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Date: 18 December 2013   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

For all their benefits, driver training schemes aren't penetrating the corporate arena in big numbers. Jack Carfrae reports.

This isn't the first time BusinessCar has waxed lyrical about driver training.

The merits of prepping your staff for life on the road are well documented: yes, there's a cost attached, but there's also a hefty return on investment if you tot up fewer accidents, the resultant lack of repair bills and a lower fuel outlay if a bit of eco training is involved - not to mention covering your back from a risk perspective with the constant shadow of the corporate manslaughter act in the background.

So the benefits speak for themselves. But if that's the case, then why aren't more companies implementing driver training programmes for their employees? A recent survey of 1000 business drivers by top five leasing company ALD revealed that only 41% had undergone any professional training at all and less than 2% expected any within the coming year, so it obviously isn't catching on.

Helen Fisk, auto solutions manager at ALD, says the economy is predictably to blame in a lot of cases, but there are other reasons behind it: "I think the economy's got a role to play. Driver training is the first thing that drops when budgets are tight.

"Training has traditionally been quite inflexible - you might have to have half a day or a whole day and a business often can't justify that amount of downtime. What we're looking at now is flexibility with grouping different customers together so you can have more than one company on one day and at different locations."

Simon ElstowSimon Elstow, training manager at the Institute of Advanced Motorists' Drive and Survive corporate driver training programme, believes it isn't just a cost thing - the attitude and general behaviour of the firm in question has as much to do with it as the price tag.

"The reasons are as varied as the culture of the organisations," he says. "British Rail, for example, which doesn't exist any more but was split into loads of different companies - an organisation like that is always going to be difficult.

"They did driver training, but didn't bother to tell people why. They spent the money, but didn't want to tell people why they were doing it.

"At the other end of the spectrum you've an organisation like BP, where all the staff know why they're doing it and they've done it loads of times. They always get something out of it and if they don't, they complain. It's great."

Elstow maintains that employees whose main job is driving are far more likely to go through a training programme than other staff, but management often won't consider it for those who still drive for work but whose main job responsibilities lie elsewhere.

"If the market sector has a high percentage of CPC [Certificate of Professional Competence] drivers, you'll see a lot of training. That's the only sector where training is mandatory, but that's still new. Previously that group didn't have to do much training at all. Logistics is another one.

"The problem is that we're almost always dealing with individuals who are required to drive for their job but driving is not their primary job function. The attitude is, 'why would you want training for something that isn't your primary skill?'"