New Trucker Training Survey Confirms Safety Benefits

An analysis of the impact of training for new commercial truckers finds there is a significant benefit to accident procedures instruction. The survey, prepared for the American Transportation Research Institute, is among the first ever to examine the overall duration of new-entrant driver training and the safety impact of each topic, ATRI said.

The survey (www.atri-online.org/research/results/driver_training_impacts_on_safety.pdf) has a population of 16,659 drivers, representing about 30 percent of the total new-entrant population. Six motor carriers provided data -- three large truckload carriers, one large less-than-truckload, one large specialized fleet, and one mid-sized household goods carrier. For the purposes of the survey, new entrants were defined as having no professional experience before being hired by the participating carrier and employed by that carrier for at least three weeks, with new entrant safety data collection ceasing at 18 months.

Several interesting points are found in the reported data: The mean and median age of drivers was 38 years, and nearly 17 percent of them were 50 or older. Eight percent were female. The survey reflected high turnover, which is a problem for the industry as a whole: Slightly more than 25 percent of the new entrants in the study were no longer employer by the carrier that had hired them by the 60th day of employment, and at 100 days, more than 50 percent of the new entrants had left. Fewer than 3 percent worked for the original employer on the one-year anniversary of their date of hire, according to the report.

The report showed only half of the 10 surveyed programs used simulator training, and combined in-truck and behind-the-wheel training ranged from 56 to 152 hours. All 10 of the programs did provide accident procedures training, and all provided safe operating practices training, it showed.

"As a fleet, we have long believed that the litmus test for commercial driver training should be performance-based and not a derivative of hours spent in training; this research bears out our hypothesis," said Chad England, vice president of Recruiting, Training and Safe Driving for Utah-based C.R. England. He is a member of ATRI's Driving Training Impacts on Safety Technical Advisory Committee, as is Michael O'Connell, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association. "This study provides a critical benchmark for carriers and driver training schools alike," said O'Connell.

ATRI is a not-for-profit research organization within the American Trucking Associations.

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