Off To Stevens Transport On Monday The 10th, After 20+ Years Off The Road

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Brian K.'s Comment
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Hey Bunny, I read you Bio and since your from Dallas you probably will not be staying at the Luna Lodge. That alone is an experience in itself. So I will skip anything about the motel.

Although I am a newbie, I welcome you to Stevens and kudos for getting back into the driver's seat. For those who read this, I came to Stevens with my CDL and I am going through the Refresher Course. The recruiter said because of my experience, 1.5 million miles but all of it was pre-2000, I would most likely be here a week or so before going with a driver trainer. Wrong, There was about 7 of us who had CDLs in my group. The trainer interviewed each one of us privately. He asked us about our driving experiences and when he was done he said he would review his notes and let us know how long each of us would have to be here. Only a few minutes went by and he came back and said all of us will have to be here the full 3 weeks. So I am not sure if it will be any different for you but I would be curious to know what he says.

Roll call for everyone is at 7 am on the hill, a place in the back of the lot. In the beginning after our DOT medical exam, at least for my group, we spend a lot of time the first week on pre-trip inspections and the simulator. I was told CDL holders will need to go through the pre-trip motions and of course, know the subject but grading or passing would be different than students needing to take the state test to get their CDL. I haven't gotten to that point yet where the CDL holders will be asked to do a pre-trip test of some sort so I am not sure what to expect. I am studying the paper they give us just the same since there isn't much else to do in the motel.

This week, week 2, beside the trainer going over pre-trip stuff, we did some straight and offset backing. That was more fun and the days are going by quicker. One thing, wear warm clothing. It gets windy, gloves would be nice, and you will need a pen or pencil.

When you arrive I will be starting my third week. This week we will be doing more backing maneuvers and some student will be taking the actually pre-trip test. If all goes well, by the end of the week I should be in an orientation for a day or two and place with a Driver Trainer shortly there after. You need to do 240 hours with the Driver Trainer and then you come back, another day or two of more orientation, some road testing and if all goes well, they assign you a truck and you go solo. The 240 hours is official but the rest is what I hear from other student. The Trainers do not seem to want to tell you what your going to do, like an agenda. It's more like one day at a time for them. So I don't ask; I just go with the flow. It's supposed to be a 3 week refresher course and something is going to happen by the end of week 3. I'll just wait and see.

Well, that's about it for now. Maybe I will run into you at roll call on the hill Brian

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.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Trucking Bunny's Comment
member avatar

Good morning Brian. I appreciate you sharing! I figured there would be a greater chance that the refresher course would be closer to the 3 weeks than the one week (as Stevens is known to be a training company)... but hearing that everyone in your group was told 3 weeks allows me to have more realistic expectations before I get there. That’s definitely valuable information to have. It actually helps me feel more at ease knowing it’s highly likely I will be in the refresher for the full 3 weeks; as the profession I’m leaving is all about “over achieving”. I am going to appreciate not having the pressure of feeling I need to prove myself as quick as possible. I’m glad to be getting time to focus on the backing skills before heading out with a trainer. It’s been a while since I’ve backed a trailer and I know I’m going to be rusty!

Even though I’m local to Dallas - I will be staying at the Luna Lodge. Unless your from the DFW area, it can sound silly that I’m choosing not to commute ... but I live almost an hour away from Stevens. And that’s if I don’t hit traffic! Early in the morning - there is ALWAYS traffic. I don’t want to run the risk of not being punctual, so I am choosing to stay at the Luna. I am thankful I’ll be able to come home Saturday evenings (or if needed through the week) until I finish the refresher; but I’m going to focus on the training - so I will adapt to whatever uniqueness the Luna has to offer! 😁

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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.

Brian K.'s Comment
member avatar

For anyone heading to Stevens and staying at their designated motel, let me tell you a little about the Luna Lodge. It neither good or bad. It just what it is.

I will cost you $600.00 for 3 weeks. Stevens will cover the cost but you will have to pay it back once you start making money. They will take out ~25 – 30 dollars a week for 24 weeks or 6 months.

You will need to check in to the Luna by 9 am and then again, check in by 9 pm in the evening. The rest of this statement is here say but I kind of seen it happen. If you miss a check in, they will assume you picked up and left and give your room away. If you’re an hour or so late checking in, they sometimes forgive you but mention to you not to let it happen again. They seem very strict about signing in and out. Also, your roommate, all room are double occupancy, will have to relocate to a different room as well. I don’t way they do it this way but they do. I will know more of this process because my roommate is leaving late tonight, going home. Wasn’t for him. Tomorrow I will experience this phenomenon.

So, I will probably will run into you in at Luna. I am assuming you will have a car here and it’s totally fine. Actually, It’s an advantage. There are a few students who drove here as well don’t use the shuttle, so no waiting around for that.

Next week will hopefully be my last and after orientation head out with a trainer if they can find one. I’ve heard stories where students sometimes waiting a day or two or three until a trainer is available.

Well, I’m done, need to get something to eat. I will probably update on Saturday.

Brian

Chris V.'s Comment
member avatar

Great to hear! Iam 57 and my CDL Chris

Off to Stevens Transport on Monday the 10th, after 20+ years off the road

First of all, for those who thought you may be to old to start a driving career, go for it. I am in my late 60's. I drove during the 70's, 80's & 90's but had a desk job for the past 24 years. Now that I am retired, I going back on the road for a few years.

I know there are a couple of people in these forums that suggested I might want to keep looking for another place to start and I appreciate your opinion. But Stevens was the only place in the past 2 to 3 months that would take me with no recent experience and since since I have my CDL the recruiter said, if you can believe him, the refresher course would only be a few days to maybe a week depending on my skills training.

I have to find out if I can still do it. Not all the bull crap stuff the company may ask me to do but the driving, dealing with the traffic, the hours behind the wheel, waiting to get loaded/unloaded, working with dispatchers, truck stop parking etc... those kind of things.

So I am leaving this Sunday and starting orientation on Monday. If anyone is interested, I'll try and update the blog with my experiences objectively while at Stevens. I'm excited and apprehensive at the same time,

Brian

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.

Dispatcher:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PJ's Comment
member avatar

I wish ya’ll well with your endeavors there. Oh and guess who owns the Luna Lodge??? Hopefully they were truthful with ya’ll about that.

Brian K.'s Comment
member avatar

From what I understand Stevens either own it or have a contract with them. I know a Stevens's coordinator on is running the show. And they were honest about the fact that the students will have to pay back to Stevens the cost of the room etc.... Stevens doesn't pay for anything! Found that out before I came here. It's about the only thing the recruiter was honest about.

I start my third week Monday and hopefully this will be my last one before going out with a trainer

Going to get some sleep, I'll keep updating when I can.

Brian

Brian K.'s Comment
member avatar

Saturday, the 23th. Not much to tell, Friday we did "Off Set Backing" and more pre-test. You might be thinking for someone in a refresher course why so much pre-trip. Well since I am part of a group of students who just pass their written test and they now have their CDL permit. It's mandatory they past the pre-test before being able to take the road test. So they push a lot of pre-test practice. Monday they said CDL holders will be doing "Parallel Parking" even though after 20 years on the road I never had the need to parallel park a tractor trailer. The trainers I spoke with agreed with me but said it is required to pass the CDL test and therefore need to teach the maneuver.

Today was a half a day. We were in the classroom doing a few test. The instructor went over the material before hand and in depth and in the end no one fail any of them. More formality than anything else.

I only have one week left and things should get exciting. According to some, one more day of off set and parallel parking then possibly road test, 4 day orientation and off with a driver trainer.

Next week's post will probably be more exciting as well.

See ya later, Brian

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.
Brian K.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi All, things are starting to pick up. Although the only thing I did was to drive about an hour on the road, I felt like I accomplished more today than any other. Out of 25 or more items on the instructor's check list he only checked off two he wanted me to work on. One was going around a turn from a stop light or stop sign. Stevens do not allow you to drive more than 13 mph when making a turn. Second thing was I let the truck roll back a little and needed to reply the brake. You know, you let your foot off the brake for a sec and notice the truck start to move backwards and almost instantly tap the brakes again. And lastly, viewing the cross traffic sooner while approaching an intersection. Not bad for the first time in 25 years driving a semi. For those who may be following my exploits, I am going to or will have some pictures of Steven's yard and the place call the hill where all the training is done. All the trucks parked in line are owner operator’s leased vehicles leased from Steven’s and a few others as well.

Tomorrow, I think they are going to schedule some more driving time for me and by the end of the week, I maybe going out with a trainer driver. We will see.

That's if for now. Check the 12 picts out if you have the time. The Internet connection is really bad, guess I will have to upload the picts a little later. I got one to upload, more later.

Brian

0650675001611630299.jpg

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brian K.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi I'm back,

It's been about 4 days since my last post and things have changed a bit. Tomorrow, Sunday I start my 4 day orientation after that I will be an official Steven's Transport employee and will be placed with a driver trainer for 240 hours of over the road driving. Some of the past students say you can complete the hours in 4 to 5 weeks or maybe 6 if you have weather issues or if loading or unloading is delayed for what ever reasons.

I like to do a comparison between Steven's and other training companies but haven't any knowledge of any other companies. I think, as far as the refresh program that I went through, it could have been streamlined a bit more. Since I hadn't any recent experience in over 20 years I had to do 3 weeks of training and will be doing 4 days of orientation. I feel I could have done all the training without skipping any thing in less than two weeks and that is being gracious.

On my road evaluation, I drove around town, down the interstate , and spent the better part of an hour driving around having fun. The evaluator told me in about 20 minutes into the drive that I was really good on my turns and a few minutes later remarked, "Your going to orientation". That made me feel good and took some of my nervousness away. I had mentioned earlier in the blogs I have driven over a million miles pre-2000 and it all seem to come back to me pretty quick. I only went out twice before the evaluation and only for a short trip around some side streets near Stevens.

I'm not sure how long I will stay. I would like to get enough recent experience to be able to move to another carrier if I find Steven's is not the place for me. I thinking 6 months at the least and anything after that will be extra. It's not that they are a bad company but I never seen so many rules and regulations. Make you pay for everything. If you damage their equipment in anyway, you will pay for part of the damage. You have to sign a piece of paper documenting this. If you jackknife their truck, which is pretty severe, it will cost you $2000.00 dollars. That is the most and it goes down from there. If your reading this, is this a common thing among carries these days? I drove in the 70's - 90's and not one company ever told me anything about paying for anything. Luckily, I never had an accident while driving a semi.

One more thing, I like to add some pictures of Steven's training yard and a few others and I'm not sure how to do it. I tried sending them to an address I found on another page but it bounced back to me. If a moderator is reading this can you let me know how to add about10 picts please.

Thanks, that's all for now.

Brian

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Interstate:

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

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.

PJ's Comment
member avatar

Brian I wish you the best there. Your question about paying if you damage something, that is not common to my knowledge. I know they do it. Also good luck they like to take money from your pay and list it as due company without any resl explanation.

Posting pics go above the text box and sslect photo, hit upload new photo, then select where from, select photo, then go. Should do it.

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