By Stefan Pertz*:
The Asian Trucker magazine organises training sessions for members of the Asian Trucker Drivers Club. The idea is to elevate the standing of local truckers by improving their skills and thus allowing them to seek ‘better’ employment. In many cases I think that means more money or long-term contracts. The latest session was on tyre safety. The Magazine issues certificates of attendance to those who join such training programmes.
Worth The Paper
Holding one such certificate, on which I have just signed, I realise just how much worth this 210 x 297 mm sheet of paper has for some. It is a badge of honour, a testament to the sacrifices of Saturdays in the name of further career improvement. As I was musing about this, I realised how much we trust the ‘paper’ that is known as a driving licence. Nowadays, it is a plastic card, but somehow it is still what we would consider as one’s papers.
With that piece of paper, doors open for truckers to enter the world of transportation. We trust that the truckers actually KNOW how to drive. But what assurance do we have? There is nothing that indicates how well a driver can drive; just that he can operate a truck. However, and I don’t need to tell you that, there is much more to driving a truck. Moving it forward is one thing, but being able to deal with moving loads and the resulting change in the centre of gravity, for instance, or how a truck behaves in wet and stormy conditions are issues truckers may not be trained on.
Trained & Competent
Having spoken to an expert in road safety training, I learned that many times the issue is that someone might have had training, as attested by the certificate, but may not have understood the material and matters discussed. We may have drivers that are very busy attending courses but may not be able to apply the knowledge.
In training, there is a fundamental difference between trained and competent. In addition, one will learn that one will forget things over a period. That is why tyre manufacturers consistently preach that drivers take refresher courses on tyre safety and maintenance. In our busy lives, there is a lot going on and we may not be able to remember all points on the mental checklist.
Not On Paper
A driver’s ability to drive in a defensive and fuel saving manner is the determining factor for a company to be profitable or to just get along. I doubt that this is part of the curriculum in driving schools. Neither is captured anywhere in official papers that drivers may present to an employer. It may not even be available as a reference that a trucker is a ‘good’ driver. Currently, a call to the previous employer may be the only way to verify if a driver is one that is not only able, but also competent to drive a truck.
Good driving can be measured, just like the performance of a manager that “increased sales by x percent in two years.” Wouldn’t it be great if there was a system that would also allow for truckers to track their performance, their capabilities and competence in order to appreciate the value that they can bring to a company; to assess their wages and their need for further training? Suddenly, that paper would be worth even more, don’t you think?
*Stefan Pertz is Editor, Asian Trucker Malaysia & Asian Buses. Views expressed are personal.