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KUALA LUMPUR: Training for truck and bus drivers is crucial in ensuring safer roads.
This was the consensus at the Dialogue On The Role Of Truck And Bus Companies In Contributing Towards Safer Roads.
It was held recently to discuss how bus and truck companies could play a more proactive role in addressing these issues, including training for drivers.
E-Response Group of Companies chief executive officer Mohamed Noor Sany said emphasis was placed more on the roadworthiness of vehicles than on ensuring that drivers and operators were properly trained in road safety.
"Driver training has become extremely important, especially with increased traffic on the roads and the added freight to be delivered," he said.
Sany urged truck companies to view driver training as an investment rather than as a cost. He said training should also involve the management team.
"This is so that there will be a top-down approach in the safety culture.
"The training should be conducted collaboratively by the private sector and the authorities.
"We have seen cases of bus and truck companies in Malaysia that have successfully done this by working with the authorities."
Dialogue moderator Stefan Pertz, who is the editor of Asian Trucker magazine, said truck companies were often labelled the culprits behind damaged roads in Malaysia and many had the perception that buses were not safe because of drivers' recklessness.
It was agreed that road safety continued to be a key concern for road users, with a rising number of road accidents involving overloaded heavy vehicles or reckless bus drivers.
Several statistics were cited. Among others, the Land Public Transport Commission's (SPAD) figures show that heavy vehicles transporting goods were involved in 28 per cent of road accidents and accidents involving public transport vehicles had increased to 8.3 per cent in 2011.
The Public Works Ministry said it had cost RM747 million to repair federal roads damaged by overloaded lorries throughout the country between January and October in 2011.
Scania Malaysia general manager Idros Puteh said both the public and private sectors had a role to play in road safety.
"As a leading truck manufacturer, Scania sees efforts to reduce road accidents as an important area of any company's responsibility.
"Apart from developing safer vehicles, we believe that driver training is also an important factor for improving road safety," he said.
"The driver is the single most important asset in road safety."
Among the participants were representatives from Scania Southeast Asia, Shell Commercial Fleet Asia, Apollo Tyres Pte Ltd and the Road Transport Department.