let's also be realistic and acknowledge these are skills to pass the CDL exam, which don't always translate to real-world applications as smoothly. This week has been range and road, with a pretrip thrown in here and there as we work toward test day next week. I have missed a couple days with a sinus infection so I am probably going to test early in week 7. Our academy here in PHX is very accommodating to students and is willing to continue to invest time and resources if you are showing progress. That is about it for now. Have a safe Halloween!

-Blairdancing-dog.gifdancing-dog.gif

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

That’s great Blair, sounds like you are doing well...awesome job.

One question for you...can you please explain what you meant by this?...

Let’s be realistic and acknowledge there are skills to pass the CDL exam which don’t always translate to real-world applications so smoothly

Can you offer a couple of examples of what doesn’t translate?

Try to realize something...the skills you are learning in school definitely translate to real world application. All of them do. They form the base for everything you are about to experience and need to have in order to succeed in the “real world”. Especially for backing...in school, by comparison its only the very tip of the iceberg.

The only possible exception is manual shifting...I haven’t seen a manual at our WMDC (Swift) in 18 months. All auto shift.

Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your point...or it’s been too long since I’ve been in school. However taken at face value, I am having a tough time agreeing with it.

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.
Blair's Comment
member avatar

G-town,

Thank you for the input. My whole post appears foggy, but what I think I was trying to say is that CDL school teaches knowledge to pass the CDL exam, not the daily "pro tips" of learning a new industry. Paperwork, dispatch, Qualcomm , time mgmt, HOS navigation, all are taught on the road after graduation. Swift's approach has been excellent in my perception, and I am due to test out either Thursday or Friday of this coming week. Everything we have been taught is an asset and I feel confident on passing the first time. Perhaps that is short-sighted, but a goal I have for myself none-the-less. Have a good weekend!

-Blair

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the reply Blair and the thought behind your last reply.

Your goal is a good one...and you confirmed that you clearly “get” and understand the schooling process.

Good luck!

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