No two days are the same for a truck driver. And so there’s always something new to learn.
Think of the highway challenges you encounter every day, the maintenance issues that pop up from time to time, not to mention the ever-changing regulatory environment.
Robert Kaferle, Reliance Partners’ vice president of safety, explains that from an educational standpoint, many wrongfully think that earning a CDL is the last bit of learning you will need to enter the transportation industry.
“But it’s really just the beginning,” Kaferle said.
Even though it’s not a white-collar, college degree-required profession, don’t assume trucking is without a learning curve. In fact, even the most seasoned drivers know they haven’t seen it all.
“A truck driver will tell you that the driver that they were at 100,000 miles of safe driving is not the same driver they are now at 1 million miles,” Kaferle said. “Successful people, regardless of the industry, are the ones that continually learn and evolve and strive to be the best they can be.”
Kaferle maintains that continual improvement is attainable only for those willing to keep learning. And this can only be achieved if everyone’s on board.
Kaferle has spoken extensively on personal accountability and the role motor carriers must serve in order to foster an effective culture of safety. Rules and regulations may promote and encourage safety, but it’s solely up to the motor carriers and drivers to practice it.
What separates effective from ineffective safety training is how it’s executed. Kaferle explains that going through the motions, showing the same training videos or teaching the same exercises over and over won’t pique the interest of your drivers or office staff.
“It’s imperative that carriers are always looking for better ways, more unique ways, to provide training and constant reinforcement,” he said.
If you don’t know where to look, your next step should be to turn to a safety professional. Kaferle notes that bringing in a third-party consultant to review your processes can help identify potential gaps in compliance and risk factors in need of improvement. Like solving a crossword puzzle, sometimes it takes the eyes of another to help with the areas you’re struggling with.
Reliance Partners has discovered that carriers more involved with their drivers and safety managers find it easier to build a solid safety culture. So when helping companies establish a new safety program, its risk management team utilizes in-person workshops and online webinars to keep motor carriers engaged.
“We work with them to create a culture of safety, a proactive safety program with a reactive element to it,” Kaferle said.
What Kaferle finds quite effective is when carriers personalize their training materials to better connect with their fleet. For example, featuring their people or equipment in safety videos.
“We help clients produce videos that can then be utilized on our online training platform,” he said. “What it does is it gets the carrier involved and it produces something that they think is valuable.”
What it boils down to most is carrier interest. If no one’s on the same page about safety, if there’s a lack of desire to constantly improve and learn from past mistakes and if the fleet isn’t seeking new ways of engaging drivers, it may unfortunately take a tragedy to come to your senses.
In the trucking industry, wisdom doesn’t come with experience but rather from adaptability and a willingness to learn.
Kaferle stresses the importance of continual training because no one knows everything — no matter how long you’ve been in the industry.
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Editor: Jack Glenn