Fleet Driver Training: Improve Safety and Reduce Risk
Proactive fleet driver training strategies can result in significant benefits for your company, including lower operating costs, an improved company reputation and reductions in vehicle damage and injuries.
Representing your company and acting as the face of customer service, employees are your most important assets. In particular, those who drive – whether company or personal vehicles – as part of their day-to-day role, play a key role in how your Company is perceived by external parties, which can make or break your success.
On the flip side, drivers also present the greatest potential for risk…
Unsafe driving makes up the majority of road traffic accidents – which are costly in terms of vehicle and equipment repairs, insurance, fines, property damage and, most importantly, the health and well-being of motorists and pedestrians alike.
For this reason, designing, implementing and managing an effective fleet driver training program is crucial …but can be achieved in three simple steps:
Identify driver training needs
Choose an effective training approach
Put your plan into motion
Importantly, your plan should present the initiative to drivers as a positive and beneficial part of their job.
To help you understand the steps that need to be taken to compile an effective fleet driver training strategy, we have compiled a short guide.
Step 1: Identify Driver Training Needs
First things first, before you start to build an effective driver training program, you need to understand the current risks associated with your drivers, vehicles and daily operations …and historical data relating to incidents, telematics systems and collision reports should form the basis of any risk assessment.
Using such analysis tools will allow you to make the best training choices.
Accident statistics are important in this process, but be sure not to overlook other important sources of data – without it you will not be able to paint a complete picture of your Company’s driver training needs.
Developing a full profile of driver behavior and individual skill is a more effective and proactive approach. For example, information on speeding and harsh braking can help to determine what type of decision and performance errors are the leading causes of accidents in your fleet.
Once you have identified existing problems and established performance benchmarks, it will be much easier to zero in on specific issues and the training required to effectively address them.
Fleet or Driver Management Software is a great place to store all your driver information because if you need to generate reports to help identify training needs – the data is accessible from one central location.
Information such as accidents, licence details, age, sex, location, daily mileage and more can be used to help generate risk profiles and highlight potential training requirements. Meanwhile driver training course information such as dates, duration and level can be attached to the driver record to monitor the initiatives success rate.
Step 2: Choose an Effective Training Approach
Now that you have a comprehensive analysis of training needs, you can turn your attention to finding the most effective methods to help drivers develop the skills and knowledge they need to operate as safely as possible.
At this stage of the process, it’s crucial to take cost into consideration.
There are a variety of training solutions you can employ to achieve the desired results, and each comes with a number of benefits and disadvantages that you should consider:
Group Sessions and Training Workshops
This is a cost-effective method that allows you to train a large number of people at one time. They can be used to target and resolve common issues, however, do not allow for individual driver focused learning and can be limited in scope.
Online and E-learning Solutions
Also a relatively inexpensive option, this training method is highly convenient in terms of scheduling sessions that are relevant to each employee’s specific job responsibilities.
Often modular, these types of lessons can be completed over a period of time and used to target specific needs, such as remedial training after an incident or to meet regulatory requirements.
Online training, however, can be less engaging than a face-to-face session, which in turn impacts the rate of learning.
On-road Fleet Driver Training
This method adds significant value when specialized vehicles and equipment is being operated. In such cases, on-road driver training is incredibly effective as the trainer or instructor is able work directly with each driver – on a one-on-one basis – to practice safe operating procedures.
The disadvantage of this type of training is that is can be time-consuming and expensive.
An incredibly effective training method and highly valuable for post incident review needs, driver coaching uses telematics and other data to reflect on the cause of an event, which leads to a better understanding of what went wrong, and the skills needed to improve decision making.
The downside of driver coaching – like on-road training – is its higher cost and time requirements.
Regardless of the types of training employed by your company, each one should be routinely reviewed and updated based on an assessment of their effectiveness, and as the roles and responsibilities of your company drivers change based on business activity and needs.
Step 3: Put your Plan into Motion
Implementing a training program is possibly the most crucial aspect to consider.
A detailed strategy and plan for rolling out training schedules lets everyone involved know what to expect and when it will happen …and a clear set of deadlines, expectations and a system for managing training completion will eliminate many issues and unanswered questions.
Effective training completion begins with engagement by all parties, including the support of senior management. Showing such involvement – including ‘lead by example’ practices and taking part in training processes – is a vital component of any successful training program.
Drivers also need to know WHY they are required to undergo training to gain an understanding of HOW it can benefit your company and them personally. For this reason, a full communication strategy for drivers is essential to the success of your training program.
Explaining how training fits in with your safety culture and its benefits will also generate involvement.
Bringing it all Together
There are clearly significant benefits to driver training. Better trained, more confident drivers help reduce vehicle; repair; legal; insurance; administrative and other costs associated with accidents.
Along with helping the bottom line by reducing costs, better-trained and safer drivers enhance and promote a company’s reputation and image, and in many cases can promote sales growth.
By employing an effective fleet driver training strategy, you will not only improve the performance of your Company, but also achieve the ultimate goal of reducing accidents, injuries and saving lives by improving the safety of your drivers and others on the road.