Opinion

Truck safety: Why we need to shift gears on driver training

When you reside in the Gulf, it’s not uncommon to hear frequent complaints about trucks on the roads. Truck drivers have earned notoriety for driving inefficiently or recklessly, and in many instances endangering other road users.

The problem is not a lack of legislation. The UAE in particular has several restrictions on how, where and when trucks operate, and imposes stiff fines for violators.

The key issue instead is a skills gap, which is natural in a region that attracts workers from a multitude of ethnicities and backgrounds, with different attitudes towards risk and safety.

Even though a special licence is required to operate heavy vehicles, the overall standard of truck drivers in the GCC is far from ideal, and there is immense scope for improvement.

As this feature from Truck & Fleet magazine shows, training drivers has significant results, most noticeably in terms of fuel efficiency, total cost of ownership and road safety. However, truck manufacturers note that fleet owners often don’t realise the value of driver training programmes, viewing them as simply an additional cost.

While governments and third-party providers like insurance companies can help the push towards better trained fleets, real change can only come from a shift in attitudes to driver development. As one manufacturer notes, drivers themselves are generally interested in improvement. But it’s up to fleet owners and operators to drive the change.

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