The trucking industry is facing a severe driver shortage. It's estimated that 48,000 drivers are needed to move 70% of the nation's goods.1 This shortage has caused trucking companies to focus their training efforts on younger, inexperienced drivers to quickly get them up to speed and on the road - in turn leaving experienced drivers with little to no additional safety training.
Leadership is also carrying the mindset that experienced drivers have been behind the wheel for many years, so they do not need to discuss safety initiatives - they know what to do.
This theory dates back to World War II during the bombing of London. In an attempt to intimidate the British, the Germans launched significant attacks with over 250,000 casualties in the first week alone. It was feared that Londoners would flee their homes, leaving the industrial facilities without workers to manufacture war equipment.
Despite these bombings, survivors developed a "remote miss" mindset or survivor's exhilaration. They figured if they survived up until this point, they would continue to survive, causing them to risk their lives by remaining in their homes.
As experienced drivers continue to have "near-miss accidents," they believe they can continue their driver behaviors without repercussion. Their confidence grows alongside their complacency, resulting in a critical crash.
Driver training that appeals to drivers' values and priorities will guide their protective driving technique as a professional truck driver. Hone in on driver values to demonstrate the impact they have while on the road.
Communicate the following ideals to drivers:
As a leader, it is your responsibility to communicate the expectations, culture, and ideals of the company - and to believe in these philosophies wholeheartedly. You are a direct example to drivers, so communicate with them - often.
Case Study: A trucking company was having to let go of a lot of drivers due to their use of cell phones while on the road. Enough was enough - the owner felt something had to give. He gathered his drivers together for a meeting and pledged to not use his cell phone while driving in his personal vehicle. He explained his belief system around this pledge and why it was so important to the company that the drivers follow suit. Shortly after, the owner rarely found cell phone usage on the in-cab camera footage.
Drivers are asked to never use their phone while driving, but see many owners texting while driving. The mantra "do as I say, not as I do" will not develop safe drivers.
The big eight technologies in the safety realm of trucking include:
While the majority of these technologies will combat accidents that result in costly claims, they may do little to combat driver behaviors.
Developing a training program centered around in-cab cameras allows you to use real life examples tailored towards drivers to discuss their behaviors and ultimately make a significant change.
Case Study: One company recently implemented over 150 DriveCams into their fleet. They are receiving on average 45 videos a day that they are able to assess and educate drivers based on footage. They have developed an extensive training program that tackles the typical behaviors they are seeing on a daily basis. This footage has allowed them to significantly decrease their risk on the road.
The complacent “autopilot” mode is a danger to everyone including the driver. Let’s make an effort as an industry to remain alert and maintain that level of driving excellence.