Becoming a Truck Driver Trainer:
Motives, Warnings and More
If you've read our
expectations page, you know that Mike's first driver trainer
didn't do a good job of training him. As someone with teaching
experience, Mike firmly believed that he had it in him to train trucker
trainees (student co-drivers).
In 2006, he began the process of becoming a
engineer" with Schneider and voluntarily pulled out of their program
because (at least as of the time he started) the company expected
trainers to run the same number of miles as a solo, be paid by the mile
and receive additional pay per day for training. (That kind of emphasis
is not truly on training, but running miles.)
After he was rehired by
Transport, Mike successfully became a training engineer. At
company, engineers were expected to focus
on training and were paid a salary (instead of by the mile). This was
the emphasis Mike was looking for. He trained four trainees
before realizing that he didn't like sharing his in-truck living space
with anyone except his wife Vicki.
What's more, Mike found the driver
manager who supervised the trainers' fleet to be difficult to work
with. Most importantly, Mike couldn't handle the attitude of
some trainees who thought they knew more
than he (as an experienced driver) did.
Still, the experiences he had were rich. What follows on
this page are some thoughts about motivations for wanting
to be a truck driver trainer and a summary about the student co-drivers
Your Motives for Becoming a Driver Trainer
If you're interested in being a
driver trainer, the big question you need to answer is, "Why do you
want to do this?"
- No doubt, you will
have a bigger paycheck if you train (as opposed to just driving), but
looking at training simply because of the increased
paycheck, that's the
- Do you want to
train because it's a nice thing to do and you
consider yourself to be a nice guy (or gal)? Then beware: you may meet
some aggressive and not-so-nice trainees who will walk all over you.
You will need to teach and guide with a firm hand.
- Do you have
a teaching background in which you've always taught just one
way and you think you can apply your teaching skills to the driving
arena? You may or
may not make a good trainer because different people have
different learning styles. You'll need to adapt your teaching
methods to make sure that all of your students understand you. One size
does not fit all.
- Are you lonely, desiring
companionship on the road, and figure that being a driver trainer will
fill that emotional or social need? Then be
mindful that there are some people who don't work well with others. You
might be best served by having a pet.
- Are you thorough in your work?
Be aware that some trainees
are willing to take shortcuts to try to shorten their training periods.
They may find the "formality" of training something to endure, not
realizing that training is a golden opportunity to glean as much
knowledge as possible from the trainer.
you want to be a trainer because the industry has been good to you and
you want to give back in the form of better, safer drivers, that is an
- If you want to become a
driver trainer because somebody has seen your excellent knowledge of
the industry, you are a good safe driver and someone has told you that
you would be an asset to
the training team, that's an even better reason.
It must be stated that there's nothing wrong
staying as a solo driver who is happy right where he or she is for many
is some incredible untapped talent within the trucking industry but the
with this talent don't want
to share their trucks with someone else. That's ok. These folks are
from whom others can ask advice.
Student Co-Drivers for Whom Mike Served as Driver Trainer (or Training
Please note that student
co-drivers' names have been abbreviated to first and last initials to
- CC had 5 months of experience
driving for Swift before coming to Epes and he thought he had the world
tail. He liked to "work the fuel pedal" because he claimed that
using the cruise control put him to sleep. He refused to use the cruise
control to let the engine pull more efficiently.
One day, CC sped
through a work zone after Mike expressly
to slow down. Mike had him removed from his truck within 24 hours of
Mike observed that CC liked to sleep a lot. CC wasn't particularly
motivated about working, but rather wanted the paycheck without
having to work for it.
Sometime after Mike's company hired CC against Mike's
advice, CC told Mike that he had gotten a grand total of 300 miles for
the week before. (We wonder if the company was trying to send him a
- CW was
very easy to work with and had more professional driving experience
Mike did; however, several years had elapsed since he had last
and with a 53' trailer.
Mike had no questions regarding CW's safety and
professionalism. He simply needed to learn the company's procedures.
first, CW did not understand why he needed to go out with a driver
trainer. His wife had told him, "Take it as a sign from God that there
are some things you need to learn and
there's a reason for going out with this guy." At the
end of our "week" together, CW stated, "God knew I needed you and I'm
grateful for the time we had together because you taught me some things
I needed to know."
- EW was from another country and
had a decided accent. Prior to being placed with Mike, EW had been with
another trainer within the company for 6 weeks. When he asked that
driver trainer questions, most of the time, that trainer would answer,
"I don't know."
It became increasingly apparent to EW that his trainer did not know how
to teach. The last
2 weeks he was with the other trainer, EW said the trainer started
yelling at him, at which
point EW began to "shut down" and wanted to do anything to get out of
The company arranged for EW to train under Mike. People inside the
company stated that they didn't want to lose EW because they already
had a significant investment in him. They asked Mike
what he could do.
EW was with Mike for 2 weeks; both he and Mike wished
that they had been together from
the very beginning because they worked well together, Mike answered his
questions, and EW was a great trainee. Because of the lack of
sufficient quality training time, EW failed his road test and had to
find employment somewhere else. How disappointing.
- MH wanted to do something
"different," so he went off to truck
driver training school, got his
and came to work for Mike's trucking company.
MH had no experience and had never been with any other trainer before.
had some street smarts but also had an ego which needed to be brought
down a few notches. As a good driver trainer, Mike was more
than willing to let him figure out that he didn't know everything and
that he needed a little guidance.
MH was out with Mike for 4
weeks and finished his last 2 weeks with another trainer because Mike
was going on vacation.
MH needed to slow down, concentrate more on his
job, and realize that he didn't have all the answers.
MH pointed out that he wasn't paid for all the miles he ran and wanted
battle the industry on this point. He questioned a lot of things such
as why things were the way they were.
Thankfully, he didn't take unnecessary chances or
risks. Mike knew that MH was at least somewhat open to learning.
MH and Mike had a severe conflict when it came to the temperature
the truck. MH wanted it warm; Mike wanted it cooler. Mike had already
advised MH about what to bring with him in the truck (including
blankets) but he didn't listen. They had to reach a compromise.
It was at this point that Mike realized he didn't like
sharing his truck with anyone but Vicki.
Training You Deserve to Have
If you are currently undergoing truck driver training,
plan to go
through it soon, or have hopes of getting your CDL, here is our advice
regarding your trainer: you
need to have one who can show you "the ropes" and show you
just how to survive, but how to thrive and be successful! You need a
driver trainer who will help you to apply what you've learned in
school, not just tell you to forget it all, because "he's going to show
you 'the real world of trucking.'"
Your driver trainer must be a valuable resource who will
you almost everything it takes for you to be successful and profitable.
Of course, there are those situations that
none of us can expect, but your trainer should be able to give you some
solid answers, instead of continually answering "I don't
brushing aside your
questions as though they don't matter. He/She should be a person who
isn't intimidated by questions, because you're going to have A LOT of
them, and those questions need to be answered.
We tell you all
of this because, quite frankly, we didn't get it in our training. And
that's a crying shame because we certainly weren't prepared when our
time came to go out as a team.
When Mike was a trainer, he developed a series of sheets
which we've adapted and are making available to you. In this way, we
hope to assist both truck driver trainers and their driver trainees
work through some mutual expectations and have some solid guidelines on
how training should be done.
Procedure Record - a record of each time the trainee (or
student co-driver) couples (hooks or unhooks) a trailer during the
training period, to make sure that enough experience is gained at doing
Orientation Trip Performance Evaluation - a form to
be completed on a weekly basis by the trainer as the trainee is
observed conducting job tasks. At the completion of the orientation
trainer shall review the grading with the trainee.
Performance Evaluation - a sheet to be completed by the
trainer on a weekly basis as the trainee is observed while driving.
At the completion of the orientation trip, the trainer shall review the
grading with the trainee.
Expectations - Mike's own personal list of expectations from
both the student co-driver and driver trainer.
Road Scaling Worksheet - a sheet that the trainee (or student
co-driver) completes each time a load is scaled
Co-Driver Supply List - a suggested list of supplies that
trainees should take so they can be prepared for their time
the road. This differs from what we have on our packing list since an
experienced driver trainer should have most truck-related items with
Planning Worksheet - a sheet that the trainee (or student
co-driver) fills out at each dispatch.
Money saving tip:
Think about your future.
If you're a driver trainer and you do a poor job
of training, word will probably come back to your company. You could be
temporarily or permanently suspended from your training position, which
could mean reduced paychecks. Not only
that, but with the tendency of some trainees to blog about their
experiences, word could go out very quickly about how you fail to do
your job well.
If you have not already done so, consider going
through a "train the trainer" type training program or refresher class.
You can also take education classes to help you
become a better teacher.
from Becoming a Truck Driver Trainer: Motives, Warnings and More to
our Truck Driving Jobs
page or our
Truck Drivers Money
Saving Tips home page.
Vicki Simons is pleased to
be part of this initiative:
Kill Federal Overreach
on Trucker Wages
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to the Facebook page.)
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