Haulage and bus companies have begun to recognise that their drivers are their single most important asset following the successful completion of the Scania Driver Competition 2010 in Thailand.
Vichai Jirathiyut, managing director of Scania Siam, the local unit of the Sweden-based truck and bus manufacturer, said two drivers took the top honours.
They are Banterng Piasamrong, a bus driver with Nakornchai Tour Co, and Sompetch Chandim, a truck driver with TNT Express Worldwide (Thailand) Co.The road to the finals was not easy for these two excellent drivers, who first had to pass a qualifying round and then beat out eight other skilled contestants.
Mr Vichai said the driving competition is not about driving fast, but rather the safe and optimised handling of a vehicle, with a focus on driver skill and fuel-efficient practices.
Mr Banterng scored 97 points to be named “Best Bus Driver”, while Mr Sompetch scored 89 points to become “Best Truck Driver”. The first and second runners-up in the bus and truck driving categories were also announced.
The two winners each received 1 million baht out of the 4 million baht awarded.
“We set up this competition in Thailand to spotlight local drivers, their skills and their valuable contribution to society. Scania wants to not only sell vehicles, but also to showcase these drivers’ responsibility,” added Mr Vichai.
The competition was open to the 500 professional drivers of Scania vehicles nationwide.
Mr Vichai said the safe transport of goods or passengers from one place to another is ultimately the responsibility of the driver. Careless driving results in accidents that can damage goods or kill or injure passengers.
The competition, which is held every two years, took place in 28 countries this year including Thailand for the first time.
The Scania Driver Competition is the largest driver competition in the world. In Europe, it is known as the Young European Truck Driver awards and endorsed by both the European Commission and the International Road Transport Union.
It focuses on increasing fuel efficiency, building awareness of road safety and reducing the vehicles’ environmental impact. Only the driver can contribute to all of these.
“The competition helps to heighten contestants’ sense of responsibility no matter what kind of vehicle they drive. This has long been one of Scania’s objectives,” said Mr Vichai.
In Thailand, it took place with the co-operation of Scania’s partners – BP-Castrol (Thailand) Co, Siam Incline Co, the Land Transport Department and the Drive Responsibly Foundation.
In a qualifying round, 10 drivers were selected from among 70 competing, with the finals held on Nov 13.