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Training new drivers is a task that not many people want to do. It takes some pretty strong nerves, the desire to pass on information and knowledge, and in the case of Over The Road drivers, the ability to live in very close quarters with someone that you barely know, and may not really like. It also takes patience. Lots and lots of patience. 

That patience shouldn’t just come from the trainer though. Professional truck drivers who may not be training need to be patient with those who are being trained on the road with us. After all, don’t many complain about the lack of training? On the road training is invaluable. Unfortunately, that training has to be done ON THE ROAD. That means that sometimes there is a driver on the road that might not have all the skills required to do the things experienced drivers just know to do. Let me give an example. 

A New Level of Impatience 

My trainee, Evan and I were travelling down the interstate approaching a weigh station. We were given the gift of a red light on the pre-pass, and prepared to enter. Evan signaled our exit and then started slowing down. We were at about 50 mph a few hundred feet from the entrance when the driver behind us got on the CB and rudely said, “You don’t need to come to a complete stop on the highway”. 

I told Evan to ignore him. 

The speed limit was 45 through the station until you approached the split to either bypass or enter the scale lane, where the speed limit drops to 20 mph. Then, the scale lane split into two lanes with the arrow showing which lane to take. As I am explaining the procedure to Evan, this was his first weigh station, our friendly neighborhood grump got on the CB again and said “You can go faster through here, you don’t need to go so slow”. We were doing 39 mph, but sure, I’ll make my driver go faster than he is comfortable. No problem. NOT! 

I told Evan to ignore him. 

We approached the scale and came to a complete stop before pulling onto the scale. I am not sure what the “driver coach” behind us had to say, but I heard the beep of his microphone as he finished saying whatever he said. Evan asked what he said. 

I told Evan to ignore him. 

We slowly pulled on as we were supposed to, got the green light and proceeded to pull off slowly. Now it is time to enter the highway. Evan was smoothly accelerating and I warned him to watch out for the angry gentlemen behind us, because he would jump right into the passing lane and pass. He did just exactly that and then proceeded to hammer down and pass. Slowly, as he was pulling up beside, he keyed up his mic and said angrily “Learn how to drive a truck!”. 

I did NOT tell Evan to ignore him. 

I failed to practice what I had been preaching, grabbed my mic and said, “He IS learning to drive. Shut the (H E Double Hockey Sticks) Up.” I didn’t scream it, in fact I said it in a very even keeled, soft tone. My response may have also had a very heavy dose of sarcasm. I don’t remember. 

We were met with radio silence. 

The entire event MAY have cost that driver 1 minute. He was on our case within 10 seconds. Incredible. 

He had no idea what was going on inside that cab, we just weren’t doing things as quickly as he thought we should. Of course, I am sure he told people around the counter at the truck stop an entirely different story, but the point is, it was entirely unnecessary. He got his blood pressure up trying to make a driver do something he wasn’t comfortable doing. Fortunately, Evan is marine and is not easily bullied or intimidated. He brushed it off and moved on. That is exactly what Mr. Impatience in the truck behind us needed to do, brush it off and move on. 

Practicing Patience 

  • Learn to control the things you can control. Let the rest of it go. 

  • Remember, you don’t know everything that is going on inside the cab of that truck. Maybe the driver IS texting, or maybe he is having a health issue. 

  • Always tell yourself, “If this is the biggest problem I have in my life, I have a pretty sweet life” Most of the time, that statement is true and puts your current situation in perspective. 

  • Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Count to 10. Put down the mic or let off the fuel pedal. Do whatever it takes to reevaluate your situation. 

Being patient can help your blood pressure, and it may help the blood pressure of the new guy that may be behind the wheel. You just never know.

Follow Team Run Smart Pro Clark Reed on Instagram and Facebook

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Clark W Reed

Clark Reed of Roscoe, Illinois is an OTR company driver and trainer for Nussbaum Transportation based out of Hudson, Illinois. He has been driving since 2005 and has driven van, reefer, and tanker. He currently hauls dry van to all lower 48 states. Clark is passionate about MPGs and how driver habits influence them. The lifetime average of his 2018 Cascadia is 9.75 mpg, with eyes on 10. Clark, along with Henry Albert, was one of the seven drivers in 2017's "Run on Less" by NACFE, a road show, demonstrating what fuel efficiency can be obtained with existing technologies.

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