This week over at Trucking Info online, Equipment Editor Jim Park went through some disturbing statistics and quotes about the state of CDL training in North America.
Many veteran truck drivers already know this, and we’re sure that many ride-along trainers have also figured this out: CDL training is currently reaching dangerous levels of inadequacy, and it’s basically been like that since the mid-nineties.
He goes on to say:
“The CSA-driven demand for proficiency raises several questions that are related to driver training:
– Is entry-level driver training adequate in this new operating environment?
– Are drivers’ current knowledge and skill levels adequate?
– Can we afford to train drivers to meet the demands imposed by CSA?
– Who provides the training and education needed to raise the bar on driver skills?
– What will it cost to produce and maintain a highly skilled, professional workforce?
In a research paper produced by the Transportation Research Board in 2003, “Effective Commercial Truck and Bus Safety Management Techniques,” the authors concluded that “the level of driving proficiency and knowledge required to earn a commercial drivers license is widely regarded in industry as well below the level required to be a safe and reliable driver in a full-time operational setting.”
Of course, the main sponsor of the TRB is every driver’s favorite gang of malcontents, the FMCSA. Most truck drivers know that, if given free reign over every inch of the trucking industry, the FMCSA will find a way to regulate every last bit of it and make a pretty penny doing it too. So when their research board concludes that the majority of new truck drivers are unsafe, you have to take it all with a grain of salt…actually, make that sea salt, since if they find out your salt intake is high, you might get slapped with a health violation.
The TRB does admit, however, that “There’s no reliable barometer for driver training.” Which is industry speak for “we’re just seeing how much we can get away with.” You’ll also have a hard time getting the TRB and FMCSA to admit one concrete truth about truck driving: A good driver can operate almost any kind of equipment safely. Conversely, there’s nothing you can put on a truck that will keep a bad driver from crashing it.