Stefan Pertz muses about why drivers of commercial vehicles are viewed the way they are and what can be done to improve their image.
Whenever we speak to transporters they tell us that the drivers are the most important part of the operation as they make things happen. When it comes to road safety, both, truck makers and the companies using trucks say that even though vehicles may be equipped with the best technical solutions to improve road safety but it is the drivers who actually play the biggest role in safe driving.
There is a massive shortage of drivers in the region, despite extremely good salaries for drivers. Once autonomous driving is implemented, the driver will no longer be just a driver, but s/he will become an office worker whereby the truck will become a very mobile office. Being a trucker is already a demanding job and this approach will require drivers to be even more skilled and knowledgeable than they are now, although the truck will do the driving.
But why is it that the profession of commercial vehicles is still perceived as undesired and in no way glamorous? From what I have observed, there are several issues here: Truck drivers don’t always behave in a way that would make them look good in the public view.
The other day I was following a truck and the driver just threw his rubbish out of the window. I stopped him and asked him to collect the rubbish and dispose it properly. The look I got was like I had just invented fire. No, the road isn’t a rubbish bin and by not littering, truckers will not only help the environment, but could improve the perception of drivers. They next time they stop at a rest stop, why not pick up rubbish from others?
Speeding, reckless and careless driving are other issues that need to be addressed. And while I am the last one to say that wearing a suit will make your work any better, some drivers could just do with a clean set of clothing. My appeal to the drivers is that you should help to make the profession look better.
The notion of “the right fit for the application” is something we hear often. But there seems to be a misfit when the long haul truck doesn’t have a bed and there are two drivers trying to sleep while sitting upright. I ask you: Is this a working condition that you enjoy as a boss? As a business owner, you should also ensure the road worthiness of your vehicles just as well as cleanliness. Just as I enjoy a clean office where there are no safety hazards, the trucks should be kept in good conditions and not be a hazard themselves.
It would also help the industry if the media were to look at the trucking industry in a slightly different way. In Asian Trucker we have a policy that we don’t write about accidents, but about successes and fun activities. By putting the truckers in a good light, others may actually consider a career in the industry. It is the pride that we would like to focus on. And speaking of this, perhaps parents should not try to talk their kids out of the idea of being a truck driver.
At one point I wanted to be a gardener and my parents would have let me, as that might have been what would have made me happy. When I speak to some truckers, they enjoy their profession as they get to see places, move around, are independent and have a lot of responsibility. And they earn good money too!
Perhaps that joy of being a trucker is going to make them happier than spending a wellpaid career in a profession they are forced into and they don’t like. In a recent study it was found that the most unhappy profession in Singapore is that of PR practitioners...