Who Will Train the Next Generation of Truck Drivers?
Every time I see a video of a rookie struggling to back up, or making poor decisions in other aspects of trucking, I immediately think of their training. Many CDL schools provide the foundation for new drivers, and then send them out on the road to learn on the job. They can't be fully prepared for every circumstance, but they can be well trained. What makes someone well trained? What makes a good trainer/trainee? Why is it so important to set a high standard when releasing rookies out on the road? Let’s explore the answers to these questions below:
To begin, we should acknowledge the very unique training experience in the trucking industry. Most new drivers get 3-4 weeks of in-class experience where they learn the regulations and fundamentals, and then they’re put with a trainer for another 3-4 weeks to shadow them and get real-world practice. From there, they get put in a truck solo. This is the standard operating procedure for the industry.
It should be mentioned that earlier this year, a law was passed that required anyone getting their CDL to have received training from an approved center. Previously, people could study independently, or learn from a family member, but now, to raise the standards of training, they’ve implemented this new regulation.
What Are the Incentives to Becoming a Trainer? The most obvious is money. Less obvious, are the skills you gain from becoming a teacher. One of these skills being the newfound ability to discern work ethic/character by having a frame of reference that’s gained by evaluating a group of people. This may be advantageous for someone looking to hire for their own business.
Also, a good teacher can identify strengths and weaknesses to provide precise feedback and help accelerate the trainee's growth. This translates to child rearing as well. Communication is a valuable skill that becoming a trainer will help you hone in on.
There are some challenging aspects to being a trainer. I’ll leave it to you to use your imagination to create circumstances based on these personality characteristics.
Attributes of a Good Trainer
Patience, cleanliness, communication, discernment, adaptability, professionalism, accountability, responsible, concern, compassion, humility, empathy, and respect.
Attributes of a Poor Trainer
Irritable, haste, indifference, poor hygiene, poor temperament, lack of knowledge of the profession, lack of initiative, greed, and lack of morals or character.
Attributes of a Good Student
Is receptive to feedback, takes initiative, is respectful, professional, humble, clean, and grateful.
Attributes of a Poor Trainee
Arrogant, lazy, unaccountable, disrespectful, unhygienic, poor temperament, close-minded, indifferent, and lastly entitled.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it does help illustrate some challenging aspects of the job.
Lastly is the personal fulfillment that comes from assisting someone in beginning the next chapter of their life. Receiving sincere gratitude from these people is not expected, but most welcome. I had an incredibly pleasant experience getting started in my trucking career, and I want to contribute to the success of new drivers. Part of me feels responsible for helping create the drivers I will be sharing the road with. Changing the world, one driver at a time, by raising the bar on safety and etiquette standards. Putting the time and effort into preparing a new driver goes a long way in ensuring their success.
If every old school driver who looks to the sky/boomer book, shaking their fist, cursing this new generation of "steering wheel holders," transformed that fist into an olive branch with a spirit of camaraderie, and used their vast experience to educate the people that they enjoy ridiculing, then they would become the change they want to see in the world.