There's a difference between commercial and passenger GPS systems. And now the FMCSA plans to mandate GPS training for truck drivers. The training rule comes after a number of crashes where trucks crashed into overpasses or hauled hazardous materials through cities.
Before you get (understandably) fired up about yet another government mandate, consider two pertinent upward GPS trends:
- 7 in 10 drivers are using smartphones for business.
- Half already use the GPS in their smartphone instead of one in their EOBR.
GPS Training for Entry Level Drivers
It appears that the GPS training for truck drivers will only apply to entry-level drivers. The other four courses are Driver Qualifications, Driver Wellness, Hours of Service and Whistle Blower Protection. (Full Pro-TREAD lesson list here, and never-quite up-to-date Pro-TREAD lesson descriptions here). Pro-TREAD will be adding GPS training for truck drivers to its roster of courses once the FMCSA publishes the must-have topics. In the meantime, you might consider sharing this GPS visor card that the FMCSA published. (And assign our Trip Planning course).
But Maybe Experienced Drivers Should Take GPS Training
The FMCSA tried to avoid over-burdening fleets by requiring every driver to take GPS training. But we can't help but think more experienced drivers should take some sort of GPS training. After all, it's typically the older drivers who aren't tech-savvy. Making GPS training a part of custom EOBR training makes a ton of sense from both a safety and fuel-savings perspective.
Nav Systems Improve Safety, Fuel Savings and Traffic Avoidance
And if you haven't looked lately at all the GPS systems out there — and hey, as a safety director, maybe it's not technically in your job description — they're amazing. Route planning, traffic re-routing, cell-phone disablement, driving tips, dispatcher communications, and more. And obviously, as a part of an electronic onboard device (EOBR), many have driver logs and daily vehicle inspection reports as a part of it.
GPS Training for Truck Drivers: All of Them?
Which circles us back around to our point: That's a ridiculous amount of new technology for your driver to learn in addition to knowing how to alley dock and stay focused on the road. That's why we've been emphasizing training your driver on technology that your fleet provides. If you're investing $2,000 on a device and $50 a month in wireless and subscription fees, a little training whenever a driver joins the fleet is a smart way to make sure you get all the ROI from that device. And don't assume just because a driver is "experienced" that they'll figure it out. Or that your driver managers will reinforce training.