What Sort of Person makes the Ideal Truck Driver?

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If you’re looking for a driver for your company, join the queue – there’s a global shortage which is affecting the price of delivering goods across the world, and leaving trucks parked up unable to be used. Part of this is due to an aging workforce in the transport industry; young people are not seeing being a heavy vehicle driver as an appealing option to pursue. 

However, being a driver has its benefits. While local delivery drivers tend to have a reasonable amount of interaction with the people they deliver to and can return home at the end of the day, long distance drivers can spend a week or more on the road, primarily by themselves, seeing new parts of the country.

Just these two examples underscore how important it is to pick someone with the right temperament and aspirations when considering a driver.

There are other considerations which relate to reducing risk, many of which can be answered by having a driver take a driver risk assessment.

These include:

  • Driver health and wellbeing
  • Hours of work
  • Physical requirements
  • Experience with the equipment that will be used
  • Knowledge of operational procedures, road rules and associated tasks you might require them to do
  • Training that you can provide to reduce risks.

Looking at the role you have, consider the following:

Driver attitude

A driver’s attitude affects two things: how easy it is to work with them, and how likely they are to have some kind of accident. Attitude always determines how a driver treats other road users and whether they feel entitled and aggressive, or whether they understand that other road users often have far less skill than they do and make mistakes.

Driver health

Studies have shown that drivers with a neck circumference over 42cm are more likely to have sleep apnoea which can contribute to sleepiness behind the wheel. This increases the risk of the driver falling asleep while driving, or becoming inattentive. It’s not just neck circumference that contributes, but also a slew of other health issues that affect a driver’s sleep. Obtaining medical records that are as detailed as possible may help you avoid issues down the track. 

Driver experience

While experience is not an absolute measure of proficiency and risk, it does contribute to it. New drivers can often be either overconfident in their abilities, or they can be so nervous that they create risk for themselves and others. If you are measuring your potential drivers’ attitudes you may pick up a tendency to be complacent, and this can come with having a lot of experience as opposed to not much experience.

Driver capacity for growth and learning

A truck is no longer just 3 pedals, a steering wheel and a gearstick. A truck is now a rolling computer, and might even be running on batteries or hydrogen rather than diesel, and the driver is expected to understand how all this driver assistance technology works. Additionally, systems used to manage jobs or conduct a pre-start check may be on an app; drivers must either be computer literate or be prepared to learn how to use new technology.

Ongoing training is essential. In fact, it’s mandated in countries such as the United Kingdom. Training can be delivered in-class or online. 

Driver cultural fit

Your people are your company culture, and some people might struggle to fit into yours. Do you want to dilute your company culture by employing someone that doesn’t match the requirements? It’s not a good idea. Having a strong idea of your company culture is an important contributor to success.

What to do when you’ve found the perfect driver

When you’re down to your last few candidates, having them take a practical assessment, ensuring that they have a good medical record, testing them for drug abuse and checking their police record should help you form your decision. Then all that’s required is that you put your induction process in place to help them become a productive member of your team.

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