Truck driver turnover, lack of training standards are causes of safety issues |

Truck driver turnover, lack of training standards are causes of safety issues

Todd Spencer, executive vice president, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Grain Valley, Mo.

I read reporter Reid Williams’ Feb. 7 article, “Study says truckers need reminder of I-70 danger.” I must write to protest strenuously his statement that the I-70 Crash Taskforce Study results “contradicted” accident studies by AAA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and others.

There are 113,995 miles of highways in the National Highway System, so that 141 miles of rocky mountain I-70 makes up .001 percent of the nation’s major highways. You simply cannot generalize the results of such a unique and miniscule sample to the total population.

For reasons the author stated – out-of-state drivers and winter weather months – one would expect the study results to be “different,” but that does not mean they are “contradictory.”

The real issue behind the problem the I-70 Crash Taskforce Study uncovered is probably to be found in the rampant driver retention problem that plagues the trucking industry.

Traversing that stretch of road during winter months requires finely honed driving skills and years of truck-driving experience. However, due to the abysmal wages and working conditions that truck drivers contend with, we find that individuals with years of experience and millions of safe miles under their belts are leaving the industry to earn a decent living elsewhere.

More than likely, it is the constant influx of novice replacements that is behind the 29 percent single-

vehicle crashes for that challenging stretch of mountain road.

Training standards to become a truck driver have never been required in the industry, so most new ones have little or no experience and scant training, if any at all. It shows. Truck drivers lead all occupation groups in worker fatalities each year. Few things in life can be more terrifying than descending a snowy or icy mountain when you don’t know what you’re doing.

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