How to implement a successful driver training programme
Measurable driver training is fundamental to a fleet's overall safety record.
If you were to draw up a list of all the possible components of a safe fleet, it may look something akin to this:
- A clear, written safety policy
- Up-to-date driver qualifications and licensing
- Driver training
- Adherence to occupational safety laws and duty of care obligations
- Regular vehicle inspections and ongoing maintenance
- A correct and transparent procedure for reporting mishaps and incidents.
The one component on the list that is open to the most interpretation - and therefore has the most potential to have a differing effect on a transport health and safety policy - is driver training.
Driver behaviour management or training is supposedly widespread in the transport and logistics sector, with many fleets stating they have either a safe or efficient driver training policy.
But what does this entail? Research has shown that on average there are 5,000 risky driver events for every serious collision that results in loss of life or vehicle.
It follows that drivers can lower the chances of being involved in a serious road traffic accident if they reduce the amount of risky actions they take behind the wheel. But do they even know what they are?
A fundamental requirement of all driver behaviour management programmes should be to identify risky actions, as this is the only way drivers can ever change their behaviours to more positive ones.
Key risky actions
Reducing the number of risky actions that a driver takes requires them to be switched on to their driving environment at all times. A driver who can look ahead and anticipate hazards before they occur will make real headway in their attempts to expose themselves to risks.
A good driver is a safe one and there are certain things that drivers can work on to give them a better chance of having more time to anticipate while on the road.
Over-revving - There is often little need to rev an engine - especially a diesel one - beyond a few thousand revs per minute. Doing so will only lead to wear and tear and the potential to lose control of the vehicle, putting the vehicle's driver and other road users in danger.
Harsh acceleration - Reducing exposure to risky driving actions is dependent on the person in question having enough time to react to potential dangers. Drivers who are 'heavy' on the accelerator limit the amount of time they have to react.
Harsh braking - This is a very good indicator that a driver has had to react to a hazard. Drivers who show too many instances of harsh braking may not be anticipating the road well enough.
Over-speeding - Speeding is one of the primary causes of road collisions in the UK. Drivers who speed seriously increase their chances of being involved in a crash.
Initiating a long-term switch from negative to positive driver behaviour
Drivers can be made aware of these behaviours, but in order to give them the best opportunity of eliminating risky actions, they need to be tracked. A successful driver training programme will make use of technology that measures the frequency of these riskier behaviours and identifies when a driver has made progress towards becoming safer on the roads.
This enables a fleet to have exact knowledge of how their driver training is improving their overall safety record.