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What does it take to be a good truck driving instructor?

Time have changed since the old days of trucking where your friend or neighbour that owned or had access to a truck could jump in and teach you to drive on the back roads. The days are gone where you could travel the roadways watching your Dad shift gears and interact with other people in the industry and have it be part of your DNA when you got older knowing that you were going to drive those big rigs. That was the way many truck drivers used to learn to drive and many of them are at the top of the industry today. Things have changed from the 70s and 80s and it is a different industry and different world today.

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Today to become a driver in the industry you have to complete a course of a certain amount of hours, pay thousands of dollars for training, and keep yourself trained with various regulations throughout your career. This is due to the increased incidents on our highways, changes to the type of driver coming into the industry, and changes in the industry due to technology and safety. Those changes happened many years ago but it created another problem as to how qualified the instructor was teaching the new person entering the industry.

In the past we have had instructors of different types and styles. Some more qualified than others and some much more caring. There have been stories of instructors with two years of experience or less becoming instructors. There have been stories of instructors talking on the phone doing business for their school not paying attention to the student on the road. There have been reports of instructors teaching someone a certain route so that they pass the test but not showing them true driving techniques. So what makes a good instructor?

When I learned to drive back in the 80s I was part of the first group. I learned off friends that were drivers in a sort of informal school that trained on just what I needed at the time. There were less regulations back then so all of my training was specifically on driving techniques and not log books and other issues. I learned on equipment with real loads on the roads of the day. I was on a graduated system of learning starting with smaller trucks before driving larger vehicles and working the city before operating on the highways. Many of my colleagues believe this was the best way to learn to drive a truck and developing a person into a professional driver.

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In my opinion a good instructor is someone that is passionate about making our industry better. They have the experience and qualifications to teach someone properly and have the people skills to ensure they have learned the proper techniques to give them a good start on a new career in the transportation industry. Most of the good instructors I know in the industry also have had good careers as professional drivers in the industry themselves. Being a good instructor starts with caring and being a leader in the industry as a driver. If looking a school for your next career ask some questions about the instructors teaching the courses. It will make a difference in your career, it did for me.

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast for truck drivers. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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