Choose Prime Over Swift

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Yep's Comment
member avatar

So, at first I stated I would be a potential swift driver, well circumstances changed and I went with prime instead. The following is my review/diary of the prime training process.

I started my attempt to becoming a trucker by applying for knight, prime Inc and swift. Of those 3 Knight was the only one that did not contact me. The others contacted me within days of my application being sent. Of the 2 that prime was first since I actually contacted them a week before I contacted swift. However, even though I contacted prime first, I spoke with the swift recruiter much more often. The swift recruited was much easier to get a hold of and was more responsive to the messages I left and emails I sent. Had the prime recruited been more responsive, I likely would not have contacted swift.

Any how, the entire recruitment process from beginning to end, that is submitting the application to getting on the buss, took 2 weeks for swift and 3 weeks for prime. The prime program had originally appealed to me more but due to no contact during the second week I applied for swift as well. That last week though the prime recruiter did finally get a hold of me and I ended up having both companies try to recruit me. By the travel date I had gotten to the travel part of both processes and had to make a choice.

Obviously, I choose prime. The main deciding factor was pay during your initial training. I have not had a construction job in some time. Thus, pay was important. I also liked that you get real world training. What I did not like was the 30k miles needed with the trainer. I like my privacy very much, but every company has this type of requirement. Also, the contract you have to sign has some negative aspects to it. Assuming I read , and remember correctly, if you leave before one year you must pay back your training tuition at 70 bucks a week until you pay them back their money. There are also aspects, again assuming I read and remember correctly, that prevent you from suing them if you get hurt due to negligence during training (you slip and crack your head open on the bottom step of the catwalk) and that they have no obligation to pay you since you are not an employee. You are not considered an employee until you get your CDL and are placed on your own truck. Also, you are not required to have the hazmat endorsement to go to the school, but it is required once you obtain the actual CDL and start working for them.

After a 2 day bus ride I arrived at Campus Inn Monday afternoon. After getting off the bus, the group I was with was ushered into the Campus Inn. There we were given out initial program instructions. This consisted of getting our room assignment, a property map, site rules and an application packet. At this point I headed off to my room. Most people will have roommates. If you like you can opt to not have one but you must pay for the room yourself.

Now, prior to coming to Prime, I took the time to get my practice license. Having done this, I and those like me, were given an early assignment. This was to go to a room called the Sim Lab at a prearranged time to work on the truck simulator. Remember, it is vitally important that you treat this as a real truck. You will be chewed out of you don’t. Another thing to note is that the steering wheel does not have 2in of play making it overly response and there is also no gear grinding. The shifter will refuse to go in but you cannot feel it grind. You also have to fully press the clutch pedal all the way down every time you shift.

Tuesday was the first official day of class for my group and it started at 7am. Much of that morning was spent in a large conference room getting instruction on how the program would work. We also went over how the application should be filled out. Once this was done we had to fill out our medical history with the nurse guiding us on how to correctly do it. After that was done we had to get our fingers prints taken and receive our meal cards. The cards are good for three meals a day and are required to receive a free gift at the end of the program. Each meal is set at 4.25 for breakfast, 5.75 for lunch and 6.50 for dinner. If the food you get from the cafeteria costs more than the listed amount, you much pay the difference. I only did it a couple times. Prior to leaving the class you will receive week long class schedule.

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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.

Yep's Comment
member avatar

After that initial class there were 5 tasks to complete. For me the first task was the pee test and is no different from any other employment **** test. Second was part 1 of the physical and this consisted of the nurse doing the hearing test, pulse, height and the like. Third was the physical part 2. This was done at a specific time with everyone being ordered to get in a line at the same time. This is the nude part of the physical where the doctor did his part of the examination. The fourth part I did was the interview. Mine was under 5 minutes and consisted of an employee skimming my application asking about my criminal record and then passing me along the line to the next task. Other people had much longer interviews. The fifth and final task I had to do was to head to the Sim Lab again and start my CBT (computer based training) which consisted of 9 tests ranging 10-25 minutes. I took the tests in the order in which they were presented, but they can be taken in any order and you don’t seem too restricted in how to do them. That is, many people helped each other or took notes. The latter I needed to do for the hazmat test. The 9 tests are hazmat, insurance, security, high value, roll over prevention, mountain driving, orientation, sexual harassment and the sure lock system. I got most of my tests done Tuesday after noon. Wednesday consisted of 3 parts, 2 of which were connected. The connected parts are the class room pre trip education and the outside pre trip education. The inside class consisted of the primary instructor showing us what components need to be inspected and proper way to explain what is being checked to the pre trip examiner. During this entire class we had to fill out a cheat sheet to use during the program. Apparently, assuming I pass, Prime will apparently be giving me a 2014 Freightliner Cascadia. During the outside class, I, and a couple other students, headed to a blue freightliner in the parking lot. The instructor that owned it walked us through the entire tractor pre trip. After a few rounds of the inspection we were ordered to do it on our own and ask questions as needed. We also had time to walk to a nearby trailer and did the pre trip on it as well. The last part of Wednesday is more time in the Sim Lab where I was able to finish the CBT testing. However, I did not finish the simulator due to time. You should finish all your simulations and need to finish the CBT by the end of Thursday. The sooner you can finish the better. You also have to be aware of those who are getting their permit who have not yet done the simulator or CBT and will need to start doing both as early as Wednesday after noon. By then some people will have finished their first attempt at passing the permit tests. The first class for Thursday is split into 3 parts that correspond with the 3 of the CBT tests. The titles of the 3 classes are self explanatory with what they cover. Insurance deals with Prime health, dental, life and dental insurance options. Sexual harassment explains what it is and how to respond. Finally, high value loads covers protection concerning loads costing 100k+ Next you will have 1 or 2 objectives. If the prime doc flagged you for a sleep study you will head there after the first class. I, however, did not need a sleep study. Therefore I had free time until the role call meeting schedule for later that day. This meeting is to determine where everyone is and what they must do to finish this part of the program. The instructor did a roll call. The then asked a series of questions to dwindle down the amount of people in the class. The questions were on subjects like who got their health card that needed to take the test at the DMV? Who did not pass their permit test at the DMV? Who finished their CBT? And who has simulator work to still do? Once these questions were over everyone headed off to their respective areas or had the rest of the day off. All I needed to do was take 1 more simulation to be done. However, due to the buildup of people finishing their permit testing, I was unable to do it and just had the rest of the day off.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Yep's Comment
member avatar

Finally, the Friday of week 1. This is the day we found out whether we passed the first phase or not. Due to technical difficulties, much of my class did not find out if they passed this initial part of the program until 1pm. Prior to that 2 things took place. First was for those still waiting on their permits to go to the DMV to go and get them. Second was for those of us with permits to hurry up and wait. Once I received the confirmation, I and other students took the shuttle to the Prime headquarters. There I received my ID badge and was sent to the training pad to do some double clutch training. Once that was over the other students and I went to a mandatory meeting. This meeting is where we received Prime safety vests and lanyards. Finally, they will tell you about the health & fitness program you can buy and discuss the 200 pre-CDL advances.

Some lucky students, I was not one, were given instructor assignments. Since I was not given an instructor I was given a week long schedule instead. The schedule consists of pre trip and backing training to be done every day until I am finally assigned a trainer. Apparently, you are more likely to get a trainer quickly if you are a smoker or have no preference. They just seem to have a shortage of non smoking trainers.

For me Saturday and Sunday were pretty much the same. I took the shuttle from the Campus Inn to Prime HQ. The shuttle runs 6am to 9pm. At the HQ I went to the training pad, signed in and began doing my tractor pre trip. This is all I did since the trailers were being used for people doing CDL testing. This also meant I did not get any backing time. During the pre trip instructors would correct students, provide useful information on all things trucking and answer 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.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Roadkill (aka:Guy DeCou)'s Comment
member avatar

WOW..GREAT series of updates..thanks a bunch..I'm in exactly the same position..toss up between Swift and Prime at the moment..and this REALLY pulls back the curtain on what to expect in orientation..keep them coming, man..I'm eating it up...good-luck.gif

PR aka Road Hog's Comment
member avatar

Yea man, keep.them coming. I am in the process of preparing for trucking school, and Prime is one of my candidates. It is really great to see what the day to day stuff is really like! You have already made an impression. I am a reformed smoker of about 6 months, but since you say smokers or no preference gets in first, I will be going no preference. Also has me wondering if I should get my permit before coming to class. Finally, I know what you mean about hard to get in contact with your recruiter. It can be a little frustrating, but they seem to have one of the better programs. On paper anyway. I wonder if I should hit one of the others just so the forum will have something to compare with? Millis is close by, and I am also considering USA Trucking. Please keep the updates coming Mason. Oh, btw, i also lived in Portland many years ago, and my Father lives in Washington state, so maybe we will see each other on the road.

Keep it real

Yep's Comment
member avatar

Sorry about not paragraphing the second post. I forgot tabs don't show up.

I did not mention this but my class started at over 30 people. The class was made up of 4 groups of people. The first group are students who arrived without permits. I highly recommend you either get the permit ahead of time or at least study for it beforehand. You arrive as early as Sunday and have test days on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 3 test days and very few days to study. I took roughly 3 weeks and passed my first time back in Oregon. That’s how I became a part of the second group. Students who came to Prime with their permits. It should be noted that some states may require you to test for the CDL in that state. As far as I know Illinois is the only one doing this. One of the students in my class is trying to set it up so that he can test back in Chicago only and not have to do the CDL tests twice. I would assume this also goes for the students in the third group who are peopling simply needing to upgrading from a CDL B or C to a CDL A. finally the last group are those who already have a CDL A. of with theses students, it appears that Prime just tells you the rules, tests your skills and sends you out if you seem proficient. If you are not proficient I assume they simply send you to the last half of the OTR training.

Back to the class and more detail for Saturday and Sunday. I and the other students arrived at the smith room for roll call. Once done we took the shuttle to the HQ and spent all day doing the pre-trip inspection. The primary focus for us on Saturday was the engine compartment. Sunday had the addition of the door area. The door area includes the doors, door frame, side mirrors, fuel tanks, rear tandems and exhaust system. Obviously we were not restricted to these areas only. So long as we studied the pre-trip, we were doing what was required regardless of location. You are also required to show that you can project your voice since the test pre-trip test will be conducted with other vehicles moving about. If the tester can’t hear you over the other rigs, you aint going to pass, so learn to project your voice. Monday ended up being the first big change in how things went. The difference is that 1 and 2 other students were selected to interview with a trainer. This interview was done at the Prime driving course. I call it a course simply because you keep driving around the same track of road over and over. In reality, it is just a small section of an industrial park which Prime has been given permission to use.. The excursion consisted of the instructor explaining how he ran his rig and what loads he normally does. All of this was explained while we went over the course a couple times. After that it was our turn to do 2 laps. This took roughly an hour with the instructor telling us what to do from m the passenger seat. Of the 3 of us I did the best. Yay me! I was the only one with any real experience in using a manual transmission. Thus I had an advantage. This however was irrelevant. This interview was to find out which of the most advanced students was the worse driver. This is what I tell myself any way. The 3 of us chosen had the pre-check down perfectly and just needed road training. Thus, we were sent out and the student who had the most difficult time shifting was chosen. We didn’t find this out till the next day.

Tuesday ended up being just like the weekend. We did nothing but watch PSD student testers take their CDL tests. The whole point of this week it to spend time learning the pre-trip and working on our backing skills. However, at this time, prime has an abundance of students doing CDL testing and too few Instructors. Thus we just sat and watched the tests. Prime has it set up where CDL testing can be taken 7 days a week. To remedy the lack of instructors’ problem, and to handle the influx of students, Prime used Wednesday as the test day for new instructors. Thus, while students tested on the pad, so did potential instructors. Apparently, part of the requirement to be an instructor is to re-pass the CDL stations just like a student must do to receive their CDL. This also meant that we again just sat and watched. On the bright side though, the CDL tests freed up instructors for my class. As it stands I should be heading out Friday. At least I hope I do.

Happy 4th of July! Of all of the days we were on the training pad, this was the only one we arrived at 7 rather than 8. We also left at 12 rather than 4pm. And, like before, we just sat and watched. Thursday was the first day for the following class to get time on the pad and they worked on just the pre-trip all day. In theory this could have freed up the training backing stations for my class but it did not. Instead we had to be placed on the back burner since not all of the CDL testers from Wednesday passed their tests. Therefore, the pad instructors took the times to further coach the testers prior to their final test on Friday. Being a holiday, any instructors not required to be there and had no loads to haul were off were gone and thus not available to talk with about possible instruction. However, we did get to see the alley dock, offset backing, full backing and parallel parking stations preformed.

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.

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.

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".

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.

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.
Yep's Comment
member avatar

I didn’t go anywhere Friday but the training pad. Again. This was because I lost my trainer. His fleet manager assigned him a student who had passed their CDL test, but whose TNT trainer refused to take them. So rather than have the student wait for a new TNT trainer and thus wait days or weeks, the fleet manager just out the student with the instructor that was going to teach me. Just so you know TNT stands for trainer and trainee. This is the last portion of the program before you are officially hired. That’s my understanding anyhow. We will see for sure.

Any how, I spent the whole day at the pad. I did some pre-trip work and watched the CDL testers do their tests. All but 1 passed. The reason he failed was because he would not use the advice that trainers had given him the previous days. Normally they give you 3 tries. Yet, if you show skill and improvement, they may give you up to 5. But if you keep making the exact same mistakes that they tried to help you correct, they will simply send you home and not pay for your ticket.

While it was unfortunate to see that guy pass, it was cool to see other students from the previous day pass with almost no points held against them. Still though, I plan on getting a trifecta. It would be nice to finish the pre-trip, skills and road tests on the first try. As it stands now, I am the last of my class to not get an instructor. For now I sit here I will continue to sit here and wait.

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.

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.

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Mason, don't let the waiting get to ya. Truck driving is made up of hurrying up and waiting. You will spend lots of time waiting once you get on a truck, it's all part of the job. While you're waiting now hopefully you can get in some extra practice, but even if you can't don't let the waiting start eating away at your confidence or your attitude. Just bide your time and your number will come up soon enough. good-luck.gif

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Yeah, it's true. The most popular phrase in trucking is "hurry up and wait" and that's really how it goes. You're either running so hard you're begging for a break, or you're so bored you want to choke yourself.

If I were you I would take every single chance I was given to practice in that truck. Wait til you get out there and see some of the docks you'll have to back into. Even after 15 years of driving there were times I'd come up to a dock and think "Oh my God. Can a truck really fit there???" I was as good as anyone when it came to backing so if it could get there, I could get it there. But some of the places you'll have to back into are going to shock you. So practice and practice and practice. smile.gif

Dave D. (Armyman)'s Comment
member avatar

Yeah, it's true. The most popular phrase in trucking is "hurry up and wait" and that's really how it goes. You're either running so hard you're begging for a break, or you're so bored you want to choke yourself.

If I were you I would take every single chance I was given to practice in that truck. Wait til you get out there and see some of the docks you'll have to back into. Even after 15 years of driving there were times I'd come up to a dock and think "Oh my God. Can a truck really fit there???" I was as good as anyone when it came to backing so if it could get there, I could get it there. But some of the places you'll have to back into are going to shock you. So practice and practice and practice. smile.gif

Ever been to Western Beef around Queens/Brooklyn area? Driving backwards up hill and turning (backwards) into a dock.

Don't mean to scare anyone, but someplaces are worse than what I just described. Luckily fellow truck drivers and people who worked at the store helped me out.

Dave

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