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Training New Drivers from 2002

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Topic originally created by A1TOWING in September of 2002:


How much time should you allow to train a new driver??
Most of our drivers have had some experience and or knowledge of cars so it's just been a matter of seeing how they drive, hook and safety habits, and teaching our "system" you know...the usual.

We just took in a "trainee" who has had driving experience, but not towing. I explain different things as we are driving and both show and let him do when we are hooking. His first day just happened he got a glimpse of medium, wheel lift, bang bar at an accident scene and flat bed towing. I figured it was a good training day as he got to experience a lot of different methods and kind of grasp the basic principles.

Well, day 2 it seems like I had to start over from the beginning. I realize it's first hand to us and kinda Greek to him. Am I expecting too much?? When do you decide 'he just don't get it"?? We can't really devote a month of training so are we wasting our time ? Any input is appreciated....Thanks


unknown member said:

Yeah Buddy, You are expecting way too much. First of all anybody is gonna be a little nervous knowing that they are being scrutinized every move they make. I always was. Second, everybody needs a break in period,even people with experience have problems with learning new invoices and developing some kind of method or groove. He don't know jack and it sounds like you expected him to absorb and retain everything you showed him on the first day.
One training method is to do things and explain to him what you are doing,next have him tell you what to do,and correct him when he's wrong,next have him do the work and explain to you while he's doing the task, might sound like a lot of bull to you but while you use this method you are helping him get the basics. Don't be so impatient,you guys hired him. Training takes time. Just make sure you get it across to him about SAFETY FIRST,money comes later.


EricGodard CA said;

Hey jim, It seemed like the perfect training day for you but for him it was probably a nightmare. To many methods to soon.I do most all training at your shop and I can tell ya that it takes a long time to train a good operator. We do mostly heavy work but the basics are all the same. All drivers are different for sure but no one will get it all in a day. I can spend a week just talking about the saftey aspects of towing.As for recovery in the heavy at least, Forget it I will be old and grey {well old i have no hair} and still hope to learn something new every day myself. proper training = saftey = everyone goes home at the end of the day !!! and eat twinkies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Eric Godard


A1TOWING said:

Well, it looks like this driver is history allready. He was supposed to show at 8 am and didn't. No call, no nuttin.

Thanks for the input though, you folks are right, I was kinda overwhelming him and expecting to much. I also got annoyed at the only questions he would ask are about pay, hours, commissions and days off. Nothing about the actual work involved. My gut instinct was he was not to bright or not into this towing thing. If my gut felt someone was really trying or interested, I think the patience would follow.

We all learn something new everyday, either on purpose or by surprise. (don't wanna use that other word)

Thanks again all.........


unknown member said:

first want here something funny .. fired one of my best drivers , made me most money worked longest hours .never cried . but was caught stealing ....... in walks this guy next day looking for job . fills out app. ran his lic . gave him road test . semi . wrecker . road test rollback same took this guy out in yard got . this test track . got me some inpound cars / worth 10.00 three on top of each other tied up .

now tell this guy there is wreckers . there is roll backs there is a helper show me what you got .. now i allready know he has put on app . 14 years exp in towing same job in this tiny
town 50 miles away . and something about this guy don't
right .

well he cuts loose man this guy is good i sit back on my golf cart watching him he"s good i mean real good

so he unloads them and i ask him when can you start .he says tomorrow . i say well i can't have you put on insurance that fast take few days chech things out ..

he says he also does mech work also . well i got this big ole caddy and this lincoln we were going to get ready for demo
derby come in tomorrow you can start on that .

he says ok this guy comes in 8am ready to work . knocks out caddy 2 hours ;; lincoln 2 hours . washes 4 trucks goes to lunch 30 minutes comes back cleans shop . goes with me does three fhp rotations time go home my wife and son are shoked me to we laugh and say thought you said i made mistate firing the other driver

next morning guy comes to work hauls 5 cars . girl friend calls he's 45 years old she sounds young .. says for him call home
his brother died ... he comes in yard crying caring on i give him 50.00 gas money he goes home . layter that day stop by
his house to see what i can do .

his brother ain't died this little 17 year old girl comes out i ask were he is , she says gone get her some ice cream . i ask who are you she says his girl friend,

i call my son on radio to tell him whats going on .. he says better get to shop daddy you ain't gonna believe this

the new driver has got these two guys wifes in rollback and they are looking for him and his girl friend is looking for her ice cream.. \

i go pulling up in yard and there is the two big ole boys with

some big ole sticks hunting this driver ..

he calls and says for us to come get the truck he is just to nervous to drive . he is looking for a job and has exp

i will trade you


A1TOWING said:

Oh yeah Roy, It's amazing whats out there. Makes ya wonder how they get by in the world????
Just can't seem to find a few "normal" people to drive the trucks. We've had em that don't answer beepers, need to leave cause thier girlfreind needs em for some stupid thing, the worst is when we find they've been using the trucks for personal use.
Just yesturday AM one asked if he could use the truck to go around the corner for breakfast. His ride to work had to go elsewhere he says. So I tell em thats just what the boss means, don't use the trucks for running around. We tell him Just go to the deli around the corner!!! A few minutes go by and we need him for a tow. Can't get him on the radio, beep him, no answer. So I drive around the block. he's not there. 25 minutes later he's on the radio...WHERE WERE YOU???? His answer. the bagel place didn't have the kind he likes so he went to another in a different town. What the ______ did we just say??????
His ride to work was 2 young chicks using his car and they all pulled away in the same direction. I'm tellin ya that SOB took the chicks to breakfast!!!!! Of course he denied it.

What do you do?? Fire him and then what do you get. The adds go in the paper and all these misfits show up. Oh well, the search continues.....


unknown member said:

I know this probably ain't ann landers page . but here lately
the better you are to them the worse they are to you . there is no being mr nice guy .

man i hire em loan em money buy them washing machines . beds , cars . trucks . motorcycles . sure some of pay you back . now we got guys been here years. fired four this week
been here long time rather do it our self than put up with a thieft, new hidden cameras comething else .

wish i"Dhad it when dog got stolen but know who did it . he just made me so much was hard to admit it but fired him also

was hard working with four drivers short this week . look at money we saved . and did not lose a customer .

worst part about towing .. is having good help .. good help is hard to find . but were does these nuts come from

are they putting my add in weirdo section or are they sniffin
my racin fuel after they come to work for me ...

guess i"m gonna call da Moose and see if he will let me and
misses fill our surburban full of twinkies .load the boat and fishing poles before it gets to cold go north and catch some fish .. seen on map he lives close to some lakes . god knows

we need a vacation maybee we could put some pontoons on sterling and take it out on lake michigan and check out the tranny --------------


jrm698 said:

some of these tow drivers are something else.Jim WM 6/7B Be Safe Out There


Wes Wilburn said:

I believe people have different learning styles. One person may be able to retain information after being exposed to it one time. Others may need to be exposed to the same information several times before they retain it. And still others may need to be exposed to the same information many times, with no other information being given to them or they will confuse the two.

This learning time could increase if the person feels nervous or pressure to perform.

The persons learning style has nothing to do with their ability to perform the task you are learning.


unknown member said:

Heck, I ain't even in towing any more and I continue to learn more about it almost each and every day. Let's just say I consider it as broadening my knowledge horizons.


unknown member said:

If you are devoted to your carrer the learning proccess never ends. All our drivers go through two weeks in house training, this should be enough to put them on the road by themselves and they should be able to handle most common situations. We also send them to one of the three day workshops, ussually through AAA and continue with training on a regular basis. Iv had a few drivers that just barely cut it, and you know they wont be long with us but so far iv only had one person who after two weeks still couldnt run a tow truck. You just have to watch how thier doing and evaluate them as you go along. I noticed a couple years ago when i was training a new guy, he seemed to be doing very well, then we went out to tow a car for a couple cute girls and he seemed to take forever to do the hookup and i had to remind him of some basic things. Our next call was for a group of guys, my new driver was Mexican-American and so was this group, they started shooting the breeze in spanish and i noticed he was very relaxed and did a great job. I commented on this and he told me the young ladies did make him nervous, so take into account that a trainee is being scrutinized by not only the customer, but by you also and depending on the customer this can make some people very nervous. When i train, once i feel they have the hang of it i try to stay in the truck and let them handle it themselves. (i watch in the mirror and try not to let them see me watching)


TowMonster1962 said:

I am still a greenhorn in the towing industry , Been driving for my boss for 12 years yesterday . He is great , he treats me like a person & I treat him & his wife with the respect they deserve . I am one of the training operators when the other 2 instructors are done with him/her I get him/her. We train 1 ton drivers for approximatly 1 week . If the driver has the knoledge he gets into his own wrecker. The owner of our company gets inducted to the "Friends Of Towing" hall of fame next week . Wish I could go but he needs us drivers to watch the shop . Way To Go "DAVID ROSS" Ross Services London Ontario Canada . It Is a great pleasure to work for him . He took me under his wing & I will never leave him or his wife . Like I said he is one of the best in the industry . Visit our page at www.rossservices.com . & keep the sunny side up .


unknown member said:

when i get to train a new driver, i start out with a ride along one day for the new driver just to see what we do if he or she thinks that towing is what they want to do, then we start in the yard all day just moving our old junk around you know dolly this dolly that and that is the way i start them out we work 3 days in the yard.. give them time to get comfy with the truck before we go out and start the real training!

works for me


unknown member said:

I learn something new all the time I am out and I have been doing this line of work for about 15yrs now and enjoy learning and I dont know eveything either and I am also willing to learn and be taught


unknown member said:

we put our guys through two weeks of training to start and if they dont get the feel for it we put em with someone else to try for 2 or 3 more days. different people learn different and different people teach different. Ive had a trainee learn from me for two weeks and didn't click on the routine so i put him with another and he had em done in two days. I guess something clicked.


unknown member said:

i think being a driver myself if he is not out of the truck with in 3 days doing it all correct I think you should move on....He may just not be cut out for it....Or will cost you in the end!

Just Me...


Divor said:

what we do is we send the trainie out with 4or 5 different drivers to learn the different technics for about 3 weeks then we set him or her loose in a truck and if a difficult job comes up we send a trainer along with the new driver to walk him or her through it. it has worked great



lstyba said:

Divor, do you pay your trainee by the hour for the 3 weeks? Sounds to me like it is not a cost effective way of traing. It think 8 hrs in the yard for hook ups and back up driving practise and the driver should be ready to do calls. The recoveries or hard jobs I agree with you walk the employee thru at the time of the call. Just my opinion.

8hrs is negotiable to me, not everyone can learn or retain at the same rate. maybe 2 days 4 hr a day....Cya In the Ditch
Larry Styba
Cya In the Ditch
Larry Styba
WM# 011088
6/7 AC
TowZone said:
It's been a few years, but I would never let anyone out on their own until they had completed a minimum of 3 full days training. There is much more to the job then just towing. I've never seen any long term (more then a few weeks) success in just 8 hours. Even with the experienced operator it takes more then 8 hours to break the old habits. The way it was with me, if you didn't get it by the third day your walking.

Training costs money, damage costs even more.

It would be great if the industry afforded the opportunity to send each driver through a regional training program of your choice. However the market just does not support it, since not everyone will participate until forced too. That's the sad part, just what we need more government.
lstyba said:
I am just saying I spent 8 hrs with one guy doing hookups and all on carrier and wheel lift, dollies etc. . So i think if there was a concentrated way of training guys for the basics in a shorter time, should cut down on damage claims and turn around time for the empoloyer the better.Cya In the Ditch
Larry Styba
Cya In the Ditch
Larry Styba
WM# 011088
6/7 AC
Divor said:
when someone says they want to drive tow truck they ride along on there own time the company does not pay for his time. so we can make sure they are ready to do the job safely
unknown member said:
Experienced driver - 2 or 3 days if he is real good. Experienced with little training and a strong will to learn, spent almost three weeks with. On average Around 3 weeks and then assist as needed on difficult calls. One driver went 8 years and never seen a roll-over!!!!!! Most of us guys in the shop couldn't believe it either. How much time depends on how much your trying to teach. Jump starts, lockouts, tire changes (don't laugh) they can be tricky to a novice, towing, sling towing, flatbed towing, winching..... There are a lot of things that you learn over the years that you assume every one should just know. Ever been to an accident with another company, told the other driver where the t hook slots were, and after he hooked the rear control arm of a new car to winch it back on the road, then politely tell him not to hook there and his remark - It'll be OK. Yeah looked funny with the wheel have sideways. Money spent wisely is better than money spent fixing amateur mistakes.

Yorktow said:
I'd be happy to find someone who could actually think on their own.

If it's something out of the ordinary you might as well do it yourself rather than letting the ole boy embarrass themselves.

Can't figure that out. Maybe asking for too much but after 5 years you'd think they could figure out small problems.

NOT !!!!

unknown member said:
If the applicant is new to towing, it usualy takes about 3 weeks. If he had towed before, it is a full week, just to show him the company way, and to catch up on the paper work.
All tranees are paid hourly for 10 hours a day for the duratin of traning. It costs money, but it saves a lot of damage claims.
>>> I might be wrong, but I doubt it. <<<
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