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Can Researchers ID the ‘Perfect’ Trucker?

A project in the U.S. that attempts to show 18-21 year old CDL drivers can be as safe as their older counterparts could also identify traits that make for a ‘perfect’ truck driver regardless of their age.

As reported by Fleet Owner:

“By focusing on the younger driver and dialing in on what we think of as the profile of the perfect driver, we may have a tool that all carriers can use to hire new drivers,” says John Hausladen, president of the Minnesota Trucking Assn.

Hausladen says that MTA would like to test the thesis that 18 to 21 year-olds can drive as safely as older drivers, and thus no reason to limit them to intrastate driving jobs.

“We need to gather data that demonstrates that you can safely put younger drivers behind the wheel of commercial motor vehicles,” he says. “If you can set up a protocol where you screen, select, train, provide experience and oversight, then you could take a driver younger than 21, give them [permission] to drive farther, drive bigger configurations, and do that in a test environment to validate that it can be done safely.”

The pilot project will keep younger drivers within their state boundaries.

“There’s been a lot of change in the last 15 years in psychological and behavioral assessment tools. Ideally, you should be able to take a mature CDL holder … and map their brain using assessment tools. “What is about their make-up that makes them a good driver? If you use that template on a driver from age 18 to 20 and screen them against that first, you can eliminate a lot of folks that would never make it. Now you’ve closed the gap in terms of what you’re trying to achieve in that training, oversight and experience.”

The American Transportation Research Institute has agreed to take the lead on this study conceived by MTA, says  Hausladen.

ATRI’s Rebecca Brewster says they’re in the first stages of developing an initial methodology to identify a younger driver assessment tool. “We want to make sure we can develop a screening tool that identifies those younger drivers who possess the cognitive decision-making attributes of older safe drivers. The first question is: what is the profile of a safe 35-year-old driver? Then we will ask: can you find that same profile among the population of younger drivers? Once identified, these people would then put through a pilot test, but we wouldn’t move forward with the pilot test until we’re sure we have a validated tool.”

Brewster adds the project will be a challenge but is convinced  assessment tools exist.

“If we find that assessment tool that says ‘these are the common attributes of mature safe drivers,’ there’s no reason we couldn’t apply that same assessment tool, not just to younger individuals for purposes of finding those to go through the pilot test, but to use it as a hiring and screening tool going forward for all drivers.”

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