AAS to offer courses for commercial drivers

Training to raise safety standards, given rise in fatal accidents involving heavy vehicles

The Automobile Association of Singapore (AAS) will launch a training institute targeted at commercial drivers early next year, to address the rising number of fatal crashes involving heavy vehicles here.

The courses offered will touch on the finer points of driving professionally, which include accident analysis and prevention, and being aware of risky situations.

It is a new foray for the association, which is focused mainly on the general motoring public.

AAS president Bernard Tay said: "We are aware of the rapid increase in accidents involving heavy vehicles and, as the voice of the motoring community, AAS would like to do its part to raise awareness, and impart the knowledge and skills to the drivers to avoid accidents."

Traffic Police statistics show that the number of fatal accidents involving heavy vehicles rose by 34 per cent, from 32 cases in 2012 to 43 cases in 2013. Last year, there were 44 cases.

The AAS will adopt curriculum from the International Road Transport Union (IRU) , which has a presence in 74 countries and offers professional certifications to commercial drivers in the European Union.

The AAS was accredited by the IRU's training academy in May, making it the first in Asia equipped to run its courses.

Mr Tay Chay Sim, AAS manager of technical services, said it plans to offer three courses for a start - crash prevention, safe loading and cargo securing, as well as eco-driving. The courses will be open to all who drive professionally.

A pilot run of the crash-prevention course is being conducted by the AAS for 200 drivers of its subsidiary AutoSwift Recovery, a 24-hour vehicle recovery service.

The one-day classroom session uses on-board camera videos showing real-life accidents and near-misses as well as simulations of driving situations, to raise the drivers' awareness of risky situations and to encourage safe driving practices.

Mr Tay said that, in time, the AAS hopes to introduce an equivalent of the IRU's Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) to Singapore. The CPC is now compulsory for truck, bus and coach drivers in the European Union.

Singapore Transport Association chairman Dave Ng said equipping commercial drivers with skills and knowledge beyond a Class 4 and Class 5 licence - the basic requirements in Singapore - will make them safer and more competent drivers.

"The courses go into defensive driving and the lashing of cargo. They will make the drivers more confident in going about their day- to-day jobs, and safer," he said.

Asked if companies would be willing to send their drivers for training, Mr Ng said they should see it as a form of investment. "When accidents happen, it will cost the companies more than the courses."

Said Mr Mohd Sarinan Ngaspan, 56, a tow-truck driver with AutoSwift Recovery who attended the crash-prevention course two weeks ago: "It's very relevant. In my job, I have to respond to breakdowns. I learnt that safety comes first, even when you are rushing to the scene."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2015, with the headline 'AAS to offer courses for commercial drivers'. Print Edition | Subscribe