As student drivers and Driver Mentors well know, the PAM Driver Mentor Program plays an important part in many drivers’ careers at PAM Transport.
For one, it helps drivers who have graduated from a CDL school develop the skills they need to become first-seat drivers and take to the road on their own.
But those students aren’t trained by full-time instructors who spend all of their time on a course or in a classroom. At PAM, student drivers (or second-seat drivers, as we like to call them) are educated by working drivers — a special breed of driver mentors who enjoy helping their fellow drivers while making some extra money in the process.
Here are the benefits of becoming a driver mentor at PAM, along with an explanation of what the PAM Driver Mentor Program asks of mentors.
The Benefits of Being a Driver Mentor
While there are definitely financial benefits to becoming a Driver Mentor, serving as a Driver Mentor is about more than just money. It’s a chance for experienced drivers to help their fellow drivers and to start a new phase in their careers.
Of course, the PAM Driver Mentor Program also gives driver mentors a number of different ways to earn additional income for their efforts.
In the first place, all driver mentors at PAM receive extra pay for every mile they drive — as well as every mile their students drive.
PAM Driver Mentors also receive bonuses when a student they have mentored hits a significant milestone during their first six months at PAM.
- When a mentored student becomes a first-seat driver and leaves the terminal with their first solo haul.
- When a mentored student has been at PAM for 90 days.
- When a mentored student goes accident free for six months.
Furthermore, a Driver Mentor gets a supplemental bonus for every six students of theirs who graduate to first seat. This “six-up” bonus can be earned twice each year a mentor serves in the PAM Driver Mentor Program.
Driver Mentors’ Responsibilities
But what exactly does a PAM driver mentor do in order to earn this additional income?
Becoming a mentor is definitely hard work and it demands a shift in perspective (you have to drive with someone else and think about how to communicate your knowledge to another person). Here’s what you have to do:
- Provide general instruction
- Conduct supplemental SMITH System exercises
- Fill out paperwork, including a weekly evaluation of any driver being mentored plus a final evaluation
All of these duties are covered in depth in our Mentor Manual, which provides our Driver Mentors with a complete curriculum for training new drivers in the ways of the road. The main areas a Driver Mentor needs to cover with his or her students include:
A Driver Mentor instills a sense of the importance of a clean, professional appearance and courtesy on and off the road in their students. Driver Mentors also make sure new drivers understand that they represent a company and a profession.
Driver Mentors instruct new drivers in the five keys of the SMITH System for safe driving:
- Aim high in steering
- Get the big picture
- Keep your eyes moving
- Leave yourself an out
- Make sure they see you
Additionally, Driver Mentors make sure that new drivers under their care have a good grasp of basic safe driving practices such as proper speed, right of way, parking procedures, how to handle fatigue, federal safety regulations, and pre-trip inspections.
New drivers need to be able to confirm that their cabs and trailers are secure. A Driver Mentor will walk them through best practices for inspecting door seals, battery boxes, fuel tanks, and tires.
A Driver Mentor has to instruct his or her students on basic vehicle operation such as shifting and also needs to give them pointers on some of the other duties that come along with operating a tractor trailer, including maintenance, coupling and uncoupling, trip planning, Qualcomm usage, and hours of service.
Requirements for Driver Mentors
To become a driver mentor, a candidate must have an overall good record as a driver at PAM in the following categories:
- Hours of Service
- Delivery Dispatch
Once a candidates who meets all these qualifications has filled out an application to join the PAM Driver Mentor Program and their application has been pre-approved, they must do two more things before being granted official status as a Driver Mentor:
- Pass a road test
- Attend a new mentor orientation
After they complete these steps, they can pick up their first student as soon as their next dispatch.
Next Steps for Becoming a Driver Mentor
The PAM Driver Mentor Program is a crucial part of what we like to call the “Driver Lifecycle” here at PAM. It’s how we help new drivers develop the skills they need to succeed as first-seat drivers. It’s also a great way for some of our more experienced drivers to put their valuable knowledge to good use by mentoring their fellow drivers and earning some additional income in the process.
With a fleet that’s always growing, we’re always in need of more Driver Mentors here at PAM. If you think you’ve got what it takes or have questions about our driver mentor program, please give us a call at (855) 912-6935.