The current business environment means getting driver training right is even more important, creating professional truck drivers. The development of training, in the past, was all about getting tickets and ticking boxes. Training got drivers and other staff over the line to get a Driving License, Fork Lift License, Fatigue Management Accreditation, etc.
Good training has always been about something more, about creating workers in the industry who would get engaged with their tasks and would improve the way trucking operations work. With the shortage of truck drivers, with a rapidly ageing workforce, trucking needs to bring more young, well trained people into the industry as well as working on the culture within the existing workforce.
This is where new thinking about training has to come in. The industry needs something more, it needs to create a situation where driver perception improves among the general population. To develop a truly professional image for the truck driving population, drivers need to act in a professional manner and it is incumbent upon everyone involved in the industry to get the message out into the public arena.
A number of issues come up when training is discussed. There is always a debate about whether the training is adequate or whether it is good value for money. Exactly what needs to be covered is also open to debate.
One thing would be clear for many in the industry is the fact drivers who have just gone to a driving school and had the minimum of training required are not ready for the road. Many cheap courses just get the drivers to a point where they can pass the driving test, just, and get a licence.
Those few hours behind the wheel and concentrating on a few set routines do not go anywhere near preparing a driver for the kinds of things they are going to be expected to handle when they take their first trip down the highway in a truck.
More comprehensive preparation is needed, going through the basic elements which are vital to a truck driver being able to their job safely and effectively. This is where a number of responsible training providers are trying to take the industry.
There are two ways to look at this issue. One is to look at the licensing process and changing the way the truck driver is assessed to be fit to head out on the road. Instead of the lowest common denominator system we have now, a more comprehensive training requirement, ensuring anyone receiving a truck driving license has had enough time behind the wheel in real life situations to be safe when let out on their own.
The second strategy is the one being followed by DECA and a number of others, moving away from basic driver training completely and, instead offering a fuller program to take drivers who already have their licence and run them through a comprehensive program to ensure they are safer, responsible and fuel efficient when working in a fleet.