DRIVER TRAINING: L-plates on, it's back to school
22 September 2008
Just because your staff have passed their driving test doesn't mean that they - and the company - couldn't benefit from further education. Tom Webster reports
Turn the clock back 50 years and advanced driver training meant one thing - an overriding focus on safety. Police drivers acted as test examiners and successful participants were allowed to attach little metal badges to their radiator's grille.
For traditional driver training companies such as the Institute of Advance Motorists (IAM), little has changed. Its emphasis on safety remains the same as when it was set up in 1956, and the distinctive red and white badge can still be seen on the occasional vehicle.
But the IAM has been joined by a host of other driver training companies in the quest to further educate the nation's drivers. All
have brought new forms of training with them and it's now possible for the business car driver to undergo many different types of useful instruction. Of course, not all drivers will need to go on a hands-on training course because something such as a simple online assessment, provided by some training firms, will identify the worst offenders and those of the highest risk.
There are a variety of courses that will improve your drivers' skill coverings topics such as on- and off-road driving, speed awareness, vans, skid control etc, and below BusinessCar takes a look at several of the options are available to the fleet manager.
Safety and economy
DriveTech's Real World Combination course is its most popular and is a good example of what most fleet customers can expect if they're sent for training.
So called because it offers a combination of economy and defensive driving, our experience of the course started before we even turned the ignition. Once we'd proved we knew where all the fluids were and our car's tyres were correctly inflated, we set off.
We were amazed to discover how few changes were required to alter driving style. Following a 10-minute circuit, our instructor, Keith, then demonstrated that by watching the road and slowing down in advance, the same town and country route could then be completed without coming to a halt.
By following the pointers given - as simple as looking ahead for traffic lights and cars turning right - our driving is now much smoother, and therefore more economical and safer, than before.
Contact: 01344 467890
Cost: £395 for two people sharing a full day's in-vehicle practical training.
Training the trainers
If you are constantly shipping drivers off on courses and are spending as much with your training company as on fuel, there could be an alternative.
Supermarket giant Tesco decided to stop sending drivers off to be taught, and has started training their own instructors. Now they employ 19 full-time instructors, who train the fleet's 8000 drivers on the company's 3.5-tonne vans.
"This way we have consistency in our training and we can tailor everything to Tesco's standards," explains the company's training manager Cliff Cheeseman.
"It has been beneficial as it has been a lot more structured. This has seen payback in drivers' behaviour and a big reduction in speeding fines. We've also seen a reduction in bent metal and accidents in general.
"The drivers see the same people and build up a relationship with them. Beforehand they might only have seen a driving instructor when they had done something wrong. I'd recommend the scheme to fleets of a larger size."
Tesco's own trainers all trained at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa).
To be legal they must complete both Rospa's national diploma in advanced driving instruction and the Driving Standards Agency's approved driver instructor qualification.
In addition, Tesco sends their trainers on Rospa's five-day advanced course to get their driving up to the standard required to pass the instruction assessment.
Drivers who achieve a gold standard on this five-day course are then eligible for a discount on the diploma.
Contact (Rospa): 0121 248 2233
Cost: National diploma - £925 + VAT with discount for gold standard drivers, £1086 + VAT without discount; 5-day advanced course - £1800 for three delegates
Contact (DSA): 0300 200 1122
CONTINUED ON PAGE 2...