Knight Transportation (Squire Training) - Back To Phoenix I Go!

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Justin's Comment
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Hello all, there are some tremendous training diaries in here, and I debated whether or not to add mine, but I figured it might be fun (even if only for myself) to look back on down the line as it's fun to wax nostalgic when it comes to a particular date (or song, location, memory, etc.), so... here goes.

Tomorrow I'll head out (or I should say head back) to Phoenix to start my training with Squire Training Academy (Knight Transportation). It's been a long time coming, and after already working for them in two other positions, I made the decision a few weeks ago to move forward as a Port Driver due to the shortage and the situation at the ports.

A little background about me before I get into my decision to start training...

I was born and raised in Minnesota and moved to Las Vegas last year. I live in (and absolutely love) Downtown Las Vegas. Vegas is exactly whatever you want it to be, for better, worse, or both. Although I'm actually not that big of a gambler, I love going out (restaurants, dive bars, etc.) and especially live music, having been to over 1,200 concerts in my lifetime. After Nashville and Austin, in my opinion, Las Vegas is #3. Whether it's a huge residency, arena show, or the many, many smaller club shows every night, nobody skips Las Vegas, and you can always find something to listen to of any genre, old or new. On top of all the "hidden gems" in America's Playground not on the "Top Things To Do" lists, there's never a shortage of things to do here. After dealing with everything in 2020 with the numerous shutdowns, not that I did before, but I told myself I would never take the chance of going out to a new restaurant, dive bar, or seeing a band play for granted ever again, and I haven't since.

I come from a hospitality background, working in hotel management. In 2020 at the hotel I worked at in the Twin Cities suburbs, I worked 124 consecutive days from March 15th through July 16th -- by choice. When things started shutting down earlier in the year, unfortunately that meant many jobs for hourly employees as well, so the only people left in our hotel were salaried management. While most hotels closed during the shutdowns, we were "half closed" -- closed to most of the public, but we had a few contracted groups that stayed with us every day, so there was a little bit of activity for us.

I'd have taken a huge pay cut if it meant saving even one of those (hourly) jobs for my coworkers, and that's why I started working every day in hope of that, but no dice. Everybody knows what happened in Minneapolis last year, and throughout the protests, riots, mass shooting in my Uptown neighborhood, and friends/family losing their jobs (many of them permanently), it just made sense to work through it. I told myself when I'm busy working every day, I have no time to "sit and think" about everything going on, which I should have taken the time to do. Other managers had family nearby (while mine is all in northern Minnesota), so during the May riots/protests, it made more sense for them to be home with family. I moved into the hotel during the worst of it, and while we fortunately didn't sustain damage/looting, everybody was obviously on edge during that period of time.

One thing I noticed during many of those quiet days/nights at the hotel was the abundance of trucks on the highway delivering much-needed medicine and supplies (remember people hoarding toilet paper?!?). Nobody really cared about hotels (and other businesses), but without drivers, the supply chain shuts down and nothing gets delivered. I'd always thought about driving in the back of my mind, having had memories of my uncle and maternal grandparents in a big rig when I was a child, but after 2020, I started taking it more seriously.

While there weren't many (training) opportunities or schools in the Upper Midwest, after the craziness of Summer 2020, once our hotel reopened in late July and I finally took time off, I decided I was moving to Las Vegas. It had always been my favorite city, and after having a summer of no ballgames, no live music, no State Fair, or any of the number of things we do to enjoy life in Minnesota between winters, I finally decided to take the break and bid winter farewell. (On a side note, although most people think the winters are awful in Minnesota -- and they are -- summertime was always worse to me with the high dewpoints. I never look at the temp anymore, only the dewpoint. I'll always take 105+ in the dry heat of the southwest than 90 degrees with 60-70+ dewpoints in Minnesota. No comparison if you've experienced and lived through a humid climate.)

Off to Vegas!

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

I initially moved here to Vegas last September, finding a specific spot right downtown that I loved (and still do). Although I wanted to take a little bit of time off to rest and relax after working four months straight in 2020, I'm not good at NOT working, so I worked a couple of part-time positions to get out of the house and feel useful.

However, it was clear that the industry with the most positions available (by far) was trucking. Those three little letters (C, D, L) seemed to be the key to open an abundance of opportunity. Throughout my trucking research, although technically I could go through training school with any carrier, I liked that Knight Transportation had a terminal here in Las Vegas. I read, studied, asked questions (of drivers and employees alike) and decided I wanted to work for them.

Unfortunately, on the driving side, I ended up getting my first speeding ticket (in over 20 years!) on my drive down to Las Vegas -- 16 MPH over the speed limit (15+) when I was passing a car in the passing lane in Wyoming. While a fun little memory and story to tell, when I started applying to driving schools, Knight required six months with no speeding tickets to attend Squire, so even though it wasn't as reckless as "reckless driving", it was still out for now. Responsibility accepted, paid, and taken care of. Most of them had somewhat similar rules (with varying lengths of time), and I didn't want to choose a lackluster training program as a last resort, so I decided to wait.

I hadn't told anybody (friends or family) about my desire to get my CDL and go out on the road, mostly because I thought it would be a fun surprise to GET IT and then post that picture of me next to a big rig and say "SURPRISE!" However, earlier this year I had a conversation with a good friend of mine about my eventual plans. She used to be a Transportation Manager for Amazon and told me they used to work with Knight all the time on the logistics side. She had two contacts at Knight, and told me if I was interested in relocating to Phoenix, she was confident they could get me an Account Manager position. On one hand, I'd be moving to Phoenix and leaving Las Vegas after eight months. On the other hand, the more she told me about it, the benefits and opportunities to work at the corporate office outweighed the rest. Honestly, since I had no desire to (ever) go back into hospitality after 2020, I knew I wouldn't find a similar opportunity in Las Vegas at the time.

It moved fast (likely due to how fast it was growing), but in only five days from that first phone conversation with her, after two separate phone and Zoom interviews with management/leadership and a great offer, I'd accepted a position as Port Logistics Account Manager and it was off to Phoenix.

This was around the time when they were slowly planning to have everybody "back in the office" (full time). In the meantime, most people worked from home on Mondays and Fridays, and some had arrangements where they permanently worked from home (or elsewhere in the country). I'm not a fan of working from home, only because it's hard to separate "work" and "home", so I went to the office every day.

As time went on though, I figured if some people were working from elsewhere, why not see if I can do the same? I only moved to Phoenix for the opportunity in Port Logistics. There was one Account Manager I never even met (in person) from when I started until the point she left. As much as I enjoyed my time in Cave Creek/Scottsdale/Phoenix, I really missed Las Vegas. Just little things, from my favorite pizza joint, to Happy Hour spot, and other things I'd just gotten to enjoy when I decided to move.

I emailed our Port Logistics VP and our Account Management Lead, letting them know my intentions. Although I've always been fine with work taking up more of the "work/life balance", I told them I would just enjoy everything more if I was in Las Vegas to enjoy the "life" part when I wasn't working. With how fast Port Logistics was growing, and due to the chaotic supply chain situation at the ports (https://www.businessinsider.com/shipping-delays-china-supply-chain-record-ships-stuck-california-ports-2021-8), I was coming in on Saturdays and Sundays to stay caught up and not fall behind by Monday with the 24(!) accounts I had in my short time there -- due to three other AM's leaving to pursue other positions.

As a backup, I applied for a Driver Manager position at the Las Vegas terminal, and the Port Logistics VP asked if I'd be interested in being a Port Driver Manager for the Asset team in Vegas, so I'd be staying in Ports where I'd already learned a lot and could continue. I'd learn they're opening a new port yard/terminal in Vegas this fall, so while these opportunities weren't available earlier in the year when I moved, if it had been, I might have stayed the entire time.

But... BACK TO LAS VEGAS!!!

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.

Driver Manager:

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.

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.

Justin's Comment
member avatar

(Test)

Just seeing if I can type the rest of my posts out, as I have two more (since it's so long) and they have to be approved first. Understandable, likely due to me being new, but I wondered if they got flagged because I was copying/pasting so fast after creating a post.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

Nothing to worry about Justin. Your posts are only being moderated because you're new to the forum. By default, your first 10 posts will be moderated to be sure you aren't some whacko spouting nonsense in here lol. After that, your posts will be uploaded immediately. Unless of course you turn into that whacko!

rofl-3.gif

Thanks for starting your own diary, you will be helping tons of future visitors to our forum.

Good luck at Knight!

Justin's Comment
member avatar

Once I moved BACK to Vegas and settled in at the Vegas office, getting behind the wheel started entering my mind again. It had always been in the back of my mind, but sitting in the (darker) office, seeing the trucks come and go outside in the yard on those bright sunny days, it started to increase the appeal again. Combined with the continued driver shortage and the chaos at the ports, my focus on driving continued to increase.

I've always been the "somebody's gotta do it" type and doing whatever is needed the most. It's why I worked 124 days in a row last year -- by choice. If something was broken and needed to be fixed or cleaned, there was no time to wait for somebody else; we had nobody else! Granted, I started working that streak in hopes of saving another job or two, but once I kept going, I didn't want to stop -- 25 days in a row, 50, 100(!), etc. Since I've always been attracted to where the biggest "need" was, right now that is clearly as a driver. When I've had something in the back of my mind, it would always be there and continue to pop up until I'd act on it.

(Once upon a time, that was completing a full marathon. After years of hating everything to do with running, a right knee surgery, and making fun of people who "wasted time" running, I realized I should put up or shut up and see if I could do it myself. I thought maybe I "feared" how big of a goal it was, so making fun of it was easier than actually doing it. In December 2009, at the now-defunct 501 Club in Minneapolis, I grabbed a napkin at the bar and wrote that I would complete a marathon within two years. Although I "quit" multiple times during those next two years and reverted back to thinking how stupid it was, I'd already told several friends and family members, so every time somebody would ask "how's training going?", I knew I couldn't quit and had to do it. In October 2011, I crossed the finish line of the 2011 Twin Cities Marathon in 5 hours and 30 minutes, goal accomplished.)

Anyway, back to trucking... I knew I had to do this. On one hand, it doesn't make much sense. I had a great position (and great salary and schedule) at the corporate office, but money and convenience aren't everything to me. Similar to the running thing, if I had the idea of driving in the back of my mind, I had to do it or I'd keep thinking and wondering if I actually could.

At the same time, it made more sense when I thought about it more. I already have the experience and perspective as an Account Manager and (briefly) a Driver Manager; I know everything about dealing with the ports -- appointments, demurrage, TMF holds, per diem , empty returns (or lack thereof) -- especially dealing directly with the drivers (on the logistics side of it). There's such a need on the port side right now that our DDM in Vegas said they waived the previous requirement of a year OTR driving earlier in 2021, so even though I want to get that experience under my belt, having options is always a good thing, and I'd be able to jump right into being a port driver -- which also has a nice schedule (being that the ports are closed on the weekends, although some might have a Saturday schedule once in awhile).

Even if I wanted to have an AM or DM position down the line, I feel like having that driving experience would be even more of an advantage. In the back of my mind, I just felt that being a Driver Manager that was actually a driver would be better than one who was not. It's certainly not a necessity, and many great DM's were never drivers, but it's just something I decided I wanted to do.

On top of that, pull up any job listing site and search the abundance of opportunities for good drivers that have their CDL. Like many of the veterans on this site have said, getting that first year of successful driving under your belt can open up even more opportunities for you, and many of them require (at least) one year of experience.

I called Emily, my previous Knight recruiter earlier this year. I kind of felt bad back in April taking the position at the corporate office at the last minute after everything she did for me -- answering every question I had and not pressuring me at all into deciding one way or another -- so it was nice to go back to "finish what I started" with her earlier this year, as I'm sure it benefits her as well. Fortunately, I'd already passed my CDL permit test earlier this year, completed my DOT physical, as well as many other requirements, so I didn't have to do everything over again from scratch. Just like before, she answered all of my questions and helped get me set up for the next steps.

Initially, I planned to start classes on the 20th, but yesterday after a cancellation, Emily asked if I could start on Monday the 13th. It kind of threw me for a loop, as there were a few things I wanted to finish up this week before I'm gone for three weeks, but surprises will pop up when I'm behind the wheel, so IT'S ON! On top of that, it means I'll finish up one week faster and be able to train at the Vegas terminal.

I'm finishing up packing today and figuring out what's going to be around me at the hotel I'm staying at. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous, because even with my Knight experience, none of that is behind the wheel yet. I know I have several challenges to come, but I'm confident I'll figure them out and make it through, since I'm 100% so far making it through each day. ;)

Thank you for reading and sharing your experiences as well.

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.

OTR:

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.

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.

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.

Driver Manager:

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.

Per Diem:

Getting paid per diem means getting a portion of your salary paid to you without taxes taken out. It's technically classified as a meal and expense reimbursement.

Truck drivers and others who travel for a living get large tax deductions for meal expenses. The Government set up per diem pay as a way to reimburse some of the taxes you pay with each paycheck instead of making you wait until tax filing season.

Getting per diem pay means a driver will get a larger paycheck each week but a smaller tax return at tax time.

We have a ton of information on our wiki page on per diem pay

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Turtle's Comment
member avatar
Thank you for reading

About that:

It may appear to you that your diary isn't generating many replies. That's very common with diaries. People like to read diaries, but don't always jump in with replies. But I assure you yours will be read by lots and lots of people, now and in the future.

Even us experienced drivers like to read them. It keeps us grounded, and reminds us where we came from. Thanks for giving back.

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

Indeed what Turtle said. We do read them a lot. Good luck and enjoy yourself in training. Based on your training and experience with Knight, you probably already know about it. I highly recommend Top Gun training after school. The instructors and program are very professional and excel at what they do.

Mark O. ~MiNi-Me~'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

Thank you for reading

double-quotes-end.png

About that:

It may appear to you that your diary isn't generating many replies. That's very common with diaries. People like to read diaries, but don't always jump in with replies. But I assure you yours will be read by lots and lots of people, now and in the future.

Even us experienced drivers like to read them. It keeps us grounded, and reminds us where we came from. Thanks for giving back.

Yep, following!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Justin's Comment
member avatar

Hello again, back with an update after Week #1. I considered doing a couple throughout the week, but many of these were long days (with most students staying after by choice), so I took advantage of the time to rest when I had the opportunity.

I took Greyhound from Las Vegas to Phoenix last Sunday, just to save on parking and gas. I've always enjoyed/never minded bus trips, and in a way it's similar to driving across the country, even though this was a short trip.

Unfortunately, the bus leaving Vegas departed almost two hours late. While some riders were making phone calls or asking what was happening at the desk (to a clerk that has nothing to do with it), I'm pretty chill and just passed the time listening to music as I usually do. Nothing I can do about it anyway. With a 3-hour layover in San Bernardino, this actually worked out better by leaving two hours late -- less time sitting around in San Bernardino!

rofl-3.gif

No offense to any current, former, or future San Berdoo residents!

The bus was just under half full, and everybody had their own seats, so all was well on the trip. Another great thing about bussing it and taking a little longer is that it gives me more thinking time. I'm a thinker and like those opportunities to just decompress, think about what's coming, process things, etc.

Anyway, I'm sure many know about the Comfort Inn that has the shuttle to/from Knight Squire School. Pretty basic, nothing amazing or horrible about it here. Oddly enough, even though I worked in hospitality before I got my first position with Knight, I'm about as low maintenance as they come with staying in a hotel. They could give me a mattress on the floor and I'd be fine... another thing that hopefully will bode well with sleeping in a truck!

While most students have taken the shuttle, one guy drove and takes his truck, and I walk to/from Squire each day. Like I said, my thinking time. I love those morning walks listening to some tunes and getting ready for the day ahead.

Unfortunately, our class which was supposed to have four students was overbooked, and we have seven. My recruiter even asked if I wanted to start this Monday instead of next Monday due to a cancellation(!), which I decided to take advantage of. Even if I'd have known class would be fuller than expected, I'd still have started this week. It's always fun meeting people from different places -- two of us are from Vegas, one from Utah by way of Chicago, one from my old home city Minneapolis, one from Connecticut, one from New Mexico, and one from Los Angeles. This is my "band of brothers" in a way, so to speak, as we're going through Squire together.

Due to the number of students, they asked for volunteers to stay an extra week longer, and four volunteered, so basically in Week 3, they will pause in a sense while the rest of us go through our testing that week. If nobody volunteered, I'd have been fine staying the extra week, but will take that week break back at home before the next step (which I will discuss below).

The trainers -- Allen, Marty, and Mario -- are all top notch and each has driven over three million miles, with Mario over four million, so they have an abundance of experience and advice to teach all of us.

I won't go into the nitty-gritty training course regimen, quizzes, and whatnot, but if anybody has questions, let me know.

Here is the current Student Daily Schedule for Squire. We just completed Week 1. WEEK 1: MON - Class (AM & PM) TUES - Class (AM), Pre-Trip (PM) WED - Pre-Trip, Drop/Hook (AM), Straight-Line Backing (PM). THU - Driving (AM) and Off-Set Backing (PM) FRI - Parallel Backing (AM), class out at 11 AM Fridays, but everybody stayed until ~3 or so going over our pre-trip.

WEEK 2 (next week): MON: Straight Line, Off-Set, Parallel Backing (AM), Driving (PM) TUE: Pre-Trip Evaluation Exam (AM), Straight Line, Off-Set, Parallel Backing (PM) WED: Driving (AM), Straight Line, Off-Set, Parallel Backing (PM) THU: Class (AM & PM) FRI: Driving (AM)

WEEK 3: MON: Road Evaluation (AM), Straight Line, Off-Set, Parallel Backing (PM) TUE: Skills Evaluation (AM), Driving (PM) WED: Straight Line, Off-Set, Parallel Backing DOT Testing (AM), Driving DOT Testing (PM) THU: DOT Testing (AM & PM) FRI: Straight Line, Off-Set, Parallel Backing (PM)

Today is Saturday, and while technically a "day off", due to the size of our class and the interest, Mario and Allen volunteered to come in for those of us that wanted additional practice, so from 6-10 today, we worked on more backing and continued working on our pre-trip evaluations.

All seven of us came in. I like everybody's work ethic and desire so far.

I did my first load of laundry after we finished up today and chatted with a couple of drivers in the lounge. While I've only been to the Vegas and Phoenix terminals so far, both of the driver lounges/amenities are exceptional in their offerings, especially in Phoenix.

I don't know if others are going in Sunday, but I am. That's what we're here for, and all I'd be doing otherwise is sleeping in. Just to continue working on my pre-trip evaluation. I won't be able to get in/use the trucks (i.e. dashboard and break tests), but that's a small part of the eval, so I can work on the rest at least.

This post is near it's character limit, so I will continue with my thoughts on my own performance in the next one right after this (as well as a stupid injury)!

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.

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.
Justin's Comment
member avatar

Onto my thoughts on specific driving aspects so far...

We've gone out driving once during this first week -- for about 30 minutes each in more rural areas with less traffic. I think everybody did fairly well, myself included. If anything, I think learning to "toe" the breaks is helpful, as they've been touchy so far on the trucks we've been using. While they're older and up there in mileage, most of us have had some pretty sharp stops so far, so I'm trying to decelerate a bit before a stop, rather than just hitting the breaks.

Another note on my driving so far. While most students were going too slow (understandable as it was our first time) and had to be reminded by our trainers to get closer to the speed limit, I did alright. If anything, I had to slow down a couple of times as I was 2-3 MPH over during parts of the trip, while we're supposed to be 5 MPH under the speed limit.

Due to the number of students, we didn't get the practice needed on our first day of straight-line, off-set, and parallel parking, hence the extra time we've all worked on it. We would practice each one three times, and then the next student would go, and I noticed it when I started on my first parallel backing, which didn't go very well. Mario had myself and two other students work on our straight-line backing techniques on the other side of the yard, and it was great. Being able to do nothing but straight-line 25-30 times in a row on my own was helpful. While it's definitely still in the "early innings" my confidence was a little bit higher on Thursday and Friday. Knowing that we will have plenty of practice next week (just driving and backing) before the exams on the following Tuesday, I feel better about my chances.

Today was technically my first day working on parallel backing, as I was sent over to work on straight-line backing just after I started on Friday, so with the assistance of another student, I thought I did alright.

We're obviously still using our course material --(R)icky (L)ake's (S)taff (L)oves (R)eality (S)hows" for offset parking and "(L)ionel (R)ichie (S)ings (R)eally (S)ad (L)yrics" for parallel parking -- but I asked Allen if my three attempts at each one would have passed the exam, and he said yes, they would. While I'm not certain how many points (if any) I would have missed, that was encouraging.

The parking exams aren't until Tuesday of Week 3, so memorizing the pre-trip exam is my priority this weekend. I'm almost there, and I'm feeling calm and confident on this one. My goal is a perfect score, but passing nonetheless would be nice.

This was a great week to start, because it was Driver Appreciation Week at Knight as well. During normal weeks, breakfast is provided at the hotel each morning, and lunch at the terminal (only) on Mondays, but this week breakfast and lunch were provided every day. Prizes were given out with fun activities each day, even though we didn't have much time to participate. On Friday, Knight CEO Dave Jackson dressed in a hot dog costume and got squirted with ketchup and mustard, doused with Gatorade, and pied in the face. Each item was voted on, but since >$3K was raised ($1 per vote), all three were done to him. I've briefly met Dave three times during my Knight tenures, and he's a stand-up guy, even going on a few ride-alongs with drivers. Two of my classmates won an Apple Watch and a flatscreen TV, as the biggest prizes were given out on Friday, so that was cool for them!

We were told about the Top Gun program and advantages for applying last week as well. For those who choose to apply (and are accepted), it will be an additional three weeks of class -- the first week on simulators with various types of conditions, and then two weeks behind the wheel with training staff. Sleeping in the sleeper cabs during training, as we would out on the road, $800 per week during training, and it decreases the required number of miles needed with a trainer at our home terminal, and once a smaller amount (30K) of solo miles are completed due to completing Top Gun, we receive our first bump in pay after 30K.

Basically, anybody serious about wanting to become a good driver will apply, so I did that this past week. Since there isn't a Top Gun program at my home terminal in Vegas, it would mean another three weeks in Phoenix, which is why I think I will go home for a week once training concludes and then come back and start the following Monday. Six consecutive weeks away from home would be tough for now, especially since I'll be a Port Driver when all is said and done (knock on wood) rather than OTR at this time. However, our trainers mentioned that Top Gun will soon be mandatory for all Squire students, which it should be as it will only help drivers continue to improve. I don't know what that would mean in terms of the schedule, but we'll see. We're probably one of the last classes where it's by application only, so... we'll see if I'm accepted.

All in all, the first week exceeded my expectations. I somewhat knew what to expect, having a different perspective previously working for Knight, but I learn each day what is required (AT THE BARE MINIMUM) to become a successful driver. It is not easy at all, but even though I had a few moments of self-doubt this week ("did I make the right decision?") and need a lot of practice when it comes to parking techniques, I'm still glad I'm doing this and look forward to one day being able to join the club and call myself a driver.

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.

OTR:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

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About Us

TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

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Becoming A Truck Driver

Becoming A Truck Driver is a dream we've all pondered at some point in our lives. We've all wondered if the adventure and challenges of life on the open road would suit us better than the ordinary day to day lives we've always known. At TruckingTruth we'll help you decide if trucking is right for you and help you get your career off to a great start.

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