I wonder sometimes how difficult it is for the person who is just about to make the leap into this industry to get a good start.
When I think back to my start I really had it all mapped out for me, dad was a trucker and I was going to be well schooled including the kick in the butt when needed. I was in my early teens when I started spending most of my summer breaks in the truck with him. I witnessed the way things were done back then and it always stuck with me. I saw him hit the brakes whenever there was another truck on the side of the road with its 4 ways on or the hood up, no question it was immediate, we were there to help.
To date myself this was the time just before CB’s became popular and just like any other technology they weren’t all that cheap when they first arrived on the scene either. I was taught how to read a road map over many coffees in many different truck stops, so were here in Tennessee heading to here in Texas, how are you going to route us there? I spent more than my fair share of time on the ground also, servicing, greasing, and performing all the minor repairs that saved a few bucks that would have been given to a repair shop. The real lesson though was how to fend for yourself when an on road repair might be required, it was fix it yourself time and if you couldn’t you at least had gained enough experience by crawling around under the truck for all that time to know if you were being scammed or oversold on a repair. I was shown how to axel weigh and what a bridge law was and I was also shown how to get the job done if you couldn’t quite get it right, not that any of that exist today of course. I learned what a logbook was and how to fill one out; nuff said there, we got the job done driver! When I look back I was trained schooled mentored whatever it’s called over a 4-5 year period before I ever took the wheel by myself and I was prepared. I remember being scared silly the first time I headed out on my own in a truck at the ripe old age of 18 but I got it done and brought it all home in one piece, I think the old man was pretty proud of the kid on that day now that I reflect on it.
So how is it getting done today the training of these new drivers, I know I couldn’t do it, don’t have the patience for folks, and wish I did, but I don’t. I believe that one of the most important groups of people in the industry today who get very little recognition is the driver trainer of the world. We have dispatch awards driver and owner/operator awards all the time and not that these folks are not worthy of our praise because they are. I will tell you one thing for sure though without a good amount of time in a truck with a good quality trainer who instills the type of foundation a driver needs to move forward and become a professional not to many awards would be handed out. I wonder if these unsung heroes don’t get a real charge when one of the folks they helps train wins one of these awards, I bet that more than a few of this breed walks a little taller when this happens.
Those safety managers who read my ramblings know what I speak of, a good driver trainer is worth their weight in gold. They set the tone for the raw recruit’s future and not just for the individual company but also for the individual’s entire future in our industry. You can take all the best training in the world but unless there is a knowledgeable companionate individual with the patience of a saint and the skill to be able to teach, you will not reach your full potential as a driver.
The proper training of this industries work force has become a favorite discussion as of late by people like me who have an unswervingly believe that a solid foundation starting with a quality school followed up by the trucking company supplying a quality finishing program is critical to an new drivers success. I would be remiss if I didn’t put a plug in this part of the article for the apprenticeship program that is available for entry level drivers it’s an excellent program that is a natural extension to any finishing program, if you’re not part of it yet get with the program it has great value.
Here’s a tip for you wannabe drivers out there, after you have done some research and found a quality training school and a word to the wise they won’t be the cheapest and before you sign on to a trucking company find out what their finishing program looks like. You want to know the duration and intention of the program, is the intention to teach you in real life situations the skills you learned in school or is it to get as much work out of you as possible with another driver before you go out on your own and are they a supporter of the apprenticeship program? Check it out.
There are so many unsung heroes in this industry, folks who are taken for granted who without a company could not function they are relied on to perform day in day out at an optimum level. I have been thinking of these folks lately and Kudos to all the driver trainers who might be reading this article and thank you for your dedication.
Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations. All posts by Ray Haight