I Have A Lot Of Questions About Everything

Topic 7253 | Page 1

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Joe T.'s Comment
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I'm interested in trucking and have several questions, but can't seem to find definitive answers online. Different people say different things, and everyone says their answer is the truth. I spoke to someone at Swift but some of her claims contradicted what I read. I have absolutely zero experience in trucking and everything is foreign, so keep that in mind. I hope I can get some consistent answers.

First, it's my understanding that companies like Swift will train people with no experience. Is this true? Are there any work or education requirements at all?

Once you're accepted, are there any upfront costs? I was told the Swift academy is $3,900, but that requires no money upfront and it's covered by deductions in your paycheck for 1 year, then reimbursed in year 2. True? Are there any fees or costs before the first day?

Do they give you prep work to do before attending? Are there any pre-academy tests to take?

When you first arrive for class, is everyone on the same learning curve?

What is the classroom setting like? Do students sit at desks and take notes on videos, or do instructors do a lot of talking?

Are the instructors friendly and helpful or demanding and tough?

How long before they put you in a truck? If they know you've never set foot in a big rig before, how understanding are they about mistakes and confusion?

When you're around the trucks and in them, is the entire group practicing one at a time, essentially watching each other and waiting, or does everyone have 1-on-1 instruction with their own teacher and truck?

Are the trucks manual or automatic? I've never driven manual in my life. If they're manual, how hard is it to learn?

What percentage of students either quit or fail? Is there a large number of people who simply can't learn the material? How much rope is given before you're kicked out?

How often do they test you? Assuming you pass all the tests, how long does it take to obtain your CDL?

Are new CDL trainees always partnered with a trainer? How long does that last and what is it like? Are you basically living in the truck with him? Is this the final step before being sent out on your own?

Are you paid during the entire training process, starting from day 1? If so, how much?

What duties are there besides driving? Do you need to perform maintenance, safety checks, do inspections, unload/load the truck, interact with people, etc?

Do you always park at truck stops to sleep? What if there's no space for you?

Are you required to drive during certain hours of the day? Or can you drive whenever you want, as long as the load gets there on time?

Are there any expenses other than food? Gas, hotel, tools, showers, etc?

Where do you shower and how much does it cost?

When you first start, are you guaranteed a certain amount of miles per week? What is the average I can expect?

Are you required to take days off and go home? I was told that you're usually home for 2-3 days for every 2-3 weeks on the road. What if you want to spend 3-4 weeks or longer on the road with no home time?

Are there any bonuses or raises your first year? What about after year 1?

Who are the best companies to work for as a new driver? Is Swift a good option?

My last question is the biggest mystery. Swift told me they start you out at 32 cents/mile. Online I've seen about 1000 different numbers. What is the real number? I read one guy who said 32 is a lie and once you finish training, they tell you it's 25 take it or leave it. I've also seen people brag about other companies paying 38-53 cents/mile just starting out. If that's true, who pays that? Or are they all lying? What's the average wage for a new driver? Is 32 cents a decent starting point? (If true)

Thank you to everyone who answers any of these questions.

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.
Matt D.'s Comment
member avatar

That is alot and i will try to answer most as i have just finished my training with swift

1.You will need to pay for your physcial. They pay for your bus there and your room. Food is on you..Training is 22 days...Now granted I went to the richmond academy so others areas can be different. You spend 3 days in class,will have a map test,log test and home work...They are easy test but you fail any of them twice your done..If you stay at the hotel your school is going to cost 4400....Most the class will be on same learning school..But you will have guys who use to have cdls but let them expire. All the trucks are manual 9 speed. The instructors are not rough but they expect you to learn and follow directions.They teach you enough just to pass your CDL for whatever state your in. On the range your test will be straight line back then your pre trip test then a backing test then a road test. not all at the same time and they give you time to practice...All test are pass or fail..You will have on the students for one state using the truck so waiting for your turn happens...usually double clutching is what people have the hardest time with...But for you never driving a manual is better cause you have no bad habits...Quit rate is hard to say..20%-to 50% i say

2. Ok showers...truck stops..and about 10 bucks a shower. They start you at 33 cents a mile with a penny increase every 3 months for a yr..Mileage is totally up to you really...Depending on how hard you wanna run and how you treat your DM...(as far as being on time and safe and accepting every load). but average i would say can be 1200 to 3000. Home time is usually you can go home after 3 weeks out ..But you can actually stay out for as long as you want..I doudt they would force hometime lol.

3. I am sure others can answer some of these as well but I am just answering what i know..As far as if you want to go to swift or not..It is totally your choice.To what fits you best...What ever you choose Good Luck

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.

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

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.

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.

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Joe, you've asked so many things, and most of us are professional drivers who are really busy, but may I suggest that you first take a look at our Truck Driver's Career Guide, I think you will find a lot of answers in that section of the web site. Follow all the links you come to - there is a wealth of good information in there.

I want to correct one thing Matt said about showers. You shouldn't really ever have to pay for a shower. You will get shower credits as you purchase fuel with the company provided fuel card. At the various truck stops they have a rewards, or points card that is free for the asking, and once you get that you will swipe it at the pump with each fuel purchase and shower credits will be added to it. When you are with a driver trainer he can and should provide you with showers from his card. As soon as you are out with a trainer you can stop in and get your own rewards card as you visit the truck stops.

There are many Company-Sponsored Training programs like Swift's. Follow that link and you can do some research on your own. It is a great way to get started in this career for those of us who just simply don't have the funds to finance our way through the private Truck Driving Schools.

It is almost always best to get your driving permit first before attending a training program, and we have a great training program here called the High Road Training Program. It is absolutely free of charge and it has an excellent track record of enabling complete newbies who don't know the first thing about truck driving to ace those initial tests required to get things started in this rewarding career.

One last warning. Be very careful about where you do your research online. There is so much bad information on the web concerning truck driving. If you are constantly seeing conflicting information, and really negative or bad attitudes about how bad or evil the big trucking companies are, then you can just realize you've stumbled onto a nest of a bunch of losers who couldn't handle the rigorous requirements of the job, and they are trying to placate their guilt by blaming it all on their employers. Please... don't believe all that B.S. - because that is just what it is.

We are extremely glad you found us, and I'm sure we can be of some assistance to you, as we have been to many others. Welcome aboard!

We have had a lot of drivers in here get their start at Swift, and yes it is a great place to get started. They are a huge operation, and they have many different options for you to choose from which really makes it nice if you want to work your way from an over the road job more into something that is regional with better home time options.

Follow some of the links I posted for you and see if those ease your mind a little, then come back in here with whatever questions you still have.

Also if you don't mind reading, Brett's Book is a free online version that this web site's founder and chief guru wrote about life on the road. It's a simple informative read that is quite enjoyable and helpful with a lot of valuable information imparted throughout it's pages.

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.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

Joe T.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the answers guys. Lots of useful information.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Joe, Matt and Old School put out most of your info. You talked Swift and I'm finishing up my six week Swift orientation/training soon. I've posted forum entries detailing my academy and road training experience with Swift. Here's the very short version, and it should mostly apply to any company school:

The hotel is supplied, that's $500 of your school expense. The rest ($3,900) is your tuition. You are on your own for food. The short part of the pay back thing is you work (for Swift) for a year, paying a payroll deduction, then your $$ commitment is done. Work for Swift another year and they pay you back those deductions. (Any Vet with separation papers can get a scholarship that credits your tuition 100% after the year.) (Fine print is skipped here, but this is the general idea.)

School is tough in that you only have a short time to "get it", and some people can't handle that. You may even feel you got inadequate instruction. You will get out of the school only what you put into your own training. if you stick to it, " gut it out", you should pass.

I will say this: school is pretty stressful, but honestly, once you get on road with your company mentor/trainer (one-on-one) your trucking experience can be a breeze.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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