Earlier in the week we reported on how video-based technological advances are changing truck driver training. Today we’re going to take a look at another innovative way fleets are quickly training perspective truck drivers.
Just as video is revolutionizing feedback, online resources are revolutionizing hiring and orientation. They cut back on the need for volumes of books and paperwork, while delivering on the convenience, low cost and meeting economies of scale. Let’s take a look at two case studies on how online training is reshaping fleet policies and procedures.
Increasing Efficiency and Effectiveness
Holly Caskey, department manager for a mid-western fleet, used to hold a weekly conference call for new hires that would last several hours. As she puts it, “you couldn’t tell if they were listening or paying attention.”
In order to increase efficiency and ensure effectiveness, Caskey’s company rolled out an interactive training program that allows new truck drivers to learn at their own pace, online. In order to proceed to the next training module, participants need to have answered the test questions correctly.
“We know there is comprehension, plus they’re able to view it as many times as they’d like,” Caskey says. “Before they only had one shot, now it also provides a consistent message.”
The online interactive training program has allowed the company to shorten its orientation period by a week or more, in some cases. Under the older system, new hires would have to complete their drug test and pre-employment work by Thursday, and then wait until the following Wednesday to attend training; even longer before they could be dispatched on their first run.
Their new program not only shortens the time spent in the hiring process, but it also delivers training content straight to the new hire, overcoming time and geography problems. Instead of having to schedule time and office space, new hires can access their material right from the comfort of their own home.
Custom Training Content
Last March, a Canadian company was recognized at the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) annual convention as the safest carrier in its division. They also received first place in the National Fleet Safety Awards.
By their own words, the company states that the extensive training program they’ve initiated has been crucial to their award-winning success. The program is based on a 2.5-day orientation and then five additional courses led by an instructor. The instructor-led courses also include access to a full-scale simulator.
The orientation and instructor training are then followed up with 17 online courses throughout the year. The online courses can be accessed through the company’s intranet site and computer lab. Access is made available through a swipe-card, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
During their second year of employment, truck drivers get another instructor-led refresher course and four customized online courses. This continues in subsequent years, just to make sure their fleet employees are fresh. Each year the new online courses are reconfigured to fit the needs of the day, no matter the carrier or area of operation.
The company also provides safety counselors three times a year. Truck drivers can bring any comments, questions, or concerns to these neutral third parties for quality feedback and advice. Issues that arise are then brought to management’s attention while allowing concerned parties to remain anonymous.
Finally, the company collects all the data regarding how well their truck drivers are performing, combines then with online resources, and then ranks them on a scale of risk, from low to high. The company is also planning to roll out video recorders in an effort to further enhance their training programs.
How Much Adoption?
According to recent estimates, fleets need to immediately fill 35,000 to 40,000 truck driving positions, and that’s not counting job losses due to turnover. With the need for newer, faster ways of recruiting and training truck drivers never higher, carriers are increasingly trying to find the technological edge.
As fleets across the nation begin to make these technologies more common-place, the entire fabric of the trucking industry will change. With such buzzwords as “automation” and “regulation” on the horizon, it’s hard to see how all the pieces will fit together. One thing is for sure, however, time doesn’t wait for technology, and the fleets of tomorrow will need to adapt to the needs of today.