How Online DOT Training Helped Blitz Express with Audits, Depositions, and Driver Onboarding

Online Fleet Safety Training Ideas for Trucking Companies

Derrick Washington, Safety Manager at Blitz Express in Farmers Branch, Texas, was the client speaker at our Safety Boot Camp January 23rd in Irving, Texas.  Derrick spoke about how the Infinit-I Workforce System has really helped his company during DOT audits and depositions. He also shared ideas for how to improve driver adoption of online training and how to improve driver onboarding using online training for “pre-orientation”.

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Online Training Q&A with
Derrick Washington
at Blitz Express

Blitz ExpressTell us about Blitz Express 

We’re a small, but growing, family owned business. When I started with them, they only had nine trucks. Not nine new trucks. Just nine trucks. The oldest thing we have on the fleet now is a 2015. We have a fleet of 72, with 30 or so trucks coming in over the next 60 days.  It was easy to keep up with the safety and logs and all that stuff with 20 trucks. With just 72 trucks, this program, the Infinit-I Workforce System, actually allows us to run so much more efficiently. The program itself, hands down, changed the whole dynamics of our company.

Truck Driver Safety Training Online AdoptionHow did you improve driver adoption of online training?

At first, it was a nightmare. You have these guys who have been trained with bad habits. We were doing a lot of corrective action. It was so funny. I had a driver who got a citation for illegal backing. He called me and told me that he had graduated from the Smith-System and worked at bigger companies, and he didn’t think he needed to watch the video.

I said, “So you got an Illegal Backing violation, and you don’t think you need to watch the video?” 

He said, “So you mean to tell me I can’t back up with my flashers on?”

I said, “Hence the reason why you need to watch the video.”

The other hard thing about implementing online training at first are the dinosaur truckers. You know, drivers with the flip phones. We call them a dinosaur. You’re able to really evolve those guys with the Infinit-I Workforce System.  Most of the new guys we bring in are already tech savvy, but with the dinosaurs, we would bring them into the yard to do the training. We set up a computer with strictly the Infinit-I Workforce System, and they would go into the office train and test.

Fleet Safety Training Online Driver Adoption IdeasHow do you handle drivers who don’t complete their training?

I lock them out of their QualComm, and I’ll tell their dispatcher “I gave him 14 days to complete the videos, and he is seven days overdue. Once he delivers, he is not moving from that spot because I’ll lock him out of the QualComm.”

Then I sit, and I wait for the phone to ring. Because I know it is coming. The dispatchers work with me. They know I don’t play when it comes down to training.  Training is the one thing I don’t play about. I’ve had to do that a few times, and word spread around.

What really helped me to connect with the drivers though is I sold them on the fact that I am doing this for their own good. You know, I’m doing this for them because if someone sues, they are going to sue the driver, too. 

How to Train Drivers on Technology in the CabHow do you use the system to train on other technology in the cab?

We were able to incorporate some of the OmniTracs info for the drivers that were not really familiar with the eLog system. We could just easily email that to them on their phone through the Infinit-I Workforce System. They look at it at nighttime when they are in the sleeper berth. So that’s been a really really good thing.

Truck Driver Orientation Checklist IdeasHow has online training helped with onboarding new drivers?

I created an online pre-hire orientation training on hours of service and things the guys should know coming into orientation. The way we structured it helps us to qualify new drivers before orientation. When you send that content to a prospective driver, and he takes the time and goes through 45 minutes to an hour of videos, and he actually tests on it, that lets us know that this guy is for real about wanting to come to work. We send the content to a lot of drivers, and they never do the videos.  I would say 3 out of 10 prospective drivers do the training. So it allows us to know they won’t show at orientation before we schedule them to come. In the past, we had spent countless time and energy buying a bus ticket or a $600 dollar plane ticket, and the drivers didn’t show up for the plane or the bus.

Additionally, since we incorporated online pre-orientation, we have cut out a whole day of orientation. We can get drivers in one day, and send them out the next day. It is no longer three to four days of lost revenue. Instead, drivers are coming in with the knowledge about hours of service, accidents, cell phones, texting and driving. We send them all of that training in pre-orientation.

The employment verification is only going to tell you so much. I call the education part of it my “Trucker IQ Test”.  When you send the drivers that online training information, it lets you gauge what they understand. If a driver has to watch something five times, it lets you know they have an issue with that topic. They really don’t understand it, so you want to take extra time educating them on it when they come in one-on-one before you send them out on the road.

We used to show these videos in a breakroom with these guys watching them. They would nod off. It puts them straight to sleep.  That doesn’t happen with the online training.

Fleet Safety Training Online Driver Adoption Ideas

How do you handle drivers who don’t want to do the pre-hire orientation?

We do get some drivers who don’t finish all of the pre-orientation videos prior to coming in to orientation. We lodge them at the Holiday Inn, and they have a computer there. They finish the training videos there.  We have orientation pay, and it is part of the orientation pay for you to have those pre-orientation videos done.  Payroll will look to see if they have the videos done before they pay drivers their orientation pay.

If they don’t do the pre-orientation, that’s not the guy for you. You’ve got to wonder, “How are they going to interact with your dispatchers? How are they going to be with communication?” Think about it.  The driver is at home alone doing the pre-orientation. If he doesn’t have the time to do this at home, how much time do you think he is going to put into safety when he’s on the truck? 

Online Safety Training Video LibraryHow would you describe the content available on the Infinit-I Workforce System?

The content alone is so vast. You can choose from things like illegal lane change, backing, and/or parking.   Plus, you can create your own content.

How to pass a DOT Safety Audit with Online Safety TrainingHow has the Infinit-I Workforce System helped with DOT audits?

The one thing that really ate us up when we got DOT Audits was the safety. Because they don’t really care about anything other than that. They want to see the safety part of things.  Now, when drivers have accidents, we send them training to be aware of their surroundings.

In audits since implementing Infinit-I, when the DOT field officer was looking at the logs and citations, every single time he would say, “Well what did you do about…”, and we could show him the corrective action training.  That made a believer out of me.

We had an illegal backing citation. We had a speeding citation. We had an illegal lane change citation. All of the corrective action training content is actually in this product. So you can actually document the citation, send the driver the training content, and once he finishes, you’ll get a certificate and documentation showing that you’re actually trying to do something to make sure that your company is safe out there.

Infinit-I is a must have now that everything is going electronic. I am telling you when when that auditor is standing in front of you with a paper in front of him going through all your unsafe driving citations, and he’s going to ask you, “What did you do about this?” That’s a lot of paperwork you have got to have if you are handwriting it and filing all these hard copies.

With the Infinit-I Workforce System, you can just go back into the system and look to see who did what training. You can put the name of the driver in, and it shows you every training that they’ve done.

Giving a Deposition in Trucking LitigationHow has the Infinit-I Workforce System helped with depositions?

When you hire someone and send out a pre-hire orientation training, it doesn’t stop there. We set it up where the first six months, we send videos to those guys on different safety aspects. One of the things that really helped is when you pull the PSP, you can see where drivers have had problems in the past, and you can send them training content specific to those violations.

I’ve been through a deposition before. When they pull a driver’s records, they’ll ask you, “Did you know that this guy with the reckless driving, he had this on his PSP?”

I can respond, “Yes sir, I did. We did a corrective action for that, and we gave him training on it.”

You are showing that you are doing what you needed to do before you put this guy in the truck.

How has the Infinit-I Workforce System helped you manage your role?

There was just too much paperwork. I can’t imagine doing 700 truck safety without having this product. When we got Infinit-I, we had 52 trucks. Now we have 72, and we are growing. Before I had Infinit-I, I’ll be honest with you, it was a mess because I do the recruiting and safety. So it was just a mess. You can only do so much.

Online Corrective Action Training for Truck DriversHow have you managed corrective action training with the Infinit-I Workforce System?

I’ve been with the company for a total of five years. In December, we went through a lot of PSPs. We sent the drivers a lot of corrective action training because at the end of the day, if one of these guys ends up in the accident, and they pull the record, they’ll go back 10 years to try and prove negligence on the company.

Some of these guys had a lot of violations, especially with the owner-operators. That’s where we were having the most issues. The owner-operators with their PSP was a big issue for us. But we got them corrective action on a lot of things that they had on the PSP.

Additionally, I have guys that do 8- or 10-minute pre-trips, when we require a 15-minute pre-trip.  So I will send them the pre-trip inspection video and explain they have to get the pre-trips done properly.

When someone gets a citation, I give them 3 days to get corrective action training done. If it’s not done, we are still small enough that I can look on the OmniTracs at 8:00 at night and see he is sitting. I pick up the phone and call him and tell him to do the training. I just do not want those issues. I have been through a deposition, and I do not want to do that ever again.

Truck Driver Safety Training Online Adoption

How did Infinit-I affect your driver turnover?

It went down drastically because we have been able to negate through the guys and qualify the ones that we bring in using the pre-hire orientation videos.  We screen out those guys who wouldn’t have made it anyway.