Welcome to the wild, wierd and wunnerful world of trucking. You'll love it, you'll hate it... often in the same day.
Don't overload yourself with info.... you have lots of time and things will vary with what you do. Some of it will take months or years before you'll need it. Concentrate right now on the basics that Swift will teach you and master those... then the rest will become easier.
Don't worry about a TWIC card right now. If Swift wants you to have one they'll tell you.
Keep the shiny side up and the greasy side down driver.
New soon to be swift trainee!
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Thanks kittyfoot great advice. I'll take it easier and learn all I can while in swift academy. Just wanted to make sure I had all the paperwork and information needed so nothing slows down the start of my trucking career. I'm sure once it starts Monday, I'll be glad I put so much work into getting the necessary things prepared and once the learning starts I'll be like a sponge absorbing everything I need. Again thanks very much for leaving comments and advice. Any and all are welcome.
Thanks balakov100, I guess I'll find out for sure when class starts Monday. I just need to be able to personally touch and see the engine section to fully understand that and the suspension parts. I seen them in diaphragms of trucks but it's not the same as in person, on the truck that'll be apart of the DMV test.
@PanteraUSMC thanks for answering my questions! What you said about the twic card, and any other item I may need, makes a lot of sense, I'll wait until they tell me I need it. I'm hoping I can stay with them for a few years so I can set the foundation for a true career. Don't want to hop from one place or another, I know that looks bad to potential employers.
About the pre-trip inspection, you're right, it's the schools job to make sure I'm ready to pass all the tests to get started. I'm going to stay as focused and pay attention to every little detail I can. I'll relax.
Trip planning, thanks for the descriptive NYC route, if I ever need it I'll make sure I refer back to it!
Teaming- yeah I'm for sure wanting to be solo, it is way way more desirable than teaming is. It just makes sense for someone like me, because I don't think I would trust someone else driving while I'm sleeping. I respect people who do, its just, it's not for me. I'll do it for my 6-8 weeks of training swift requires me, but that'll be it. Solo also will allow me to stay out as long as I want and when, without worrying about what my teammate wants to do about home time.
Night life- I'll never let that get in the way of this, I have a huge desire to do this. If someone knocks on the door when I shut down, I'll be careful to slightly open that window to find out what the person wants. I have no problem assisting other drivers, but I'll never let anyone in the truck at night, much less any other time. I give people chances, but like you said, common sense is the key.
Home time- I been thinking about that, I may just do all I like to do on my 34 reset. I'm pretty low maintenance so anywhere that I haven't seen or visited before would suffice for home time for me. I've heard once you get in a routine and freight is coming and you're rolling and then you take home time, it can take you out of the good freight routes with miles and you have to build back up to where you were before taking it. Is that true?
Again thanks a lot for taking the time answering my questions.
Hey Newtrucker, welcome to the forum!
Sounds like you are in a pretty good position to be an over the road driver! You can usually tell by what people say as to whether or not they are cut out for this industry. You should do just fine at Swift and at the very least it will be a starting place for you. You have a good attitude so that will help you go a long way with some of these companies.
As far as the schooling goes, its not rocket science and unless you have a learning disability you will do just fine. So I wouldn't stress about it. The driving part is either going to come to you or not. Usually isn't much of in between.
Don't stress about the night life. Avoid parking in the back row of truck stops and also whenever possible avoid the larger city truck stops and you will be fine. Maybe once a year someone may knock on your door. Unless they are breaking into the truck just ignore it. Put a bungee cord from your air horn to your door handle on both doors and if someone does get your door open the air horn will go off like an alarm and wake you and your neighbors! Just be street smart and always pay attention to your surroundings. Don't put yourself in bad situations. Never let anyone on the steps of your truck though. That is when you speak up, be stern and tell them to leave. If they don't you put the truck in gear and drive off. Don't paint yourself as a victim out there.
The teaming thing you either love or hate. Personally I have been teaming most of my life and I like it better than single driving. Plus the money is a lot better. Unless you are with a spouse or good friend you do take a risk of who you are driving with but if it doesn't work out then you find someone else. With that being said, even your best friend or spouse could turn out to be your worst enemy after living in a truck together. It is kind of weird though in that you really don't see as much of each other as you think. Someone is always in the sleeper for 11 hours while the other is driving so you really only talk or see each other for a few minutes in between. As a team you are always moving so its not like you are stuck in the truck together at a truck stop, sniffin each others farts! You will get a little taste of teaming when you train but you will do a lot more sitting around together because your trainer won't be sleeping while you are driving so you may end up doin some fart sniffin at truck stops for a couple weeks! All in all training is usually a lot of fun and you will have a blast! Most likely you will be nervous and wish you had more time with your trainer when it is over. Also if for any reason you feel they aren't training you properly or you just aren't getting along then you need to speak up immediately to either safety or your Dispatcher. Its not uncommon for trainee's to switch trainers and companies realize this. DO NOT DO ANYTHING ILLEGAL!!! Even if your trainer tells you to! This includes moving violations (speeding, U-turns, running scales etc...) anything in your log, over weight etc... Report this immediately to safety and request a different trainer. Your license is your bread and butter and you need to protect it as best you can! Don't let some shlubby super trucker trainer talk you into something illegal just because that is the way they do things and have done them in the past. Also don't let them you use you as a team driver. If you are running over 4500-5000 miles a week then you are being used. Speak up and switch trainers. Your trainer should also be buying dinner and paying for showers and such. Most of which they get free anyway on their fuel bonus card. You are making them good money so that is the standard operating procedure.
If you want to study ahead of time some of the tougher aspects of the test are going to be the airbrakes and logs sections. If you are getting your hazmat this by far will be the hardest part of the test. Don't want to scare you, its not hard, just the harder part of the test of which I would put more studying into. Every night before you go to bed maybe do a trip plan on your road atlas. This will get you familiar with everything as it takes some time to get used to trip planning. Pick a place to pick up and deliver, make up your pick up times and delivery times. Practice your time zones too. Say your terminal is based in Florida. This means your log books will be on eastern time always. Your pick up time is given to you in whatever time zone the shipper is in and your delivery time will be in whatever time zone you deliver in. This is tricky when you first start because you need to give your dispatcher a time of when you will be picking up and delivering so when figuring out how long it takes to drive to those places you also have to either add or subtract time zone times. This is especially important when running teams because you cross more time zones frequently and a lot of the loads are "hot" so they want pretty accurate times. So plan a trip every night figuring the times, miles, route etc... Make sure to check your routing in your atlas to make sure you have not chosen a restricted route or a road that has a low clearance. When configuring your time be sure to add for traffic, weather, showers, etc... Also the days of the week you are travelling will also make a difference on the time. Most people think the worst traffic is on the weekdays but in the summer, especially out west, traffic is way worse on the weekends! Especially those friggin RV'ers!
As for your home time question, yes, home time can really screw with your pay! Usually messes it up for three weeks. Reason being is that the week you come home you slow down to try and get lined up with a load getting you as close to the house as possible, then then week you take a few days off will be messed up, and then the week you go back out is usually slow going because it can take some time to get back into the flow of freight. Therefore when things are going good and you are running hard, DO NOT GO HOME!!! Only rookies do that! You stay out and make the money while the miles are hot! When it slows, then go home. After you have been there a little while you will get a feel for how the freight is going and how your company operates. This will give you a little heads up as to when you will be moving and when you will be sitting. There will also be parts of the country that will be harder to get a load than others. If you end up delivering in Florida it may be a bit before you can get a load out or they may dead head you to GA.
You can take your home time out on the road too. Say you are in Salt Lake and want to take a break and go skiing for a few days. Park the truck in a secure place, rent a car or hail a bus or cab and go get a lodge up in mountains with a jacuzzi and some ski bunnies! You can take time off where ever you want, provided you aren't under a load and have a safe place to park the truck. If you are going to be driving for Swift this shouldn't be a problem. They have a terminal or drop yard in just about every town in the US!
Keep us posted as to how things go for you and if you have any questions this is the place for them!
Good luck man....
Thanks very much Chompi! Appreciate you taking the time to give me the pointers and advice you have. Also thanks for verifying what I had thought about being in the path of loads and then taking home time and having to start over.
Packing now for my bus leaving tonight at 11:45.chompi Thanks this.
Arrived at the hotel at around 3ish for swift academy, met my roommate, he is a really cool guy. We are into the same things. So this 3 weeks of training is going to be easy on the "home" front. Now I just need to start class tomorrow and get passed the first 3 days! We are off July 4th, our supposed first day of range,but hopefully they add a day for it. Also my roommate is from the same state as me so our pre trip will be how Louisiana does it. He already supplied me with a pre-trip inspection sheet and gave me a mini quiz on information I should generally know about the tractor and trailer. I did pretty well considering after I passed my hazmat written test, I just focused on pre trip inspection and getting everything I need and may not need for class. I've met 5-6 classmates already as well, and we are hoping for a small class; seeing as we are the first at the new academy in Corsicana, Texas.
Going to call tsa tomorrow and check on my status, so that swift knows I did at least make the effort of getting my fingerprints out of the way and the thorough background check I've received for them. We may go to Walmart for some food tonight, not sure. Class starts at 6 am, bus picks us up at 545; we have already planned on going to breakfast at 5 so we should be set and ready by then. Also the hotel room isn't that bad, has a light out and the bathroom door is messed up but I'll make sure the hotel knows that was like that before we arrived. All in all I'm excited about my new journey and happy I signed up and did something for a career instead of my regular routine of going to my j.o.b. Anyway I'm going back to laying down and relaxing/reading the forums for my last day of freedom. Even though with coming to school I've never felt more free and alive. Later
Great day!! First off, day one, we had 18 scheduled people. 2-3 never showed, 1 woman was sent home for not having cdl permit. Advice to all students: if you plan on going to any academy, make sure you have your cdl permit,UNLESS, you are an out of state resident of Arizona and are scheduled to attend there. You'll get yours there. Our class has a lady who was sent home for losing her paperwork on the way to their academy and had to reschedule for this class. From what she says, Arizona is really really strict on what's needed. Also you have to have your physical done from an approved swift location; make sure and verify that the location in your home state is ok, or else you will have to pay for it again!! We spent the whole day basically at the physical and drug screen building for 6 of us, including myself, to get it taken care of. Here we had to pay 60 for the physical and 30 for the urine test. 90 total, plus food, supplies needed for class, and any other necessity.
Also, here, each road test you have to take is 60 dollars so make sure if you come to Corsicana academy bring extra money. AND make sure you have paid attention during range time, so that you only have to pay once. The instructors are amazing. I can tell you, if you happen to fail, it'll be your fault because I can't count how many times they have said ask questions if you don't know something, or need something. Very nice class and overall atmosphere. My classmates are serious about learning. I love them already and it's just my first day. Met the range instructor, he is a cool guy as well, I've never driven a truck but I have no doubt, NONE, that I will graduate. These guys know how it is, and maybe it's just us being the first class, but I can tell they want us to succeed. I'm pleased with swift so far. Very.
Sadly we are down to 11 people after the physical, our class ran to the local DMV and verified everyone's cdl permit. One guy may or may not have to go home because of missing needed test for his permit. Also one older lady, who the instructors is giving a shot, will take the combinations test tomorrow. She used to drive buses for a living so she should be good. I'll keep you posted. Oh, when you come, make sure the tests are within 90 days. They do check!
My advice is just to get everything if you are planning on coming so no one can say anything about you missing anything. By the way,update, called the tsa, and my application for hazmat has been APPROVED!!! Once I get my cdl license I can add the hazmat endorsement! So excited! Now, if you come to Texas the hotel isn't perfect, but you know what? It works, as of right now, swift is super above average for me. Come with the right attitude and you'll go far! They really want you to succeed. It's hard to describe, but my instructors, you just feel it down deep. They are there to help, and that willingness goes a long way for me. Tomorrow we learn logging, trip planning, and map reading. Going to bed now!
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