What Do You Think About New Driver Training? The FMCSA Wants To Know


While there are still drivers on the roads who have been part of the industry for decades, the majority of truckers out there today are significantly greener than they were 10 years ago. With the driver turnover rate still above 100%, it’s no wonder that inexperienced drivers are the norm. With so many on the road, the FMCSA has begun to look at ways to ensure that the quality of these new drivers is high enough to keep our roads safe.

The FMCSA has just announced that they will have a “public listening session” in January where they hope to get some ideas for addressing the issue of Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT). The agency says they’re looking for input on “factors, issues and data it should consider in anticipation of a rulemaking to implement the [ELDT] provisions.”

This listening session will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST on January 7th at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, NC. In case you’re worried about not being able to attend in person, don’t worry, the discussion will be broadcast live over the internet. There is no word yet on how exactly the FMCSA will go about listening to ideas, in fact the name “public listening session” seems to imply that it will be more of a speech than a conversation.

Regardless of how drivers get heard, it is certain that drivers need to be heard. There are no limitations placed on who can drive a truck other than the CDL exam and DOT physical, and in some cases drivers without CDLs are getting a slap on the wrist and allowed to continue operating. Trucking is a dangerous career, not just to those who choose it, but also for everyone we share the road with. The barrier of entry needs to be high enough to keep out those who are making it more dangerous for us all.


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44 comments. Add a comment.

  1. Mike Dar says

    The vast percentage of driver Trainers are conscientious, at least when they start their experience in ‘training’ others… let just get that out there first, before stating some of the problems they have to deal with to accomplish their mandate.

    Conditions first.
    Most Trainers volunteer. A signifigant portion have only a years experience themselves and have not developed a multilayered approach to the aspects of the job. Such as having knowledge of multiple routes to the same destinations, safety hazards along the way ect. ect., This means they(less experienced Trainers) often are concentrating on getting the job done, moreso, than passing the knowledge(as they have little) onto to the driver being trained. Also many of these “short time
    trainers”, having, what may be considered, litttle time behind the ‘wheel’ themselves, do not bring the experience from other companies safety programs and those other companies safety priorities to the company they are now working for.
    In my opinion, trainers are underpaid. While I had been offered training positions a number of times over some 30 years of commercial driving, I never believed it was worth it.
    Some trainers believe it is ‘worth it’, on the basis of easing the job stress and workload on themselves. Obviously this is a human condition, but lets simply say, what does that pass onto the trainee? Not much as the trainee sees they are ‘doing the work(without needed direction) and being paid severly less than a rookie on his own. Sure, this may be incentative to learn, but the need for training is the issue, not trainer comfort.

    Any number of faults in behaviour result from Trainers that Train for the wrong reason, too many to list here, suffice to sat those faults create conditions for trainees that cause a noticible number of them to quit. Unfortunately, signifigant numbers of ‘quiters’ could have been qualified drivers.

    Then there is the other group of trainers that have many years experience. Taking the consideration that many consider training pay less than adequate, how motivated are they to give a well rounded out training experience to the trainee?
    For example, dispathers always give preferred treatment to the trainers, as they should, so as to accomplish the company goals via the most important end tool they have… the driver.
    Unfortunately, this preferred status very often includes ‘easy’, ‘quick’ and the safest of delivery routes. So the dispatcher is inherently part of the training process, but almost never responsible for the success of the trainee. This often creates a ‘insured failure’ in the trainees future as the job is not what fhe thought it was during training. This particular condition is more an affect as the subsecter in delivery product moves higher up the proverbial chain or chart in the degree of difficulty for accomplishing the job.
    Take, what anyone would consider a dirty and multi faceted subsector such as flatbed. Where securement of loads varies, often each day, for any number of days in a row.
    Just how is a trainee to fully experience so many methods, in say a months training? What keeps motivations high in dispatchers, traineers and trainees, especially when the last two consider themselves underpaid, and often the dispatcher considers a range of personal feelings about the Trainer/trainee package pay.
    As does the company, whom wishes to have drivers qualified, as that is where the profits soar.

    Much has been said over the years about how drivers are a ‘breed apart’. The conditions they experience truely reflects what was the old ‘cowboy’, the ‘range rider’. Poor pay, very uncomfortable conditions, lack of advancement opportunity and something, in todays work market only really experienced by our military…. poor conditions for a ‘family experience’.

    Ultimately, everyone wants rewards for their lifes experiences. The trainers have only a small advantage over other drivers in the difficulties of the job sector as described.

    A sore and beaten horse, pay.

    While I believe in as little regulation as humanly possible in most of commercial endevors, simply because regulation so often gets out of control cost wise, the safety and because of training, might be best thought of as an area where regulation is best applied. That reg should include more oversight on trainers daily activites, regardless of the ‘maverick/cowboy’ mentality inherent in the job. Ultimate responsibilty, creates a need for compensation, traineers are not paid enough… by far.

  2. Len Richardsn says

    Look trucking is broken you go out for 2 to 4 weeks get 2 days off and still be on welfare when it is all said and done. I hope that it hurts the Swifts and the Knights of the U.S. who pay new drivers far less than min-wage . Why because thay can. No one in his or her right will put up with what drivers go though , You are lied to at every turn , treated like less than human by shipers and recivers, and looked at with scorn by the 4-wheels . Why because thay can. OTR trucking is a rip off for new drivers ! And the feds just keep leting them get away with it . Let an airline try that
    We make this place work and what do we get .30 cents a mile. My god God wake up!!!

  3. sudon't says

    I only have experience with one company, in terms of training, but I saw a lot of room for improvement. For one thing, the trainer is incentivized to stay in the bunk in a couple of ways. In these trucks, there was only one bunk, “for insurance reasons.” Obviously, since only one driver could sleep at a time, the trainer and trainee couldn’t be up at the same time. Another incentive was that the trainer was getting the all of the truck’s miles. So it made economic sense to have the trainee to put down as many miles as possible. And of course dispatch treated these trucks as team operations – not training vehicles. Trainers responded to these pressures by putting the trainee behind the wheel at night for straight interstate driving. Very little actual training was done. Bad training is not always the trainer’s fault. They have to deal with the system they work in.
    As for turnover, I could solve that problem overnight. Turnover works for these companies. Keeps their mileage pay low, they don’t have to make any concessions to drivers – they just chew ’em up, and spit ’em out – and it keeps unions out. If they wanted to retain drivers, as a few companies do, they know what to do.

  4. ABE JOHNSON, Jr. says

    The problem is not that trainers are under paid. The real problem is the drivers are under paid. If the drivers were paid as they should be there would not be a great need for so many trainers.

  5. Sam says

    I’m 56 yrs old, so I guess my perspective is from “back in the day”

    I expressed interest in driving when I was young, and was trained at the place I worked back then. I stayed after work, and spent an hour a day backing in the yard. In and out of dock slots. After a few weeks of this I was allowed to deliver on city streets with another driver in the cab. I did all the driving. A couple of weeks of this, then it was up to the mountains. Old Transtar 4070, 300 Cummins, 13spd Roadranger. I remember being very nervous. The guy across the cab said that it was up to me, he wasn’t going to be able to come across the doghouse and help out. That put the fear of God in you.

    We learned by doing, not sitting in classrooms listening to guys that knew precious little about the day-to-day job. You simply got in the truck and drove it.

    Employers invested in their employees. Simple as that. Training was all on-the-job. No schools.

    The school system is a sham. No real meaningful seat time. It’s my opinion that time is better spent driving rather than learning the theory of air brakes……those things take care of themselves. It bothers me that these businesses take large amounts of money, and offer sub standard training in return. Most graduating students are unemployable because they don’t have the skills needed.

    Quite simply, the employers have to train their drivers, and not rely on a schooling system to provide more grist for the mill. If the companies invest in their employees they’ll pay more attention to retaining them.

  6. mikeBabin says

    Wow. i have had my license for 25 years(commercial). I recently gt back into it about two years ago and here’e what i found. Incompetent trainers. Schools that don’t tell the truth about the industry. Widespread corruption at the top. Drivers that are severely underpaid for the responsibilities and expectations they have on them. Unreal expectations of the drivers that they try to attain. Constant and flagrant dot Violations particularly at the biggets companies such as Swift. Unsafe trucks that are usually doled out to new drivers causing frustration and danger. burning out new drivers to drum up miles for the company and the trainers, which reap the companies huge profits but for little for the green horn. Warehouse that make drivers wait some times for an exorbitant amount of time which the drivers do not get paid for. Owners ripping off drivers on their pay. Not paying tolls. Truckers make the country run and people inside usually dont have a clue what they have to go thru to get the product to the receiver. Undervalued drivers IE taking million dollar loads for Amaon etc.. and getting paid a couple nickels to do so while the companies reap huge profits. Holding new drivers hostage(forced dispatch). causing them to not get paid sometimes a living salary. Companies hiring OO that will drive non stop for 20 hours on paper. Often times a serious shortage of mts or trailers that are serviced and maintained causing undue stress. lack of certified mechanics on board and therefore underpaid techs that mostly could care less.

  7. Mejoan says

    I was just let go by England. They should be investigated for their awful training program. New drivers with only 6 months experience are the “trainers”. But they only do it to get the team driver miles.

  8. Larry says

    90% of drivers are paid below min. wage when you factor in all time they are responsible for their equipment. It does not matter if you are not on your logbook, by companies rules you are responsible for your equipment 24 hrs a day and therefore should be paid for 24 hrs every day you are away from home. A fireman is paid for all time at the fire house even if they are sleeping. So, Why is it that truck drivers are a sub standard employee?

  9. Larry says

    A trainer must never be treated as a driver. When a trainer as a trainee in the truck then that truck should never be dispatched as a team truck. A trainer should never be in a sleeper when the truck is moving. I have been a driver trainer and took pride in training someone. I was in the passenger seat when the truck was rolling unless I felt the driver was tired or should not be driving. I NEVER was in the sleeper when the trainee was driving. How can you train if you are not observing?

    Federal Guidelines for Training should be as follows.

    1. All trainers must have 2 years of incident free experience.
    2. All trainers must be in the passenger seat when trainee is driving.
    3. All trainees must have a min. of 2 months of being in a truck with a trainer and be tested by another trainer before being allowed to operate a truck alone.
    4. All trainers must be on electronic logs.
    5. All trainers must be compensated for all time away from home.

  10. under paid / overworked says

    no word yet on how exactly the FMCSA will go about listening to ideas, in fact the name “public listening session” seems to imply that it will be more of a speech than a conversation.


    since when did the FMCSA start listening to experienced drivers ? No suprise that there is a 100 % turnover rate when you can always train somebody who will work for far less while the companies get tax writeoffs for the scam they are pulling to make this reality. and you wonder why there is always a shortage of drivers ???? silly rabbit

  11. Steven A. Mangram says

    There are many problems with the industry that I love, but we are here to focus on how we our highways safe. It was not until I got my first job as a driver trainer at a truck driving school. The first thing I realized was, there is no standardized way of teaching the basic skills nessisary for a solid foundation for new drivers.
    Not only does the carriculum differ from school to school, it differs from trainer to trainer. It took me over six years to work myself into a position to make the nessisary changes to create a consistantly capiable studentsed the usage of the word “Train” and replaced it with instruct.

  12. Steven A. Mangram says

    I agee with the standards you have laid out, however the problem starts long befor a student gets into a company truck. It starts at the schools (which are mostly federaly funded) Next are the instructors, most good instructors wont stay becase of pay(1500 per month) and or beauracy. I have worked with burn outs, drug abusers, all in a school environment. Companies who go out and lease a school to do thier Intro Training, are not aware of just what kind of trouble they are buying. Wth out that solid foundation, the new drivers are a danger to themselves, the trainer and increase the companys liability 100 fold.

  13. Plain Jane says

    There always seems to be a bit of confusion about schools that are set up to help get someone get a CDL…that’s exactly what they are there to do….get someone a CDL. They are not designed to train someone how to become a professional driver….you attend school for 3 weeks (both classroom and field training)…the classroom training is to inform and teach a student about things like air brakes, DOT rules and regulations, pre trip inspections, etc…the field training is to teach a student the fundamentals of truck driving…double clutching, shifting, right turns, left turns, and backing. It is up to a company that hires that new CDL holder to train them out on the road. I had to attend school in order to obtain my CDL…and that’s exactly what the school did…got me a CDL because they felt that I did well enough to get one…then I had to be hired by someone who was suppose to train me during my 365 OTR driving hours. When I hooked up with what they called a “trainer”, the only thing he was worried about was getting paid for the miles that he drove, plus all the miles that I drove; while I was getting what they called “Student Pay” That’s where the fault lies; with the trainers: NOT the schools!

  14. says

    Hate to say it but the American society has gone to crap. We are no longer the people we were two generations ago. Now it’s what are you going to give me for the least amount of effort on my part. The majority of Americans now have their hands out for a freebie. That is why Barack Obama is still president. There is no longer consiquences for bad behavior (don’t be spanking your kids you abuser you) And now it has spread to what was an honorable profession. Truck drivers used to be the heroes of the highway, now we are a bunch of bums in flipflops and tank tops,throwing our pee bottles out the window,and trashing our very own safe havens.
    I am disallutioned to say the least and cannot wait until the day I can retire and move into the woods of Northern Michigan.
    PS All new students should be taught and expected to live by the Smith System of Defensive Driving. I have and do and never had an accident in over 3 millions miles.
    To you new guys all I can say is Look and Act like a professional and you will likely be treated like one.
    Good Luck and GOD help AMERICA.

  15. Tired says

    It’s true what Plain Jane said. Schools are for nothing more than acquiring a CDL. It’s the trucking companies that are responsible for what is released on the road after “training”. Trucking is not something that can be learned from a book. It has to be ‘hands-on’ experience. And again, as many of you have said, some companies exploit both the trainers and the trainees. My suggestion would be stringent guidelines that all companies have to follow and trainers teach according to those guidelines.
    The company I currently work for has drivers that run the trainees locally for 2 weeks or more, depending on the trainees grasp on driving, shifting, backing, inspections, etc, then they are sent OTR for 4 to 6 weeks with another trainer. Again, depending on how well they’ve done, they are again road tested, and if passed, they receive their own truck and the trainer follows the trainee for 2 weeks before he/she is released on their own. It has decreased accidents and there is always someone there to help if needed.
    And pay should be increased across the board for all truckers. The pay scale is no longer comparable to what is required for the job.

  16. Dan M says

    From my experience, driver schools can only teach so much. There is no replacement for having actual on the road experience. I remember my first six months of driving, and I remember all the accidents that occured from simply not doing it right. I have seen some of the new drivers out on the road. (Too funny). It shows to watch a new rookie driver trying to back up. (Give them plenty of room, and then some). LOL.
    The way the industry is now, the turnover rate is well over 100 percent. To provide extensive training to someone who will most likely quit anyway? The new rookie school trainee will quit after a couple months of being forced into OTR work. Perhaps they quit when they finally learn how little each paycheck is. Perhaps they quit after more carrier crap. Better yet, perhaps they quit when they discover all the CSA crap. The list goes on and on here.

  17. P.S.I. says

    How bout just teaching some common sence… My Grandmother can drive this truck down the road.. How bout, slow your ass down in a truck stop, no need to shift thru all your gears in there.. And kill the aircraft landing lights…

    And these so called trainers, when teaching to back into a hole.. Leave him alone… First thing my dad did, when we pulled in, was let him out. He told me to put it in a hole, and if I hit someone, he’d kick my butt.. Then he walked into the store… That was it… Do or die… I never got my butt kicked…

  18. BuckeyeJim says

    Ya know the training wouldn’t nearly as inportant as it is, if it weren’t for the bottom feeder companys pushing the turnover rate to such a sky high number.

  19. BuckeyeJim says

    “90% of drivers are paid below min. wage when you factor in all time they are responsible for their equipment”

    If your pay works out below min wage you probibly have grounds for a good lawsuit.
    No contract can let someone else get ignore fed labor laws.

    “So, Why is it that truck drivers are a sub standard employee?”
    Many just will not standup for themselves.
    Unions can help.

  20. Dan J says

    I think alot of the problem stems from the fact that some of the companies spit out drivers like view are a puppy mill. They give you substandard training by people who have no clue about keeping themselves alive let alone teaching someone how to safely operate a cmv.

    Then there is the issue of the trainers. The ones I dealt with where either in the sleeper watching movies while I was driving at night for 11 hours straight for the first time, trying to get me to average my speed on my log book, and the trainer using my log book and driving for 24 hours straight, to top it off, the trainer was not reprimanded, but instead was allowed to be an oo.

    The second trainer was better, but I true did not learn anything until I got the keys to my first truck and learned through trial by fire.

    I am now on my 6th year of driving, have gone through a refresher course to polish up on skills since I had not driven for 2 years, I learned a little more in the course, but…

    When all is said and done, the best training comes from the one behind the wheel every day. Trainers can be good or suck really bad. But, as professional drivers, we have to make the call on weather or not what we were trained is up to par.

    I do think standards need to be in place fir schools and companies who train, they need to be held accountable as us professional drivers are, and be audited as we are by dot.

    As a side note, the company I work for pushes safe and legal, and because of that phrase, it takes a lot of stress off my job, allows me to take the time to learn more, and how to be a more professional driver. I think that alone is the biggest factor in decent training.

  21. John S says

    Trucking is not a Profession anymore, its just another job. I think your simply finding less and less really qualified people who want to drive truck. I had a guy hit my truck and ripped a mirror off. Luckily no more damage then that. Nice enough person was very sorry for hitting my truck.
    But he was unqualified to really drive a big truck and I knew his accident days were just starting.
    He could not back even in a straight line. The question I have is not about the quality of drivers but how poorly schools seem to be doing training these new drivers. Let’s face it, trucking has several problems not being addressed. Pay, training, benefits, time at home. Their are reasons we have 100% driver turnover.

  22. Eddie Butler says

    The whole system of training needs to be looked at and redone at the Federal level. First trainers should have to go through a FMCSA/DOT training course with testing and some kinda minimum hours required. All the truck driving schools minimum standard of training needs to be upgraded so that all schools nation wide have the same requirements. Trucking companies should not be allowed to run a training truck as a team truck. The trainee should be doing all the driving and the trainer should be in the jump seat when the trainee is driving. The truck should be ran as a solo truck. This would be a better on the job training practice, which should produce a safer more professional driver for the industry. The trainee and trainer would do evaluations on each other witch would be sent to FMCSA and DOT. Just like they track trucking companies, they should keep track of trainers, trainees and thewhole training system from beginning to end. In some companies a trainer would go through about 10 trainees in a month, and the company would just put the trainees with other trainers to finish out their training. But the trainer just keeps on training. With the type of training I described, with better pay for trainees and trainers and better insensitives. There should be a lower turn over rate and safer drivers.

  23. Eddie Butler says

    The whole system of training needs to be looked at and redone at the Federal level. First trainers should have to go through a FMCSA/DOT training course with testing and some kinda minimum hours required. All the truck driving schools minimum standard of training needs to be upgraded so that all schools nation wide have the same requirements. Trucking companies should not be allowed to run a training truck as a team truck. The trainee should be doing all the driving and the trainer should be in the jump seat when the trainee is driving. The truck should be ran as a solo truck. This would be a better on the job training practice, which should produce a safer more professional driver for the industry. The trainee and trainer would do evaluations on each other witch would be sent to FMCSA and DOT. Just like they track trucking companies, they should keep track of trainers, trainees and thewhole training system from beginning to end. In some companies a trainer would go through about 10 trainees in a month, and the company would just put the trainees with other trainers to finish out their training. But the trainer just keeps on training. With the type of training I described, with better pay for trainees and trainers and better insensitives. There should be a lower turn over rate and safer drivers. Yours truly ex Over The Road Driver Trainer……..

  24. Larry says

    My recent experience at Roehl. Must have CDL-A permit. 1st day physical test and hair Felicle test. Go over tractor and trailer on what to inspect. Next day day drive around large parking that simulates a driving around city block counter clockwise. Next day something but clockwise. Should be able to upshift to 7th gear and downshift. Next day you go out on the road. you do a lot of study book and answer questions after driving in you motel. End of 2nd week you take your CDL drive test with local DMV to get your license. 3rd week more driving and work on your weakness. very little backing up practice. 90 degree and straight backing only. I failed 90 deg backing part on driving test but got my license because of total point system. Than I went 2 weeks with a trainer. He did most of the driving under my name on e-logs and Qualcom. Backed up once. Straight backing only into docs. Since I only drove interstate during this two week only about around 800 miles, I getting worse. I was suppose to drive at least 2,000 miles. Than I went with someone else for final drive test with someone else in a different tractor and trailer. I did pass the backup test, but had a bad drive day by missing gears and lot of grinding. He passed me. I was shocked. Got my truck started driving on my own. I was petrified. I told them my experience I had and let me drive on my own anyway. All I know is, God was with me. the thing is… You gotta know how to back a trailer up. You need to go thru obstacles. You need to learn to maneuver in tight quarters. driving down a road is the easiest part. My driving instructor only want to train for extra money and so they wouldn’t have to send him to Canada. He had a bipolar attitude. Worst 2 weeks in my life being trained under these condition I was in. I did report my experience to fleet managers and the person who passed me for the job. I would think a new person should be training under someone when snow starts falling and temperature start hitting freezing point due to ice on roads/bridges. I am thinking about quitting this week before I decide to go back out and risking lives. Just wait until snow season ends than reconsider it until I develop better driving skills. By reading this, can you see the danger of rookies like myself being out there right now? Even though I past all the test and was hired on doesn’t mean I really passed. I was too high of a risk being out there with the little amount of skills that I have. If I were to have an accident, it only encourages more rules and regulation on everyone including professionals when the problem is in the beginning.

  25. mtnman says

    they call thid safety they put a student with a trainer with only 3 months sometimes 2 or 3 students with one trainer for the miles of the sudent i know for a fact they become a trainer with three month experience how can you be a trainer with 3 months how can they teach winter driving if he is a rookie himself now is that safety now what is trucking coming to

  26. Larry says

    This is sooo true. I started 2 months ago. By the time you average out your pay at end of month, you are well under minimum wage. This goes for all the big trucking companies out there.

  27. Larry says

    Your right. I just finished school and now on my own. Back up around 8 times by taking turns with others students. I failed 90 degree backup taking CDL road test but still passed due to point system. Straight back once with on the road trainer. I draw an audience when I back up using 90 degree backup. Last couple times I was going in door 9 instead of door 10. Challenge increased so did tension. You need to know how to back up. Going forward is the easiest part. You are right!!!! Start out local job than work out. OTR with trainer is not always good. Too much tension. Cooped up in tight quarters. Going local would be best. You can go home or motel and relax and get away from the truck. Think about things that happened. Start out fresh the next day as a new day. There are a lot of skid marks down the side of them trailers.

  28. Brian says

    I am what could be called a rookie. I only have 3 years driving experience. When I started, I was very nervous about being in control of 80,000 pounds of vehicle. But in those 3 years, I have driven in any and all driving conditions you can think of. I know the dangers and know that it takes time to be a safe, knowledgeable driver. I still get nervous sometimes. That is why I was terrified when I saw a billboard advertising “Get your CDL in ONLY ONE DAY!” I don’t even know how that would be possible. That is nothing more than people filling a space in a truck. These people can’t possibly have respect for the truck if they have never even driven over Donner or Grapevine in the winter, or in Atlanta, L.A. or Dallas at rush hour, or across 500 miles of nothing in the dead of night.
    I may not be the best, but I do know my limitations. These inexperienced drivers do not. That is why there are so many accidents now. They think it’s easy and they don’t have enough time in training to learn the truth.

  29. mtnman says

    I am old school before they had truck driving schools when CDL come up i was grandfathered in i started driving in 1977 now they are trying to get rid of the old school on one thing or another there is fewer vets to train new drivers

  30. sercanu says

    Hi, I never think that , in Europe the company do the same thing to the truck drivers, never paid for the worck that we do. (I have no English school or google translation, so if I write wrong , don’t be cruel with me) Merry Cristmas to all of you.

  31. Greenhorn87 says

    I am new driver with about 7 or 8 months of experience and coming from a newbie I would say that there needs to be some type of uniformity in this industry as far as training goes. My company has went from 3 weeks to 2 weeks of training, what can one person learn in just two weeks. There is so much safety knowledge to be learned, route planning, how to use e logs, backing, etc…..I am thankful that I had two good trainers that taught me the ropes, when I got out there on my own the only issue I had was backing up and managing my time right. Prime example of training not good enough is when a company pairs up an “experienced” green horn with a fresh just off the training truck driver. Lost five times in one day, no experience with the qualcomm, no e-logs experience, no sense of direction. And this was after he went out with two trainers. Sometimes this profession is not cut out for everybody and some companies do not realize that and some others don’t realize it. Anywho I would be interested to see what the FMCSA would say. I have considered becoming a trainer but I will wait until I have at least 1 year and six months under my belt.

  32. Northstar says

    Sir. Right with you . 55 and learned from bottom up . At the time for me was years of city delivery with smaller trailers. But you learned. Lot of good drivers invested time into the younger drivers. What this system is today again fits the cookie cutter, all in a book, check out a web sight world. And as a result you have the “body’s” to go with the ever increasing number of trucks, but you also have a faltering profession were the pay is terrible and the employee has become a slave to regulated government time in a box and the employer.

  33. BugNout says

    Hey Larry, I’m with ya on the requirements for trainers. I’ve been a long hauler for 20 years, also done a few years in P&D and mail hauling. I’ve seen most of the larger corporate outfits just chucking newbies to the wolves to the point that, today, I fear other truckers as much if not more than the 4-wheelers. But I think the real problem starts long before the trainers. When I went to school to become a trucker it was through ‘ProDrive’ in Racine, Wi. I went for 12 weeks over the winter. At the time many of my classmates viewed it as a bit of a joke but we got lots of opportunity for backing practice and road time, as well as a fairly comprehensive class course on the mechanicals. I look back now and believe I got as good of an education as could be had. Almost all of the “driver-mills” of today are ridiculously short in terms of time and material. It’s no wonder that we are having all these issues. A private pilot MUST get 30 hours of ground school and 40 hours of flight time just to be allowed to solo, and that’s for a single engine prop-job. Truckers have many more obstacles to face and very few get that kind of training. I know that the schools and many other individuals think that it’s the employers job to see to training but the reality is that the real life of a trucker, city streets, tight docks, and Pilot parking lots, is no place to try and learn how to back up a truck or navigate around obstacles. These fundamentals need to be taught in closed-course conditions. As a trainer, I have got a heck of a good record for producing solid new drivers. I do take the extra time to practice backing, docking, and confined maneuvers. But then, my company pays me for my time. No joke, I get payed for all On-Duty hours and I’m a Monday thru Friday OTR driver. I put in the time and demanded the compensation. You can do it too, make yourselves more valuable. I too get frustrated at the lack of training that newbies get from the CDL schools, but this is a prime opportunity to be heard and get something done about it. I was part of the think-tank that brought us the new HOS back in 2000, and yes, I’m still pleased about the 14 and 10 methodology. I do wish that they would put some teeth in the regs and allow drivers and carriers to share liability with shippers and private property owners for parking realities though. So here is what my suggestions to FMCSA will be, and yes , I’ll write to all parties and speak in person if possible;
    1. Minimum CDL standards-
    a)5 hrs mechanical (PTI and maintenance) instruction including tire, brake, 5th wheel, load and equipment securement, and general safety.
    b)30+ hrs controlled-course backing instruction and practice- including 90 and 45 degree sight and blindside, straight back, serpentine, curb to curb, alley, and angle parking and docking.
    c)40+ hrs of behind-the-wheel driving time, with at least 10 at night. Must include closed course obstacles simulating urban intersections and close-quarter turning situations. Must also teach 3 point turns on single lane conditions, how to safely execute a U-turn, and navigation of urban side streets, interstate and rural 2 lanes.
    d)Must PROVE proficiency at reading and communicating IN ENGLISH.
    e) Must show proficiency at READING A MOTOR CARRIERS ATLAS. If they can’t read a map then someone or something is gonna get taken out, just a matter of time.
    f) Truck driving schools must adhere to minimum accreditation standards- Minimum instructor experience to include 10 years OTR, 2 years training experience, Trainer training, and an exemplary record. If instituted they should be able to garner a reasonable wage. Schools should bear some liability to the motoring public for improper training.

    2. Motor Carriers who choose to take on trainees must follow federal mandates for training operations and procedures;
    a) Veteran TRUCK DRIVERS set the national standards- NOT C.R.A.S.H. , PATT, or ATA, none of those bureaucrats know a steering wheel from a 5th wheel and are not competent to set such standards.
    b) Motor Carriers must adopt a written guideline for training processes and standards of competency. Everything must be documented and digitally recorded with a federal database.
    c) Trainers must have at least 5 years of experience and minimum safety standards. Complete a Trainer training seminar of at least 10 hours and be recertified to assess competency.
    d) Training should consist of a minimum of 4 weeks during which- truck is run as a solo operation, no more than 600 miles to the truck/ day. Trainer is paid hourly to include duty time for backing and maneuvering practice.
    e) Trainees will be road-tested and certified by either another trainer or a 3rd party.
    f) Trainees will earn a minimum, guaranteed salary for the 1st 6 months of solo operation.

    This is just my two cents. We have instituted most of these policies at the outfit I work for. But our training program was developed mainly by senior drivers with backup input from safety. Over the last 18 months our training program has actually yielded a better than 3/5 success rate for drivers staying with us over a year. Much better than the 1/5 record that the BIG carriers fall on. Again, the only way we get more is we refuse to settle for LESS. Happy Trucking, I’m BugNout

  34. BugNout says

    Oh Yeah, need to mention;
    3. Motor Carriers wishing to hire Military Service members should be granted tax benefits and an insurance reduction waiver for being willing and allowed to hire Vets with the proper training as young as 21 years old.
    As it stands, insurance liability prevents most trucking companies from hiring these young vets. Instead we have to wait till they’re 25, by which time they have found other jobs and started families. Most people who have families already started are not going to be willing to adopt the trucking lifestyle. Again DUH.

  35. Joel Trout says

    There many problems in the industry today, not the least of which is the way the mega-carriers are sucking in new drivers with their promise of freedom and the ability to make tons of money. Add to that the economy, with people losing jobs daily, faced with the need to put food on the table and keep a roof over the heads of their families (These last are drivers that really don’t want to be out here and resent the fact that they have to be and their attitudes reflect that). The mega-carriers exploit this in a big way, then hit the new “driver” with things like; “Well, we don’t have a company truck available but we do have a lease purchase program where you can be an owner/operator!” This bait and switch sets the new driver up for failure from the beginning, as all the “owner/operator” in this scenario is is a sucker that now makes the company’s truck payment and shoulders all the maintenance, licensing, insurance and fuel costs for the vehicle with very little hope of said “owner/operator” ever paying the truck off. All of this is just one facet of what’s been done to ruin trucking, not just for new drivers, but for those of us that have been out here for decades.

    To those touting unions; Don’t.
    We don’t want your unions. You want a union job, go to a union company. They are out there. Unions do more harm than good and I think speak for a good many real truck drivers when I say we don’t want those crooks involved.

  36. Greenhorn87 says

    @bugnout I like your plan a lot and that sounds very reasonable. There are too many of us greenhorns out here who either have that drive and attitude to get the job done in a safe manner and willing to learn the proper ways and then you have those greenhorns who get out here who just think it’s another job. That attitude is what gets drivers in trouble. I enjoy the travel, seeing the new places and sights, the backing frustrations and as the old saying go “if I knew what I know now” I would go back and do training all over with the stuff that I have learned and acquired on the road so far. I hope they do get a good training program going that is uniform, there is too much misinformation out there.

  37. road devil says

    Stop companies from treating us like shit and we won’t have such a high turn over rate, take time to properly train students and we will have better quality drivers, part of our problrms are the last ditch drivers (the ones who see driving as a last resort) they just don’t wanna do the job longer than they have to. I say there should be a law that you should need at least 3 accident free years before a company can even think of calling you a trainer

  38. Luis Arteaga says

    For all you companies out there, treat your drivers with respect and pay what the trucker should earn and you will have decent truckers working for you many safe and worries free years.
    Treat them like you are doing right now (like trash, truckers are replaceable) and you will have many accidents, complaints and 100% turn over rate, it`s up to you to choose wich way you go, unfourtunately i am seeing that many companies choose the second way because they think it`s cheaper, look and see in the long run and you will change your mind, and don`t forget your reputation, we truckers now a days got forums and ways to know what kind of company you are, you can hide your practices for a few for some time, but you can`t hide for everybody for all the time.

  39. LostNavigator says

    @BugNout, an excellent plan. I was a trainer for several years with JB Hunt and knew it was my responsibility to turn out a quality driver (military training kick’n in). Unfortunately you are correct about some of the trainers who are concerned only about miles and not the product.
    Driver Training is an area I can endorse for government involvement. If more time was spent enforcing the front end of training less would have to be spent on after accident investigations.
    WhenI started driving in 1985 pay was .21-.25 cpm. 27 years later it is not much better. That is insane. Drivers have more traffic congestion to deal with, longer vehicles, less safe areas to park (especially in urban areas, i.e. New York, L.A., Chicago) and more pressure to deliver on time.
    The electronic logs have not changed the dynamics of log cheating, it is just done in a different dimension. In the hundred years of mechanized trucking the underlying isssue of pay for service has not been addressed. Much hyperbaly and many reams of paper have expired over complaints about the industries faults. Everyone with any common sense knows what the issues are yet those in the director seat have chosen to ignore this isue in the name of greater profit.
    With all that being said, let us start with professional training and demand professional pay. The nurse, police officer, water meter reader or office assistant would not set idlely by without pay if the gurney was not available, cruiser not out of the shop, meter batteries fail, or the internet is down so, why should we settle for not being payed while waiting at the dock, waiting for dispatch, pre-trip inspections, not being payed for tarping till you have completed 3 for free, or being hung out for a weekend far from home?
    When we accept that we are professional, act like professionals and demand professionalism the pay should reflect this.

  40. LostNavigator says

    @Larry, thank you for acting as a professional and realizing that you needed more training thus taking yourself off the road temporarely. I believe you will be an excellent assett when you return in the spring for more road time. Thank you.

  41. says

    Truckers deserve as much respect and care as everyone else. All of us want to work 5 days a week and have saturday, sunday off. The truck drivers want same thing. They do tough job delivering and providing us with food and goods we need in every day life. Good pay, deserved days off, health and life insurance and no one needs any training.

  42. rich says

    1. All dispatchers have 2 years of incident free experience.
    2. All dispatchers must be in the passenger seat when trainee is driving.
    3. All dispatchers must have a min. of 2 months of being in a truck with a trainer and be tested by another trainer before being allowed to operate a truck alone.
    4. All dispatchers must be on electronic logs.
    5. All dispatchers must be compensated for all time away from home.

  43. BugNout says

    Hey Rich, Sounds like you have a wee bit of a dispatch issue;-( . From previous “big company” experience I can understand that. However, dispatch issue are only a symptom of a much more pervasive problem. Just like publicly-held corporations, the worker-bees are beholden to the investors to create a profit thru any means possible. This sets up a scenario for foolhardy and dangerous practices and it can be seen in any industry where those who make the decisions are not responsible for the damages. Should dispatchers have more background and a better understanding of this lifestyle? Absolutely. But the reality is that at most trucking companies over 50 units the dispatchers are glorified CSRs (call center reps). They are paid around 25-28k/year to pass on information and put up with drivers bitching their brains out, while having no real authority to positively or negatively effect the drivers’ day. The loads you are getting are determined by a planner based on what’s available, the account managers are searching for the freight to keep the trucks moving, again based on availability. We joke about our dispatchers being “travel agents”, and sometimes they are able to get us to places we want to go, but their primary focus is keeping the trucks moving. A distant second is whether or not you want to go there. If you don’t like the freight or personnel at your company go find another one.
    It would be nice if drivers were worked into the dispatch office as a semi-retirement plan but the reality of it is, the job doesn’t pay enough and most career drivers are not office-types. The owners of my Co have tried to get me into the office several times but that’s not where I want to be so I do what I can from out here. As for trying to train dispatchers to drive, waste of time and resources. They SHOULD do a 1-2 week ride-a-long as part of their orientation, but actual training time needs to be focused on people who are going to DRIVE as a career. Drivers need to be extensively trained for preparation for life and hazards of the road, dispatchers need to be trained on their software systems, multitasking, and personal conflict resolution. As for the other issues you are dealing with thru your dispatch system, those are industry issues.
    Given the computer and internet era, it is now possible to have a unified direct freight board. This would allow for a truly free marketplace. As long a brokers are out there parceling out freight to the lowest bidder there will be no parity. It is long past time for the brokers to be taken out of the equation. Ain’t deregulation fun??
    Nuff for now, Keep the wheels down, Spirits up, and clear skies ahead. I’m BugNout

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