The benefits of online driver training

by Charlie Charalambous

Traditionally, the mere mention of training can be met with disapproval among professional drivers, and can cause frustration due to the inconvenience of scheduling. Getting a group together on a Saturday or Sunday morning is not the most ideal learning environment for today’s busy employee.

Carriers should start looking into new and innovative learning methods for a changing workforce.

E-learning, a buzzword for many years in the adult education community has now become more accessible and affordable, making it a realistic alternative for companies looking to keep their employees informed and engaged. For years e-learning was considered an expensive novelty.

With today’s technological advancements, this is no longer the case. Laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones have become a way of life for most people. Wi-Fi is readily accessible in most truck stops, restaurants, and coffee shops. Setting up a hot spot through one of your devices is only a few clicks away. Gone are the days of having to share the latest updates on VHS tapes, CDs or DVDs.

Through the use of technology, carriers now have the ability to provide faster delivery of their training updates with minimal costs and less environmental impact. Think of the benefits drivers can gain by learning the latest hours-of-service update at their own convenience and pace. At the click of a button, your administrator will know if a participant completed a module, as well as their final score on the knowledge verification module. These features are built directly into the courses.

By reducing or eliminating in-person group sessions, carriers are able to reduce their training costs. Traditionally, large group sessions required a training room, trainers to facilitate the content, time to create the modules, and let’s not forget, paying for overtime hours. The traditional method of on-site training is proving to be less cost-effective and very time consuming.

One detail that most people in the transportation industry have learned to accept and adapt to is that things are always changing. These changes include new laws, regulations, or procedures that have come into effect. These changes can alter how you do business. Using e-learning adds flexibility to your operation, so even if your driver is in St. John’s or Victoria, the same training program and/or update can be sent to their inbox with instructions on what training needs to be completed, as well as the training deadline.

The use of e-learning modules guarantees that the same consistent message can be delivered to all your employees regardless of location.

An experienced instructional designer can also integrate different learning styles into an e-learning program. Whether your participants are visual, auditory, or tactile learners, a properly designed e-learning training program can incorporate each element.

While you may not be able to have a driver demonstrate how to complete a pre-trip inspection on a computer, there are a variety of interactive methods available that will simulate the experience as closely as possible. The next time a driver is back at your facility, this is the opportunity for a safety manager to take a few minutes and have the driver demonstrate what they’ve learned.

The use of real videos, properly integrated into your programs, allow for real life demonstrations on how to complete a task.

Adding voice-over audio ensures that the message is received and the user is not just clicking through each of the sections.

One of the challenges that should be considered is the aging driver workforce. Millennials coming into the workforce have been raised on technology and will have no issues with completing their training on a tablet, smartphone, or laptop. An older driver may require some coaching and instruction to start.

However, you can turn this into a positive experience. Use e-learning as an opportunity to help your non-computer experienced employees become more comfortable with technology.

After a few short sessions, you may see their computer comprehension and comfort level increase. As trucks and equipment become more heavily dependent on technology, this will only lead to better long-term results for your staff.

E-learning is not the answer to every training problem. The need for instructors and safety meetings/training sessions will always be there. There is no true substitution for the interaction and engagement that you can achieve from a live instructor.

However, in an industry where time is at a premium, having the ability to provide real-time updates and training to staff can help your bottom line.

While calculating the ROI of training can be a challenge, the time-saving benefits alone have already put carriers at an advantage, especially in an industry where there is always something that needs to be communicated.

This month’s expert is Charlie Charalambous, training team leader. Charlie has worked in adult education for over 15 years as a trainer, instructional designer, performance consultant, training specialist and team leader. Northbridge Insurance is a leading Canadian commercial insurer built on the strength of four companies with a long-standing history in the marketplace and has been serving the trucking industry for more than 60 years. You can visit them at

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  • Reducing training costs should be achieved through improved productivity. The examples you have used of keeping up with industry change are primary training responsibilities of the carrier. Front line employees should be fairly compensated for this on duty training time.

    Driver training is already at a point that is pathetically underfunded. Downloading this time and cost to the already overstressed driver is a poor solution to a serious problem.

  • Alot of drivers now are required to do online training on their own time without compensation. If they don’t comply by a certain date they are not dispatched out until it’s been completed. Carriers saving yet again at the cost of the driver !!!