Advice From A Recent Swift Lewiston Grad

Topic 9927 | Page 1

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Rob S.'s Comment
member avatar

Last week I graduated from Swift Academy in Lewiston. Tomorrow I head to the Oregon DMV to complete the process of getting my CDL. I found some great advice from this site while preparing to head to Lewiston so I would like to repay that debt by adding a few tips of my own.

1. Use this site. This diary, https://www.truckingtruth.com/truckers-forum/Topic-2452/Page-1/my-swift-driving-academy-experience , was extremely helpful for me. I would have contributed my own but I don't think I could do better than Daniel did. The training materials here are also superior to those provided by the Swift when it comes to passing the Oregon DMV permit tests. You still need to do the Swift online stuff but I highly recommend doing the High Road too. It takes several more hours but it dramatically increases your preparedness.

2. Take more money than Swift suggests. The Academy information sheet suggested $200. I took $300 and used it all. I could have saved money by shopping for groceries instead of eating out but I didn't want to mess with groceries. I ate at Subway most of the time. I used a lunch box to carry a sandwich and a few snacks with me to school. I would have a salad for dinner, then order a sandwich for the next days lunch. It worked out great for me. I also kept my water bottle from day to day, I don't drink pop. At the school I was able to refill my bottle without relying on the vending machines.

3. Be early. The shuttle from the hotel to the academy usually left at 4:30am not 4:45am as the info sheet shows. If you miss it, you'll be late, have sore feet from walking, and have nothing to show except an excuse that no one cares about.

4. Dress appropriately. Jeans, t-shirt, sneakers, a hat to block the sun, gloves if you like. Don't wear shorts, you'll be sent home to change. You don't need heavy work boots, you'll be driving a truck, not loading it. Everyone knows you're living in a hotel and laundry is expensive. Most of the students wear the same jeans several days in a row, it's OK. Change your shirt and skivvies though, as long as you're clean and maintain basic personal hygiene, you'll be fine.

5. Obey, practice, study. The staff is professional and helpful. They want us to succeed. When they say to do something, there's a reason. I can't count the number of times I saw students standing in the sun complaining to each other about how they thought things should be run instead of getting into a truck and practicing their skills. The trucks are old, most with over 500k miles, so what, get in there and practice. I had never driven a truck before training and I aced the skills portion. Not because I'm great but because I listened to the instructors and practiced. We had 6 trucks set up for the advanced backing maneuvers. I was among about a dozen students allowed on that portion of the range. I never had to wait for a truck because many (not all), other students preferred to sit, smoke and gripe instead of practice. Their loss was my gain but the school costs about $4000. Why did they spend class time smoking? My motto was, "Diesel won't burn itself."

I know none of this is Earth-shattering stuff for most folks. Maybe it will help someone out though. We started with 10 people. Four graduated on time. Of the other six, one never made it to the drug test on the first day; two quit (probably because they stressed themselves out); two were held back because of failed exams (maybe a lack of study); and one failed the state skills test even though he scored very high on the same test a week earlier (maybe a combination of stress and practice). A 40% graduation rate doesn't sound impressive but keep this in mind, the school only provides information and equipment. The student needs to bring the motivation and enough basic life skills to succeed.

I hope someone finds this helpful. If anyone has specific questions about my experience at Swift Lewiston please ask them here and I'll be happy to respond. I'm not a know-it-all but I know what I earned and I'm proud of it, Rob

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.

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

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Rob, this is very close to what I went through in Swift/Memphis last December/January. Your details are different than mine or Daniel's, so all the Swift diaries just reinforce each other.

As for your 40%, remember Swift gives people several extra chances. 1 failed drug test, and 2 walked away. Allowing for you 4 grads, the other three get a week extra practice to get it right (no extra charge, even for the hotel). Hopefully they felt the kick in the butt and 3 or at least 2 will pass on that go-round.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Matt W.'s Comment
member avatar

Good stuff Rob, Thanks for taking the time to write. Congrats on being one of the 4 and good luck going forward.

Jarod(Red)'s Comment
member avatar

Last week I graduated from Swift Academy in Lewiston. Tomorrow I head to the Oregon DMV to complete the process of getting my CDL. I found some great advice from this site while preparing to head to Lewiston so I would like to repay that debt by adding a few tips of my own.

1. Use this site. This diary, https://www.truckingtruth.com/truckers-forum/Topic-2452/Page-1/my-swift-driving-academy-experience , was extremely helpful for me. I would have contributed my own but I don't think I could do better than Daniel did. The training materials here are also superior to those provided by the Swift when it comes to passing the Oregon DMV permit tests. You still need to do the Swift online stuff but I highly recommend doing the High Road too. It takes several more hours but it dramatically increases your preparedness.

2. Take more money than Swift suggests. The Academy information sheet suggested $200. I took $300 and used it all. I could have saved money by shopping for groceries instead of eating out but I didn't want to mess with groceries. I ate at Subway most of the time. I used a lunch box to carry a sandwich and a few snacks with me to school. I would have a salad for dinner, then order a sandwich for the next days lunch. It worked out great for me. I also kept my water bottle from day to day, I don't drink pop. At the school I was able to refill my bottle without relying on the vending machines.

3. Be early. The shuttle from the hotel to the academy usually left at 4:30am not 4:45am as the info sheet shows. If you miss it, you'll be late, have sore feet from walking, and have nothing to show except an excuse that no one cares about.

4. Dress appropriately. Jeans, t-shirt, sneakers, a hat to block the sun, gloves if you like. Don't wear shorts, you'll be sent home to change. You don't need heavy work boots, you'll be driving a truck, not loading it. Everyone knows you're living in a hotel and laundry is expensive. Most of the students wear the same jeans several days in a row, it's OK. Change your shirt and skivvies though, as long as you're clean and maintain basic personal hygiene, you'll be fine.

5. Obey, practice, study. The staff is professional and helpful. They want us to succeed. When they say to do something, there's a reason. I can't count the number of times I saw students standing in the sun complaining to each other about how they thought things should be run instead of getting into a truck and practicing their skills. The trucks are old, most with over 500k miles, so what, get in there and practice. I had never driven a truck before training and I aced the skills portion. Not because I'm great but because I listened to the instructors and practiced. We had 6 trucks set up for the advanced backing maneuvers. I was among about a dozen students allowed on that portion of the range. I never had to wait for a truck because many (not all), other students preferred to sit, smoke and gripe instead of practice. Their loss was my gain but the school costs about $4000. Why did they spend class time smoking? My motto was, "Diesel won't burn itself."

I know none of this is Earth-shattering stuff for most folks. Maybe it will help someone out though. We started with 10 people. Four graduated on time. Of the other six, one never made it to the drug test on the first day; two quit (probably because they stressed themselves out); two were held back because of failed exams (maybe a lack of study); and one failed the state skills test even though he scored very high on the same test a week earlier (maybe a combination of stress and practice). A 40% graduation rate doesn't sound impressive but keep this in mind, the school only provides information and equipment. The student needs to bring the motivation and enough basic life skills to succeed.

I hope someone finds this helpful. If anyone has specific questions about my experience at Swift Lewiston please ask them here and I'll be happy to respond. I'm not a know-it-all but I know what I earned and I'm proud of it, Rob

I went to Swift Academy in West Valley City, Utah. Yes! My training sheet said bring $200, I brought almost $500 and was broke by the time orientation was over lol!!

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.

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

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