The Training Game
18 September 2014
Author: Jack Carfrae
The IAM Drive and Survive course claims to better prepare employees for their time on the road. Jack Carfrae found out what fleet operators get for their money
A fleet operator doesn't necessarily know what they will get with a driver training package. You might receive the hard sell from the provider, but as you're not the one doing the training, you can only go by what the staff say after the course.
With that in mind, BusinessCar signed up to an advanced driver coaching assessment with corporate training specialist IAM Drive and Survive to find out what really happens on the front line of driver training sessions.
My training advisor for the day was Tom Lammin, who has more than two decades' experience of coaching individuals, instructors, examiners, and everyone in between.
The three-and-a-half-hour course kicks off with a briefing and short presentation, which highlights some pitfalls for corporate drivers, many of which are obvious - but only when they've been pointed out to you. Information such as roundabouts, traffic lights and pedestrian crossings being the most common areas - in that order - for rear-end shunts (I could only think of a T-junction when asked), for the simple reason that "they are the areas where we stop with a degree of unexpectedness," says Tom.
The next step is a quick inspection of the car, which involves checking the brake lights and the tread depth of the tyres. I knew how to do the latter with the aid of tread depth gauge, but Tom shows me another method for "when you've lost your tread gauge or if it's buried under a boot full of samples".
This involves using the tyre wear indicator: the letters TWI are displayed on the sidewall and correspond to a bump in the middle of the tyre, which is set at the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm. Run your hand along the rubber and if you can feel the bump beneath the tread, you're okay. If it's level, you're not.
We hit the road and head for the nearest dual-carriageway. Tom frequently pipes up and points things out, such as when you're overtaking a lorry and you can no longer see the driver's face in his rear-view mirror, you're in his blind spot and it's time to speed up; and when the number plate of the car in front is just about going out of focus, that's your ideal distance from it. It seems like common sense, but these are things you wouldn't necessarily consider unless someone highlights them.
The next stint is rural A- and B-roads, which, among other things, involve vanishing or limit points. This is a method of tracking the sharpness of a corner by observing the point in the bend where the road ahead disappears from view and the speed at which that is happening. The advice is to read the road as far ahead as possible.