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Teaching old truckers new tech

Challenger Motor Freight shows drivers the benefits to integrating new technology

Anyone who has ever tried to learn a new set of skills knows it can be a frustrating experience, especially if it isn’t picked up right away. Factor in some ‘old school’ mentality and the problem multiplies.

With the trucking industry consisting of drivers who cut their teeth prior to digital technology becoming integrated into daily life, learning how to use technology can take a conscious effort. For many drivers, learning new technology hasn’t been required for their job, and if the interest isn’t there for personal use, why take the time to learn?  

When Ontario-based Challenger Motor Freight (CMF) decided it would implement new technology to simplify its training and safety practices, the company feared that the new direction may be challenged by some of its drivers. With 1,500 drivers in its fleet, CMF recognized that pulling drivers in from the road for meetings, training and other administrative work was no longer a viable option. But, if implementing a new system meant driving away older (and more experienced drivers), that would present more challenges to the fleet.

“With online platforms designed to alleviate the headaches that stem from traditional training and safety practices, it seemed like moving to an online service provider was the best solution,” said Trent Sweezey, CMF driver safety coordinator. “But at the same time, we feared that some of our drivers would leave the company if they rejected the idea of learning how to use electronic devices.”

According to Sweezey, some of CMF’s drivers had very little, if any, practice using electronic devices.

“A few of our older drivers were still using flip phones. A few didn’t know what a mouse (to a computer) was,” said Sweezey. Those drivers never prioritized integrating new technology into their lives, so it’s understandable that they were hesitant when we asked them to learn. We knew that once they understood how to use the technology, they would see how it would be beneficial to them on the road. To help our drivers get up to speed, we held optional weekend training courses to teach drivers how to use electronic devices like tablets, smartphones and computers so that they would have the skills necessary to access online services.”

CMF started its training course by teaching drivers basic electronic device capabilities. From there, the company worked its way to teaching them how to access the CarriersEdge platform – the online training and safety communications provider the company ultimately chose. CMF decided to go with CarriersEdge because they believed it was the most driver-friendly platform that featured the services the company was looking for. When the company began showing its drivers how to navigate the CarriersEdge platform, some of them said that they were afraid that they would ‘break the system.’

“We noticed some drivers were apprehensive about their ability to access and use the CarriersEdge platform,” said Sweezey. “A big reason we decided to go with it is because it is designed to be easy-to-use. Once our drivers had time to go through training modules CarriersEdge offers, they realized there is nothing to worry about.”

Since CMF completed its electronic device training and implemented the CarriersEdge platform, the company has noticed a big swing in the way technology is perceived by the drivers who were originally against the idea of moving to an online platform. According to Sweezey, the company has a 97% completion rate of all online driver training modules that are assigned.

“Some of our older drivers are now the biggest supporters of the technology we use,” said Sweezy. “When we held classroom training and meetings, our more experienced drivers rarely asked questions or appeared to want to learn new information. That has changed. The training modules these drivers are assigned are especially driver-focused, and we noticed that they are much more engaged in what they’re learning. They’re asking questions and telling us about the new information they’re learning. That never happened before. These drivers are often the first to finish training modules that are assigned.”

CMF uses CarriersEdge to assign driver training, upload industry policy changes and company safety meetings, and deliver internal training for office staff.

By setting aside some time to show drivers how learning new tech skills is not as complex as it may seem, CMF has integrated a new operations practice that has been widely accepted by administrators and drivers.

“We use CarriersEdge every day,” said Sweezey. “Out of 1,500 drivers we employ, only three of them choose to come in and take training modules at one of the terminals and 90% of them are now using smartphones. Rarely do we see flip phones anymore. It just goes to show if you’re willing to show your drivers how to use technology in a way that allows them to see how it will be a useful tool to them, negative perceptions can change. Not only are we as a company saving time and money by using an online platform, but we are able to deliver important content in a new way that is more easily accessed and retained by our drivers.”



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