Driver training, education, and mentoring programs are improving the quality of workers available for a large number of fleets in the USA and Canada. Some truckers are falling through the cracks and quitting their jobs after training because they don’t have these tools to complete the course. And trucking can become an overwhelming task because it is not just a job but a lifestyle.
Today, every employer should be focusing on improving fleet quality and ensuring that greenhorns are accepted and brought up to speed without being shunned or burdened. Life on the road is lonely enough and becomes unbearable without the acceptance and comradery of fellow truckers. Dealing with that loneliness and knowing where to go for social affairs and stress-relief is a big part of the lifestyle.
You Are Not a Full-Fledged Trucker Until You Are Accepted
Becoming a CDL Driver is not always easy if you are not grandfathered into the trade by some friends who recognize your talent. Learning the ropes and adjusting to the culture, as someone who decided to get into the business on your own volition, is tough. You can feel isolated and like you are competing with others for status in a cut-throat industry. Old pros may not be eager to share their wisdom with you or to accept you into their fold if you are not part of some clique.
The unfortunate side of being a truck driver is that other truck drivers do not always welcome you. If they don’t know you or are simply unable to recognize your value to them, they can be cold. Learning the ropes and struggling to carve out a path yourself is a daunting task. This is why many truck driver training and hiring companies are taking things a step further by providing interested parties with mentorships.
A CDL driver who has years of experience on the roads is a valuable tool in completing the apprenticeship side of trucking. A truck driver can learn all the basics and the textbook protocols and pass the written exams. However, when it comes to applying that knowledge and developing road wisdom in the real world, truckers can find themselves lost without a paddle.
Whether fleet managers choose to put rookies through a mentorship program (either experienced drivers or an electronic mentoring course), they can monitor the progress of recruits. There are secrets of the trade that drivers have to know when they are on the road.
Truckers also have to be aware of any changes in the rules and regulations of the road. Many new laws have been passed by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). These laws are primarily to safeguard truck drivers against exploitation by limiting the number of workable hours on the road and reducing the number of distractions. This comes after an uptick in heavy-duty truck accidents that were linked to distracted driving.
New Trucking Rules:
- ELD Mandate
- Hours of Service
- Hair Testing for Substance Abuse
- Substance Abuse Clearinghouse
- Speed Limiter
- Sleep Apnea Testing
- Minimum Wage Increases
In 2017, the FMCSA began to implement the electronic logging mandate. Although some of the older logging equipment was grandfathered in under a grace period, even that equipment must be updated by December 17th, 2019. Also, truck drivers are limited to the number of hours that they can work and the number of distractions allowed in the cockpit.
Besides, the US Department of Transportation is requiring truck drivers to undergo hair testing for drugs and evidence of substance abuse. Because hair can contain traces of drugs for 2 or 3 months, this is a broader spectrum of testing that cannot be as easily defeated by drinking a detox flush and excessive water.
And January of 2020 is the deadline for employers to start screening all their prospective hires through the new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. This clearinghouse maintains records of drug and alcohol violations. It prevents violators from hopping from one employer to another when they fail sobriety tests.
Proposed rules involve testing for sleep apnea and the installation of speed limiters on big rigs. All these changes are hypothetical. Nevertheless, they require truckers to keep abreast of the latest rules and regulations and to assess whether the new rules may apply to them in the future.
Inside Tips for New Truckers
One of the best resources for truckers may be the growing online communities for truckers to reach out to their brethren when they experience road problems. Various trucker forums are often filled with volunteers who have to give credible information if they don’t want to get called out by their peers.
Truckers can learn the ropes on how to avoid low-hanging bridges and overpasses. This is an essential part of the job that many fail to consider before they get out on the road. There are apps available specifically for helping truckers to avoid these obstacles and to plot out the best routes.
Truckers need to figure out how to comply with regulations and if they have to stop at a weigh station in various jurisdictions. Because the states each have their laws, the rules can get complicated. The ELD mandate is making it easier for truckers to keep track of their hours, loads, and routes without any aberration in their logbooks to cite them for.
Dealing with loneliness is one of the hardest issues for truckers. When you are traveling to new areas, they may not accept you because you don’t look like you come from the area. They will immediately put up barriers and can take some persuasion to warm up to truckers traveling through the area. Knowing where the local truckers hang out and finding places where they welcome you is another big hurdle.
Most truckers will tell you that it takes time to develop contacts in new areas. You have to keep frequenting the same routes to establish meaningful relations on the roads. Accumulating connections and quality friendships on the road is something that can take time. Dealing with it in the interim by reaching out to people on online forums or going to local events is critical.