We all learn from our mistakes (well, we hope so anyway), however, when driving a heavy commercial vehicle sometimes those mistakes have deadly consequences.

Realistically, no matter how much training a person gets, on the road or real-life experience is something we only get in real-world situations.

That’s a conundrum road safety authorities grapple with across the globe – we need new truck and bus drivers, but those people can’t get experience any other way than to get behind the wheel.

New US data has revealed an increase in the number of fatal crashes in that country involving rookie drivers.

Referred to as new-entrant carriers in the US (so, owner/operators), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) data up to the end of 2023 shows the percentage of fatal large truck and bus crashes involving new entrants into the industry has climbed from 4.6% to 7.4% from 2017 to 2022.

US publication Freight Waves reports that in 2022 alone, those crashes resulted in 494 deaths and over USD 5.5 billion in costs.

Kelly Stowe is an engineer with FMCSA, he’s told a safety research forum that carriers operating within 24 months of graduating had two times more total crashes and nearly two times more fatal crashes per 100 power units than established carriers.

“If we can educate these carriers early on, and make sure they understand the requirements and expectations before they begin operations, we can prevent some of these crashes from occurring.”

But there are calls for more to be done to help educate new entrants into the heavy commercial vehicle industry, including the requirement to submit and pass a written proficiency exam.

The report says studies show that such a requirement could have a significant effect on reducing injuries and fatalities.