Training for Instinct: Proactive Driving

Nov. 25, 2014

How do you train drivers to use instinct while driving a CMV? What is instinct? Accepted definitions of the word, “instinct” tell that it is: “a natural or inherent aptitude, impulse, or capacity” (Merriam Webster, 2014). So the question is, “How do we train a person to do something instinctively when the natural aptitude may be lacking from the beginning?”

There is nothing inherently, “natural” about driving a truck… Or driving at all, for that matter. Humans were not naturally supposed to go faster than our legs can carry us and this is evident by what happens when we crash at any rate of speed faster than a run: We get hurt. The evidence would also point that driving is a stressful part of modern human existence, even further proving the statement that driving is not a natural thing that we do.

And yet, some people are “naturals” when it comes to driving. You ask them to back a truck into a parallel parking space and they are very quick studies about angles and timing and figuring out what it takes to get that job done. You ask them to judge speed and distance to maneuver a truck within a space cushion while making a turn and they can figure that out also.

The most notable case of this, in my experience at Crowder College Transport Training, was in a student driver I had who understood immediately what I meant by, “Truck drivers become really good at predictive sighting.” Predictive sighting means that professional drivers are constantly predicting what might happen next and preparing for it ahead of time. They want to see ahead ever farther than their eyes immediately can. They are interested in things that most non-professional drivers don’t even think about: What is going to happen next? They are proactive, not reactive, drivers. And this is where the instinctive edge that a professional has appears.

Stay tuned…“Teaching the professional edge” is next.

About the Author

Brandon Wooden | Curriculum Coordinator

With over 20 years of experience in the transportation industry, Wooden currently serve as the Curriculum Coordinator for Crowder College’s Transport Training program in Neosho, Missouri. He is responsible for developing and supervising the commercial motor vehicle, entry-level driver training curriculum and training methods.

Wooden earned his driver certification from Crowder and began driving for Sitton Motor Lines in 1993.  He subsequently worked as a driver trainer at McKee Foods (a.k.a. Little Debbie) for 17 years before taking a full-time instructor position at Crowder in 2012.

Wooden received a Master’s degree in career and technical education from the University of Central Missouri and is currently pursuing an Education Doctorate in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning from the University of Arkansas. He regularly speaks on the subject of adult education, training methodology, motivation and coaching, and is also involved in research in training methodology for the truck driving industry.

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