“We need to find ways to expand the pool of safe truck drivers, and ATRI’s preliminary research indicates that safe, younger drivers can be found, “said Joyce Brenny, Brenny Transportation, Inc. CEO.
ATRI, American Transportation Research Institute, released results of the Phase 1 Beta Test of its Younger Driver Assessment Tool exploring if an assessment tool to identify the safest 18-20 year old drivers is possible.
This is a critical step in expanding interstate CDL eligibility to younger drivers as the American Trucking Associations (ATA) have the driver shortage topping 100,000 by the year 2023 based on projected freight growth, industry retirements, and competition from other industries.
What is the trucking industry doing to attract younger drivers?
In hopes to increase the share of younger drivers in the industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed an under-21 commercial driver pilot program allowing young drivers aged 18, 19, and 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce. Currently 18 to 20-year-olds are only allowed to operate intrastate commerce.
Additionally, the proposed infrastructure bill includes initiatives to grow the trucking workforce with an apprenticeship program for drivers younger than 21 to work in interstate commerce, addressing the growing truck driver shortage across the country.
However, one of the concerns with opening the labor pool to younger drivers is that young people are more likely to engage in higher risk driving behaviors.
How will the trucking industry measure young driver safety risk?
Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) indicate that individuals under 24 years of age represented 18.4 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017 while representing just 11.8 percent of the licensed driving population that year.
The beta test findings for the Younger Driver Assessment Tool provided limited support for the idea that low risk commercial truck drivers can be identified based on behavioral indicators in their Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) and Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) safety records.
In general, and counter to expectations, cognitive functioning was not reliably associated with histories of violations or crashes in the group of 16 drivers used during initial testing.
In the small sample, the truck driving safety profiles of current truck drivers—as measured by motor vehicle records and pre-employment screening data—can be differentiated based on personality traits, physiological characteristics, and aspects of mental health.
With expanded statistical validation, this methodology may be successfully applied to the assessment and selection of new entrants into the industry’s workforce, including younger drivers.
Ultimately, the goal of the assessment tool would be to secure younger drivers with the cognitive and mental attributes of mature, experienced drivers, which based on data implies that they are more likely to be safe drivers.
ATRI’s Phase II assessment will focus on a larger sample of young drivers by recruiting individuals in the 18- to 25-year-old age range from commercial driving schools.
Reducing driver turnover = Improved safety and reduced violation costs
Trucking has had a high driver turnover rate for decades and continues to climb above 90% for larger carriers and around 73% for smaller carriers.
Much of the driver turnover problem is caused by a large percentage of drivers leaving within the first 90 days of on-boarding with a new company.
While a complete hiring program includes a strong driver qualification process seeking stable drivers, meeting driver needs, healthy company culture, competitive driver pay, and more, carriers may solve a big part of the driver retention puzzle by focusing on a successful driver training program.
This includes covering important orientation and safety training quickly and, in many cases, across multiple locations to make sure all drivers are being adequately prepared.
Before we look at what a successful driver training program looks like…
Why is reducing driver turnover so important?
Reducing high driver turnover improves fleet safety and violation costs
A data firm, Vigillo, recently completed an analysis of driver turnover as they monitored FMCSA violations and crashes for nearly 2,000 trucking fleets in the United States.
Their analysis found that a group of fleets with high driver turnover had 1,177 total crashes. The low driver turnover group had just 303 total crashes.
“There is a pretty strong correlation between the safety culture that exists at a motor carrier, which can be measured in CSA, and turnover rates,” said Vigillo CEO Steve Bryan.
Their data revealed that fleets with high driver turnover had:
- 189% more driver out-of-service rate
- 300% more vehicle out-of-service rate
- 181% more hours-of-service violations
- 224% more crash indicators
- 640% more hazmat violations, and
- 182% more controlled substance violations
According to FMCSA annual violation data, fleets regulated by the DOT have paid over $27 million annually in fines, which breaks down to an average of $5,074 per case for violations. With HAZMAT, this average nearly doubles.
Many of these violations will also place the truck out-of-service until the issues are fixed. Being placed out-of-service for 10 hours while a maintenance shop is fixing the truck can cost a fleet around $900 more.
This is why it is so important for fleets to reduce high driver turnover.
But how? A successful driver training program is a critical starting point.
Driver Training: Free EstimateContact us with any questions. Our specialists are here to help you maximize your driver training.
What is included in a Successful Driving Training Program?
On-the-job training and orientation
On-the-job driver training
Some fleets, such as Crete Carriers and Shaffer Trucking, require several weeks on-the-job training with senior driver evaluators.
New drivers are evaluated carefully on their ability to maintain control of the tractor, shifting gears properly, backing the trailer correctly, paperwork preparation, and interaction with customers.
On-the-job training is intended to provide drivers with an accurate picture of the life that professional drivers lead.
Orientation is standard across all companies, but fleets with lower driver turnover are using it to reveal their company culture and help drivers smoothly transition into the new company.
A company handbook should be issued and covered during orientation along with more information on basic paperwork preparation, company safety policies, rules for logbook preparation, and handling hazardous materials.
Orientation should have an emphasis on communication, company expectations and the role of a truck driver. Drivers need to know they have somewhere to turn for help, including Safety Managers, HR staff, or even co-workers..
This is also the opportunity to pass out company swag, such as hats, insulated coffee mugs, shirts, and more.
Near-term customized video training
Each driver comes with their own experiences, skills, and flaws. A strong driver qualification process, on-the-job training, and driver orientation can highlight areas where a new driver can improve.
For example, if driver trainers notice a habit of hard acceleration or hard braking, they should make sure a video training schedule includes driving fundamentals and defensive driving topics.
Similarly, if there is a pattern of logbook errors, include logbook training and hours of service rules into their video training schedule.
All custom schedules should be accompanied by common new driver training, such as reviewing common maintenance and pre-trip inspection training, what to expect during a roadside inspection and how to treat inspectors, highlight drug testing processes and marijuana regulations, seasonal safe driving tips, cargo securement training, etc.
Customized training should also be measurable using quiz assessments to track driver performance. If their assessment score is low, then the training needs to be retaken.
Focusing on new technology
The idea that trucking is as simple as, “get in a truck and drive,” is such an old idea. Trucking is a sophisticated job that drivers are doing, and technology has made it even more complex.
Today, new technology and equipment analyzes and optimizes nearly every facet of fleet efficiency. This includes electronic logging devices, dashcams, and fleet management software that driver must be trained to use.
According to a recent KeepTruckin survey, only 21% of drivers are happy with the quality of their ELD solution, and 73% of drivers experience one or more ELD issue per week.
This is why driver training and new driver onboarding is so crucial. In the first few months of their employment, a driver may feel frustrated with your ELD solution and quit.
Fleets need to make sure that drivers thoroughly understand the ELD they are using and new drivers should have their first several logs audited to ensure they are following company policy and Federal guidelines.
Company managers should be able to use their ELD reports to highlight negative driver habits and customize driver training programs to correct issues before they become an expensive problem.
What else can be done to reduce driver turnover?
Going beyond driver training to reduce high driver turnover
A successful driver training program is complicated.
It includes clear communication from:
- driver orientation
- driver qualification file management
- ELD reports and management
- on-the-job training
- customized driver training, and
- driver training that includes a video platform, in-person training, and regular safety meetings
Managing everything on your own is overwhelming and missing any little detail can lead to audits, fines, and high driver turnover and having someone handle your driver training can be helpful, but may not be enough.
What if there was a complete and affordable DOT Compliance Program to handle all the tedious and difficult office paperwork?
DOT Compliance Programs (PSM)
At CNS, our DOT Compliance Programs focus on Proactive Safety Management (PSM),a mindset that will ensure your fleet’s safety and compliance is always in order and ahead of the FMCSA.
Our PSM Motor Carrier Program includes:
- ELD management
- Driver Qualification File Management
- New driver on-boarding
- Driver safety meetings
- CSA score management
- Policies and handbooks
- Vehicle maintenance
- and more