I've Applied To Attend Driver Training At Swift Academy Phoenix

Topic 32247 | Page 9

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KentuckyBound's Comment
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I loved your testimony! It’s funny I am having very similar life ideations at this age. No interest in mortgage or land-locking myself to commitments of the materialistic nature. Have lived a midlife, raised kids and had two strong careers. Lived near Mexico border as a bucket list desire. Now have a traveling urge and have always wanted my CDL. Good luck to you…I start school I’m 2 weeks.

23 August 2022 Today during my lunch break I got a call from Mayra, my assigned recruiter at Swift Driver Academy here in Phoenix. She asked me a bunch of questions to see if I prequalify for eligibility to enroll in the school (“Have you ever used illegal drugs” threw me for a bit of a loop). After hearing my answers she said I did qualify, and she invited me to come to the Phoenix terminal on Friday for a tour and an interview. I’m off early on Friday at my current job in Phoenix, so getting there by 4 will be easy. I’m smiling. It’s exciting to feel excited.

I’ve been thinking about taking truck driver training for several years, and in recent days I filled out the info on the Swift website to get more info on their training program. It’s time for me to take a deeper look at what my life could be like if I were to become a truck driver. I have Trucker's Truth to thank for helping me do an enormous amount of research before I decided to apply for training. I'm going to try to write a diary of my experiences to help inform others who find this site after I did.

I’ve read many Trucker's Truth posts and watched dozens of YouTube videos posted by drivers in their first year on the job. Big concerns seem to be equipment breakdowns that keep drivers off the road (thus not making money), and not enough “home time,” or days off near where they live. I noticed Swift now guarantees new hires will make $1,0000.00 (one thousand dollars) weekly after they get off their mentor’s truck ($800 a week while on the mentor’s truck), so that addresses the equipment issue for the first six or seven months of the gig. There is no payment during the four week training, and I am OK with that. As far as home time goes, I don’t technically have a home, or live with or near my family, so it’s not an issue for me. I’ve just been renting rooms in houses for years, usually with friends. If I can take my Phoenix Terminal “home time” in Oregon, Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado, or Virginia, that would give me time off near family. So I’d kinda rather stay on the road. Not much holding me here in Phoenix.

I’ve lived all over the Western United States (Idaho, Utah, California, Washington, New Mexico and Arizona) and traveled in about as many Western states I’ve lived (Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and I’ll include Oklahoma and Texas). I’ve owned homes in California and Washington state, but I’ve not had interest lately in putting down roots, and even less ability to pay for anything of the sort. But if I could swing it, if I could cobble together some cash and get my own place on a little bit of land, I have a pretty good idea where I’d like to do it. El Paso, Texas. It’s like Mexico but it’s not in Mexico, and I love Mexico. I love the culture, I love the food and I love the language. I speak fluent Spanish, having learned it as a missionary back in the late 1980s.

It feels a little odd to have a dream again, a goal maybe. I’ve become such a minimalist in midlife that owning things holds very little value for me. I value experiences. I value adventure, and I don’t mean planned ones, I mean when things don’t work out, how do you work them out? Challenges maybe. The more I read about trucking, and the more videos I see about it, the more I think it may be the right fit for my wandering soul always in search of adventures that challenge my intelligence and my patience. Lots of other people are doing this work safely and efficiently every day. There’s no reason to think I can’t as well. I’m ready to give it a try.

I think Over The Road sounds like the kind of challenge I would love. Big trip, be disciplined about my schedule, and get it done a little bit early. Five hundred miles a day does not bother me. Back in March I drove backroads from San Antonio to El Paso in a day and had the time of my life. Windmills, oil rigs and two-lane blacktop for hours on end.

I’m interested in team driving if that is an option for newbies and it sounds like it may be. Teams can be on the road even longer than solo drivers, so they can get really long trips, like 2,000 miles each way. I like the road warrior lifestyle. “We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there” are lyrics to "Eastbound and Down," a song I used to sing along with on the radio when I was in elementary school and Smokey and the Bandit was in theaters. Being four states away by morning holds a certain appeal for me. But finding a good partner for team driving must be a real trick. How do you choose a person you can be cooped up with for three weeks at a time? What if their farts are horrible? What if they are lazy? Or worst of all, what if they don’t know the difference between “there” and “their?”

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.

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.

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.

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.

Michael B. 's Comment
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Thank you Grinch for adding my update, the pace has been fast w this mentor. I'm gonna add an update about my experience w my mentor in just a bit. I appreciate you letting folks know I was still alive and kicking out here in the vast western desert :)

Micheal update for the group since he has been silent again. He has been texting me every couple of days. He is currently on his trainers truck, doing a dedicated Target account in the southwest. He has been doing good so far with only a couple of missed turns as he put it. He will be on his 3rd week this week and sounds like he is hitting his stride.

G-Town's Comment
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Good to know. Glad you are progressing.

Michael B. 's Comment
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I've completed my training with two mentors and am set to receive my own truck on Monday, November 28. The truck is a 2021 Kenworth T680, and it's a beauty. I feel so lucky! I've also received my first solo trip info. I will take a load from the Costco distribution center in Tolleson (Phoenix) to a Costco store in Henderson (Las Vegas). After that delivery Monday night, the future is wide open, as I am to be an Over the Road driver. I'm up for whatever comes next, and whatever comes next after that. This is exactly what I wanted, and I am really proud of my accomplishment.

I spent four weeks with my first mentor and nine days with my second mentor. During those first four weeks, I learned to efficiently drive long miles, with multiple trips from Phoenix on a dedicated Target account. We delivered a little in and around Phoenix but mostly did longer runs to Tucson, Las Vegas, Alburquerque, El Paso and Las Cruces. I did not get much practice backing on those trips and did not pass the backing portion of my upgrade test the first time around. I am grateful to Swift for its willingness to send me out for more training with a local mentor specifically to teach me to back. Nine days hitting Home Depot docks in and around Phoenix worked wonders!

I want to thank everyone for following along. If anyone has any questions, feel free to add to this thread and I will reply. Safe travels!

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Dennis L's Comment
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Congratulations on upgrading! Driving solo is when you will really start to learn how to manage your time.

Ryan B.'s Comment
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I know it feels good to be ready to get out on your own.

Always remember that there are a handful of drivers here, each with multiple years of experience who are willing to answer questions and offer advice. You also have your trainers. Any driver I have personally known to train is willing to answer calls and respond to texts from a former trainee. It's a resource that I have personally used.

G-Town's Comment
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Congratulations Michael!

We’re here to help in a pinch… however building those relationships with your driver leader and planner is going to be a key success factor going forward.

I enjoyed my 8+ years with Swift. Wishing you the same.

Best of luck and safe travels.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PackRat's Comment
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Pictures!?!?!

Michael B. 's Comment
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Time management! Truer words were never spoken. I have struggled w hours of service since day one on my own. I was so excited the day I picked up my truck that I went on duty to do a pre-trip inspection. It made time really tight for my first run, a Costco distribution center load from Phoenix to a store in Henderson (Las Vegas). Now I only log in AFTER I know how long my day is likely to be so I do not run out of hours.

Congratulations on upgrading! Driving solo is when you will really start to learn how to manage your time.

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.

Michael B. 's Comment
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Thanks for the reminder that there is great support here. I kinda disappeared during my on road training w my mentors. I’m in frequent contact w forum member Grinch, a fellow Swift driver I got to meet in person while I was attending the driver academy in Phoenix. He always gets right back to me and has been a crucial resource on multiple occasions.

I know it feels good to be ready to get out on your own.

Always remember that there are a handful of drivers here, each with multiple years of experience who are willing to answer questions and offer advice. You also have your trainers. Any driver I have personally known to train is willing to answer calls and respond to texts from a former trainee. It's a resource that I have personally used.

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.

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