Driver training is crucial to developing a consistent culture of road safety across a business. The three key steps to creating a successful driver training programme are as follows: 1. Ensuring that training is both relevant and focused. 2. Ongoing measurement of driver behaviour as a key indicator for safety. 3. Sustaining the programme through the continuing provision of feedback and driver incentives.
Fleets must take great care in developing a driver training programme which helps to protect not just their driving workforce, but which also takes into account the needs of other road users. Driver training programmes shouldn’t just be for new recruits, either – they need to facilitate the professional development of drivers at different stages of their career, enabling them to continually sharpen their skills. Furthermore, by preventing accidents through enhanced driver safety, comprehensive and ongoing driver training schemes can also reduce fleets’ risk of being subject to litigation. Encouraging ongoing driver development could also help to reduce staff turnover, and the costs associated with it.
Q: How can fleets work out where individual drivers need to improve?
A: Telematics systems, now standard in the fleet industry, provide fleet managers with finely detailed insights into the performance of individual drivers. This is because they collect data across a wide range of different areas relating to drivers’ conduct behind the wheel, which can then be used to develop a detailed picture of how individual drivers behave. This data, if properly analysed, can enable fleet managers to highlight any shortcomings and devise individually tailored training programmes to address them.
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Q: How should telematics data be used in developing driver training schemes?
A: Telematics data can provide a vital foundation to driver training programmes. Crucially, it can enable fleet managers to develop more accurate risk profiles of each driver and monitor improvements over time. This data can alert fleet managers to a range of undesirable and dangerous behaviours – including harsh braking, excessive speeding, tailgating and rough cornering – and this makes it relatively simple to identify particular areas of concern that might need to be addressed. However, telematics data on its own cannot necessarily determine the root causes of these patterns, and why vehicles may be driven in a particular manner. Telematics should be looked at as one (albeit important) tool for building up broader individual risk profiles.
Q: How can fleets identify the right training methods for drivers?
A: Once fleets have identified drivers’ training needs based on driver profiles, they can then decide on the most appropriate and (hopefully) fruitful training methods for individual drivers. Driver profiles can provide crucial insights into what training might benefit individuals, and which particular methods might be applied. While telematics data is important to developing these driver profiles, it needs to be complemented with other information, including risk and character assessments. Combining these insights together, fleet managers can then decide whether individual drivers might benefit more from one-to-one discussions, group training sessions, online workshops or driver coaching.
Q: Why is it important to provide ongoing training throughout drivers’ careers?
A: Contrary to how it might appear at first glance, the work involved in driving involves continually adapting to considerable change. In particular, the introduction of new technologies (a process only likely to accelerate in the coming years) has had a major impact. Fleets therefore need to ensure that they keep their drivers properly up to speed with technological changes in the industry, helping them to adapt and providing them with the training they need. Ongoing opportunities for training and development are also important from a job satisfaction perspective – drivers need to have these opportunities so that they can continually improve themselves and stay fully engaged with their work. Further to this, fleets also need to ensure that the training they provide is engaging for drivers at different stages of their careers; there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The fleet industry is already facing a driver shortage, with warnings that this situation could worsen dramatically in the aftermath of Brexit. Retaining drivers and reducing staff turnover are therefore essential, and driver training programmes can help in this regard.
Q: How can driver training help to cut costs?
A: Not only is high staff turnover an inconvenience for fleets, but it also comes with major costs attached. There’s the cost of recruiting and training up new drivers, as well as the lost productivity which tends to go hand-in-hand with high turnover – after all, fully integrating new recruits into the driver workforce takes time. An engaging programme of continual driver training and development gives drivers another reason to stay with their employer, thereby potentially keeping staff turnover to a minimum and reducing the costs (including in terms of reduced productivity) associated with it.