I started the Swift Driving Academy in Lewiston, ID on 1-06-14. On this thread I will do my best to inform everyone what I am going through and how they teach us to drive these big trucks. A little background on me, I'm 38 and spent the last 20 years doing residential construction. After the last few years of little work, a friend of mine threw the Washington state CDL drivers guide at me and told me to read it. After studying it a little I got online for a little research and almost immediately came across TruckingTruth.com. I have truthfully barely even glanced at the state book since. With the help of The High Road Training Program I easily passed all of my permit and endorsement tests, I have even amazed some of the instructors with the knowledge that I have coming in and not having any trucking background at all. Coming into Swift I was required to have my CDL permit with the combination vehicle endorsement and air brake restriction removed. I was also required to have my DOT Medical Card and Social Security Card. Day 1. Bussed from the Motel to swift at 5:45am. Class starts at 6:00am in the winter. We started out with paperwork, personal info check, SDA (Swift Driving Academy) pre-enrollment check, SDA enrollment agreement, SDA photograph and video release form, Tuition loan agreement ($3,500 at 0% interest paid back by weekly payroll deduction over 13 months with a weekly tuition reimbursement paid to me over 26 months), student housing loan agreement ($500 at 0% interest paid back by weekly payroll deduction over 6 months), and the SDA driving range rules. Next we went over to the terminal for the wiz quiz, no hair test. When we got back we were given 3 open book tests on shifting, hours of service, and trip planning. We then started our logbooks, BTW (behind the wheel) form which keeps track of our classroom, backing, shifting, and driving hours. Then we were given a copy of our state pre-trip inspection guide and our homework, write out the pre-trip inspection guide WORD FOR WORD, yea that's right word for word. It turns out that some people in previous classes had only been scanning it and not actually reading the thing. Took me until Wednesday and 23 pages but I got it done. Day 2. Had a lesson on log book rules and the proper way to fill them out, then was tested on it. Then went to the WA DMV to pick up the CDL test sheet ($100) and spent the rest of the day writing out the Pre-trip. Day 3. Started the day with 3 hours of learning how to pre-trip a truck including the sequence that the tester would like to see it done in. Then got put in a truck and learned straight line backing. Did countless trips of pulling forward 100 yards, stop, back up into the box, get out and look, get in, repeat. Did that for 5 hrs. Finished up the day with 2 more hours of pre-tripping. Day 4. Started the day with 2 hrs of pre-trip studying. Next it was back into the truck for 3 hrs of straight backing. After lunch I was shown how to do 90 degree backing and off-set backing. I spent the next 3 1/2 hrs off-set backing, pull forward for 100 yards then back up 100 yards while moving left 12 feet and stopping in the box while trying not the kill the cones, get out and look, get back in and return to the starting point. I only managed to kill 2 cones but they're resilient little things and usually pop right back up. After that learning experience we did 1 1/2 hr of pre-trip studying then called it a day. After class I went to the store and bought some index cards and use them to make flash cards of each component of my pre-trip with the name of the part on one side and proper explanation on the other. (Thanks Brett for the idea) Day 5. Started with 2 hrs of pre-trip, notice a pattern yet? Then 1 hr on the off-set backing course, I,m getting better but I still need more practice. Next I moved over to the 90 degree backing range. That was a frustrating couple of hours. You'd think that it'd be as easy as turning the wheel one way, letting the trailer swing around, then steering back into it. Unfortunately it just hasn't clicked in my head yet, but I'll get it. One instructor suggested that I buy a toy tractor trailer and draw out the course on paper to help understand how the truck and trailer interact with each other, I'll be picking one up tomorrow. After lunch I went back to the straight line backing for 4 hrs. I've got that down pretty good now. Finished up the day with 2 more hours of pre-trip. After classes I came back to the motel and did a few hours of pre-trip studying. Day 6. Today was a classroom day. It started with a SDD (Swift Decision Driving) power point presentation. Pretty basic 10 point defensive driving program. Next came the videos, Eaton Fuller transmissions (witch left most people baffled but I found pretty interesting), mountain driving, downhill driving, commentary driving (which I remember from driver's ed when I was 17) and backing techniques. We also had an officer from the Idaho Port of Entry come in and talk to us about weight limits, off-tracking rules and legal truck routing. Over all it was a very informative day. After class I went out and bought my first 18 wheeler.