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Truck Driver Training is Serious Issue for Industry

Mar
4,
2010
9

By Allen Smith

Allen SmithIt is often very easy for veteran drivers and trucking company officials to overlook the importance of truck driver training for CDL students and new drivers.   With years of experience, the possibility of becoming laxed over time can lead to deadly consequences.   Many issues within the trucking industry have remained swept under the rug for years, including the lack of proper training for new truckers.    The seriousness of proper truck driving training and the lack there of, was pushed into the main stream media through our blog about one and a half years ago, through the writings of a newbie trucker known as Trucker Desiree.

Originally met with a great deal of hostility by drivers and trucking organizations, today, the issue has grown into a more acceptable situation where many trucking individuals are finally realizing and commenting on the fact that the industry indeed lacks proper truck driver training skills in many areas.   Although there are many excellent trainers in the industry, there is still a long way to go in order to bring about further stricter guidelines for driver trainers.

Calling oneself a trainer, does not make one a teacher.   Teaching involves the skills and ability to present the lessons being taught, in an acceptable and understanding manner.  Teaching requires the trainer to place themselves in the same situation as the student.   Nervousness, fear and anxiety . . . all the emotions that a new CDL student will encounter, all have to be recognized and understood by the driver trainer . . . the teacher.    A trainer may have thirty years of driving experience and a perfect record, but without the understanding of teaching and how to teach, the student can often experience higher levels of anxiety and disappointment.

There are endless stories of CDL students being yelled at and even having been “thrown out” of the truck by the trainer.    Trainers in other professions are required to attend a trainer course and various other forms of class-training to become certified as a professional trainer.  Within the trucking industry, most often it is a matter of the company telling an experienced driver that they are now a “trainer.”    More thought must be placed in the equation when determining who can be a trainer and who cannot.    Training and teaching goes hand in hand, and just because one can drive an 18-wheeler with the utmost skill . . . does not make them a teacher.

When choosing which driver will represent their company as a driver trainer, the trucking companies should look at some basic qualifications as to what makes up a good teacher:

  • Explanation skills – Being comfortable with explaining content to students is an essential skill for teachers.
  • Cool under pressure – Good teachers are able to successfully resist the urge to yell or scream at their students.
  • Have a sense of humor – Research has shown that good teachers have a sense of humor, and that they are able to use this skill as part of their training methods.
  • A “people” person – Liking people is essential for being a good trainer/teacher.  Drivers considered as “Loners” are not the best choice for trainers.
  • Are Fair-Minded – A good teacher is able to assess students on the basis of performance, not on the their personal or physical qualities.
  • Have Common Sense – A trainer should be able to size up a situation quickly and make an appropriate decision.
  • Set high expectations – A good trainer/teacher should set high expectations for themselves and their students.
  • Have organizational skills – They should be organized in their professional and teaching duties.
  • Understand time management – Managing time to achieve the best end results for both the trainer and student.
  • Is a Leader and not a Follower – Being comfortable in a position of a leader within a very stressful industry.
  • Not taking things for granted – You were once in the same situation as the student.  Keeping this in mind will make you a better trainer.

Drivers who understand the importance of the role of a professional driver trainer can continue to release safe and skilled drivers out on the public highways.   The driver trainee should never be released before the designated trainer has stated that they are ready.  This means that the trucking company should allow the driver trainer to be the sole person to determine when that time has come . . . not because the company needs to get the driver out there ASAP.

It should also be noted that rules for driver trainers should be adjusted in order to meet the demands that are placed on trainers.  Running the truck 24/7 is not a good idea for a trainer-student combination.   At some point, trucking companies and the industry must realize that the trainer must rest and receive the required sleep that is needed to function in a logical and professional manner.    If the trainer is sleeping in the bunk while the student is driving, where is the safety and professionalism?   All too often, the company becomes laxed in their decision making all for the sake of getting the freight down the road.  What is loaded on the trailer should never be more important than the safety of the driver trainer and student.

This video shows an 18-wheeler, being driven by a student CDL driver losing control of the vehicle while going down the 7,085 foot Donner Pass . . . while the driver trainer is sleeping in the bunk.   Both student and trainer were killed:

Most professional truck drivers understand the importance of proper truck driver training.   The time has come for the trucking companies to understand it more as well.    Allowing for additional time between load pick up and deliveries . . . providing additional rest periods and understanding that both student and trainer will need added comforts, different from the solo driver . . . will prevent tragedies like this one from happening.   It will also provide more safe and skilled drivers being placed on our nation’s highways.

© 2010, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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9 Responses to Truck Driver Training is Serious Issue for Industry. - Post a Comment

  1. Tanya Bons

    The problem lies with these trucking companies. They offer extra pay to entice people to train and yet they do not test/educate the trainer nor do they run the truck like student and trainer – they run it like a team. Truck driving schools teach the students how to drive and get a CDL but it is the trainers at the company that must teach the students how to make a living and stay alive driving truck. We, Eagle, train on hills but not mountains because we are in northern Illinois so it makes sense that a trainer should be sitting in the passenger seat making sure our student can handle their first venture up/down a mountain – BUT that is not the case, many trainers are in the bunk sleeping and waiting for their time to drive. What has this got to do with training? I’m not sure but I do know the guy sleeping in the bunk is getting some extra bucks for his nap. We try to train our students for everything but that doesn’t mean they’ve actually been behind the wheel experiencing it. Companies and trainers need to pay more attention to creating safe drivers rather than just filling the seat. Maybe we need a “DAC” report on some of these companies.

  2. […] rest is here: Truck Driver Training is Serious Issue for Industry | AskTheTrucker Share and […]

  3. Allen Smith

    All true, and of course the driver trainer cannot be blamed for having to sleep and rest. There will always come the time that the trainer has to get sleep and in the case of this horrible accident, who knows the full story? The driver could have told the student to wake him up when they reached Donner Pass, and the student could have failed to do so, believing that they could “handle it.” Many scenarios can take place between a trainer and student, not always being the carelessness of the trainer . . . who knows? Trucking companies will have to step up and set in place strict rules to be adhered to by both student and trainer to prevent such accidents from happening.

  4. Intouch MVC

    Here is a solution for trucking companies. Companies should install truck tracking devices to track all activities of truck drivers. You should keep vigil eye on drivers and vehicle movements. This suggestion will help to control educated/uneducated drivers.

  5. Allen Smith

    Most of the mega trucking companies already have this, in the form of Qualcomm, etc. …

  6. […] Truck Driver Training is Serious Issue for Industry […]

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    Hi there, You’ve done a great job. I will definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this site.

  8. NewToThis

    Hi, I really appreciate the information you have on your website. I just received my CDL after attending a school. Yes, I know exactly what is being said about training, and the school I went to, while good, really did little more than the minimum to prepare me for the skills test, pre-trip, and road test. I wasn’t concerned knowing that whatever company I get on with will have me out with a trainer until I’m ready. I’m a careful driver anyway, and safety conscious. But now I’m really concerned, because what if I get on with a company who doesn’t really care, and a trainer who’s more interested in the extra pay than actually being a hands on trainer, and I’m put in a position where I’m over my head, and things can go wrong in a hurry. I guess I will do a lot of research to identify those companies who really do take training and safety seriously, and not just giving lip service about it. I saw that video on youtube as well, and hard to believe a guy only having his CDL for 9 days, was put in a position like that. But like you said, who really knows the whole story, and if there was a malfunction of some sort, or he overused the breaks and caused them to fail. I just hope I get a good trainer!

  9. Allen Smith

    Just remember to take your time and learn from your trainer. That big rig won’t do anything without you allowing it to. Take your time and ease into it, always thinking “SAFETY.”

    Don’t let anyone else rush you until you’re ready and you’ll be fine. It’s a lot of “Common Sense” … take it slow when your backing into a dock or at a truck stop, etc., never mind who’s watching, etc.

    I used to practice blind-side backing at the truck stops when they were not full and there were plenty of parking spaces around. Things like this … just common sense and keeping cool and building the experience that will come in time.

    Best of luck . . . Allen

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