John Kearney is CEO of Advanced Training Systems, a technology and engineering firm that provides cutting-edge, adaptive simulators for truck driver training.
John discussed the growing shortage of oil truck drivers in Texas, which could impact oil production at some point. The current shortage exists because many oil truck drivers went back to traditional trucking five years ago when oil prices collapsed, and jobs went away. With the current low unemployment rate, it’s more difficult to attract new people to truck driving in general, let alone oil truck driving.
Oil truck driving is a difficult job—which is why they are paid about twice what traditional truck drivers are. The driving conditions are more dangerous than traditional truck driving and many are transporting hazardous materials. Some drivers who left five years ago don’t want to come back to it. Many didn’t have adequate training and shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Now, safe and qualified oil tank drivers are badly needed.
Safe and qualified truck drivers are needed in general—there’s a growing shortage in the entire industry. And better driver recruitment and training are needed across the board. Anyone who wants to become a truck driver can go to a truck driving school, whether it’s a trucking company’s school, community college, a public government school or a for-profit school. The requirements to receive a CDL are the same everywhere.
The issue is that the current training requirements are not adequate for the risks truck drivers face. Simulator training should be required for truck drivers, just like it is in aviation. Simulator training is the only way they can safely learn how to drive an 80,000-pound vehicle on icy roads. The best way to train truck drivers is to combine computer-based classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction with the use of simulators.