Prime Inc - Flatbed/Reefer - CDL Trainee

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Moose's Comment
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Weekly Update:

Wrapping up 5th week! A confluence of factors has caused delays in CDL training. Students in the cohort ahead of us required additional time to pass their DMV test. More students on the pad rolling in from behind meant that the instructors had to spread their time accordingly, and a snowstorm hit Salt Lake City that grounded CDL drive time for a day (both backing and road drive time).

Some students are frustrated because they were anticipating having their CDL by this point and being on the company payroll ready to dispatch for TNT (the next step in our careers as truckers with Prime Inc.). I too have had moments where I am frustrated and disappointed, but honestly, looking at the big picture, I'm still far ahead of schedule than if I had stayed in California and gone the self-paid CDL route. And frankly, the training and experience I'm gaining here are top-notch. It's definitely a 'when life gives you lemons' experience. I'm choosing the enjoy the lemonade. The weather is fairly clear in the week ahead and the last of the students in the cohort ahead of us have succeeded in passing their DMV test and have moved on.

I'm looking forward to the next week. I anticipate things will pick up. With any luck, I'll have my drive time hours near completion and a DMV test just around the corner. The target date of completion has been slowly creeping back over the past two weeks, but I'm fairly optimistic that we'll be out of here by Christmas.

The one positive of all these delays is that I have now achieved a level of competence with my backing maneuvers that I could not have expected upon entering this program. In fact, I'm beyond following steps to 'get the tractor-trailer in the box and I'm now focused on mastering course correction (minor offsets) and 'steering the tandems'. It's definitely not a cakewalk, but I've achieved a level of confidence and competence in my backing skills to make this whole program worth every penny to me.

Addendum:

Due to all of the little setbacks, our cohort has been given staggered days off, which gives us the opportunity to rest and recuperate or take little vacations around Salt Lake City to give our brains a much-needed break from the daily grind. Not to jinx me, but I found something in this program that I did not come here seeking, and that alone, has made this experience one of the best decisions in my life.

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.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

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

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.

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.

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

Moose, your diary warms my heart. Your effervescence is undeniable!! Your writing skills are paramount. Man, you are 'spot on' in layman(womans') terms!!! Thanks for this!

The 'confluence' of weather these last few days, is a 'conundrum' in and of itself, for many. Read the 'General' section (and contribute, for Pete's sake~!!! (If not for him, for his brother. . . Re....!!)) If you get that, you ARE a literary soul, haha!

Brett needs to give you a badge, or a 'great/best' award upon completion of this diary.

You've SO got the wherewithal. . . and gumption. I'm inspired and awed by that, man.

Keep on keeping on; keep sharing!! THANK YOU!

Stay safe, Moose . . . as you are.

~ Anne ~

ps: I hope you got a 'smile' out of this; JOIN the 'Fun' thread in the 'General' if you have time. Music banter; you'll fit right in!

Again, THANK YOU!

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.

Moose's Comment
member avatar

Weekly Update (final weekly update):

As anticipated at the end of last week, things picked up fast this week. I got all of my drive time hours knocked out in one fell swoop. I went on 3 separate 1-hour drives with 3 separate CDL instructors. At the start of the week, I was pulled into the truck to wrap up my remaining 3 hours with an extended drive. I have no doubt that if I had shown any reluctance to expedite my drive hours, the instructors would have made accommodations to spread out my drive time over more days, or offered focussed instruction for areas I felt weak. That was not the case for me or most of the others in my cohort. We were all ready to test. And over Thursday and Friday, between snowstorms, we all got through our DMV tests successfully.

At Prime Inc., if you successfully pass all three components of your DMV test, you 'trifecta' and receive a $250 bonus as well as some free gear from the Prime Store (beanie/cap/etc). It was a nice end to a nearly 6-week program.

At this juncture, I head home for a respite to finalize my CDL in my home state and wait for a call letting me know when my TNT trainer will pick me up. I've opted to be picked up at the Salt Lake City terminal , as I am in the process of leaving my home state permanently.

Technical detail: When you pass your DMV drive test with Prime Inc. in Salt Lake City, you will be sent back to your home state to finalize your CDL at a Commercial Driver Servicing DMV office (not just any DMV office, unfortunately). They will pull up your record of passing the examination by 3rd party affiliate in a database called CSTIMS (most US states utilize it, but not all), and use that to ultimately issue a temporary CDL A until a hard copy is mailed to you.

Once you finalize your CDL with your home state DMV, you update Prime Inc. via an app 'upload image of CDL' and then email the TNT coordinator to inform them that you are ready to dispatch. At that point, you are on the company payroll and begin receiving $900/week. The word is that I should not expect a TNT trainer before the 1st of the year (14+ days), but it could happen sooner. For this reason, I'm heading back to SLC as soon as I receive my CDL A to ensure I'm ready at a moment's notice.

I'm set to join the Flatbed Division. I must complete 30,000 miles (~10 weeks) of TNT, attend a 'Flatbed Bootcamp' for specialized securement training, and then shadow a flatbed driver for a period of time thereafter. It's a bit more complicated than Reefer Division, but it's in line with my long-term goals.

I'm planning to write a cliffs notes version of my CDL program in Salt Lake City for those who want the quick details. Otherwise, I do not intend to write any further details about my CDL journey with Prime Inc. Hope you found some of the info in this thread useful. Cheers!

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.

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.

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.

Moose's Comment
member avatar

Prime Inc. CDL Program in a Nutshell:

1. The Ramada Inn is pretty disgusting. Make the best of it: bring some cleaning supplies (Lysol, dish soap, air scent to keep the room smelling fresh). The hotel is definitely not a reflection on Prime Inc., which is unfortunate, because it's the very first impression all of us got. The terminal in Salt Lake City is pristine, well-maintained, and warm and hospitable.

2. Use the gym at Prime Inc. from day one. It's free for all students and employees. There's a locker room in the hallway behind the weight training room that features individual shower stalls, lockers, towels, soap, etc. This is a good place to get a hot shower when the water is cold at the Ramada (it often is! the water was actually turned off twice while I was there). The gym is great for getting your blood moving and keeping your mind sharp for the long days on the Pad.

3. If you're one of the students who does not receive a PSD trainer (1:1 trainer), you'll be on the 'pad'. Use your time wisely here, the CDL instructors are smart and they pay close attention to who is focused and who is not. Focus on the tasks they give you, even if it means repeating them until boredom has set in. I found myself walking back and forth on the pad for hours repeating my Pre-Trips. This helped immensely; I aced my Pre-trip because of this. I also used this time to observe other students perform their backing maneuvers. I paid attention to key pivots (points the vehicle stops and/or the steer tires change direction). Talk to students who seem to grasp the backing maneuvers easily and pick their brains. Have them walk you through their setups step-by-step. Compare and contrast this to what the instructor teaches. The small differences are key to understanding what is going on with each component of the backing maneuvers.

4. Spend a lot of time mastering Straight Back and Offset before [proceeding to Alley Dock and Parallel. These latter maneuvers are composed of a series of straight backs and offsets. Knowing how to do the former well is key to being highly proficient at the latter.

5. Study the Pre-Trip paper you're given by the CDL instructors verbatim. Do not wing it. Memorize it just as you would the alphabet. You should be able to recite it with the same ease you can speak the letters of the alphabet. It should become so routine to you that you can talk someone through their Pre-Trip over the phone while eating a sandwich in a completely different time zone. Examine all of the different trucks on the Pad. They're all slightly different in terms of layout. Especially in-cab.

6. Don't wander away from the Pad for extended periods. Not without letting someone know. This makes the CDL instructors mad and they'll kick you to the end of the list when it comes to DriveTime, being advanced to others' pads, and generally progressing through the program. Help out your fellow students who are struggling. The CDL instructors want cohorts to move together as a team and bring up everyone from the back. I personally took a handful of students under my wing to help them out one-on-one with their Pre-Trips and Backing Maneuvers. All of us being on the same level meant that in the end, we all received adequate practice time for backing maneuvers.

7. Don't get too upset if you feel like you're ahead of your cohort or behind your cohort. Everyone in my cohort graduated effectively at the same time, regardless of their 'talent' or 'skill' or 'aptitude'.

8. The Pad is a form of psychological warfare. Prime Inc. is going to deliberately put you through a series of mentally taxing experiences that are designed to test your patience and willingness to endure delays, setbacks, and any other negative experience one might come across working as a trucker in the field. Waiting is fact of life for truckers. The most important lesson most of us learn on the Pad is to embrace the long, cold waits and discover a deep level of patience and calm in ourselves that we never knew existed. In this sense, the Pad is a very humbling experience.

9. Everything they teach you on the Pad, Orientation, and on the Sim is DIRECTLY applicable to passing the DMV drive test. This program is very well suited for anyone who has any doubt in their abilities. The only students that I saw who were on the verge of 'giving up' or 'cutting loose' or otherwise abandoning the program, came into the course with a bad attitude or were unfocused. Many students on the Pad who have trouble typically sit down all day listening to music, hoping that success will land in their lap. They often fail to memorize the steps to the backing maneuvers (imperative to success!), and they just never got up and watched what others were doing and actively participated in the activities. C's get degrees in school, but at Prime Inc., you definitely have to put in the effort if you want to trifecta. It's tough, it's hard, at times you'll feel like your brain is numb trying to grasp everything. That's the road to success.

10. Try your best to connect with your fellow students. I was super fortunate to have some super awesome people in my cohort. I couple of them I believe will be my friends for life. You'll be talking to them every day for 4-6 weeks. Be kind, be helpful, and be generous. It's worth it.

Special Mentions:

If you have the ability to drive yourself to Salt Lake City, you will have many advantages. Do 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.

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.

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.

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.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.

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.

Mountain Matt's Comment
member avatar

Congrats on passing you CDL exam, Moose!

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.

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.

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Congratulations!

dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif

Moose's Comment
member avatar

Thank you! 😂

Congratulations!

dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif

Moose's Comment
member avatar

Thank you! :)

Congrats on passing you CDL exam, Moose!

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.

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.

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

COUNT ME IN!!

I'm sorry, I didn't say Congrats, proper . . by MY standards!! :)

0660054001639960205.jpg

dancing-dog.gif dancing-dog.gif dancing-dog.gif

:P good-luck.gif sorry.gif good-luck.gif Dispatch is LURKING, haha!

Best to ya, man!

~ Anne & Tom! ~

Moose's Comment
member avatar

Thanks so much Anne!

smile.gif

COUNT ME IN!!

I'm sorry, I didn't say Congrats, proper . . by MY standards!! :)

0660054001639960205.jpg

dancing-dog.gif dancing-dog.gif dancing-dog.gif

:P good-luck.gif sorry.gif good-luck.gif Dispatch is LURKING, haha!

Best to ya, man!

~ Anne & Tom! ~

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