A truck driver’s job is multi-faceted with responsibilities for safety, equipment, cargo and business relationships. Obviously, truck driver safety training is a valued activity. There are numerous ways for a truck driver to be instructed or to gain knowledge including on-the-job-training, experience actually operating a truck, classroom training, safety meetings, computer training modules, simulator training, etc. However, the regulatory mandate for truck driver safety training is sparse. For the majority of experienced truck drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations contains only one, single reference to safety training and within this regulation the word training is not used. The specific regulation, Section 390.3, actually refers to “instruction” not training:
“Every employer shall be knowledgeable of and comply with all regulations contained in this subchapter which are applicable to that motor carrier’s operations. Every driver and employee shall be instructed regarding, and shall comply with, all applicable regulations contained in this subchapter.”
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration affirmatively mandates specific training for entry-level drivers. The FMCSA defines entry-level drivers as ”a driver with less than one year of experience operating a CMV with a CDL in interstate commerce.” For those truck drivers with less than one years of experience, training must include instruction addressing the following four areas:
(a) Driver qualification requirements. The Federal rules on medical certification, medical examination procedures, general qualifications, responsibilities, and disqualifications based on various offenses, orders, and loss of driving privileges (part 391, subparts B and E of this subchapter).
(b) Hours of service of drivers. The limitations on driving hours, the requirement to be off-duty for certain periods of time, record of duty status preparation, and exceptions (part 395 of this subchapter). Fatigue countermeasures as a means to avoid crashes.
(c) Driver wellness. Basic health maintenance including diet and exercise. The importance of avoiding excessive use of alcohol.
(d) Whistleblower protection. The right of an employee to question the safety practices of an employer without the employee’s risk of losing a job or being subject to reprisals simply for stating a safety concern.
Andy Sievers has years of hands-on experience training individual truck drivers and operating company-wide training programs for motor carriers. Sievers’ specialized training includes defensive driving, Smith System, load securement, loading/unloading, and entry-level training.