More O/O challenges: Image, health, parking…
Health, Smith says, “will be a big focus at the [second annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention] in October in Kansas City, as Rick Ash of the Trucking Solutions Group and Elaine M. Papp, Medical Programs Division Chief at the FMCSA, will be presenting.” Find more about the meeting here.
I ask the truck stops to start carrying fresh fruit, install lighted walking paths around your facilities. Have a health-care provider on-site — a nurse or nurse practitioner, someone who knows where local services can be obtained.
If health is our concern, then the truck stops need to help: a little less soda, a little more green tea; less pizza, more fresh fruit; a few passive workouts like a pull-up bar, etc. Drivers might use it, and your facilities, more.
This is a concern that few put high on the list. The FMCSA has failed to recognize this as a problem, likewise many of the motor carriers. Instead, it appears that increasing regulation seems to be the answer for inadequate training. Recruiters for a truck driving career continue to offer false hopes and promises. Ads of making “$60-$100,000 yearly with no skills required” draw many into the industry, who might spend as much as $10,000 for a CDL license only to find out that the school failed to tell them that they may not be hired because of medical problems, obesity or violations and felonies.
Many CDL schools have little hands-on training, and many graduates are left to learn how to drive with the company trainer. Some of these trainers are new drivers themselves with as little as three months’ experience.
Many trucking industry problems can be solved by creating standards. The turnover rate for 1st year students is near 200 percent with an extremely high first-year failure rate. The training is many times set up like a team-driving situation, the trainer sleeping while the trainee is driving. This is for nothing more than to move freight cheaply, as the new driver has been known to receive as little as 17 cents per mile.
Smith also noted lease-purchase programs with high monthly payments and insufficient mileage to make those payments as another negative aspect of the lack of training standards.
A statistic that many don’t realize is not to be found is the number of crashes involving drivers less that one year of experience. I’ve looked all over, and it’s not to be found, so what criteria is being used to determine that there is no need for improved training? Among the statistics found in the Trucks Involved in Fatal Accidents file (TIFA), there are no stats correlating fatal truck crashes associated with new driver trainees. There should be.
With carriers all up in arms about the “truck driver shortage,” you would think that better training would be their priority, especially since “quality drivers” are in demand. In the past it was acceptable to have high turnover rates and high failure rates of first year students. It kept the truck driver shortage notion alive, and a continuing stream of first-year, low-paid drivers moving freight.
Today, the truth is, companies are faced with a huge dilemma: Now that CSA is in place, they need quality drivers and safe drivers, however that means that they will need to pay higher wages, something they have not had to face.
The fact is, if you want well-trained, safe, quality drivers, you’re going to have to pay them. If not, continue to scratch your heads and try to figure out a way around it.
The parking shortage is fact in many places. There are far too few good, safe places to park.