With road safety in Thailand still requiring ongoing improvement, the skills and expertise of drivers remain crucial factors affecting the safety of both life and assets. This is particularly true for trucks, which play a pivotal role in the industrial business sector, driving the macro-economy. As a vital component in the lives and well-being of society, trucks have the mission of transporting goods from one place to another. This ensures equitable access to a range of resources and enhances the quality of life of all regions across Thailand's extensive network of over 700,000 kilometers of roads. With more than 1.1 million trucks on these roads, the safety of truck driving, in turn, significantly impacts the safety of all road users. Qualified and capable drivers are essential for ensuring road safety and the sustainable progress of the country's economy.
Driving safely brings peace of mind to many people
The Shell Company of Thailand Limited, a producer and distributor of high-quality fuels and lubricants, places significant emphasis on safety and actively supports the government's road safety policy by promoting concrete and sustainable measures. In line with this commitment, Shell has initiated the "Shell Road Safety Skills Training" program in collaboration with Taksa Phiphat School, a driving school operated by SCG Skills Development Company Limited. This program offers opportunities for individuals interested in improving their truck driving skills to a professional standard in alignment with traffic rules while prioritizing safety. Its primary aim is to promote awareness of safe driving practices for the benefit of both individuals and society. Additionally, this program helps create career opportunities, contributing to the improvement of household economy, while supporting the mission and objectives of the Department of Land Transport to reduce road accidents and promote a safe driving culture.
Ms. Ornuthai Na Chiangmai, Country Chair, the Shell Company of Thailand Limited, said, "With over 131 years of operations in Thailand, safety has always been a pivotal aspect of Shell's corporate culture. Our commitment to safety is integrated into every operational step and extended to our business partners. We utilize over 700,000 kilometers of routes to transport and deliver our high-quality fuels to every region in Thailand. We operate under 'Powering Progress' strategy, which not only focuses on safely delivering energy to consumers, but it also aims to improve cooperation and generates value for all stakeholders in our ecosystem, including employees, business partners, consumers, local communities, and the environment. This led to our collaboration with Taksa Phiphat School. Our primary aim is to mutually promote safe driving on roads, enhance the quality of life of truck drivers, create career opportunities for households, and support overall road safety in the country."
Mr. Bunn Kasemsup, Co-CEO, SCGJWD Logistics PCL., said, "SCG established the Taksa Phiphat School in recognition of the importance of road safety. The school goal is to develop the skills and potential of transportation personnel through training led by professionals, teaching how to drive safely and correctly. Participants adopt a positive driving attitude, drive more safely, and ultimately, become Smart Drivers serving as good examples by promoting a safe driving culture and improving societal quality of life. For two years, we have partnered with Shell, a world-class energy company that prioritizes safety, to continuously support the development of truck drivers, who play a crucial role in the transportation sector, in the steadily advancing economy."
Enhancing Safe and Standard Driving Skills for Sustainable Improvements in Quality of Life
The "Shell Road Safety Skills Training" program's Year 2 was conducted from May to October 2023. The program successfully trained over 270 participants, who demonstrated their dedication to enhancing quality of life through safety and pursuing career opportunities. The project offered two free training courses: a training to develop driving skills to acquire Type 2 driver's license and a training to acquire Type 3 driver's license, using the Department of Land Transport's certified curriculum. Truck drivers must participate in the course with a minimum of 30 hours of theory and practical classes. The content included correct and safe driving techniques, accident prediction, the duties, the responsibilities, and the etiquette of drivers, as well as traffic laws and regulations. Additionally, the program covered vehicle readiness inspection to reinforce a safe driving conditions.
Mr. Nopphon Phathamma, a participant in the program, spoke about the career opportunities it has created. He remarked, "In the past, society may have regarded the truck driving profession as less important than it is today, often viewing it as a last-resort job option. However, with the expansion of trade and the increase in logistic services and companies, there is a heightened focus on hiring quality employees in this field. Truck drivers must possess standardized skills and knowledge while prioritizing safety, as one accident can cause significant damage to a company. Recognizing the importance of these factors, I am motivated to develop myself to gain the knowledge and skills needed to drive safely and at a high standard. This way, companies can be confident in my ability to safely deliver products to their destinations. Safe working practices are essential for my own safety, the safety of those around me, as well as the company's assets. By pursuing a career as a truck driver, I aim to support my family in the future."
Beyond a dream lies the determination to fight for success
Over the two years of the "Shell Road Safety Skills Training," the program's success has been measured not only by the higher number of participants completing the training, but also by its commitment to equitable opportunity. This includes supporting the career aspirations of women who wish to enter the professional truck driving industry.
"Driving a truck is often perceived as challenging, but it's not impossible, even for us, women," stated Ms. Wimuttaya Pirulratana, a program participant who smiled as she shared her experience. "I used to work in a beauty salon. Later, I became acquainted with a family, whose member was a truck driver with a steady income. This inspired me to consider a career change. However, I didn't know where to start. Then, I heard about the Shell Road Safety Skills Training program, which was open to applicants regardless of gender. I applied, got accepted, and trained to become an 18-wheel truck driver. I am thrilled to help create a safer society in partnership with a world-class organization through the truck driving profession which I love. I've managed to establish a strong foothold in the industry and gain acceptance for who I am."
After completing the Driver's License Class 3 (T.3) training course, Ms. Wimuttaya has since obtained a Class T.4 driving license, qualifying her to drive trucks transporting hazardous materials, a certification regarded as the most advanced in the truck driving profession.
Ms. Orapan Nakchab, another participant in the training program, reflected on the opportunity she received: "My passion for traveling was the motivating factor in learning how to drive a truck. I began with lessons from professional truck drivers. However, I often felt incapable in handling different challenges on the road. That thought changed when I discovered the Shell Road Safety Skills Training program, which offered free training to all interested applicants. I joined seeing this as a chance to turn my passion into a career. It provided me with the knowledge of proper driving and the techniques for quick and safe decision-making in unforeseen situations, ensuring the safety of everyone on the road, not just my own. Additionally, enhancing my driving skills to a professional level has expanded my job opportunities. This advancement in skills has significantly improved the quality of life for both me and my family."
The success of Nopphon, Wimuttaya, and Orapan in their truck driving careers is remarkable. Despite their diverse backgrounds and reasons for participating in the project, they share a common sentiment: gratitude towards the Shell Road Safety Skills Training program, which has opened doors to new, stable, and sustainable careers for many. They are eager to share their stories, the opportunities they have encountered, and the positive experiences they gained from participating in the program with those around them and anyone else interested. At the same time, Shell remains dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of Thais and continues to collaborate with partners across various sectors to develop the professional skills of smart drivers, while ensuring the delivery of high-quality products to Thai consumers.