Graham Hurdle blog: 3rd October: are driving instructors to blame for ill-prepared young company car drivers?
03 October 2014
Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World
Providing new, young drivers with a company car can be a risky business.
Many have never driven the number of miles expected of them, never driven whilst under work pressure, never worked the hours that young execs work, never driven on roads outside their local area and are often in a car more powerful than they've ever driven before.
But considering they've only recently been trained to pass their test, are we entitled to blame our learner driving instructors for delivering ill-equipped young company car drivers, or does the problem lie elsewhere?
The reality is that most learner drivers only care about 2 things; the cost per lesson and how quickly they can take their test. That can result in a conflict of interest between an instructor who needs time to nurture someone into a safe and competent driver, and the young person simply wishing to be taught how to get rid of their L Plates.
Given the right time and correct investment, most instructors would tell you that they could equip young drivers far better. However price competition in the learner market is so ferocious that instructors need more and more throughput of drivers to make ends meet and this breeds a culture of 'Quick Pass' and 'Low Cost' rather than 'safe driver for life'.
Even in my days of being an instructor, back in the early 90's, if I attempted to teach things beyond the standard 'curriculum' the reaction I got was that drivers didn't want to waste lesson time on things they weren't going to be tested on. That effectively meant that some very important life skills for safe driving, in my view, were skipped.
So perhaps companies need to accept that the graduates, or young drivers, that they employ need driver training as a standard part of their induction.
Perhaps we also need to accept that, through no fault of their own, driving instructors are simply there to get young people through their test and it is an employer's duty to understand that all new drivers are not ready for a company vehicle without additional, and more thorough training.
So next time one of your young drivers has an accident, don't bemoan the driving instructors, don't curse and say 'But you only passed your test a few years ago!' and don't look to anyone else to point the finger at.
As their new employer, you've probably sent them on software and systems courses, sales training courses, the company induction programme, a whole host other training courses and in doing so you've recognized that you need to take their skill levels to a position where they become productive and profitable resources for your company.
So if you recognise the importance of training, why didn't you train them to drive their company car?