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Training America's Professional Drivers

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Might new truck drivers someday receive free training as a form of government-subsidized education? Free education in the trades is an idea gaining traction in some circles, alongside national discussions of how to make college affordable for all.

Subsidized blue-collar education would address a number of societal problems, from helping young people find a satisfying career to drawing more people into the trades. We are at a point as a society where many people talk about the trades as though that type of work were only for those incapable of doing much else—the polite way to put it is that “not everyone is cut out for college.” Tell that to somebody whose roof is chipped. Tell that who wants to buy anything ever delivered by a truck. The trades are critically important to society, and funding training programs would be a way to give these skills some respect.

Yet there are problems.

For example, the vast majority of drivers hired in any given year do not last out the year. If the modern trucking industry cannot hang on to the recruits it attracts now, how is generating many new recruits through free training really supposed to help anything?

Making sure this country has a strong pool of talented professional drivers requires several interrelated steps. Subsidizing training programs could indeed make the industry more accessible to low-income people. Carriers also need to work together to improve retention and to continue efforts to open up careers in trucking to women and minorities. Finally, carriers need to continue on the job training, especially safety training.

The Safety Analytics feature in telematics software is an important tool, here. Not only does this feature make it easier for fleet managers to set safety goals for the entire company, it can also function directly as a training tool. Safety Analytics records and compiles instances of unsafe driving, such as speeding, running stop signs, stopping too abruptly, or accelerating too fast. Supervisors can not only identify employees in need of additional training but can also use the recordings to discuss specific events with drivers, asking them why the incidents occurred and going over alternative ways the situation could have been handled.

If America’s professional drivers work more safely, then not only is everyone else on the road safer, so are the professional drivers themselves. A safer work life at least as important as free training towards a successful career.


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