Truck Driver Training, When Will Quality Driver Improvements Take Place?


Experienced truckers in the industry today have seen, far better than those in bureaucratic positions and even those that run many of the carriers in the country today, just how bad the quality of today’s truck driver has actually become.  With many feeling that there is little, if any, hope that improvements will take place. Even with the advent of last years FMCSA sponsored meetings of what needs to be done to improve upon the training of new Entry Level drivers (by way of the Entry Level Driver Training Advisory Committee meetings) which was put together to offer ways for the FMCSA to enact legislation to make stronger improvements of how new drivers coming into the industry are to be properly trained so that our nations roadways might become safer, and so that companies will have a higher degree of more competent and capable truck drivers.

Part of these “improvements”, which many experienced drivers hope to see, are how trucking companies that have their own training schools and curriculum’s, will be required to meet specific training standards for new drivers, well before they are allowed to step off training courses, and into the public realm, where the decisions they make and how they respond to driving conditions, can become more critical to themselves and the motoring public.

Another aspect is people who have a “business” of helping people get their CDL license with little, or no, hands on training in a certified school. I’m speaking of places that offer you how to get your CDL license within 1 day, without having to pay the price, and time, of going through a truck driving school.  Granted, there are those who can step behind the wheel of a “Big Rig” and safely operate it from point A to point B without incident, but the ongoing intricacies that can become involved in day-to-day operations, in differing climates and locales, can present circumstance that the novice will fail to see and respond to appropriately, and in time.

The comments and concerns of the experienced driver today, and still ongoing, and many of them feel that instead of seeing better drivers entering the market, we are seeing more dangerous drivers behind the wheel instead.  With many of today’s drivers not knowing when they have actually given sufficient room to another vehicle, whether another big rig or car when passing, before stepping back to the right lane. Failing to give room to drivers attempting to merge left to avoid emergency vehicles, or others that are parked on the shoulder. How to make turns safely.  Failing to keep safe following distances from vehicles they are behind. Maneuvering for parking spaces in tight spots. Speeding through parking lots packed with vehicles and people moving around. Not having the patience to wait while drivers are attempting to get backed into parking spaces. Knowing how to read a truck atlas and which routes they can and cannot use. And the list just continues to grow, and grow, and grow.

On top of the driving problems, many are not adequately trained in how to properly and safely secure loads, along with tarping loads on open trailers.  The same goes with closed trailer units in ensuring that the load is properly positioned inside so that weights are properly distributed for safe movement. Drivers also need to be required to have the presence of mind to dress appropriately when they are expected to meet customers.

Image and attitude can be Everything when dealing with customers. I’ve trained more drivers to meet customers in a professional manner that garnered them “By Name Requests” from customers wanting them to come back and haul loads, which meant that their companies were properly presented as having drivers that knew what they were doing.

Until the FMCSA listens to drivers with experience, (along with those who work in safety departments within the industry that show strong, positive results within their companies due to practices that work)  and come up with proper standards that training schools and self-teaching trucking companies will have to comply with, and positive results are seen, then there will continue to be concerns by experienced drivers as to whether or not it is worthwhile to stay behind the wheel themselves, or to bail from the industry in favor of work elsewhere that keeps them from being on the road with drivers who continue to show themselves to not be safe to operate around.

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Hal Kiah

Hal is a 20+ year OTR Veteran driver and a 12 year military police veteran. He has also served as a dispatcher and has been a trainer for new Over The Road Heavy Haul drivers. Hal has performed “FHWA” inspections (now called DOT Inspections) . He has been instrumental in the last few years, aiding and mentoring other drivers via social media and personal communications as founder of Truck Driving Career, on Facebook and has a passion and goal of seeing that drivers are respected and recognized for their efforts and sacrifices in the trucking industry, recognizing that trucking is a Lifestyle, and not just a job.