If I were a trucking industry shill, I’d say that the reason you should check out a carriers safety program is because a better safety program will keep you safer. That might actually be a true statement. But I’m looking at this from a selfish point of view.
When it comes to safety programs, I’ve experienced all kinds. I’ve been through detailed, step-by-step training programs involving classroom lectures, videos, and on the road experience. They even went so far as to make you go through the program again after one year with the company. Just in case we forgot, I suppose.
At the other extreme, I’ve worked for carriers who show you a couple of videos during orientation and then never say another word about it. God bless their souls. May they live long and have children who grow up to be filthy stinkin’ rich, enabling them to retire early.
So why should you bother finding out what kind of safety program a trucking company has? Let’s count the ways.
- Time. In trucking, time is money. If you aren’t rolling down the road, you’re probably not making any money. If a company has monthly safety meetings that you have to physically attend, you’re going to lose money as they try to get you routed through a company terminal. Even if you’re lucky enough to be able to do your safety requirements on the internet, you still have to pull over to get online.
- Money. Loss of time means loss of money. Duh. Didn’t I just say that?
- Boredom. Anything having to do with driving safety is typically as boring as an auctioneer with a stutter. The lectures are bad, but at least they usually involve some discussion. Safety videos, however, are typically drool inducing. And don’t get me started on Hazardous Materials videos. Doze-o-rama.
- Annoyance. Last, and probably the best reason is the annoyance factor. I really hate it when a company calls me a “professional” truck driver, only to harass me with stupid safety stuff that any moron could figure out. “Really? Wow! I had no idea that a car can stop quicker that a truck! What a shocker!” When they send one or two safety messages a day via satellite, well that’s a bit ridiculous too. I mean, c’mon. I drive 120,000 miles a year. There are few things they could tell me that I don’t experience everyday on the road.
The bottom line is this. Safety is important. Everyone knows this. The defensive driving lessons that I learned at truck driving school are still useful to me. I use them every single day. I think defensive driving is something every new driver should be taught. But when you live those rules every single mile that you drive, you don’t need to be reminded of them every day, every week, or even every month.
So be sure to ask a company about their safety program. Ask if they have safety meetings. If they do, ask how often and whether they are online or at a company terminal. Ask about any other safety program procedures they might have. For instance, I once worked for a company that had monthly safety meetings at company terminals, weekly safety briefings by phone, and safety messages via satellite once or twice a day. Not to mention the long videos, lectures, and hands-on driving during orientation. Then repeat it all in a year. I’m just grateful that I decided to quit before I slit my own throat. It was that annoying.