Graham Hurdle's blog: 22 June 2011 - Does driver training work?
22 June 2011
Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World
I have been involved in driver training for over 20 years and throughout my career the same question arises at regular intervals: Does driver training actually work?
Speak to any trainer and the answer unsurprisingly is yes, but some researchers will say no.
But before I give my answer to this question, let's look at 'training'.
Driver training has evolved since I got involved in the industry back in the late 1980's. When I started the few companies that provided fleet driver training used mainly ex police class one drivers, many of whom weren't even Approved Driving Instructors.
The training focused on skills training and every course seemed to involve the majority of the time driving at speed on 'A' roads with limited periods in towns, next to no time on a motorway and the only reversing was into a car parking space at lunch time and the end of the day back at the office.
Training remained the same during the 1990's with very little difference between the training received from one training company and another. Often the same trainer would work for many different training companies and this is still the case today.
So how has training evolved over the last 20 years? During this century companies have woken up to the fact that the 'sheep dip' type of training has little value and targeted training is the solution. With the advances in technology and the need to tailor courses to the individual driver, the online driver profiling system was born.
Today we have training companies providing driver profiling and driver training; the problem is the training company is seen as both judge and jury. This undoubtedly raises suspicions in some people as to the accuracy of the results. It would be appropriate for me to mention not all driver profiling systems are operated by on-road training companies, my company for example.
Apart from online profiling, of which there are a few different systems, training companies have a range of different courses. For example; attitude training, eco driving, speed awareness, high performance, advanced and workshops covering everything from the system to hazard awareness to name just a few.
But which works best? Or should I go back to my original question and ask if driver training actually works at all?
Everyone has their opinion, and sometimes their opinion changes when they change employment. If you are employed by an on-road training company you will have a different opinion to someone working for a university. The truth is there is no right or wrong.
Forget all the so called evidence and research, just look at history. When I came into the driver risk management industry back in 1989 the UK saw 5373 deaths as a result of a Road traffic accident. The latest stats show 2222 people killed . A reduction of 3151 killed is not just the result of better designed vehicles and advances in medical care, at least some of the lives saved have been due to improved driver training.
So, the answer is YES! - Driver training does work. But one off training will only work for a limited period.
In my opinion if you want long term benefits from your training, don't blow your budget in one go and then forget it for a year or two. It is far better to have regular short bursts of training, which could be simply spending 10 minutes discussing vehicle damage with your drivers or 10 minutes doing an e-learning module.
So whatever way works for you, go ahead and do it. All I ask is that you don't do it once every so often. It needs to be frequent to be effective.
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