Intro And A Few Newbie Questions

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Etch's Comment
member avatar

Hey! I’m the new guy here so figured I would throw out an intro as well as ask a few questions. I retired from the fire service this past February. Before that I spent 8 years in the Marine Corps traveling to every armpit and sandbox in the world. There’s one thing I’ve learned about retirement- ITS BORING!! I’ve spent the last few months trying to figure out what I would like to do and it needed to be something that didn’t involve saying things like “would you like fries with that” or “welcome to Walmart”. It didn’t take long to figure out that becoming an OTR driver would be something I could easily transition to. I have family that were/are OTR drivers. I know about the lifestyle of being on the road and what some might consider a con vs a pro in this career, I find that it’s something that wouldn’t bother me. I feel my last two careers have trained me just for this! I’ve slept peacefully under the rhythmic beauty of a ma-deuce being fired above my head. Had pleasant dreams while jets flew low overhead and rockets exploding. Long periods away from home is nothing more that just another deployment for me. I’ve learned the value of grabbing quick naps during lunch at the firehouse because you don’t know if you’ll be up all night running calls. I’ve driven fire trucks through hurricanes and have had to peel my buttcheeks off the seat afterwards. All this I feel will lend itself to life on the road and sleeping in confined spaces at truck stops or rest areas. I love jobs that allow me to work independently without a boss breathing down my neck or stuck in some cubicle. I would go crazy in a job where all I do is put gizmos on gadgets all day everyday. So being too young for the shuffleboard scene and too old to answer to some 20something manager, I ended up at this point. So now to the question portion of this drawn out essay. If you’ve hung in this long, I appreciate ya! So I do have a class A license. It’s not a CDL. This was required to drive the rigs at the FD. I am interested in attending a company based CDL training. After a lot of research and reading through several pages on this site I’ve narrowed it down to two choices- Wilson and Prime. I’ve read all the reviews of both that I could find and I know that even the bad reviews sometimes need to be taken at half value since it may have been written by a disgruntled employee. Truth is bad reviews can only be taken that way because nobody writing it will also explain their part in how things went bad. Now I’m interested in hearing from those who are either currently working there or have first hand knowledge of these companies. I’m not asking anyone to betray king and country, but I would like some honest opinions. If need be, message me privately. Nothing will be shared with anyone outside of our conversation. I would also like to get some pointers on avoiding rookie mistakes at school. What are some things you wish you did different? Like boot camp, I know the schools will be long and grueling. But I also know in the military everyone looks back on their boot camp days as a great memory and wish they could do it again knowing what they know now. The phrase ‘suck it up’ is used commonly in the military and the fire service and I have no doubt it will come in handy during CDL training. So any quick hits that may make my life any easier would be great. I appreciate y’all for reading all this and I have really enjoyed reading the posts on this site.

Appreciate ya! Etch

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.

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

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

Hello and welcome to the site. You mentioned Prime and Wilson. We have quite a few Prime drivers here. I have been a driver/trainer at Prime for 7 years now.

Wilson has their terminal down the street from Primes and their drivers haul.our freight and use our terminals, although we are indeed different companies. Our owners are friends apparently.

In my honest opinion, the biggest problem with prime is communication. Because we are family owned, policies can often change and sometimes it may take a bit of time for the info to trickle down. I have a YouTube channel of the same name and it has a ton of prime info as well as interviews with drivers and students. They try to counter this with a phone app, Facebook page. Weekly meetings on YouTube and a Driver Advisory Board (I served 3 years) that takes suggestions to management as a liaison between drivers and management.

Another issue.... Lease trainers are not all awesome. Lease trainers pay all student expenses, and sometimes run students hard to turn a larger profit. Once a driver goes solo though. There is plenty of support. So as you said,.get through it.

Wilson and prime do training in a very similar way. Their drivers seem very happy, as i meet them in our terminals quite a bit.

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.

BK's Comment
member avatar

Hi Etch-a-Sketch! From reading your post, it seems like you check off many boxes for being a successful trainee and driver. I don’t know anything about Wilson except that they have nice equipment. You can’t go wrong with Prime, they are 1st rate and highly respected for professionalism. They also have nice equipment. I know because I pass their rigs multiple times almost every day. Lol.

I know our resident librarian, Anne, will read your post and give you specific links to read.

All I can say is to go for it. I got into it at an older age and I’m having the time of my life out here OTR. Looking forward to seeing you post more questions here if you decide to move ahead.

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.

George B.'s Comment
member avatar

Being in Carolina check out Millis. They have training in Eden and Georgia. Not saying anything bad about Prime or Wilson. Also Swift. They train in Richmond. Continental Express trains out of Indianapolis. Best of luck to you,

Travis's Comment
member avatar

Welcome aboard man

Hey! I’m the new guy here so figured I would throw out an intro as well as ask a few questions. I retired from the fire service this past February. Before that I spent 8 years in the Marine Corps traveling to every armpit and sandbox in the world. There’s one thing I’ve learned about retirement- ITS BORING!! I’ve spent the last few months trying to figure out what I would like to do and it needed to be something that didn’t involve saying things like “would you like fries with that” or “welcome to Walmart”. It didn’t take long to figure out that becoming an OTR driver would be something I could easily transition to. I have family that were/are OTR drivers. I know about the lifestyle of being on the road and what some might consider a con vs a pro in this career, I find that it’s something that wouldn’t bother me. I feel my last two careers have trained me just for this! I’ve slept peacefully under the rhythmic beauty of a ma-deuce being fired above my head. Had pleasant dreams while jets flew low overhead and rockets exploding. Long periods away from home is nothing more that just another deployment for me. I’ve learned the value of grabbing quick naps during lunch at the firehouse because you don’t know if you’ll be up all night running calls. I’ve driven fire trucks through hurricanes and have had to peel my buttcheeks off the seat afterwards. All this I feel will lend itself to life on the road and sleeping in confined spaces at truck stops or rest areas. I love jobs that allow me to work independently without a boss breathing down my neck or stuck in some cubicle. I would go crazy in a job where all I do is put gizmos on gadgets all day everyday. So being too young for the shuffleboard scene and too old to answer to some 20something manager, I ended up at this point. So now to the question portion of this drawn out essay. If you’ve hung in this long, I appreciate ya! So I do have a class A license. It’s not a CDL. This was required to drive the rigs at the FD. I am interested in attending a company based CDL training. After a lot of research and reading through several pages on this site I’ve narrowed it down to two choices- Wilson and Prime. I’ve read all the reviews of both that I could find and I know that even the bad reviews sometimes need to be taken at half value since it may have been written by a disgruntled employee. Truth is bad reviews can only be taken that way because nobody writing it will also explain their part in how things went bad. Now I’m interested in hearing from those who are either currently working there or have first hand knowledge of these companies. I’m not asking anyone to betray king and country, but I would like some honest opinions. If need be, message me privately. Nothing will be shared with anyone outside of our conversation. I would also like to get some pointers on avoiding rookie mistakes at school. What are some things you wish you did different? Like boot camp, I know the schools will be long and grueling. But I also know in the military everyone looks back on their boot camp days as a great memory and wish they could do it again knowing what they know now. The phrase ‘suck it up’ is used commonly in the military and the fire service and I have no doubt it will come in handy during CDL training. So any quick hits that may make my life any easier would be great. I appreciate y’all for reading all this and I have really enjoyed reading the posts on this site.

Appreciate ya! Etch

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.

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

George B.'s Comment
member avatar

Oh and welcome to TT the best resource for getting into the trucking industry. Anne will chime in soon etc. w the basics. Everything you need is right here. The good, the bad, and well the ugly. smile.gif

Etch's Comment
member avatar

I’ll definitely check out Millis! I’ll be honest, was kinda concerned about Wilson. They seemed to be more concentrated on the western side of the Mississippi. Not that the routes bothered me, but the getting home part did. If I get 4 days home but have to spend 2 of them bobtailing back to NC that would suck.

Being in Carolina check out Millis. They have training in Eden and Georgia. Not saying anything bad about Prime or Wilson. Also Swift. They train in Richmond. Continental Express trains out of Indianapolis. Best of luck to you,

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Anne A. (and sometimes To's Comment
member avatar

Hey! I’m the new guy here so figured I would throw out an intro as well as ask a few questions. I retired from the fire service this past February. Before that I spent 8 years in the Marine Corps traveling to every armpit and sandbox in the world. There’s one thing I’ve learned about retirement- ITS BORING!! I’ve spent the last few months trying to figure out what I would like to do and it needed to be something that didn’t involve saying things like “would you like fries with that” or “welcome to Walmart”. It didn’t take long to figure out that becoming an OTR driver would be something I could easily transition to. I have family that were/are OTR drivers. I know about the lifestyle of being on the road and what some might consider a con vs a pro in this career, I find that it’s something that wouldn’t bother me. I feel my last two careers have trained me just for this! I’ve slept peacefully under the rhythmic beauty of a ma-deuce being fired above my head. Had pleasant dreams while jets flew low overhead and rockets exploding. Long periods away from home is nothing more that just another deployment for me. I’ve learned the value of grabbing quick naps during lunch at the firehouse because you don’t know if you’ll be up all night running calls. I’ve driven fire trucks through hurricanes and have had to peel my buttcheeks off the seat afterwards. All this I feel will lend itself to life on the road and sleeping in confined spaces at truck stops or rest areas. I love jobs that allow me to work independently without a boss breathing down my neck or stuck in some cubicle. I would go crazy in a job where all I do is put gizmos on gadgets all day everyday. So being too young for the shuffleboard scene and too old to answer to some 20something manager, I ended up at this point. So now to the question portion of this drawn out essay. If you’ve hung in this long, I appreciate ya! So I do have a class A license. It’s not a CDL. This was required to drive the rigs at the FD. I am interested in attending a company based CDL training. After a lot of research and reading through several pages on this site I’ve narrowed it down to two choices- Wilson and Prime. I’ve read all the reviews of both that I could find and I know that even the bad reviews sometimes need to be taken at half value since it may have been written by a disgruntled employee. Truth is bad reviews can only be taken that way because nobody writing it will also explain their part in how things went bad. Now I’m interested in hearing from those who are either currently working there or have first hand knowledge of these companies. I’m not asking anyone to betray king and country, but I would like some honest opinions. If need be, message me privately. Nothing will be shared with anyone outside of our conversation. I would also like to get some pointers on avoiding rookie mistakes at school. What are some things you wish you did different? Like boot camp, I know the schools will be long and grueling. But I also know in the military everyone looks back on their boot camp days as a great memory and wish they could do it again knowing what they know now. The phrase ‘suck it up’ is used commonly in the military and the fire service and I have no doubt it will come in handy during CDL training. So any quick hits that may make my life any easier would be . I appreciate y’all for reading all this and I have really enjoyed reading the posts on this site.

Appreciate ya! Etch

I know our resident librarian, Anne, will read your post and give you specific links to read.

Howdy, Etch!! Welcome to Trucking Truth ~ I'm here, BK ... !

The best way to get acclimated is to start here:

Next step : Apply For Paid CDL Training.

Millis, Wilson, TMC ... all inclusive, above. With your military background (Semper Fi,) you'd appreciate TMC if you are open to flatbed. The app is an inch above, ^^ here! There's so many great training companies, and the top ones are in our link, ^^ above. You can always 'nope' the ones you don't care for; just opt out.

The training program that Brett (and many members & mods have helped) set forth here on Trucking Truth, is highly recommended in the industry; companies seem to 'look at' the apps from here on TT, first !!!

The fact that you DO have a Class A CDL (and a valid Medical Card, yes?) will put you steps ahead, out the gate. When TMC has a sign saying "Don't Walk On the Grass," they SURE mean it!!!

As far as the other things you're asking...like how NOT to be a bonehead, hahahah.... just keep reading, keep asking. I'll be happy to link you to any relative thread, depending on your question(s.) Yep, I'm the Dewey/Annie Decimal system of TT ... some call me 'Momma Anne,' LoL! It's all good, a 20 year drivers' wife; glad to have you~!!

~ Anne ~

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.

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

Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

I don’t normally promote my own training dairies, but since you asked about Prime I suggest you read these. I joined Prime at February 2022. These are the latest Prime diaries to my knowledge.

I had an off the job injury during home time in July. I’m still recovering from surgery and was let go by Prime after 30 days off work because of less than one year service. When I’m medically cleared to return to work, hopefully by November, I can rehire to Prime to complete the remaining 8 months of my 12 months contract to drive for Prime to payoff the $4,375 cost of my CDL training.

My Prime Orientation/PSD Experience

My Prime TNT Progress Updates

My Prime Upgrade / First Month Solo Experience

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.

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.

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

I am a current Prime company reefer driver. I have zero regrets with my choice. As for getting home to the Carolinas with Wilson, I do know there is a large amount of prime freight going into/out of there, so it shouldn't be too much of a hassle to get you home via Wilson. However I'm unsure of how their dispatch integrates with ours.

The minimal issues I had with Prime, were largely self inflicted and caused by my own shortcomings. Understand that you are your biggest asset, and biggest liability out here, and you should be golden.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

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