“As much as 80 percent to 85 percent of drivers on the road today have not been through a safety program in years,” says E. Bruce Weiss, executive vice president of Instructional Technologies Inc. (ITI), a Vancouver, WA-based provider of training programs. “Drivers can get a CDL and then companies turn over a 75,000-pound truck with a 53-foot trailer to them and send them down the road at 75 miles an hour.”
Ryder, for example, offers an Internet-based version of a driver training program called Pro-Tread. It is available to all drivers, whether or not they are affiliated with Ryder, and can be accessed at www.rydersafetyservices.com. The program is a series of highly interactive lessons and includes topics such as defensive driving, driver wellness, driver qualifications and government regulations concerning the trucking industry.
“This program provides quality training and retraining in all areas of safe and legal driving,” says Patrick Lydon, Ryder’s senior manager of safety and loss prevention. Because the training is delivered over the Internet, it is now accessible to the smaller and more remote carriers or to any fleet that has drivers in remote locations.”
A well-trained driver is only as good as the truck he’s driving, and for that reason, Beote suggests regular truck maintenance and more. “You have to keep checking your equipment to make sure it’s safe,” says Beote, 58. “The pre-trips and post trips are a must. You have to do them so that you can go down the road without problems.”
Today’s high-tech trucks are also a big help in preventing accidents. H.P. Hood’s fleet consists of mostly new 2005 model year trucks. They all are equipped with GPS tracking, mobile communications and the latest in advanced onboard computing systems from PeopleNet, Minneapolis. The company just started rolling the system out across its entire fleet within the last few weeks.
“If drivers obey their equipment, it will make their job that much easier and safer,” says Beote, “because it will keep track of your time, warn you when there are things you have to do and more.
“The new trucks are great because it’s all computerized,” he continues. “There’s really no room for error because it does everything for you, if you let it.”
But, in the end, it comes down to a love of life on the road. “I’ve been driving since I was a kid and I still enjoy it,” says Beote.
Now at age 58, he isn’t even thinking of retiring. “As long as I’ve got my health, I’ll stay with it,” he says.