Category Archives: Education

3 Steps to Learning the Truck Inspection Process

Learning how to conduct a truck inspection can be a daunting task when you’re a new student in a truck training school. There are many parts to inspect on a truck or bus and missing just one area can result in fines and downtime for any driver. This is why the inspection process is so important and a reason that every student has to take it seriously.

I recently attended a school to understand their yard work program and what students thought of going through the yard work process. The testing procedures have changed since the implementation of Mandatory Entry Level Training and has become more challenging for the student. Previously the inspection process was taught as a routine that a student would learn and show when testing for their licence. Over the years the testing changed to a random item test where the testing agent will ask the driver to inspect different items on the truck in various orders. The student doesn’t know ahead of time which items will be asked of them therefore having to learn the whole process.

Talking to instructor Jean at the school conducting the training for inspections I asked how the new way of testing has improved the training process? “Students have to learn the full schedule 1 with the new system. Previously the students were taught a routine for inspecting a truck, but due to the time frame in testing were memorizing what to say more than what they were actually inspecting. Because the requests are random students have to know exactly how to inspect an item and not just what to say to the tester.” Says Jean.

Instruction picture

One of the things I noticed when attending the training is that the students going through the program took the instruction very seriously. As a trainer myself I can tell you that not all students understand the importance of training or have the same level of determination. The students going through the inspection schedule, asking questions, and redoing tasks they didn’t understand or do correctly were determined to understand the components fully. Those are the students that will pass successfully but also make professional drivers in the future.

If you are a new student or someone just getting started in the process of looking for a training facility then there a few things you can do to ensure your training is successful:

  • Ensure you are attending a certified training facility. Certified schools have the top instructors that have the knowledge to show you the proper way to inspect items.
  • Participate in the training. Many times the inspection process is taught in a group setting. Don’t just stand on the side lines but be active taking notes, doing tasks, and asking questions.
  • Take your training seriously. Failing to inspect a truck properly can result in fines, delays, or even death. It is important to take your training seriously, review your work, take notes, and ask questions of things you don’t understand.

Truck inspections are required of drivers every day and there are many that don’t do them properly. They are important from a safety standpoint, required from a testing standpoint, and can minimize delays on the road, but only if you know how to do a proper inspection.

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. 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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LOU Smyrlis of Newcom Media Talks Changes, Faces, and Trends at the 5th Annual Conference

Day one of the agenda for the 5th Annual TTSAO Conference will feature Lou Smyrlis of Newcom Media talking about the changes coming up in the industry for 2020. Smyrlis is well known in the industry as an analyst and reporter with a pulse for the future.

Check out the full agenda below and
save the date for the conference.

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Transportation Combines Multiple Industries Into One for Great Careers

The Transportation industry is not only the one of the largest industries in North America but also one of the most diverse. Why is this important? As someone moving into the industry it allows you many options for employment and a varied career. Let’s explore the the types of industries one would find within trucking and then how to best determine the one that may be best for you.

Possibly the easiest way to get a grasp on the amount of diversity in the transportation industry is to look at all the products that are on the shelves in a store. Each of those products come from a different manufacturer and on a different type of truck. The car you drive, the furniture you have, the electronics on your desk, each of those are an industry within the transportation industry. Many of those products require their own type of truck or delivery method to transport them to the end user location. That’s thousands of different opportunities within one industry called transportation.

Let’s go a step deeper and look at the transport truck itself. If you were to dismantle that truck you would have thousands of pieces laying in front of you. Each one of those pieces comes from a different manufacturer and requires a different type of service person or transport type to make them into the item we know as a truck. If you add the drivers required to be employed to drive all of these trucks, the driver trainers, the mechanics to maintain the equipment you have thousands of jobs available not to mention dispatchers, load planners, and other essential positions. How do you decide where to start to gain employment?

Driver-in-truck

The transportation industry is very diverse and that’s the beauty of it. You can start in one area and branch out over time into other areas of the industry allowing for continued growth in your career. But you have to start somewhere to gain that knowledge and experience that will stay with you for the future. So where do you start?

The best and easiest place to start is with the area that will give you the best understanding of the industry, has the most positions available, and can earn you money right away. That position is in the driver’s seat. This is the foundation that many of us who began our careers by accident have flourished over the years and gone into other areas of the industry with a strong foundation due to our years in the seat as a professional driver. It offers an understanding of the industry that no other position can give no matter how much you study. It teaches you a multitude of training in areas that will be helpful for the future from geography to dealing with people and much more.

How do you decide which area is best for you? Knowing what type of work interests you is the best way to start. Are you mechanically inclined and like to fix things? Do you like to work on your own and travel? Are you good with paperwork or working in a fast paced environment? Do you enjoy technology or training others? All of these areas have multiple jobs available for the right person and many of these jobs may be available at one company. There is no reason anyone should be unemployed if they have some focus for the future. It means you just have to get started and investigate the best fit for you. Talking to a certified school or carrier may be your best option to getting your career started for the future.

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. 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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I got my Licence But Can’t Get a Job!

A driver at a recent job fair was complaining that he went to a truck training school and passed his licence but now can’t find a job. I asked him about the school as to whether they were certified or not but he did not know. I asked how long his training was and he said just a few weeks. I asked if he got individual training and he said no it was all in groups. My final question was what are the carriers telling you? He said the carriers weren’t even accepting his resume because of the school. Now we get to the heart of the matter, certified training.

This driver may have attained his licence but because he attended a school that wasn’t certified his resume is not even being accepted. This happens to many drivers trying to take short cuts on their training. They take courses that are not approved as a career college or training facilities that focus on just putting students through the door instead of offering quality training. He may have taken a course that solely focused on driving the training route and passing the road test instead of training a person to know all the tasks and information a professional driver is required to know over the course of their day in the truck.

Many schools that offer low cost courses will take groups of students and train them to pass their licence. They show them basic driving skills, but not the other important details to being a professional driver such as trip planning, hours of service, defensive driving, and other important information that a driver needs to know to build a good career. This comes back to haunt the driver when companies can’t accept their resume based on the school they attended.

Truck training has come under the spotlight in recent years with roadside incidents, the implementation of Mandatory Entry Level Training with verified hours, and a very tight insurance market for carriers that are causing many to only take applications from students that have attended certified training facilities. This means that a student has to look at the carrier and training facility together when determining the best place for training. Many carriers suggest a student talk to them directly to see what schools they deal with so they know that the company will be satisfied with the training and accept their application.

What do you do if you are like our driver friend with a licence but no one seems to be interested in accepting your resume? If you’re in this situation there are a few steps you can try. Some may work based on the person or may cost more money to get you to a state where your training is sufficient.

  • Talk to past companies that you applied with to learn exactly why they wouldn’t accept your resume. They may offer information that can improve your chances next time.
  • Some carriers will invest in the right people if the person is motivated and presents themselves properly. Show a carrier your ambition and they may take a chance on helping you upgrade and learn.
  • Talk to a certified training school and find out how much it will cost to upgrade. Many will offer the training you need and can help you get that certified training helping you gain employment.
  • Look to the larger carriers with affiliate training programs through certified schools and see if they can help you with employment and upgrading.

The best way to avoid the problem in the first place is to choose a certified school and talk to potential carriers before taking your training so that you don’t fall into this problem and get the proper training for your career. Remember training is an investment not a cost. Good luck!

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. 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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TTSAO Announces 2020 Conference Lineup

The TTSAO Has announced the initial conference lineup for 2020 5th annual conference. Check out the agenda for the conference and make sure reserve the date. .

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Preparing for a Carrier Road Evaluation

“People just aren’t prepared! I get drivers who show up and think we will give them a safety vest, hammer, gloves, and other equipment which they should have with them. New candidates seem to think that we will supply that for them, but those are the basics of being prepared for a road test. You are expected to bring that with you on a road test with our company” said the recruiter.

Safety professionals with the company conducting road tests have the right to terminate a road test at any time if they feel safety is compromised on the road. This recruiter tells the story of a driver that was on a road test and began to get road rage while performing the test. He was fine on the highway, but when driving in a city environment his attitude changed. The test was terminated part way through with the trainer driving the truck back to the yard.

A road test is more than just testing driving skills, they are also testing your knowledge when conducting an inspection, and how you interact with customers on the job. They are testing your professionalism, dress when showing up for work, and of course they are testing your driving skills. The most important test which may not be on paper but is part of your test is your ATTITUDE! Your attitude is the most important piece of the puzzle and success when trying to get hired on with carriers. Are you willing to learn, listen, and improve over time.

People show up at the company not realizing that they will see a company representative while filling out an application. “This recruiter says, “We have a process that a team member is called when an applicant arrives at our location. If available we try to meet the person right away to get a feel for them before scheduling an interview. I am always amazed how many drivers weren’t expecting to see anyone when applying.”

If you are looking for a position as a driver in transportation realize you are expected to be able to do certain things and first impressions count. Give yourself a professional makeover before heading out into the landscape of transportation.

Here are some points to go over before
heading out to your next interview.

  • Is your resume in good order, neat and clean?
  • Do you have your own safety equipment?
  • Do you look professional?
  • Are you prepared to conduct a proper pre-trip inspection?
  • Have you researched the company and know the type of operation they have?
  • Do you have the proper documents the recruiter requires?

Go through this checklist before each interview or road test and you will be well on your way to being successful when applying on the job front.

find-a-ttsao-Carrier

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. 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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Licence Renewal-Patience and Focus are the Key

As a commercial driver you will be required to be retested for renewal of your licence on a regular basis based on your age and the licence classes you have registered. This is usually accompanied by a medical and if you are not successful in passing the tests required your licence will be downgraded from the commercial class to the basic non-commercial driver’s licence. This can be a stressful time if you haven’t taken the time to prepare properly especially if your licence is required for your job.

I recently had to renew my commercial licence and prepared as I have for the last 35 years even when I was driving. I bought the books, reread each chapter, and prepared mentally for the day. Leave lots of time, clear your head, and be focused is what I would get in my mind each year. Many laugh when I say I buy the books each time when I teach most of the elements in those books but it has been part of my routine for a long time and it is how I prepare each time. The reason is more for terminology than the process. There are many phrases and names used on the tests and in the book that we don’t use in the industry on a regular basis. If you use the slang of the industry all the time you may not understand the terminology on the test. With Mandatory Entry Level Testing being implemented since my last testing I thought they may have added some information about the program so buying the books seemed like a good idea.

I felt comfortable going in to the Drive Test Centre to renew the licence. I had left a whole afternoon for the test so that I wasn’t in a hurry and could take my time without thinking I should be somewhere else. My first thought when going to these testing centres is how long will I be there. You take a ticket and wait and in some centres it may take all afternoon just to get in line for the test.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the centre not overly busy and staff organized. I was called right away to begin the process and the staff was helpful and happy. I completed the required vision test and then was told to enter the testing room and take computer number four. Now this is where things changed for me. I have my tractor trailer licence, my coach licence, and my air brake licence so that is three tests that I have to write. The last time I was in to renew my licences I received a two page paper test for each licence class and didn’t realize they had changed over to computers for the testing.

Computer testing

Using the computers wasn’t a problem, but any unexpected change can throw a person off. The rules are the same as you are allowed a certain number of questions wrong in order to pass as they were in the past. The questions weren’t overly tough but I find you really had to pay attention to what they were asking. The multiple choice questions are designed to throw you off and I did get one wrong because the number I saw was for something else as I didn’t read the question close enough. The questions are delivered randomly and are the same over multiple tests of similar classes. When I thought I was answering questions about the coach I had answered that same question previously in the tractor trailer test. You never really knew which test you were on, but other than that the process was easy enough.

If you are wondering how I did I can tell you I passed all the tests. If I can offer a piece of advice for anyone taking the tests is to have patience and take your time focusing on each question. Once you have selected an answer you can’t go back and correct it. Patience and focus are the key!

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. 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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Is the Trucking Industry Shutting Down?

There is a lot of homework that goes into choosing the right carrier to work for as a driver and although we often tell truck drivers to research an environment there is only so much a driver can do. You can look at the carrier’s equipment, talk about their maintenance plan, discuss their operating patterns, and look for good company culture. That won’t always tell you the whole story as many companies aren’t going to give you their financial information to review. So how do you know if the transportation industry is something you should pursue?

Someone brand new looking at the industry may be very confused. Job fairs are increasing with carriers looking for multiple drivers to work in their operations showing that there is lots of freight that needs to be transported. On the other hand there have been many stories of late of carriers going out of business on both sides of the border and of all sizes. Is the trucking industry shutting down?

There are many factors that have gone into the latest trucking operations closing from tariffs to operating areas and other factors. Contracts and shipper relationships are a huge factor in a carrier’s success and can be the difference between staying in business or not. Anyone who has been in business will tell you that business relationships and cash flow can make or break a business. Freightwaves has written an article about the latest trucking closure by Timmerman Starlite Trucking and some of the factors that may have been responsible the closure. You can read the article at http://www.freightwaves.com/news/trucking-apocalypse-continues-california-truckload-carrier-latest-victim-regulations-blamed

Company-closed

I honestly don’t think the trucking industry is shutting down, it is doing what it always does in cleaning itself out much like Mother Nature. The strong survive and the weak die off in wildlife and business is no different. There are many factors that have increased expenses for many carriers such as electronic logging devices, increased driver pay, changing regulations, and increased equipment costs. Businesses that don’t evolve with the changing times will be in trouble in an uncertain business climate such as we have today.

Depending on how long you have been in the industry you may have seen this happen in the past. I remember back in the late eighties we went through a similar process and back then we used to say there will only be five trucking companies in Canada. Many will either be bought out or dissolve. I don’t have a crystal ball so can’t tell you which companies will be around in the future, but I can tell you that the trucking industry is not shutting down. It will continue to change as it has always done and companies will start up and go out of business as they have always done. As a driver it is important to do your homework to the best of your ability and look at companies that have longevity and are improving or evolving with the changing times. A carrier with strong customer relationships in freight markets that are stable will be around in the future if they are operating properly. I believe trucking will never go away, but it will change!

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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. 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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Driving School Culture Starts at the Top

Being involved with the training industry over many years both directly and indirectly I have heard reviews and complaints on certain types of schools in the industry. I have worked with good schools and heard and seen the bad ones. Many times looking at the schools from the outside may or may not allow you to tell the good from the bad. Both will have trucks, offices, and a website. The real difference comes when applying to a school, starting a school, or operating a successful school?

The industry has been changing over the years with the implementation of Mandatory Entry Level Training and certification processes by the Government that are ensuring that the proper training programs are available to the market. Incident rates have been climbing in recent years and training is being blamed for part of the problem.

When you think of it training facilities can implement many of the Government requirements, but that still won’t make them a good school. The reason is that the culture of the school is really determined by the staff or management of the facility and the dedication to safety and training of the students. If I have a school and am just concerned with putting students through the program in the fastest way possible then that won’t be the best school to attend even if certifications are in place.

Man driving tractor

There have been many reports of students being crowded into a truck with one instructor and showing them a specific route to pass the test. Other reports include instructors doing business on the phone when they should be training or cookie cutting courses in order to charge more money.

A school or company with a good culture will train their staff properly, offer quality in their course material, and have a focus on safety instead of value over money. They will have a good culture that drips down from the top throughout their curriculum and staff ensuring students have a successful program helping the industry have successful workers. Culture is king!

If you are a potential student looking for a training facility then talk to other students and make sure the programming is thorough, staff are safety minded and professional, and the training program will give you all the tools to start a successful career in transportation.

If you are an instructor in the industry ensure you really care about the learning process for your students and that they have the training to be safe professional drivers when they complete the program.

If you are a school owner or company providing training realize training is not about just filling the seats with bodies, but ensuring everyone providing training and contact from trainer to reception is offering quality service. The culture has to come from the top down.

If you are looking to start a training facility deciding on the type of training facility you will be operating and supporting through your business decisions will be paramount. No matter how much making money enters the equation the difference between success and a good name in the industry is culture. If you would like to learn about the steps for starting a training facility the TTSAO has the process documented on their website. You can find the information by clicking here.

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. 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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Trucking for the Right Reasons

There is a certain wonder about life on the road and how people cope. People wonder about truckers in the trucking industry such as where they go, who they see, and how they handle the loneliness. We wonder the same thing about nomads, caravaners, and other people that seem to float from place to place not knowing what the next turn will bear. To some it is romantic and to others it is as scary as walking down a dark street at two in the morning.

I recently read an article from a young person thinking about getting into the trucking industry who currently worked from home and felt they had no social life. He didn’t get out to see people and was becoming bored with his job. This person felt that getting a job as a truck driver would change the loneliness and make their life more exciting. The question is, is that the proper reason to get into the trucking industry?

Another situation that arises is when someone takes a driving trip for vacation decides they like to drive and wants to move into the transportation industry. Driving on vacation and driving for work are two different things. Vacation is great for seeing the sights and enjoying the many great places across the Country. It is not always possible to do that in trucking.

The reasons above are what people tell us many times in conversation as to why they may want to get into the trucking industry. It may be a start but is not enough to begin a career without some more investigation into the lifestyle. If we take the scenarios above we will see that for the first person the reason of getting out of the house may be a first step to looking at the industry, but have they thought about life on the road as a whole. Life on the road is not for everyone and the driving is just one part of the job. Many drivers suffer from loneliness as well so trucking may or may not be the answer.

Driver-in-truck

In the second scenario a driving holiday is a beautiful way to see the beauty of North America with family and friends. You can stop when you want, drive to important monuments, and take your time enjoying the surroundings. You can do that in a truck as well but you may not have the time or access to go to certain places.

So how do you decide on a job in transportation? The scenarios above may be a good start to thinking about being in trucking but you need to look at the job and lifestyle as a whole. I think the trucking industry has a lot to offer any person whether in a truck or not but is also not for everyone. You do get to see the Country and you can see others on the road, but it can be a drastic change to people coming into the industry without the knowledge of the lifestyle. The best place to start the conversation about trucking is with a carrier or trucking school. An even better place to start is at www.ttsao.com

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. 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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