Clyde Hill is no novice when it comes to driver safety. He has driven about every type of rig imaginable in his more than 50 years behind the wheel. He came out of retirement to join PAM in 2015, is a Driver Mentor, and has competed for several years in the Arkansas State Truck Driving Championship.
“I came back into this industry to train young, new drivers,” Hill said. “I specifically went to PAM, because what they say they’re going to do, they do it! When you get that reputation in this industry, trust me, it’s very rare.”
Hill embodies how PAM’s commitment to safety does not end with new driver training and orientation.
PAM puts daily safety reminders in front of drivers at least two ways. One is an email update that includes news about regulations and reminders about best practices for handling inspections, balancing heavy loads, or hauling hazardous materials.
Drivers also receive daily messages through Omnitracs, a satellite-based mobile communications system that tracks routing, safety, and compliance, among other things. Each vehicle is equipped with a tablet that allows two-way communication between drivers and their driver managers.
The messages include reviews of regulations and tips to keep safety top of mind; Hill points out there are so many regulations to keep in mind that it can be a bit overwhelming for a new driver.
Drivers frequently are reminded about the 5 keys to truck driving safety, trademarked by Harold L. Smith, who founded the Smith System driving school in 1952. The mnemonic “All good kids like milk” is a way to remember the “A,” “G,” “K,” “L,” and “M” that make up the 5 keys:
- Aim High in Steering®
- Get the Big Picture®
- Keep Your Eyes Moving®
- Leave Yourself an Out®
- Make Sure They See You®
Challenges for New Drivers to Avoid Safety Risk
Driving challenges go beyond navigating a rig across the country, according to Hill. The biggest challenges are dealing with stress and acquiring knowledge about the industry and company policies.
Stress most often comes from two sources – worrying about the requirements of the job and how to maintain relationships with family and friends while on the road. Drivers worry about things such as weight restrictions and if their heavy loads are balanced properly, because just one safety citation can cost a driver a lot of money.
Hill advises young drivers on ways to avoid stress while on the road, such as pursuing a hobby or taking online courses.
He also counsels drivers to utilize the resources PAM makes available beyond their primary point of contact, their dispatcher:
- Employees in the safety department, whom he says are a phone call away for a young driver and are eager to help.
- Driver Mentors who make themselves available at all hours. Hill said he had fielded three calls in the previous week from drivers with questions about driving in the snow and ice.
- The HR department: issues back home, whether about money or relationships, can cause stress, which might distract a driver from his or her focus on the job.
“The main thing to understand if you’re a new driver is, yes, there’s a lot to learn,” Hill said. “There’s a lot being placed on your shoulders. But there are people there that can help you.”
The Ring is a Thing
At PAM, drivers who complete one year of accident/incident free driving receive a stainless steel Safe Driver Ring. One small diamond is added for each year of accident/incident free driving for the next eight years. At 10 years of accident/incident free driving, one large center diamond is added. As drivers continue to rack up more years of safe road miles, the rewards become even more impressive, including a gold Seiko watch and a gold ring.
Hill has five years of safe driving with PAM.
“That ring is a nice recognition for doing what you try to do on a daily basis,” he said, “which is to try and make sure that you are able to get to and from each destination safely.”