Is there a need for standardized truck training?

On 28th of December, 2015, a photo and story went around social media depicting a Volvo Truck and Trailer having tried to cross a bridge in Indiana,that collapsed under the weight of the truck.

The driver, a 26 year old female who only recently attained her CDL (although her gender has nothing to do with her mishap) is reported to have said she knew the weight limit for the bridge was 6 tons but she didn’t know what that was in pounds so she decided to try the crossing anyway.

Yes, she’s being charged with several offences contrary to the safe operation of a motor vehicle but they’re relatively minor charges. The trucking company’s insurance carrier is going to find out how much it’s going to cost to replace a 150 year old bridge and no doubt there will be compensatory expenses for those inconvenienced by the lack of the bridge. It’s all just infrastructure and for a price it will all be fixed.

The question is this. Why didn’t this woman driver know the weights and measures conversions she’d need to use in the course of her trade? Truckers almost every minute of every day have to make computations of, no more than Grade Six arithmetic quickly in their head. It’s part and parcel of the job. How does one attain a CDL without competent knowledge of Grade Six arithmetic? It’s even more mind boggling that she wasn’t able to convert tons to pounds instantly in her head but she stopped before the crossing attempt, so she had access to devices which could have done the computation for her. There is absolutely no excuse.

Where was her training? In truck driving school, it’s not all about backing, shifting, steering, learning the walk around. It has to include those skills in mathematics and geography to ensure skills are honed well enough to cope with the arithmetical needs of the job. If she had the skill to complete her log book, then she has no excuse for not knowing how to convert tons to pounds if that’s what she needed to do.

It’s simple. An empty tractor trailer weighs anything from about 15 to 20 tons; a full one up to 40 tons. She had to know she was well over 6 tons even empty. Yes, truckers do think in terms of pounds more than tons but still no excuse. Road signage everywhere is in tons. Conversion is a necessity, no ifs ands or buts.

It appears that it’s time for standardized training for all truck drivers, something that’s been needed for decades.