U.S. Xpress rolls out new driver development program

U.S. Xpress’ Professional Driver Development program showcases the Company’s continued commitment to a better quality of life for drivers, and establishes us as an industry leader as we continue to transform how we manage our operations, technology, and safety procedures,” said Eric Fuller, CEO, U.S. Xpress, in a statement.

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Chattanooga, Tennessee-based truckload and full-service freight transportation provider U.S. Xpress recently announced it has opened a new driver development program and it also said it has opened its redesigned Tunnel Hill, Ga.-based development center.

Company officials said that this new program leverages what it called best-in-class learning and development techniques, with a technology-driven approach and a modern simulator, rather than lecture-style classes, a former teaching approach. The competency-aligned simulator program’s objective, said , is to provide drivers with the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities for sustained and successful driving.

“U.S. Xpress’ Professional Driver Development program showcases the Company’s continued commitment to a better quality of life for drivers, and establishes us as an industry leader as we continue to transform how we manage our operations, technology, and safety procedures,” said CEO, U.S. Xpress, in a statement. “Between our ‘Full Ride’ scholarship program, first day medical benefits, and advanced truck technology, we are giving our greatest assets, our drivers, the tools to further grow and develop professionally.”

U.S. Xpress cited various benefits of this new program, in the form of continuous learning opportunities for new and experienced drivers, including:

  • in-person development sessions;
  • a hands-on commercial motor vehicle learning lab, where drivers inspect and identify faulty equipment;
  • a competency-aligned simulator program developed in collaboration with Virage Simulation;
  • a driving range where drivers can practice straight line, alley dock, serpentine, coupling and uncoupling maneuvers;
  • more than 150 e-learning videos;
  • ELD practice and device training; and
  • the new development program allows drivers to complete training assignments and refresher courses on their own time, and at their own pace, with the opportunity to check-in and practice skills as they feel necessary

U.S Xpress Chief Marketing Officer told LM at this week’s Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Link 2019 Retail Supply Chain Conference that over the last 18 months the company looked at what it was doing, from a driver training and development standpoint, in terms of what worked well and things it wanted to change or improve.

“Frankly, we found that a lot of what we were doing was not working, it was very antiquated,” he said. “We were not really trying to train and develop the drivers in a fashion that was conducive with adult learning. There was a lot of time sitting and listening to lectures or listening to a video versus having them experience what it is going to be like driving a truck.”

This led to the U.S. Xpress orientation development team building out more than 200 competencies which U.S. Xpress puts driver students through testing and training on over a three-day period, explained Harness.  

“When they leave orientation, they have a much better understanding of our equipment and our processes and our policies and how they are going to be successful as a professional driver with us,” he said. “This is just the beginning of what we are calling their ‘learning journey.’ The professional driver development program is really going to target, long-term, their entire learning journey, from the day they start with us into orientation through their entire career with us hopefully until retirement. Obviously, that is not the norm, but that is what we are hoping for.”

When asked if there is a shift occurring, or maybe in the early stages, of drivers starting to stay with a single period for longer periods compare to the past, Harness said it is too early to speculate on what that means relative to the U.S. Xpress driver development program.

But on a more general basis he said it is a component of some improved turnover statistics throughout the industry, with the caveat that there is still a long way to go.

“We are, as an industry, so far behind on driver pay, and we have had one really good cycle, where we have been able to take some pay increases to drivers, but it is going to take multiple cycles to do that,” he said. “The driver shortage is not going away and for us to attract more drivers to the industry we are going to have to continue to [increase] pay to the point where we can pull them away from other opportunities. If they can make a similar salary doing work that puts them in their home every night, why are they going to do this? There has to be a big disparity, and there is a long way to go.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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