DRIVER TRAINING: Training Day
18 December 2013
Author: Jack Carfrae
Other experts believes that the main issue is that training is neither a requirement, nor is it deemed essential by most outfits. Graham Hurdle, MD of online training firm E-Training World, says the biggest problem is that it just falls down the list of priorities, and this only changes when it's too late.
"Driver training is more of a planning issue. It therefore sits in the 'important but not urgent' box, and because fleet managers are busy they struggle to get to it. Interestingly, we've seen a number of instances when assessment and training has shifted quickly. to the 'urgent and important' box, simply because a driver has had a serious accident and the company is suddenly feeling exposed."
Roddy Graham, commercial director of Leasedrive and chairman of the Institute of Car Fleet Management, agrees that it's something that usually just isn't on fleet operators' radars: "Driver training is much more of a 'nice to have' than a 'need to have' in the eye of the fleet operator. It doesn't matter how much indicative evidence you put forward to show that it's worthwhile, it's still a difficult argument to win."
ALD's survey's numbers don't tell the whole story, though. Leasing giant Leaseplan has reported a recent increase in businesses buying into driving training schemes - but not at the behest of fleet managers.
Jennifer Gradden, account director for fleet risk solutions at Leaseplan, explains: "We've certainly seen similar statistics [to the ALD survey] ourselves. That said, I have noticed a marked increase in the number of companies putting their drivers through training programmes.
"Often this has been HR-driven as opposed to driven by the fleet manager. It can be part of a wellbeing strategy and also incorporates grey fleet as well as the core company car fleet."
A fruitless venture
Of the companies that already put their staff through training, the statistics and the general consensus among those in the know suggests that a lot of them are simply putting employees through one training programme either when they join the company or on a single, random occasion, which might seem worthwhile at the time but has a very limited effect in the long run.
Graham explains: "It's a complete waste of money. Unless you're committed, that's almost just an HR box-ticking exercise. You're not going to change the culture [of the business] that way."
The IAM's Elstow says this approach only works for a small minority of drivers: "It's very common for companies to do it once but not again. Once they've had some driver training, some of the drivers will respond extremely well to it.
"We know that because we bump into some of them 10 years down the line when they're in a different job and they say things like 'that training was really worthwhile'. That's only a small number though; the large proportion of drivers will lapse back into their normal habits."
The one-stop shop approach can actually be beneficial in certain circumstances, though. Graham says a one-off bout of training is worth it if you've got temporary staff joining from overseas.
"Where I do believe that works is when you've got a lot of ex-pat workers spending maybe a year or two in the UK. That's an absolute must and a lot of companies don't do it," he says. "The cost to them is absolutely phenomenal in terms of damage, fines, things like that. There's real value in that without any shadow of a doubt and some driver training firms are excellent at this."