Selecting and employing a new truck or bus driver

Selecting and employing a new truck or bus driver

Employing and training the right person to drive your vehicles saves time, money and perhaps even your company’s reputation. Here are some points to consider.

Driving a modern truck or a bus involves a lot more than just driving. It is a highly demanding and responsible job and failing to select and employ a driver with the right attributes, attitude and skills has a negative effect on both the lifetime costs of a vehicle and the profitability of the company.

But high vehicle operational costs are not the only negative factors an owner will incur if the wrong person is employed for the job.

In many operations drivers reflect the company image. They provide a competitive customer service and are the front line of the company, so it is vital that they have a good attitude and are willing and able to deal professionally with company clients. Once they leave the yard, drivers work without supervision and control. It is the only profession that I know of where an employee is in complete control and working with an expensive company asset and load, without supervision – from the first day that he or she starts working.

In the long term, employing the right person for the job will save you money and frustration.

In my opinion, a potential truck or bus driver needs to have the following basic skills and attributes:

• Must be able to read and write;

• Must submit a contactable reference list of their driving experience;

• Must be in possession of a valid driving licence and Professional Driving Permit for the category of vehicle that he or she will be required to drive;

• Should ideally be in the age group of 24 to 25 years old. Drivers younger than this often do not have enough experience and tend to be irresponsible.

If you use an official application form, ensure that it is in line with the current labour practice.

Once you have selected a short list of potential candidates, proceed with a personal interview. Focus on personal details, previous job experience and training, plus why the applicant left his or her previous job.

It is advisable to have the potential drivers medically examined by your own nominated doctor to ensure that they are not suffering from any illness that could affect their ability to drive your vehicle safely and professionally.

The next step should be an intense practical driving test, undertaken by an experienced driver trainer. After the practical test, your list of applicants will be dramatically reduced. Many professional heavy duty operators find that, on average, only 10 percent of drivers tested are suitable to be employed. 

As a representative of your company, the selected driver should be trained on company policies and procedures before he or she starts driving your vehicle.

If the driver will be driving a vehicle that is a different make or model from the one they drove previously, he or she should undergo a conversion training course. As most new commercial vehicles available on the South African market are fitted with high-tech computerised equipment and controls, in my opinion all drivers need to do a conversion course on the new make and model that they will drive.

This will ensure that they know exactly how to drive the vehicle in a safe and professional manner that will result in the lowest possible fuel, maintenance and tyre costs.

Driver training also inspires drivers, gives them more confidence and makes them less prone to accidents and incidents.


One of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, VIC OLIVER has been in this industry for 49 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel, 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International.

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