Safety. It's one of the most important issues in trucking. While trucks and their drivers' habits aren't the only aspect of highway safety, the facts are clear: Good driving techniques are in many ways synonymous with safety on the road.
As an engine manufacturer, Caterpillar's role seems simple. We are responsible for producing advanced, environmentally friendly diesel engine products that move today's fleets down the road safely and efficiently. However, there's much more to it than that. It's also our responsibility to help our industry's drivers improve their skills and be the best, most professional drivers they can be.
The job of a truck driver is every bit as important and challenging as that of an airline pilot - so much so that drivers and pilots are licensed by the same government agency. And, just like pilots, drivers must undergo extensive training to keep their skills current and continue to use their vehicles effectively as trucking technology evolves. Good driving techniques and habits give drivers and employers more paid miles each year with a minimum of stress, producing alert, careful drivers - and naturally improving highway safety.
At the present time, Caterpillar is working on a new training program to help drivers do just that - improve their skills, and adopt more profitable and safer driving habits. The goal of the program is to help drivers and others involved with trucks maximize their performance, as well as that of their vehicles. By definition, good driving habits are those that relieve stress for the driver while helping the truck owner and/or fleet manager cut down on operating costs.
Common sense tells us that these same techniques also can improve safety on the road. For example, the most important action a driver can take to save fuel is to slow down. Instead of driving faster, drivers can log easier, more profitable miles by planning their trips in advance. This also helps them use their time on the road more effectively.
Designed as a series of videos and easy-to-follow workbooks divided into sections of related topics, the Caterpillar driver training program includes content that will interest everyone involved with the success of a fleet, including drivers, owners, maintenance technicians and managers. Among the topics:
n Time management, including trip planning, speed and stress;
n Effective shifting;
n Getting started and getting off the highway effectively;
n Ways to impact fuel consumption;
n Engine monitoring;
n Advantages of electronic engines;
n Parameters that aid driving;
n Cost management;
n Using the terrain to manage momentum; and
n The relationship between horsepower and torque.
By focusing on these and other related issues, Caterpillar can impact not only the drivers' profitability, performance and skills, but also how safe their driving habits are.
It's a win-win situation: Drivers are rewarded with improved professional skills, which enhance their value to their employers; fleet managers enjoy increased profitability and lowered expenses; and the roads are safer for everyone.