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I survived driver training - just

Date: 21 February 2007

Showing some YouTube gory footage or employing a comedian would have injected some life into a recent driver training course, says The Insider

Was there ever a training course more effective at sucking the life out of you than economy training? I got brow-beaten into offering one by a driver-training company (I'll spare their blushes) and drove home that night at 5000rpm out of sheer spite.

Don't get me wrong, I think the principles are sound. I went for it because our publicity people were pestering me for a 'green transport initiative' they could proclaim to the world, and I wanted to cut the fuel bill. Two birds, one well-aimed rock.

By the end of training, it felt like it had been aimed at my head. From the moment the highest-mileage drivers and I went through the 'classroom' door to meet our trainer, I knew this would be uphill to the point of needing crampons. Why do trainers always feel the need to start a session by whipping out a form and taking endless details? I suspect it's all for the benefit of the bill-payer, but trust me, I'd pay a lot more to keep the interest alive. At least there's a chance the guys might be listening.

I'm not saying this bloke didn't know his economy onions. He certainly did. And proceeded to lecture us in excruciating detail using examples from the consumption history of his Citroen Xsara diesel. At one point I had to manufacturer a fleet manager death stare to halt the whispering and fidgeting, but inside I was fuming. All driver training has to tread a fine line between new information and the painfully bleedin obvious, but surely the training companies must have devised a way by now to make the bleedin obvious interesting. Tell a joke, use gory footage, do some role-playing. Do anything but produce forms and give long-winded instructions. You're only going to get away with that if you've got the magnetism of an arresting police officer.

“All driver training has to tread a fine line between new information and the painfully bleedin' obvious, but surely the training companies must have devised a way by now to make the bleedin' obvious interesting.”

The Insider

Everybody else needs an angle. In the States they use comedians to get driver training across to those who've been forced to attend by the courts. I know some fleet safety training companies make a day of it by laying on driving games, but that's always pricey and haring round a rally track in an old Escort isn't going to tell you much about conserving fuel.

If I was more authoritarian I'd install speed and rev limiters. Forget tyre pressures and hanging back at traffic lights - proper HGV-style anti-boy racer equipment is what you need to save fuel. But I'm nicer than that, not to mention sensitive to the possibility of everyone jumping ship en masse in protest. Which probably means I won't be able to force everyone into Kia Picantos either. Damn.

The Insider is a fleet manager with years of invaluable experience.