Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful: Training Entry Level Drivers in Seasonal Driving

Dec. 19, 2014

“Oh the weather outside is frightful…” The song sings about sitting inside enjoying the warm fire, with the ones we love, not a care in the world about the hazardous weather outside. The characters in the song have made it home, safe, in-time for the holidays with presents and carefree spirits to enjoy the season. The reality for many OTR truck drivers is much different; incredible stress about money, slick roads, increased traffic, time constraints and trying to satisfy their three dependents: Family, Company, and Community.

How do we train the new entry-level driver in dealing with these festive-season problems? Many would say that safety is the main thing: Training in hazardous weather driving. At Crowder College we train students and company drivers using our skid pad and actual driving simulations so that drivers can practice maneuvering a CMV in extreme cases. We have had wonderful success teaching them the, “How” in maneuvering a CMV in hazardous weather. But what do we do for the new driver who is not fully aware of the stress hazards this industry offers in managing home, career, and safety during the holiday season?

Communication is such a necessary part of the CMV driver’s job and yet it is often overlooked in training. Sure, we train them how to communicate ETA and load information using the on-board electronics that our company uses, but do we speak to them about the realities of how much managerial communication is needed to make sure that everyone is taken care of during these times where stress is elevated and not everyone can sympathize with what the OTR driver’s job entails? Balance between home, company, safety, and community is difficult for some very high functioning managers in the business world. How can we expect an entry level driver whose eyes have been wide shut to the realities of OTR driving to ever manage these situations in a professional manner?

This industry, in the time of a growing driver shortage problem, needs to focus on how to educate the entry level driver in the skills required to not only manage the vehicle in hazardous weather, but in how to manage the hazards the holiday season presents to their families, communities and companies. Creating ownership in career is something that is necessary to keep our drivers engaged and cared for in a meaningful way.

As you, “over the river and through the woods” this season may you enjoy the warmth of family, the health of prosperity and the safety of professionalism. We at Crowder College Transport Training wish you and your families the very best this season and a prosperous new year in 2015.

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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