Teaching Teens to Share the Road


Ask professional drivers what irritates them the most and you’ll probably hear them complain about teen drivers. Those newly licensed students who can’t seem to put their phones down long enough to observe the traffic around them.

How can we get to these young men and women to teach them how to drive around heavy trucks? At Women In Trucking, we are often asked to expand our influence into high school classes for future drivers. . While we agree there is a need to reach these teens, we do not have the staff or resources to personally visit driver’s Ed classes.

However, you can be part of a team of professional drivers who take their tractor-trailers to schools and share their experiences from the road. These are the Road Teams, or in some cases, the Knights of the Highway.

You might have heard about the American Trucking Association’s (ATA) Road Team. These men and women were chosen by their carriers to represent their company and the industry to the motoring public. While the ATA Road Team attends many media events and industry trade shows, they cannot visit many high schools across the nation.

Many state associations have their own road teams. Wisconsin was one of the first states to develop a road team program, and this group of men and women visit over 200 driver’s education classes every year. Sue Webb is the group coordinator and she has worked tirelessly for many years to reach the driver’s education instructors to provide a visit from one of the road team drivers.

The drivers are selected through a vigorous process that includes a review of their safety record, years of service and the way they can handle the media and prepare a public presentation. Once they have been selected they must complete a training program that includes how to present the materials to the students, what is expected of them at trade shows and how to give the future drivers a lesson in sharing the
road with trucks.

The driver’s company covers the cost due to lost work time and for the use of the tractor-trailer for the visit. Participating in the road team is a yearlong commitment for both the driver and the carrier.

“This is a perfect venue to get out and teach people what you wish they knew when you’re on the road and [when] you get frustrated when you see what you might call a mistake,” said Shawn Addis, Walmart driver and Road Team member.

Ricky Bernard, Con-Way Freight driver said, “It’s just a blast working with the kids, but some of the teachers I’ve been involved with, you can see the light bulb go on in their heads.” He added, “You get a nice feeling knowing that you’re helping someone in a positive way.”

Many carriers also have road team programs. Walmart designates drivers to serve on their road team and to talk to other drivers at industry events. These men and women represent their company and are given the opportunity to talk about safety on the road while sharing their experience as a professional driver for Walmart.

If you are a professional driver and are looking for a way to help educate students and the non-trucking public, consider becoming a road team member. Find out if your state association or carrier has a road team and learn what it takes to be a part of this group.

If neither of these options is available, contact your local high school and offer to take your tractor to a career day or driver’s Ed class. You can find great materials to share with the students on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website (www.sharetheroadsafely.org) where you can download posters and brochures.

Instead of complaining about the next generation of drivers who might not understand how to drive alongside trucks, offer to be part of the solution. You are the professional driver and you can help them learn how to share the road with you. Consider being a part of a road team.

© 2011, Truck Drivers News Blog. All rights reserved.

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I'm just a EX-truck driver, trying to pass along a little information. I been in the Trucking Industry as a driver for over 15 years. I have driven both as an owner operator and as a company driver. I have also been a driver instructor for an accredited truck driving school in KY. I am no longer a truck driver, but I consider myself to be a watchdog for the trucking industry. In fact this site is the #1 site for getting the real news about trucking. We don't hold back here, you will hear the full story. Twitter | |Truck Drivers News Facebook
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