By Sandy Long
There are regulations coming down the pike to rectify driver error, EOBRs and anti-rollover devices. These regulations will cost billions of dollars for the trucking industry along with the cost of the regulatory process the taxpayer will pay. Will these devices do anything to improve safety, not really. The problem is not lack of technology; it is lack of good solid training and poor company attitudes.
The training required for entry level drivers is minimal, 148 hours of behind the wheel. This is what the FMCSA stated in their proposed rulemaking 12/2007.
“In 1986, the motor carrier, truck driver training school, and insurance industries created the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) to certify high-quality training programs offered by training institutions. The PTDI used the truck driver Model Curriculum as the basis for its certification criteria. On January 24, 1999, the PTDI approved revisions to the curriculum and published three separate standards:
“Skill Standards for Entry-Level Tractor-Trailer Drivers;”
“Curriculum Standard Guidelines for Entry-Level Tractor-Trailer Driver Courses”; and
“Certification Standards and Requirements for Entry-Level Tractor-Trailer Driver Courses.”
As of December 2006, PTDI-certified courses are offered at 61 schools in 28 States and Canada, according to PTDI’s Web site (http://www.ptdi.org ). PTDI estimates that approximately 10,000 students graduate from its certified courses annually.”
“The CDL standards require tests for knowledge and skills, but neither the CMVSA nor the FMCSRs requires driver training. The private sector, with guidance from FMCSA, has attempted to promote effective training. Formal, supervised training is available from private truck driver training schools, public institutions, and in-house motor carrier programs. Many drivers take some sort of private-sector training at their own expense. These courses vary in quality. Some provide only enough training to pass the skills test. (italics mine) Generally, however, with or without formal training, drivers individually prepare for the CDL test by studying such areas as vehicle inspection procedures, off-road vehicle maneuvers, and operating a CMV in traffic.”
This proposed rulemaking was dropped due to no return on investment decisions for the companies and the thought that it was unnecessary to strengthen training regulations, it is obvious to anyone who works with new and prospective drivers that the FMCSA was wrong in their thinking.
Recently, Anne Ferro, director of the FMCSA stated that there was no indication that training companies had any more accidents than non-training companies did. I would like to invite Ms Ferro to come out and ride with me for a week to see just how wrong she is.
The incidents, accidents and just plain getting into trouble that a driver sees training company drivers involved in during a week is tremendous. Add to that the trainers that are having students back into tight places while the trainer is 100 yards away talking on their cell phones or playing games. Then there is the dangerous behavior exhibited by these same company’s drivers; speeding through construction zones, truck stops and warehouse parking lots.
There are no real training standards in my opinion nor are there training standards or requirements for a driver to become a trainer. Some companies allow a driver to become a trainer right after they leave their own trainer, others will allow a driver to become a trainer after the driver gets as little as three months experience. Newbees training newbees is not good for them or the public.
A real horror that is allowed under the current regulations is that of the 24 hour guaranteed Cdl school. There is one close to where I live and I see them ‘teaching’ often. They use a class 7 single axle tractor and a 20-foot flatbed for both instruction and testing at the testing facility down the road. Sure enough, a cdl is obtained, but can you imagine the quality of the driver?
Instead of requiring companies to install technology to fill the training gap found in drivers, the FMCSA would be better off setting standards to properly train the new drivers coming into the industry. This would not only be cheaper for all involved, but also improve safety to a great degree.