I was asked to start a thread about my experience with Swift and their driver training program. Here goes.
I applied online at the Swift website and a recruiter contacted me early the next day. She called and we talked about the program and what I needed to get done before she would set up a date for me to attend. She did not promise me a job when I completed the training and so far everything she's told me has been pretty accurate.
The recruiter sent me some forms that I filled out and sent back. Once that was done she sent me a link to a Swift website and gave me a login and password. I had to take several online courses and pass all of the tests. Basically it is the same thing as the CDL manual. It helped to have the manual right in front of me and it would have been even better had I read it before taking the classes.
After completing the classes, she located a local physician who was Swift approved to conduct the DOT physical. DO NOT go to another Dr. for your physical unless you know for sure they are Swift approved. You will just have to take another physical when you get to the academy. I specifically asked her who was paying for the physical an she said I was. The Dr. was surprised as he said that normally the company paid for it. I wrote to the recruiter again and she confirmed that I had to pay for it. When I got to the academy there were three people who had to retake their physical and two more who did it for the first time. Swift paid for it. Now there is a chance that it will come out of their pay if they are hired however, none of them have said anything about it.
Moving on. After I got my medical card I went down and got my CDL learners permit. You MUST have this before you can attend the training. A bit of advice, while you are studying for the CDL written test, go ahead and study for the hazmat, tanker, and the doubles/triples endorsements. I say this because the information will be fresh in your mind and it will make the tests that much easier. You never know when you might wish you had one of the endorsements when you are looking for work.
When all of this was done I called my recruiter and she asked me when I wanted to attend the training. I gave her a date and she set it up. Swift will pay for a bus ticket for you to get to the training. If you get kicked out for any reason you must figure out how to get home on your own. I chose to drive my own car.
Housing- Is at a local motel. A couple of the guys got bug bites and the academy leader called and got them moved right away. Don't expect it to be a nice place. They don't rent rooms by the hour but, perhaps by the half day?? You are responsible for the cost of the housing. In Lewiston the contract is $500. Swift has you sign a contract and loan agreement to pay them back. The loan is interest free. I didn't stay there as I have family in the area.
Day 1 of training- Class starts at 6am in the winter, 5am in the summer. The classrooms are in a small building but it's comfortable. The first day of class is the signing of all the paperwork and contracts. No big deal. Just remember to bring your SSN card, Learners permit, and DOT physical long form. They take copies of all that. The cost of the schooling is $3900. It's and interest free loan. If you are hired by Swift they will take $75 a wk out of your check for 13 months to pay it off. If you don't get hired then it's $300 a month for 13 months. Since I'm not obligated to work for Swift at then end of the training I don't mind taking an interest free loan.
When we met the instructors we were just told their names. I've been to a lot of classes and I found it odd they never once mentioned how much experience they had. Later on I found out that most of them had been driving for at least 15 years. It was pretty apparent that none of them had any knowledge about how adults learn. Just remember, they are truck drivers who are now teachers. Nothing wrong with it, just something to consider when they are giving you a class.
Day 2- Pee test and physicals. This was an easy day. They take your urine and send it to a lab and you won't get the results for about two days. If you don't hear anything then it's good news. As near as I can tell they use a 5 panel urine test. If you are taking any medication that you think will pop the test be sure to tell your recruiter. They will look it up and tell you whether you can drive or not with it. You may have to sign a letter stating you won't take it for 10 hours while you drive. Bring a letter from you Dr. saying you need the medication and it won't affect your driving a commercial vehicle. Finally, you HAVE to take the urine test. If you refuse you get sent home. If you fail, you get sent home.
The rest of the day was spent with presentation from an officer from the Port of Entry and learning to do pre-trip inspections.
Ok, I've written enough for now. I'll to add more tomorrow.
Swift driver training. What to expect.
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I'll start where I left off yesterday. I did forget to mention there was a log book class on the second day and every day after that we have to keep our logs current to our last duty change.
Day 3 through 5- 2 hours of pretrip inspections every morning and then straight backing for the rest of the day. You will straight back until you want to jump out and run over yourself. At the end of the day there is another 2 hours of pretrip inspections. We were tested on day five to see if we could pass the State exam.
Day 6- Today there was no driving. We had a map reading and trip planning class. I've had a lot of map reading classes and this one actually showed me how to read a road map. The test was no joke and it basically took most of the day to complete. It was open book and we could all work together. I would say it was a good class.
You are off Sundays.
Day 7- We were shown how to do a 90 degree ally dock and a right and left hand offset dock. We spent the day practicing both of these along with more straight backing.
Day 8- More ally dock, offset, and straight backing.
Day 9- In the morning we practiced the all of the backing techniques we'd learned. In the afternoon were tested to see if we could pass the State exam. When we were done with that we went right back to practice. In the afternoon they started taking us out on the road to learn shifting. All of the trucks have Eaton 9 speeds. We each got an hour of shifting today.
Safety is STRESSED. Every day we have a safety brief. The instructors are watching all the time to make sure we are doing everything safely. One of the guys didn't know how to start one of the trucks and I stood up on the step to tell him. I was pulled aside and told not to do that again.
So far I would say it's been a very good experience. On a scale from 1 to 10 I would give the school a 7 or an 8. There are some things that could be better but then again there are a lot of things that could be a lot worse. We aren't being trained to drive for Swift and it's stressed that they do not guarantee you a job once you are done. They did say that 100 % of the people who complete the course at Lewiston AND get their CDL, are offered a job.
That's it for tonight and you are all caught up.
Day 10- Cold wet and rainy. We were out on the driving course all day. We did two hours of pre trip inspections and then a few people were tested on it. Using the EXACT words is very important. We did more 90 ally docks and offset backing. Most went out on the road learning to shift, and finally another 2 hours of pre-trip before we went home.
The Swift instructors help you as much as they can. I'm sorry to say that we lost a student that had been there for four weeks. He just couldn't quite get the 90 ally dock figured out. It wasn't from lack of trying or from lack of help. Sometimes things just don't work out.
Thank god I found the WIA program. I was definitely about to attend SWIFT bootcamp in Millington, TN. No contracts for me. I'm not hating on nobody who has chosen that path though. Stay focused and do yo thug dizzle!B*Rocka Thanks this.
Day 11- We finished up the pre-trip tests today and the class ahead of us went off and tested in WA, OR, and one in ID. The ID guy tested at the Swift facility with a third party tester. He passed with flying colors. The folks in my class are heading out on the road next week for our road training.
I've noticed, as we progress, the instructors act like it is set in stone that we all want to work for Swift and that is kind of held over our heads. Since Swift has not offered me a job and one was never promised, I don't feel like I'm obligated to work for them. They did finance the school with no interest and there is no penalty for leaving or paying the loan off early. Even if I don't get a job I'll still have the CDL and perhaps be able to get a job with someone else should things not work out with Swift.
I'll give full rundown of the instructors when I am done.DocWatson Thanks this.
Day 12- Today we sat in the class room all day and watched video's and were subjected to death by power point. Most of the stuff today was about safety. Swift seems to have a strict safety policy, at least that is the way it is presented. One of the things I found a bit upsetting was the idea that truckers lay their lives on the line just like a soldier. They didn't come right out and say it, it just came across that way. I somehow can't imagine trucking matching anything I experienced in Iraq or Afghanistan. I guess I'll see what happens.
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