The Role of Technology in Driver Training and Safety: Insights from Industry Experts

July 18, 2023
interior cab of a peterbuilt truck from chief carriers

The Role of Technology in Driver Training and Safety: Insights from Industry Experts

In a recent episode of the podcast “Driven Too Far,” industry experts Heath Richards and Brett Kleier shared their perspectives on the impact of technology in driver training and safety. Their conversation shed light on the challenges and benefits associated with incorporating new technologies in the trucking industry. In this article, we will explore the key insights from their discussion, highlighting the importance of technology as a tool to enhance driver training and improve overall safety.

The Need for Up-to-Date Equipment in Training

Heath Richards emphasized the significance of having readily available and up-to-date equipment in driver training. While acknowledging the budgetary constraints faced by some schools, he highlighted the challenges that arise when drivers graduate with knowledge limited to older manual equipment while carriers increasingly employ automatics. This discrepancy creates a learning curve for drivers entering the industry, and without proper exposure to new technologies during their training, they may struggle to adapt to different equipment configurations.

The Complexities of Electronic Logs and Training

The conversation then shifted to the topic of electronic logging devices (ELDs) and the difficulties associated with training drivers on various ELD systems. Andrew Winkler shared an insight from his previous discussions with schools, where the instructors questioned which ELD system to train drivers on, given the multitude of providers and variations in their functionalities. Both Brett Kleier and Heath Richards acknowledged the necessity for drivers to learn traditional paper logbook methods alongside ELD usage, as ELD malfunctions can occur, requiring drivers to revert to manual logging.

Technology as a Safety Measure

Heath Richards and Brett Kleier discussed the positive impact of technology on safety measures within the industry. They shared experiences where technologies like collision mitigation systems and forward-facing dash cameras helped in exonerating drivers involved in accidents. The availability of video evidence from dash cameras allowed carriers to prove their drivers’ innocence, protect their records, and reduce liability. The experts also emphasized the importance of side-view cameras in identifying fault and resolving claims more efficiently.

Overcoming Complacency and Encouraging Vigilance

The conversation delved into the issue of complacency among drivers due to reliance on technology. While technology aids in safety, drivers must remain attentive and not assume that technology alone will prevent accidents. Heath Richards highlighted a case where a driver had become overly reliant on the following distance alert from a radar system, failing to maintain an appropriate distance. It was later discovered that the driver had a hearing impairment, leading to his inability to hear the alerts. This example emphasized the need for drivers to stay engaged and not become complacent in their reliance on technology.

Rehabilitation and Individualized Driver Coaching

Heath Richards shared his approach to driver coaching and rehabilitation. Recognizing that drivers have unique learning styles and behaviors, he stressed the importance of tailoring coaching methods to each driver’s needs. From employing disciplinary actions to providing support and guidance, the goal is to help drivers improve their skills and maintain safety on the road. The unseen successes, such as near misses and drivers positively responding to coaching, reinforce the importance of ongoing training and personalized driver development.

Final Insights into The Role of Technology in Driver Training and Safety

The podcast discussion between Heath Richards and Brett Kleier provided valuable insights into the role of technology in driver training and safety. Their conversation emphasized the need for up-to-date equipment in training programs, the challenges of incorporating ELDs, the benefits of technology in enhancing safety measures, the risk of complacency, and the significance of individualized coaching for driver rehabilitation. By leveraging technology effectively and maintaining a vigilant mindset, the trucking industry can continue to prioritize safety and improve overall driver performance.