A new effort is being launched by the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) to raise the bar on driver training standards, especially for new drivers entering the industry.
“The trucking industry desires the safest possible highways,” said ATA president & CEO Bill Graves. “By raising the training standards for both students and instructors along with the testing requirements to obtain a commercial driver’s license, we ensure that only highly trained drivers are traveling the nation’s roads.”
This new policy, adopted at the ATA’s winter leadership meeting earlier this month, calls for the federal government to require stronger training standards to ensure that drivers are truly prepared to deal with real-world driving conditions. It also calls upon the industry to embrace competency-based training standards, provides guidance on the qualifications for driver-instructors and promotes tougher commercial driver’s license testing for new drivers, Graves said.
ATA’s stance reflects a movement among carriers in recent years trying to make driver training more rigorous. For example, West Chester, PA-based LTL A. Duie Pyle opened its own in-house Truck Driving School in 2003– a 15-month program that includes eight 40-hour weeks of combined classroom and range work; two to four weeks of one-on-one tutoring in a tractor-trailer on the open road to build technical skills; and comprehensive CDL exam training.
Those new A. Duie Pyle drivers then complete up to 12 months of full-time commercial driving in low-pressure situations where they further hone their driving techniques and customer service skills, said Peter Latta, the company’s chairman.
“Do we need good drivers? Absolutely– but this is about more than just filling the seat,” he said. “We’re taking [dock and warehouse] employees who have demonstrated their commitment to the company and we’re investing in them, turning them into safe, productive drivers.”
KLLM Transport Services started work on improving its driver-training program last year in May when it signed an agreement with Instructional Technologies, Inc. (ITI) to provide Pro-Tread Driver Training to its fleet of nearly 1,400 drivers.
“We want to provide and maintain safe and healthy working conditions, to train our personnel and to use work procedures and practices that will minimize the exposure to accidents of our employees, our vehicles, our property, the cargo of our customers and to the public,” said Rick Parker, KLLM’s director of safety. “We are always looking for ways to improve our safety record.”