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Mercedes plans free driver training with every van

Date: 20 May 2015   |   Author:

Mercedes-Benz Vans is considering offering free driver training with every new vehicle from 2016 as it looks to build on its industry-leading safety position.

The brand is planning to build a programme that would also cover elements such as efficient driving and what to do in the event of an emergency as well as safety, based on the driver Certificate of Professional Competence training heavy goods vehicles have to undertake.

"I learnt so much from CPC so I've taken it upon myself to suggest we want to do this for the van industry," Mercedes' UK vans managing director Steve Bridge told BusinessCar. "By the beginning of next year we will be able to talk about an imbedded driver training plan with every vehicle we sell."

"I don't have to; if customers don't take me up on it then it's up to them, but at least I'm on the moral high ground."

He said the issue is that van driving is "occasionally a vocation, but most of the time the van is a tool of the actual job", for the likes of florists, plumbers or any other trade, and Bridge's opinion is that the issue of training isn't taken seriously until after an incident has occurred:

"What we should be doing is before the event. All vehicles are completely safe until you put a driver behind the wheel, then they become erratic."

Mercedes already conducts its own dedicated and accredited CPC driver training programme at Wentworth Park, Barnsley, recently rebranded Mercedes-Benz North, and although Bridge said plans are "still at the scoping stage", it's likely the training will revolve around regional centres.

"We're not doing it from a sales perspective - that's not my aim; the aim is to make the brand perceived as a responsible brand in the industry, and if that means spin-offs in additional volume or customers as a result, then great," said Bridge. "There are 3.3 million vans on the road and it will break six million by 2020 according to the SMMT figures, so someone has to take a stand."