Back to school

From the February 2022 print edition

Providing education and continuity in driver training should be at the core of every fleet. Different lanes, equipment and cargo require different levels of training. Bridging the gap between technology and ongoing access to training are two key components in connecting drivers with opportunities, while also ensuring you operate a safe and adaptable fleet.

At Musket Transport, we have benefitted from having our own private career college since 1997. Commercial Heavy Equipment Training Ltd. (CHET) connects us with Ontario AZ license graduates (to drive a tractor trailer). But it also provides a strong base for our ongoing training programs for drivers. Fleets that do not have their own driver-training academy should collaborate with schools. Here in Ontario, those schools should be members of the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO), and there are similar schools across the country. Larger fleets typically have dedicated driver trainers and departments but can still benefit from a partnership with a qualified school.

Truck training schools are an excellent resource for opportunities due to their dedicated clinics and training technology. Considering the current driver shortage, becoming an employer partner for a trusted school would be a beneficial step toward providing ongoing support and training for drivers. Once you have a sense of the quality of their graduates, you can have a better understanding of how to adjust your training for drivers joining your fleet.

School collaboration
There have been great advancements in driver education programs in Ontario concerning the introduction of Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT), but we encourage fleets to collaborate with schools that exceed the mandate. For comparison, MELT mandates 103.5 hours of AZ training for road test eligibility. At CHET, AZ students go through a 200-hour program, and additional training
is still required once they are on-boarded at Musket. Fleets can cut down the amount of training required for new drivers if they look for schools that similarly boast a 200-hour program versus those that simply meet MELT standards. By going over and above, you’re helping to ensure safety standards are met and providing peace of mind to your fleet drivers and clients for ongoing service.

Musket Transport’s success with CHET’s eLearning platform has meant that the company has rolled out a similar platform for its mechanics.

Across Canada, the introduction of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate will also present a boost in efficiency and fleet training opportunity. As a cross-border company, we rolled this out in 2018. This technological advancement required driver training as it was a new device and system for drivers to utilize daily.

“HOS alerts and vehicle tracking have allowed us to be more efficient and compliant,” says Daryn Rabb, Musket Transport’s health and safety manager. “We are using the driver scorecard feature to track and trace all of the driver’s behavior. As a result, it is having a direct effect on speeding, harsh braking and cornering events. Every driver we have spoken to has been able to improve this behavior in subsequent reports.”

In short, the ELD technology provides greater insights to how your drivers perform over the road.
This is when CHET’s clinics and investment in truck simulators as well as VR training pay off for Musket’s fleet. Thanks to the driver scorecard, we can also target specific behaviours that require correcting. Our fleet drivers are regularly scheduled for training at CHET where they receive an individual approach. Other fleets can develop this type of relationship with their partnered driver training school or look to building it into their fleet driver-training department.

Technological investments can help any fleet improve their driver training. We have found a lot of success in CHET’s truck simulators, VR training and eLearning platform. Behaviour correcting systems are available through these technological options. Additionally, instructional videos have been valuable tools for introducing new equipment to drivers or connecting them to community-related training programs such as Truckers Against Trafficking.’

Investments in truck simulators, VR training and eLearning platforms can help fleets to improve their driver training.

We have found the eLearning platform to be such a great tool for CHET students and Musket drivers that we have rolled out a similar platform for our mechanics. This component might not apply to all carriers as it depends on whether they have their own maintenance department. At Musket, we have seen a great improvement in our mechanic apprenticeship program and overall equipment maintenance thanks to this eLearning platform. The creation of your own instructional videos is a relatively easy way to provide additional training options for a fleet.

Content creation
Custom content is something that everyone can take advantage of and can be updated when required. Thanks to the general technology improvement in cameras and phones, creating content that is high quality is feasible and accessible to most. Musket tapped into this reality through our in-house marketing department. Accessibility to experienced content creators allows for the creation of our various instructional videos without negatively affecting operations.

My main tips for fleets to consider with regards to technology and training are as follows:

  • Investigate the types of technology currently used by high-caliber driver training schools.
  • Partner with truck training schools for added training options for your fleet and access to their new graduates.
  • Look to truck training associations and their technologically advanced members for more information.
  • Do not shy away from making your own custom content, as every fleet, lane and equipment types are different.
  • Embrace existing technology that is mandated or in-use at your fleet and consider its training applications.
  • Connect with trucking organizations that have a network
    of experts in this field.
  • Investigate which technological advancements are the right fit for your carrier and/or fleet driver-training department.

As technological innovations continue to close the gap in knowledge and connect us with more training opportunities, fleets should also look to other truck organizations for further inspiration. For example, Trucking HR Canada has excellent funding programs to encourage more youth to get behind the wheel and into transportation and logistics in general. It presents an excellent training opportunity, and it can
be utilized as a successful recruitment tool.

“Technology is becoming more important in preparing driving fleets with training and knowledge-based improvements,” says Philip Fletcher, CHET operations manager. “The key with technology is that it can reach more drivers sooner, and it is a less expensive method of transferring knowledge. Therefore, its role in training is bound to increase as more and more fleets tackle the needs of their drivers.”

Sophia Sniegowski is corporate communica-tions officer at Musket Transport Ltd.