I Dunno, I Just Don't Know.

Topic 30843 | Page 1

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Moby's Comment
member avatar

I am a NOOB, almost. After 21 years of driving fast cars and playing with guns, it is time for a career change. Filled out a form on this site and I am being flooded with emails and calls from companies wanting me to drive (no complaints). Of course, I have zero experience driving a big, so I will need training.

The megas seem to be the answer for what I am looking for, but which one? And are they the answer?

I have ruled some out as I just don't see them as a fit. Others, I am still strongly considering. What do you, as experienced drivers have to say?

There are some ground rules though.

1-Give me real meat to chew on, not just opinion that's anywhere on the internet. I need the who, what, when, where, why and how from you.

2-I am leaning toward CFI, Prime, and Swift. I would like to hear about those, but will not rule out others.

3-Company School or private school?

4-Did I mention #1?

Thanks ya'll

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Welcome!!!! Well we don’t sugarcoat anything around here.

You need to look at what is important too you. We all do the same thing, however different companies have their induvidual way of doing it.

I am an elder graduate from Roehl. They have a top notch training program, but so do other companies.

Figure out what perks are important to you. IE rider policy, after training of course, pet policy, Apu on truck or not, optional added equipment, time on the road, and the list can go on.

We strongly encourage company sponsored training , because for a basic comitment you get free training.

This is very basic but I think you can get a general idea.

Best wishes in your journey!!!

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Mikey B.'s Comment
member avatar

First, educate yourself on different terms and features that are on trucks, about trucks and what is offered by companies. Make a list of all that are important to you and ask the exact same questions to every companies recruiter. Write it all down by company so you don't mix it up. Whichever checks the most box is the logical choice for you.

NaeNaeInNC's Comment
member avatar

As a relative Noob myself, I have a somewhat recent review of Prime, but keep in mind, it's from the perspective of a female. I wouldn't hesitate to send someone there, especially if they understand that trucking is fully dependant on your work ethic and attitude.

I first applied at Prime back in October of 2020. Within 24 hours, I had an offer of flatbed. I lived in Montana, which is kind of a dead zone for reefer freight for Prime. I declined, as I was in the claims side of Workman's Comp and one of our biggest and gnarliest accident producers was a flatbed company. (Not knocking those that do flatbed, I just know it's not right for me, at this stage in my life.) I was told if I could relocate to a state that they hire from, resubmit my application then.

After a "really gnarly™" week in claims, I got fed up. Called a friend in NC and asked if I could crash on her couch for a few weeks within the next month, put in my notice at work for an end date of March 15th 2021. Left Montana, took a leaisurely drive 2500 miles, and landed in my friend's house end of March.

As soon as I got there, I got to work switching residency. Got my car registered, etc. April 6th, I switched my Montana DL for a NC one, and had to come back the next day to take the written tests.

April 6th, 9pm, fill out application again. April 7th, 8am recruiter phone call. 2pm, doing drug screen. 4pm, offered a start date in Pittston PA 5pm, accepted, and here we go.

April 17th, pick up rental at 4pm, instructed to return it in PA by 4pm the next day. April 18th arrive in Pittston. Still single occupancy at Holiday inn Express due to COVID. Turn in rental. Complete paperwork packet at hotel. April 19th, 6am shuttle to the terminal. 7am Orientation starts. More paperwork. Make sure you have ALL your ducks in a row. Three people sent home day one, for documentation issues and undisclosed old criminal record. All day computer based learning. Simulator road test. (Read your signs!) Continue computer learning, and pre tripping the truck they try and keep at the terminal for orientation. April 20th More of the same. Some people already cleared and given the green badge, sent to training Pad. 4:30pm get the phone call that I'm cleared, come in early next am to get the badge and assigned trainer. April 21st (Wednesday) get assigned a pad based trainer. He has 3 students testing Thursday, so while he is having them practice road driving, I'm buckled behind the net in the sleeper observing. He dismisses them after lunch, and has me start "doing laps" at the pad, to get used to stopping, starting, and turning. Pretty sure I gave us both whiplash thinking I had to stomp the brakes. Then he takes me out onto the live road. Luckily it's an industrial area-ish and the traffic has slowed greatly by this time. April 22-May 5th Road driving, short deliveries, backing maneuvers at the pad with myself and one other student. Some days I nail it, other days I can't back in a straight line to save my life. Pre-trip a truck minimum 2 times a day, memorize what I need to talk about and what they are looking for about each part/segment. (All total, 26 official hours pre trip alone, but speaking it every chance I got) May 6th, 9am. Scheduled Testing slot. The guy before me failed pre-trip and didn't even manage to move onto the backing portion of the test. I started my test at 8:30am. Pre-trip:picked up 90 out of 90 points (you need 60-something to be passing) pro tip: if you get lost in airbrakes you can re-start from the beginning of the airbrakes test. It's not fully over (in PA) until you say you are concluding your pre trip and air brakes inspection. Backing: Straight line, Offset Right, and Parallel Right. Nailed it. Didn't touch a cone or a line. No error points. Road test: picked up 7 error points. Mostly for cancelling my signal too early, and a hard braking during a speed change getting off the interstate off ramp to 25mph. Bottom line, I passed. Was immediately given the employment paperwork, w-4 and medical benefit information. Heck yeah. I officially work for Prime! Got sent back to the terminal to get the purple badge. Expect to be waiting a long time for a TNT trainer (woman student, non smoker, walking allergy.) Later that day, I am temporarily assigned to a trainer that lives in NC. He was due home time, and his student failed, so my trainer took that student, and I checked out of the hotel, and was on the trainers truck at 6am Saturday. Deliver a sold trailer, then pickup a loaded trailer, headed for NC. May 8th arrive at home. Prepared to wait for a trainer. May 10th attempt walk in at DMV to update my DL. No go. Told try again tomorrow. 1pm, phone call from fleet manager , get told my trainer has been assigned, and will be reaching out to me within the hour. Speak with trainer. Make a plan to meet at the Walmart closest to me 11pm the next night. May 11th, walk in appointment successful, upgraded my DL with the state, had paper copy. Meet my trainer, and proceed to spend the first night in the truck. May 12th to July 26th. Run hard. Take a full week off. Run hard, take a full week off. Run hard, take a full week off. July 27th dropped off the truck in Springfield to be upgraded to my own truck. Some people get it done faster, some get it done slower. 30k truck miles is the bare minimum. (I did 38k.) I didn't think I was ready, as my backing sucked. Turns out, I needed to be on my own to get it. To be continued.

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.

Interstate:

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

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.

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.

Fleet 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.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

NaeNaeInNC's Comment
member avatar

As for $$$$ during training, here goes: Day 1 through the end of payroll the week you pass your CDL test, you are not paid. As of right now, the company loans you $200 per week, that will be taken out at $25/wk once you are hired. Unsure about how it's paid back if you quit the program.

Prime switched it's guarantee pay for TNT students to a daily rate, that equals $900/wk before taxes.

Hope that covers the info about starting with Prime, and sorry about the wall of text!

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.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

Mountain Matt's Comment
member avatar

Maybe you wrote it up elsewhere, but good to hear more of your story, NaeNaeinNC! Prime mentions that they hire from all 48 states, but it's interesting to hear that they could only offer your flatbed while you were still living in Montana. I guess they don't specify *what* they offer to people from each of the 48 states. I assume you run reefer now?

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

NaeNaeInNC's Comment
member avatar

Maybe you wrote it up elsewhere, but good to hear more of your story, NaeNaeinNC! Prime mentions that they hire from all 48 states, but it's interesting to hear that they could only offer your flatbed while you were still living in Montana. I guess they don't specify *what* they offer to people from each of the 48 states. I assume you run reefer now?

I do run reefer. The thing about Montana, is that there is very little large quantity food production, which is the bread and butter so to speak of Primes reefer division. We also tend to be more along the lines of hauling direct from production to distribution centers, instead of to retail locations. In Montana the reefer freight just isn't there, and tanker division is primarily North East.

As for flatbed, Montana does produce a whole lot of items that need to be hauled, so that makes Montana viable as a home base, due to ease of getting a driver home.

I went "home home" to Montana the first week of September, and requested 3 days. It took until the 7th day to get a load out. NC takes on average 2 hours to get a load when coming off hometime.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Moby's Comment
member avatar

Hope that covers the info about starting with Prime, and sorry about the wall of text!

Thanks NaeNaeInNC, no worries about the wall of text, I have spent a ton of time reading so many different posts and blogs on this site, yours is current. I got a few nuggets from the post, thank you.

As a question to anyone, some of the logic that I am use is based on what trucks I see in my area. A couple of the companies, I just don't see often and I really wonder about home time.

As an example, the company with the most aggressive recruiter (once again, not complaining) has told me numerous times that 90% of the loads are on the left side of the nation. I live on the east coast. Is the logic that only 10% of the loads are to the east will make it much more difficult to get quality home time well guided, or over thought?

Old School's Comment
member avatar
As an example, the company with the most aggressive recruiter (once again, not complaining) has told me numerous times that 90% of the loads are on the left side of the nation. I live on the east coast. Is the logic that only 10% of the loads are to the east will make it much more difficult to get quality home time well guided, or over thought?

Moby, what your recruiter is saying is that most of the freight their company deals with is in the Western half of the country. Anybody that has been driving OTR knows that most of the freight is in the Eastern part of the country. Here's a fun little exercise for you to learn from. We have a tracking program here in our website. It tracks our members so they can know when they are near each other. Some of them enjoy getting to meet each other out on the road. Just take a look at it and you will see how many of them are in the East and compare that to the West. I am pretty sure yoiu will agree with me immediately. Your recruiter is simply referring to the freight they deal with at that company. They may not be a good fit for you due to that reason.

Here's a link to our Trucker Tracker.

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.

Moby's Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

I am pretty sure yoiu will agree with me immediately. Your recruiter is simply referring to the freight they deal with at that company. They may not be a good fit for you due to that reason.

double-quotes-end.png

I do agree with you. I have only seen one of their trucks in my home area as compared to numerous Swift, Stevens, Prime, and CFI. The lack of visibility makes me think that I will have a difficult time getting loads home.

Now, if they keep me around Disneyland, I may be able to make that a home away from home. Oh, the torture.

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