I couldn't find much on the forums about Comcar or CT, so I would like to provide some information from a new driver's perspective. I'm currently on Day 3 of orientation, so some of what I'm about to write hasn't been validated personally by me. If anyone would like to chime in or correct anything, please feel free. Although I'm now a company employee, I am not speaking for the company in this post.
CT still has some Mack trucks, but are in the process of replacing all of them with new International ProStars. We're told that new drivers will get 2014 or 2015 Internationals with automatic transmissions, EPU's (Electrical Power Units that operate off a set of batteries), and 56" Hi Rise Sleepers. Hi Rise is actually the mid-roof size. The tractors will have CB antennas already mounted, so the driver can easily install his own CB. Unfortunately, the company does not reimburse for truck washes, so its the driver's responsibility to keep the truck clean inside and out.
New drivers stay 2 to the room at the Comfort Suites, although my roommate was sent home leaving me with a room to myself for the rest of the week. The hotel has an indoor pool, small workout room, and business center. They provide a full hot breakfast beginning at 6:00 during the week and at 7:00 on weekends. Lunch is provided by the company, but you're on your own for dinner. There are a couple of diverse eating establishments within walking distance of the hotel, as well as a small truckstop next door. The company pays $0.20/mile round trip if you drive your personal vehicle, or you can ride the bus. They also will pay cab fare to and from the terminal each day if needed. Drivers of personal vehicles who allow other participants to ride to orientation will be reimbursed extra for saving the company cab fare.
CT's main terminal and training center is about 4.5 miles from the hotel, in Port Wentworth, GA. The building is fairly large, and most of the upstairs area is dedicated to orientation and training. The classroom is comfortable and sufficiently equipped. The instructor is knowledgable and professional, and provides water, softdrinks, and lunch (pizza and subs) each day. Orientation starts every Tuesday and runs through Thursday, beginning at 7:00 and ending between 4:00 and 5:00.
The morning of day 1 consists of some basic company info, a DOT physical (regardless of whether you currently have one), drug screening, and agility and strength tests. If you have high blood pressure, are a likely candidate for sleep apnea, or are unable to complete the agility and strength tests, you'll be sent home. So, if you know you're likely to fail in one of these areas, you should get it addressed before showing up for orientation. The strength tests include lifting up to 115 pounds of lead weights in an egg crate to a table at waist height several times. You can use your body or legs to help lift the crate. Next you simulate pulling tarps by doing something similar to a pullup (must pull 150 pounds on the bar) and by yanking on the bar (must yank about 250 pounds). I'm 5'-10" and 165 pounds and had no problem with the strength tests. Next you climb onto the back of a flatbed trailer 3 times, do 5 squats, and kneel for about a minute. If you accomplish all these tests without your respiration or pulse exceeding a certain number, then you pass.
Also on the morning of day 1 we performed a pre-trip inspection of a truck and trailer, then drove for about 30 minutes. Since I wasn't used to pulling a loaded trailer, I tended to take turns too fast. The trainer wanted to see 10 mph or less in the turns.
The afternoon of day 1 was spent going through more company information and general orientation items.
Days 2 and 3 were similar, with a lot of company policies and procedures being explained. We were given the pay details and insurance information on day 2. Pay is as follows:
Base Pay - $0.28/mile
Availability Pay - $100/week (requires that you be at the customer on time each morning and be available to work all week (Sunday or Monday through Friday)
Loading and tarping - $10
Unloading and untarping - $8
Detention - $9/hour after first two hours
There's at least another 7 different accessorial pay items. A pay increase is currently being discussed and should be announced within the next few weeks. Also, up to $295/week of your pay can be shown as per diem pay. During the first 90 days of employment, if your total including accessorial pay doesn't equate to at least $0.36/mile, then the company will pay you the difference, thereby effectively paying you the equivalent of $0.36/mile. This is less than some other companies, but CT offers two very big advantages over the higher paying companies. First is guaranteed hometime every weekend. The second is a very understanding policy on personal time. If you need to take some time off, just give them a little notice and take the time you need. CT doesn't seem to push its drivers to rack up a bunch of miles. They want you to start early enough on Sunday afternoon to get to your first customer before 10:00 pm Sunday night. You normally would take your 10-hour break at or near the customer, then be available for loading first thing Monday morning. You drive daytime hours all week and return home on Friday afternoon (sometimes Saturday morning at the latest). A very strong emphasis is placed on safety, and the company's preference is for drivers to get rest and not be fatigued.
Normally the company president would come in and speak, but in his absence the VP of Operations spoke to us on day 3. The next 7 days are spent at Savannah Tech for Advanced Driver Training Program. I'll update this section tomorrow.
So far I'm fairly impressed with Comcar and CT. Their orientation program and emphasis on safety rival that of any large company.
Comcar - CT Transportation Info From New Driver
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Days 4 - 10 are spent in what CT calls Advanced Driver Training Program (ADTP). This training is conducted adjacent to Savannah Tech's CDL school, where they have about a 0.2 mile course. Every day begins with logging into the new e-log system and performing a pre-trip inspection. The rest of the first morning was spent driving the course, and included close quarters driving, serpentine, stopping on the line, and staying in the lane. We also did a lot of alley docking, straight-line backing, and offset backing. In the afternoon we learned to how do a "lumber fold" and a "shingle fold" on the tarps. Finally, we uncoupled and coupled the trailer, and performed post-trip inspections.
On day 2 we used Savannah Tech's pad for alley docking, straight-line backing, and offset backing. In the afternoon, we untarped a load, folded the tarps, then retarped the load. Any work with tarps leaves our clothes filthy, so a visit to the hotel's laundry is probably a good idea. The day was wrapped up with uncoupling, coupling, and post-trip inspections.
Day 3 was spent on the course, on the pad, and then driving on the road. We drove to a truck stop and practiced parking. Of course we uncoupled, coupled, and performed post-trip inspections to complete the day.
I forgot to mention in the previous post that the trucks are equipped with the Bendix Wingman system that detects the distance between the truck and vehicles ahead. When the vehicle in front is too close and closing, the accelerator is automatically released and brakes applied. When the distance increases to an acceptable level, the accelerator is applied again. Also, the company uses mostly 48' air-ride flatbed trailers with fixed spread axles, although there are still just a few 45' spring trailers.Last edited: Nov 16, 2014
On day 4 we took the trucks to the terminal so that the new students could take their road tests. While we waited, we completed an exercise where we planned trips for several different routes. By the time we returned to the ADTP site and completed the post-trip inspections, it was time to quit.
Days 5 and 6 were more of the same, with a lot of road driving, load securement, and tarp folding. Day 7 is actually the check-out day at the terminal. This is when you're assigned a driver trainer for the next 3 weeks, and when you're paid for the orientation. Orientation pay is $100/day, so the total pay for orientation and ADTP will be either $900 or $1000. While with the driver trainer, the pay is $500/week.
CT has a program where you can rent uniforms. They provide 11 pairs of dark blue pants and 11 pairs of medium blue button-up shirts with the company logo and your name. The cost is about $4/week for the whole set and includes laundering. You just drop the dirty uniforms off at the terminal and pick them up on your return. This is a voluntary program and I didn't see a lot of drivers wearing them.
Thanks for all the info! I am about to head out today for Savannah myself. Orientation starts tomorrow, and you provided a lot of answers I still had lol. I look forward to working for CT. My instructor at my CDL school previously worked at my future home terminal and had nothing but glowing remarks about this company. He said their emphasis on safety was paramount to everything else, but miles were also abundant! Thanks again! God Bless 💪💪💪3dpug Thanks this.
Ok, I just finished my second week with my driver trainer. This may be a lengthy post, but I'll try to answer a bunch of questions others may have.
Transportation to the orientation and Advanced Driver Training is either by your own personal vehicle reimbursed at $0.20/mile or by Greyhound. Bus transportation can be very lengthy depending on where you live. I understand that you could also fly and you pay the difference between the airline ticket and a Greyhound ticket. While at orientation, the company arranges for a taxi each day to and from the hotel and terminal.
I've asked a few people why they've been with CT for 8-20 years and their responses have all been the same. CT and Comcar are very accommodating. They guarantee to have you home every weekend, although sometimes you may not get home until Saturday morning and may have to leave Sunday afternoon. However, they really want you to get your 34-hour reset every weekend at home. They also are very safety-oriented and ask that you wear all your personal protective equipment anytime you're working around the truck and trailer.
CT requires a minimum of 3900 miles with a driver trainer, and my trainer said they also like to see 15 days. My first week was the week of Thanksgiving, so we only had 4 days (including Sunday) that week. He is comfortable that I'll be ready for my road test this week. I'll have about 5500 miles by the middle of the week and 12 days with the trainer. We'll see if we get routed by a terminal where I can be tested.
I asked for a non-smoking trainer and they had a difficult time finding one that was close to my home and available immediately. I volunteered to drive 3-1/2 hours to his home, but the company will either reimburse me $0.20/mile for me to travel back and forth, or put me in a hotel for the two weekends. The first weekend I drove back home for the holiday, and the second weekend my wife joined me at the hotel near the trainer's home. If you insist on not traveling far to your trainer, they'll try to accommodate you as much as they can. They'll even pay the trainer extra to come to you and stay over the weekends.
During orientation and Advanced Driver Training, one of the new drivers is named "Top Gun" or "Top Dog", or something like that. That person gets a CT baseball cap. Everyone also gets a trucker's road atlas, a hardhat, leather gloves, safety glasses, and a reflective vest. When you get your own truck, you'll have to buy your own CB if you want one, speed handles for the winches, a pole to place corner protectors on tall loads of sheetrock, and a ladder if you need one. Anything else that you need for load securement will either be provided or you'll be reimbursed if you have to purchase it.
My driver trainer is about 62 years old and has been driving with CT for 8 years. He is a very nice guy and has a gentle way of correcting and teaching me. We keep the inside of the truck neat and clean, and we both get showers every day. Both of us can comfortably go for an hour or two without saying anything, then we'll have a good conversation, then quiet again. It fits our personalities very well. We've been in a hurry just about the whole two weeks, so I typically eat cold Pop-Tarts while walking to the truckstop in the mornings, grab a can of BeanieWeanies while waiting to be loaded, and then eat cereal or oatmeal at the truckstop when we stop for the night. We usually don't leave more than 30 minutes of our 14-hour day on the electronic log, leaving at about 6:30 in the morning and stopping between 8:00 and 8:30 at night. On most days, we'll drop a load in the morning and pick up a new load in the afternoon. I drive nearly all the time and ended Thanksgiving week with 1600 miles and this week with 2200 miles. In the next post I'll list the places we've been and the number of miles we drove.
The trainer's tractor had some issues, such as no engine brake, a check engine light that kept coming on, and a broken mirror bracket. On Tuesday of the second week we were routed by an International dealer so we could drop it off for repairs. The loaner truck isn't a condo, so now we have to find a hotel each night for me to stay in. It adds some inconvenience, but it's nice to be able to sleep in a private bed. Also, the loaner truck is similar to the one I'll be given, so I'm able to check it out and dream about getting my own truck.
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