By Steve Binkley,
InfoStream Safety Consultant
Today’s trucking companies face the ever-growing challenges of making the best use of time to train their drivers. Most of today’s drivers are not making income if they are sitting still. Also, most of them view training as an inconvenience certainly if they are not being compensated for it. Combining that with the COVID-19 challenges of bringing drivers together for an orientation and monthly or quarterly training has caused many companies to explore other options when it comes to driver training.
What kind of training could be done without bringing drivers to the terminal? Could it also save time and expenses with onboarding drivers? Is there a way to measure the effectiveness of the training, too?
Virtual, online training a viable option for drivers
Most drivers entering the industry today are tech-savvy, having grown up in a world of computers and the internet. These drivers could be the perfect fit for companies choosing to utilize virtual and online training. As a motor carrier, it is important to identify which subject matter is selected for this type of training and to measure the results. It is also important to know the pros and cons of this type of training, what you are trying to accomplish, and if it makes good business sense.
Tips for creating virtual, online training
Below are some thoughts and ideas I have thought about as I too have experienced virtual and online training.
- Consider the requirements for virtual and online training. Drivers will need access to the internet, a computer, a tablet, or a compatible mobile phone. Also, is there a contact person drivers can contact if they have questions or problems?
- Know your training objectives and goals. What type of training or orientation is planned? What is the length and frequency? Will it be online or virtual training?
- Customize the training. You may want to consider making a video at the request of a customer-specific to their needs and safety rules.
- Be mindful of schedules, deadlines. Consider when the online training needs to be completed. Is there a set deadline or is it flexible? Remember virtual training should be scheduled. What time works best for your drivers?
- Incorporate a variety of videos. What topics are being considered such as HOS, CSA, Pre-Trip, Defensive Driver, Driver Wellness? I recommend using a mixture of training videos selected and made by the motor carrier and company-made videos. I believe motor carriers who make their own videos to some extent show instructors and other employees the company thought the subject matter was important enough to create their own training video.
- Keep their attention. The length of the video is something to consider. Videos lasting more than 10 minutes tend to lose their audience. Virtual training may be different than that because you normally have a live instructor or instructors who can interact with the drivers throughout the virtual training session.
- Ask questions. I think having questions after training is a good idea to see if drivers have comprehended the subject matter.
- Measure your success. Track how well your training is going. Has onboarding drivers become less time-consuming? Is it cost-effective? Are drivers informed and retaining the training? Also, review your DOT inspections to see what is trending and what you might be missing in your training. Are the number of crashes decreasing, increasing, or about the same? Be flexible enough to adjust your online or virtual training to meet your training needs.
I certainly believe that virtual and online training has its place in the trucking industry. I think it is up to each carrier to determine how this type of training fits into their training programs. Develop a plan, ask others how they implemented this kind of training, begin slowly, and expand when you are comfortable to do so. I think we can expect to see drivers adapt to this type of training because it is less time-consuming, and they can do it from home or in the cab of their truck.