A national association representing professional truckers has launched a new campaign to address the biggest safety gap in the trucking industry: the lack of basic training standards for new drivers.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says that the agenda outlined in “Truckers for Safety” will help prepare the next generation of long-haul truckers and will proactively address other highway safety concerns.
“Better trained drivers mean safer drivers,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “An experienced career trucker is the type that people want to share the road with, and our members tell us that training should be the biggest focus of highway safety efforts.”
Current regulations do not include training requirements for becoming a long-haul truck driver, despite a congressional requirement for such standards dating from the 1990s. While new drivers must pass a CDL test, testing covers only basic operations and does not address the many on-the-road demands faced by truckers or the hundreds of regulations they are responsible for following.
The agenda spelled out in the campaign points out that the more experienced career truckers with safe driving records are often replaced by new drivers with no experience or training – who are again replaced by newer drivers a few months later when they leave the industry. The prevalence of high turnover may be just one of the many consequences.
“This churn results in more accidents, which in turn will lead to greater congestion, more fuel use, lost cargoes and greater inefficiency in our nation’s freight transportation network,” says Spencer. “OOIDA members are passionate about the impact that undertrained and inexperienced drivers are having on highway safety.”
OOIDA’s observation over the years is that too many training programs have been focused on guaranteeing new drivers their CDLs quickly instead of ensuring they will be trained and knowledgeable truckers.
“We can and must do better to make trucking once again a career that people want to join and stay in as a way to provide for their families. If we do not, the consequences will mean lower economic prosperity, reduced highway safety, and negative impacts for all highway users.”
The campaign includes not only an agenda for basic training, but also provisions for improving infrastructure, truck parking, passenger vehicle education and enforcement efforts that encourage safe driving.
For more details about the campaign, visit the website www.truckersforsafety.com.
We spoke at length with Lane Kidd, managing director of the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (a.k.a. the Trucking Alliance) about which issues the carrier-driven and safety-focused lobbying group is most engaged with this year.