Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cities and states have shut down their restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Despite all of this, consumer demand for medical supplies and food continues to increase and truck drivers are crucial for maintaining the supply chain and keeping the economy going.
When COVID-19 first emerged in the United States, there was a surge of consumers hoarding food and supplies, causing a drastic increase in freight activity to continually restock grocery stores.
To accommodate, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently issued a national emergency declaration to help relieve drivers from the hours of service regulations if their work involves delivering freight to provide relief during the pandemic. These items include:
medical supplies related to the testing diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and soaps for healthcare workers;
food for restocking grocery stores, foodservice, and distribution centers.
1. Train Your Truck Drivers with Online Tools
By removing the hours of service regulations, truck drivers can now drive more than 11 hours at a time if they are transporting these critical goods. In addition, they are no longer required to maintain a record of status. It’s highly critical that warehouse, distribution, and truck transportation companies keep truck drivers safe by providing guidelines, robust on-the-road training, and consistent reinforcement. Below are three additional ways to support personnel safety during this pandemic as well:
Typically, it’s challenging to complete in-person group training for truck drivers because it’s near impossible to get all drivers in one place at one time. It can also prove to be extremely costly if truck drivers are forced to utilize their on-duty hours to go on location and accommodate completion of the course work into their already demanding schedule.
This challenge is compounded when organizations have to practice social distancing to further prevent the spread, so it’s imperative for companies to deliver their training to their employees online in efforts to reduce social interactions.
eLearning is the perfect alternative for ensuring that organizations can keep their drivers informed and engaged. With this method, organizations can deliver faster training updates to their drivers and reduce costs.
Intertek Alchemy has partnered with Instructional Technologies, Inc. (ITI) to provide industry leading PRO-TREAD transportation training library. These 140 online PRO-TREAD courses help drivers fit safety training into their busy schedules, and they pack a lot of information into a short block of time. Moreover, this remote training stays within your training management system, so all records of training completion are digitally stored. This allows companies to create, manage, and track learning plans for their driver training. And also helps reduce insurance costs by quickly proving the safety training completed by drivers.
2. Create A Robust Onboarding Plan
According to American Trucking Association, large truckload carriers have a 94% turnover rate. Labor shortages in areas of food transportation could soon pose a food shortage problem. One method to reduce turnover for the truck transportation industry is to make the onboarding process smoother for new employees. By having a well-planned, robust onboarding process, your workers can feel more engaged with the organization and more inclined to stick with the organization for the long haul.
An organized onboarding process can help to fully integrate a new employee into the company culture. According to CareerBuilder, 92% of employees are more loyal to employers who have invested in their skills by developing a well-defined training program for them.
An essential part of the onboarding process is training new hires on job-specific tasks and not solely relying on learning by way of binders full of random SOP documents. This can otherwise lead to a poor onboarding experience.
One way to improve on-the-job training for your workers is to turn your paper SOP documents into a video course for short bursts of training complete with knowledge checks. This will improve the new hire experience by using more visual and active learning methods to deliver the training.
Thankfully, organizations can lean on new technology to help achieve this mission. Mobile solutions, like Alchemy Playbook, provide the power to record their best workers performing various tasks like loading and unloading cargo and pre and post trip inspection of trailer to quickly turn it into an interactive training course with instructions and quizzes.
3. Prevent Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is the leading cause of accidents. Organizations must foster a safety culture in which drivers know that it’s crucial for them to not use their phones while they are behind the wheel. In fact, drivers are four times more likely to crash if they are using their cellphone. As drivers work longer hours to make sure that they can continually meet the demand for food and medical supplies, they need to stay focused. The use of onboard cameras to monitor drivers may seem invasive but can provide the extra structure necessary at this point in time.
Organizations can support our truckers during these stressful, ever-changing times by consistently repeating and reinforcing these safety messages to their drivers.