As the weather gets colder (although as I write this column it is a humid 26 degrees on October 17th), and the leaves continue to change, the thoughts of winter and the weather that could come with it begins to creep into our heads. That also means that some of the calls we receive from potential students include concerns about training in winter. For some people these are just concerns, but for others, they are wanting to know about class dates for the spring and refuse to listen to why training during the winter can actually benefit them. For the individuals who decide to participate in training over the winter months, there are some definite benefits.
One of the biggest benefits to training during the winter months, where one could experience some inclement weather, is that the student doesn’t have to experience driving a tractor trailer in snowy or icy conditions
on their own. They have the benefit of an experienced instructor with them who has no doubt dealt with similar conditions before and is able to educate the student on how to properly deal with the different situations that arise. These instructors are able to pass on their experiences and provide best practices to the students which is invaluable as they deal with winter conditions for the first time.
Another benefit of training during winter comes with the fact that students are able to first learn to operate the tractor-trailer unit in potentially difficult weather conditions in a fairly low stress environment. They are not on the clock, pulling a load worth thousands of dollars from Point A to Point B. They are in a somewhat controlled environment, with no time constraints or need to rush. They can take their time, first getting experience with snowy conditions on rural roads and lower traffic areas before progressing up to towns, highways, and cities. This makes it possible for the student to feel comfortable with the conditions and surroundings as they progress through their training modules.
Once a student has gone through their training and passed their road test, hopefully they go to work for a reputable carrier or private fleet that has a training program in place for entry level drivers. If this is the case, the student now has the opportunity to learn from an experienced trainer/mentor performing day to day duties of the job during winter weather. To me this is very valuable to any student. They get to learn the specifics of their new job in the toughest season to operate while receiving daily tutorials and guidance from a professional driver who has seen and experienced the situations before. Students who graduate from AZ training and pass their tests while the grass is still green could be done with mentorship programs well before snow flies which could mean the first time a person operates a tractor trailer in snowy or icy conditions is with a live load in situations they have never dealt with before. Don’t get me wrong, many good companies will provide more training to entry level drivers before and during the winter months, but there are a number of companies who will not which puts the driver in a difficult position.
Aside from the educational benefits that come from training in the winter months, not putting training off until the snow melts allows students to start their new careers quicker. Think about this; if a student decides to put their training off until the end of March or April when they could have started in December, they have lost 3-4 months of work and training experience. In that amount of time they could have completed a six-week training program, passed their MTO road test, passed a company road test at their employer, completed anywhere from a 4 to 8 week finishing/mentorship program and be out on the road with a long term sustainable career.
All seasons provide different learning opportunities and scenarios that are valuable to individuals training to operate a tractor trailer unit, however training in the Winter has some major benefits as compared to the others.
About the Author
A graduate of the University of Guelph, Richardson played five years of football for the Gryphons captaining the team in his last 3 years. He started working in the trucking industry at age 5 washing trucks and 20 years later his career is now in the industry with KRTS and The Rear View Mirror