An Introduction to Driver Training for the uninitiated Employee & Employer through CAT’s Eyes
Who Might Be Interested? Fleet Managers; HR Departments; Health & Safety Officers; Company Directors; Team Leaders; Sole Traders; Small Medium & Large Businesses; the Private Sector; the Public Sector; and anybody who drives for business as part of their working day.
Reducing Your Occupational Road Risk
Fleet driver training has been with us now for several years. It has been a valuable tool in helping untrained drivers to reduce their occupational driving risk. By untrained, I mean drivers who have had no further training since they passed their driving test. However, despite industries best efforts, a third of all fatalities on UK roads will be someone simply going about their daily business. It is a statistic that I find hard to grasp and struggle to accept.
When I wake in the morning I follow a well worn path around the house. I pull the curtains, fill the kettle, turn the radio on, feed the cats, make the tea and head back up stairs to carry out my shower and dressing ritual as I get ready to leave for work. Driver training is my life – I live eat and sleep driving skills. For that reason I often find the traffic report on Radio 2 perhaps a little too engaging. At 06:40 hrs it is not uncommon to hear “the air ambulance has landed” or “it is a major incident – the road is likely to be closed for some time”. Is that one of the statistical thirds who has not even made it to their place of work?
“Pre Flight Check Complete, We are Ready for Take Off”
It’s true that we don’t leave the front door in the morning with the intention of having an accident. But do we leave the house in the morning with the intention of NOT having an accident? Do you prepare to drive for work in the same way a Pilot may prepare for a flight? No? Then read on. Just as my waking up and getting ready procedure is now firmly embedded in my subconscious, so is my driving technique. But what if my driving technique is leaving me exposed to unnecessary risk?
Why do I or My Staff Need Driver Training?
Driving for Work can be as short a trip as going to the bank or the stationers, to as long as visiting clients hundreds of miles away. If you or your staff drive for work, then you and they fall under the umbrella of several Health and Safety Laws that simply treat the motor vehicle you drive as an extension of your work place.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to:
- Provide a duty of care to employees, and to the general public.
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states that:
- All employees should have adequate training to operate any work equipment.
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers to:
- Complete a suitable & sufficient risk assessment of every risk to employees, and others not in their employment (see here for more detailed information).
This recent law introduced in April 2008 has placed the responsibility of Health and Safety issues within the work place firmly at the door of the business hierarchy. There is now a realistic possibility a director through to team leader could find themselves facing prison sentences for breaches of Health and Safety procedure and law that results in a loss of life.
Choose the Right Company
Laws are made to protect us, but what if you are not aware of the laws in the first place? Ignorance is not an excuse, but I do have sympathy for all of those small businesses out there struggling to keep up with all we should be doing to stay on the right side of the law. Company Driver Training is not something to be placed at the bottom of the pile. Do some research and I am confident you will discover you could be genuinely helping to save a life, simply by giving employees a few hours advanced driving tuition with a qualified instructor.
When selecting your Driving for Work training provider (and I hope you choose CAT) it is important to choose a company that has experienced instructors. The path an instructor has to follow to obtain a Fleet Training licence is that they must first become an Approved Driving Instructor – an ADI. Once he or she has qualified as an ADI they then take further intensive training to qualify to be included on the Fleet Training Register. This can be provided by DSA (Driving Standards Agency) accredited companies, RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) and DIA (Driving Instructors Association). Once qualified, they are then in effect licensed by the DSA to provide advanced driver training on the public highway.
I will only employ instructors that have more than the entry level qualifications. I am looking for supplementary qualifications such as: are they a member of an advanced driving club; or perhaps trained in the police force. It is important to be trained by enthusiasts who have a genuine interest in your driving development. If instructors have taken the trouble to develop their own skills then I find they are more engaging with clients and the content of their tuition more enlightening.
Keeping Costs Down
Company driver training combined with structured vehicle maintenance and management can in many cases pay for itself – a very relevant consideration for the smaller company struggling to come to terms with the cost of outsourced advanced driver training.
Apart from the obvious savings to be found in the reduction of petrol and diesel consumption, lower insurance premiums, lower at fault accidents and the reduction in service and maintenance costs can all be proven benefits of advanced driver training. Taking insurance premiums as an example, our partners at Towergate Insurance provide fleet policies to business with premiums reflecting significant reductions once a driving for work risk reduction policy is put in place. These often more than cover the investment made.
Training is tailored to the needs, objectives and importantly the budget of the client. It is not all about driving! Saving fuel is often more about journey planning and time management than driving technique. I found it interesting to find after a recent visit to a small delivery company using Ford Transit vans, that none of the 5 drivers knew vans had a lower legal speed limit on certain roads than cars. When was the last time they had looked at a Highway Code? All admitted it was when they took their driving test! For one driver that was over 30 years ago!!!
Keeping Up with Modern Practice
As driver trainers we are here to offer a professional service bringing your staff up to speed with modern driving practices and road law. We are not here to chastise or judge. Training can begin on line with a driver assessment or in house with classroom presentations. Higher risk drivers can be selected for on road training from the acquired data. You may select drivers who cover more than 20,000 miles per annum, or perhaps those who have had an accident in the last 3 years. The options are many and varied. Many companies favour on road training for all of their staff, I happen to agree with this approach. I am always surprised at the amount drivers can download from a good instructor in just a couple of hours of advanced road tuition.
The last 15 years has seen a regimented approach to fleet training. A typical day would take the form of a classroom or in car presentations followed by an on road “Driver Risk Assessment” with time allocated for remedial training if required. The industry moved with the times and introduced “on line” driver profiling which is now used widely. But what of those drivers who have served with a company for several years and been through the fleet training mill many times? Could their enthusiasm be waning, is it time for a new approach?
Frankly Yes it Is
Modern vehicles have many active and passive aids to help keep us safe, they also behave in a more predictable manner if we understand the basic function of some of the mechanical happenings taking place when, for example, we drive around a corner. Read a handbook for a modern car and you may find a bewildering array of 3 letter acronyms explaining a variety of technological wizardry.
Add to the mix modern tyre technology for example, and how we can optimise the grip from the tyre with modern driving techniques, and it is not difficult to see we may have some homework to do. Choose a training provider who can bring you up to speed with the technical and dynamic aspects of the modern motor car and your Driving for Work programme will be more interesting, motivational and subsequently more beneficial.