Mike Rees, managing director, Drive Alive UK, looks at road training.
A worrying trend has developed in the way that fleets are approaching driver risk management.
Fleet managers, dazzled by technology, have been blinded to good old-fashioned common sense and
this is preventing them from maximising reductions in accidents and associated costs.
This can be blamed on an increasing inclination to choose just one approach to risk management, monitoring driver behaviour through telematics, when other approaches can work better and a combination of approaches works best.
The presence of a telematics device in a vehicle can brow-beat drivers into compliance with speed limits, bringing some improvements in fuel consumption and some reductions in accident rates (despite the presence, with many telematics systems, of a dashboard-mounted box with a row of flashing lights that can distract the driver).
But it’s all too easy to be dazzled by the disco lights and trend-setting technologies and forget one simple truth: there’s little point in monitoring a driver’s behaviour if they haven’t been taught how to drive safely in the first place!
Instruction in defensive driving is not the rocket science that some telematics producers might tell you they’ve invented, but it really works. High-quality instruction in the police system of driving will result in much higher levels of on-the-road concentration, observation and anticipation.
This modifies driving behaviour in a way that’s much more sophisticated and wide-ranging than anything achieved by bullying black boxes. This means defensive driving instruction results in even greater savings in fuel consumption, greater reductions in vehicle wear-and-tear costs, and greater reductions in insurance and accident costs.
The most effective way to make a driver safer is through real-world on-the-road training with an expert instructor.
Training reduces the numbers of driving ‘incidents’ flagged-up by a telematics system, and if problem drivers are identified through telematics, the effective way of fixing the problem is not through questioning or criticism from a manager, but through on-the-road training intervention.