Just Got Signed Up For School - Swift Transportation

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by RedandBlack2014, May 21, 2014.

  1. RedandBlack2014

    RedandBlack2014 Bobtail Member

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    May 21, 2014
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    I just got signed up with Swift Transportation for trucking school. I took my time and did my homework and research on what I wanted to do about obtaining my CDL. I looked at Knight Transportation, Werner, Western Express, Swift, and CR England. I looked at sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and even this site for reviews about those companies. It seems like every company or trucking school has pitfalls and downsides. I'm not looking for a "perfect" situation. I know I'm going to have to eat crap and learn to love the taste of it for at least a year. Luckily (or at least what I've been told is luck), I'm 22 with no kids, and my girlfriend has grown up in a family of truckers and is understanding of the schedule and what is expected of me. Not only that but I live 45 minutes away from the terminal. Even the recruiter at Swift told me I couldn't be in a better situation for becoming a trucker. My best friend's uncle is an owner operator at Swift, and I've known him for a number of years. He told me that as long as I can put up with a little B.S. and politics that I would love working for Swift, and he advised me that every big company is good and bad for different reasons. He said Swift is very much a "by the book" and "red tape" company, but that I'd never be asked to run illegal and that the training program is pretty good. So I called my recruiter and got signed up. I have some questions, and my source at Swift is a very busy man so I try not to bother him much. I'll just list them here, and if anyone could give me some additional advice and stuff, it'd be greatly appreciated. I'm sure every company's training program varies, but I'm under the assumption that there are people on here who have either gone through Swift or can provide me some insight. Again, it's greatly appreciated.

    1. I've read through the Arizona CDL Manual a little that Swift gave me. Are they going to go over this stuff in class, or am I going to be tested on this right out of the gate? I've never ridden in driven a big rig and have a shaky mastery of manual transmission vehicles.

    2. How much practice can I expect to get behind the wheel? I know Swift classes usually run 60-70 people. Am I going to spend a good amount of time behind the wheel, or am I supposed to master this stuff with minimal practice?

    3. My recruiter signed me up for class and then told me I didn't have anything else to do except show up for class on the 9th of June with my social security card, ID and birth certificate. Is this true? I've read that people have had to take the CDL Permit test before class starts. I've heard about people getting sent home due to being misinformed by their recruiters.

    4. How strenuous is the DOT Physical? My blood pressure, blood sugars, and cholesterol are all solid. But I am overweight. Physically, that's really the only thing wrong with me. Would that keep me from passing?

    5. I've heard that the trucks Swift uses don't drive like traditional manual vehicles. I also heard that they teach double clutching in accordance with Government regulations. Am I going to be expected to accelerate out of first gear like I would with a manual transmission car? Because I've been told that the torque of the engine on these trucks keeps them from rolling back and that accelerating is much more simple.

    I'll probably think of more questions to ask. I know some of these questions might seem like really dumb questions. I just would like to have an idea of what I'm in for and what to expect. I'm really excited (and also very nervous) about starting my new career and I'm ready to put my nose to the grindstone and get to work. I'd just like to have all of my ducks in a row so I put myself in the best position to succeed.

    Thanks again for any advice and information you guys can offer me! I appreciate it greatly.
     
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  3. zrb888

    zrb888 Bobtail Member

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    Oct 13, 2010
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    hello,
    Regarding the DOT physical. if your blood pressure, blood sugar, vision, hearing are good youll be fine. the physical assessment that the company most likely will give you is different. ive never worked for swift but at other companys they have you duck walk under a trailer or table to make sure you can check the locking jaw is around the king pin properly. second they will have you climb into and out of a trailer. assuming they use an actual trailer not something they put together. they may do more.

    now regarding shifting. if its a 10 speed with an empty trailer you can start in 4th. theres no need to push gas pedal at same time. just hold the brake and slowly release the clutch till you feel it start to pull them release the brake. if its an 9 spped then you can start in first or second
     
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  4. zrb888

    zrb888 Bobtail Member

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    Oct 13, 2010
    Manahawkin, Nj
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    Don't be afraid to ask questions while in school. No question is a dumb question in my opinion. When I went to cdl school it was a 2 week course. The first week was classroom stuff and going over pretrip and the cola test. The second week I drove on city streets and highways for 45 mins a day for 4 days. To me it should have been more. The rest of the day we were in the yard practicing backing up. Double clutching isn't that bad once you get the hang of it which shouldnt take too long for most. All of it should be explained to you doing training. As I said before dont be afraid to ask questions. Good luck in your journey as a truck driver.
     
  5. RedandBlack2014

    RedandBlack2014 Bobtail Member

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    May 21, 2014
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    I appreciate the information. The pre-trip stuff seems pretty extensive. I'll just need to keep reading my CDL Manual and doing practice tests. I'm not too worried about the physical portion of it. I mean, I am overweight. But I still remain at least semi-active. Especially with the job I'm currently in. I'm not going to go sprinting up and down flights of stairs. But I can carry heavy things over and over again without issue.
     
    mje Thanks this.
  6. AZS

    AZS Honk if anything falls off

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    PHX, AZ
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    If you don't get your permit ahead of time you'll have to go with most everyone else to MVD and get it as a group, it won't happen the first day I don't think but my advice go get it ahead of time, it's pretty easy just read the questions carefully, they will try to trick you on a couple of them.

    Source, I was in your exact same position over 3 years ago. Swift is fine for a starting place.
     
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  7. RedandBlack2014

    RedandBlack2014 Bobtail Member

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    May 21, 2014
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    If for whatever reason I fail the CDL Permit test, will that have any bearing on my training with Swift? Like, will they make me wait 30 days before retesting or anything?
     
    mje Thanks this.
  8. freightwipper

    freightwipper Road Train Member

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    The pre-trip is a lot to learn to get your CDL
    you will NOT be doing all that in your pretrip once you are out on your own
     
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  9. AZS

    AZS Honk if anything falls off

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    PHX, AZ
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    no they had several people fail in my class, think you get three chances but you won't need more than one if you study hard.
     
  10. Wolfyinc

    Wolfyinc Road Train Member

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    yeah you get 3 chances then they will send you home and you have to get it done on your own time and dime after.
    The trucks are normally 9 speeds, you dont get a ton of behind the wheel but you will be eating, drinking and dreaming pre trips after.
    There were a lot of people sent home because they didnt show up with the correct paperwork that the recruiter failed to tell them about, I cant think off hand but I recommend going through the Swift section because some of these questions have been asked numerous times and answered so you might find some info you need.
    As for the class size im not sure about the 60-70, when I went my class started out with 34, by the time we left the classroom after a couple days we were down to around 20 after people were sent home due to lack of paperwork, failed permits etc. By the time we got to the end when it was road test time the class was down to 14 or so, I do not know how many more went home since I passed my road test first time but I know a few failed.

    Keep alert, learn as much as you can and be careful, thats my best advice.
     
  11. Toomanybikes

    Toomanybikes Road Train Member

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    Better do more research. Swift is no "by the book" company. They will and have pushed drivers to run illegal.

    They are so not by the book that their own training school got shut down by the feds. some five years ago. It was called a CDL mill and the driver's CDLs got pulled.

    All the "red tape" is by there own construction.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
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