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Raising the Standards of the Trucking Industry

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Trucking Industry Needs better Recruiting and CDL Training to Survive

The Great Trucking Deception

The Great Trucking Deception

One of the most important issues to date is the pending effects that the soon government implemented CSA (formerly called CSA 2010) will have on the trucking industry. Many experts are anticipating a massive shortage of truck drivers within the next few years.  Supposedly, many drivers will be leaving the trucking industry because of their undesirable CSA BASIC scores, leaving a void of drivers. Also, seasoned veteran drivers are said to be getting older and retiring which is also being leading up to more drivers in demand.  Finally, many veteran drivers have been starved out to be replaced by newer, lower paid CDL graduates.

Is it really just the implementing of CSA that’s created the shortage, or is there more to it? After all, there have been thousands of CDL training schools throughout the country and carriers have had training programs and schools in operation for a number of years, so the question remains,
“Why will there be a shortage?”   Where have all the CDL school graduates gone?

There are a variety of reasons that drivers are leaving the industry, but theoretically, with the amount of people who have entered into trucking, there should be an abundance of drivers replacing those who leave.
The fact is however, those entering the industry, starting from CDL training schools and then to company training programs, have a very high failure rate for their first year.  Here are some of the reasons:

1 Poor Career Recruiting Tactics Many people enter the industry without the real knowledge of a trucking lifestyle.  Many recruiting ads advertise great pay, benefits, freedom on the road, no boss, etc… After a very pricey 3 or 4 week training school program (which many fail or leave) they begin their company training.  It isn’t long before they realize that the many weeks spent over the road, the very low pay ( as low as 12cpm for new drivers), harsh treatment, long hours, lack of parking, shippers and receivers not keeping appointment times, etc…just wasn’t the life it was cracked up to be.

Solution: Both school and company recruiters need to explain the lifestyle more realistically, explaining what to expect after they graduate including the pay scale for their first year.  ( which is as low as 12/cpm) Those ads saying “Make as much as a college graduate” just don’t cut it… Or how about the ones saying, “You can be a truck driver in weeks with very little training.”  Really? Driving 80,000 LBS,  keeping up with HOS and CSA laws, and maintaining all your paper work doesn’t take much training?

There needs to be guidelines put into place, preferably by the trucking industry itself, with a list of statements and questions to ask future students. The “if you don’t ask we won’t offer the info” is not acceptable.

2 Poor Advice given to CDL School Applicants- It is not uncommon for a CDL applicant to tell the school that they either have a past felony or DUI and they are then advised “not to put it down” on the application. This is one of the most common complaints we get.

People have actually been hired upon graduation and then pulled off the truck because the background check found out about it. Some even tell the company that they were told by the school not to disclose the information, but it does not matter! The school still gets paid and now the graduate is stuck with a bill and a useless CDL.

Solution:  Disclosure to be signed by student which states that if they do not answer truthfully TO ANY QUESTION their is a very high chance that the false information will be found out and they will no longer be eligible for hire upon graduating. School also needs to sign stating they have informed the applicant to answer all questions truthfully.

3 Government Grants and Programs – These programs are designed to create jobs by offering new skills to people.   The problem is, the CDL schools target these government agency “vouchers” ($$) and not question the persons qualifications who is to be trained. The next part of the problem is that the agencies, many times know nothing about the lifestyle of trucking or the additional requirements that trucking companies place on drivers to be hired.  The schools do know the truth about the extra requirements that companies are searching for, but will not divulge that information for fear that the agencies will start “screening” their applicants more thoroughly and then not send the prospective students….thus….NO GOVERNMENT MONEY.

Solution: The agencies should be required to do a complete background and medical check and then match it with carrier and government requirements to ensure there is no reason not to be hired upon graduating.  This should be done before they give money to prospective students and CDL schools. Also the agencies should understand the lifestyle of trucking and make sure the applicant understands what he/she can expect.

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Training Grants (20.235) for example, is a grant provided to persons who train current and future drivers in the safe operation of CMVs.   Its purpose is to promote the safe operation of Commercial Motor Vehicles, as defined in 49 U.S.C. 31301, through financial assistance.  This particular grant is not available to individuals, only those who train individuals such as the CDL schools or trucking companies which have their own CDL training program.  It is offered through the agency of the D.O.T. and office of the FMCSA and authorized through SAFETEA-LU.  The amount of Grants range between $50,000 to $222,000.

Guidelines and laws must be added to these grants if this program is to continue!!

Here is an example of a reputable school and how they handled a situation.

Recently we had been contacted by a gentleman who graduated from a truck driving school in Orange Park, Fl Oct 8th.  He was born deaf and has limited speech, but with hearing aids can pass the hearing part of the DOT physical.  The government agency sent him to a CDL training school in Orange Park, FL called National Training Truck Driver School. We would like to note that this school, along with his personal advisor Tal Miller, went above and beyond the call of duty for this man. They explained to him that it would be very difficult for him to be hired. Being passionate about the desire to drive a truck, he signed a paper acknowledging that it would be difficult to get hired but wanted to go forth with the training anyway.

The school is working, along with many others, to find him a company willing to train him. The school told us that he is a phenomenal driver with natural abilities. We are in also in the process of making numerous phone calls to try and give this man a chance at a career in trucking.

NOTE: There are many schools that knowingly  take students without considering or revealing to the student that they may have a poor chance in getting hired, for whatever the reason.

4 Poor CDL company Training Programs Need standards—Many of the trucking CDL training programs, the way have been set up, are designed for failure. The programs appear to be designed for one purpose: Move freight cheaply. Most hires do not last a year, either because of the low pay, little home time, poor treatment, or a combination of all 3.

The carriers have learned to churn these new hires over and over, thus maintaining the low pay scale. These companies also receive tax breaks and government incentives for hiring new CDL graduates, so keeping the turnover rate going is a win –win for them. Many times the trainers themselves have only been driving 6 months, with very little “trainer” training themselves.

Sexual harassment alone has significantly stifled women succeeding in these training programs.  The recruitment of women has increased to 20% while the % of women in trucking has not increased in the past few years and stays at 6%.  Why?  Retaining the driver for extended lengths of time has not been a part of the “bottom line” company plan or strategy.

Solution:  Regulations and standards for CDL training.

The truth is that CSA is not the only reason that the trucking industry is in danger of having a truck driver shortage.  It’s their own cunning and scheming ways that have caused the possible driver shortage crisis. By creating a false driver shortage through the years and by starving out their good veteran drivers, they have kept wages down for drivers and maintained a consistent churning of new drivers, thus the existence of veteran drivers keeps decreasing.

SO there you have it!

Honest recruiting and create rules, laws and guidelines for CDL training which are designed to retain drivers rather than create high turnovers rates and churning of new drivers.  Now add to that better treatment and higher wages, and you just might not have a truck driver shortage.

© 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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7 Responses to Trucking Industry Needs better Recruiting and CDL Training to Survive. - Post a Comment

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Allen Smith, Allen Smith. Allen Smith said: Trucking Industry Needs better Recruiting and CDL training to Survive: One of the most important issues to… […]

  2. Bill carver

    All that really needs to be done is to remove Government from the problem. The programs that train unqualified people hurts the people themselves, and we also need to remove the high turnover incentive. No new regulations are required.

    What we are doing is trying to make the noose look nice when government has these programs. No one (but me) is saying remove the noose.

  3. […] Trucking Industry Needs better Recruiting and CDL training to Survive | AskTheTrucker […]

  4. tw

    I don’t think veteran drivers are giving up that easily, a lot of them should could and are becoming owner operators. It’s the best thing for them to join ooida.

  5. micah moody

    Mr Smith i agree with all what you are saying except for this truck driver shortage you are saying may be out there. The truth be told,there is no shortage of drivers. There are plenty of people just like me who have a cdl. There are lying scheming recruiters, carriers, & so called training schools, for sure and i would say they are in the 90% range. However i have not yet read on your blog. The fact that carriers are always trying to force drivers to drive over h.o.s., giving drivers trips that cannot be done in the time given to complete such trips. Then harassing the drivers on their cell & qualcoms to complete this trip in the time given. Saying our other drivers do it. It’s a simple matter of basic math only so many miles can be driven in a certain amount of time. Based on speed limits,vehicle weight,weather conditions, & Terrain.
    Many drivers like myself choose to leave a very bad situation because the carriers just don’t care about anything but you delivering on their timeline, no matter how mathematically impossible to do by obeying speed limits and h.o.s.. Since leaving that carrier properly waiting to be routed while still delivering loads. (Yes, i checked my dac report it is clean.) There is no one willing to hire locally or otr without 1 to 3 years otr experience. So unless you are willing to drive without proper sleep intervals, no restarts to be heard of after driving your 70 hours. Because they want you to play the i have a fresh 70 every week game. you will either wither your health away,have a disasterous wreck killing others and probably yourself by
    not sleeping. So really there needs to be regs ensuring that carriers cannot place these heavy illegal burdens on drivers. Also the carriers should be the ones getting fined for over weight loads and violating hours of service. It would only be just., because they are the ones forcing it on the drivers. I know you and other drivers know what im talking about. One of many cases in point here in florida in the outlying area of baldwin close to jacksonville.
    We had a driver rear end a school bus. When asked why this happened, he said he was tired and told his dispatcher he needed to pullover and sleep. They of coarse replied ” we need you to do everything in your power to get that load there”. No mention of ,yes we think you should rest. So you do not jeopardize your life the lives of others and our all important load. Just your standard get it there or die trying. Everyone who has driven otr knows this scenario and the entire industry is aware of these practices. We all know why its allowed to continue, because the freight must flow. Even government agencies are afraid to interfere because if trucks do not move, neither does the economy or anything else in this world system.
    Respectfully, Micah Moody

  6. Allen Smith

    Hi Micah, and thanks for the post. You may not have been following my posts for very long … I have been saying for years now that there is no driver shortage, nor has there ever been one. I was pointing out the hypothetical driver shortage that the industry continues to push, which I point out that it is a self-made shortage. I first publicized that the driver shortage is a myth, nearly 5 years ago.


  7. Fed Up

    Agree with Micah….Trucking Company dispatchers are ordered
    to horsewhip the tired driver to the receiver without fail.
    They all just laugh at the driver and “HIS” problem.
    After the WRECK….the managers of course dont know a thing..
    and the driver no longer is employed by us…contact our lawyer.

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