Fleet News

Fleet Panel: Compulsory advanced driving tests rejected

Should operating a dangerous piece of machinery, often in extreme conditions, for many hours a week require special qualifications? That is the question that often confronts the fleet industry, particularly in regard to drivers doing high mileages on company business.

The argument for further advanced tests states that it concentrates the mind on improving skills, weeds out dangerous drivers and will improve the standard of driving on Britain's roads.

Making sure drivers were officially fit for the long distance role would help protect employers to some extent against Home Office proposals that would create a crime of 'corporate killing', where the employer was responsible for the safety of the employee out on the road. The argument against this is that good employees could be taken off the road for failing to make the grade and the company could lose money as a result.
There is also the fear that drivers would train to pass the test and nothing else. An advanced test would be an obstacle to overcome, not an opportunity to learn or improve in real terms.

##Yes 29--left## ##No 71--right##

'Should company car drivers be obliged to pass an advanced driving test, given the high mileages they cover?'

No. But company-car allocated drivers should (a) on their first day at work after appointment and before setting foot alone behind the wheel of a company car, be tested by approved staff who will certify their competency, or otherwise, to drive a company-provided vehicle and (b) within their first six months of employment be given expert-provided extra driving skills tuition in a classroom and driving environment.
Chris Bates, facilities manager - Lafarge Aggregates

All company car drivers should undergo compulsory driver training, paid for by their companies, which focuses on safety, attitude and courtesy to other road users. They should be made aware of their company's expectations with regard to how they drive and also be given environmental targets. Companies cannot afford to rely upon the experience or attitude of individual drivers. Training should be repeated at reasonable intervals and not seen as a one-off event.
David Mullins, administration manager, Slough Estates plc

No. I believe it is far more important that they receive regular medical checks to ensure their health is not adversely affected by driving high mileages.
Nigel Trotman, Whitbread

Determining where to draw the line between high mileage drivers (who should be tested) and lower mileage drivers (who shouldn't) would be far too arbitrary. The concept that all company car drivers should receive some kind of additional driver training is being applied far too broadly.
Dave Gill, fleet manager, JM Computing

No. I suspect it is not the amount of miles that is the cause of company car accidents, but rather a matter of 'ownership'. Many company car drivers will attempt things in a company car (which is paid for, insured and maintained by someone other than themselves) that they wouldn't do if it was their own car and they had to foot the bills. The trick is to get company car drivers to look after and drive their company cars as if they were their own – any tips?
Alan Miles, administration & data protection manager, RNIB

Yes. While I agree that job-need drivers should be required to take an advanced driving test, I doubt that most companies would see this as a priority and be prepared to pay for the tests and the time lost from work.
Angus Robertson, fleet manager, AXA Sun Life

No. Drivers who have the extra responsibility of travelling extensively while treating their car as an office must realise that driving is a life skill and you are constantly learning. To have an assessment may lead to an incorrect conclusion that they are good drivers and reduce rather than increase concentration levels.
J.R. Details supplied

Yes. The general public and the reports in the main newspapers seem to put the blame for most accidents on company drivers. We need to reverse this opinion and make all drivers take advanced driving tests.
Paul Trup, Argonaut Games

No. My opinion is that drivers who have or are beginning to have a poor claims record, should have some sort of re-training, but this relates to any driver, not just those covering long distances. Our experience on claims is that the majority of bumps we have occur locally.
David Bent, national fleet manager, Fowler Welch

I am not sure that merely passing an advanced driving test is the answer. I believe that an ongoing training programme within the organisation is more beneficial as it can be more tailor made to the individual's requirements - gained from previous training feedback.
Phillippa T Caine, company secretary, CORGI

No. I do not think this is a feasible alternative at the present time. What I would like to see from the Government is a requirement for all business drivers to receive road safety training along with, say, three yearly refresher courses. While not wishing to see tacho-style checks on drivers there does need to be some form of health and safety at work legislation that prohibits drivers travelling in excess of 40,000 miles per year.
Mick Donovan, Group Fleet Manager, Bowmer & Kirkland

Yes, I think all drivers should pass an advanced test. After all, who stops at their 11+? I was introduced to the Institute of Advanced Motorists back in the early 80s and have been a member ever since. Until I was observed driving by them, subsequently taking the advanced test, I didn't realise how many bad habits I had.
Chris Ward, Channel Express

All employers should have an assessment policy in place. The policy should cover existing employees and be used as part of the recruitment process for new employees. We have the opportunity to improve our tarnished public image by introducing driver behaviour standards. It is not just driving - it is the whole issue of vehicle use and care. There is the opportunity for the fleet industry to create its own programme.
Mitch Elliott. Details supplied

No. I wouldn't want an advanced driving test pass to be the criterion that means a driver is better on the road than any other. The whole question of driving needs to have a holistic approach. It isn't just the driver on the road but the safety ethos of the company he works for and the general organisation of workload and support that needs to be addressed.
Tony Leigh, Association of Car Fleet Operators

No. Driving tests should be the same for everyone. It could be argued that the more miles you drive, the more experienced you are and the better able to react to problems. Practice makes perfect.
Richard Warner, company secretary, Seco Tools

No. I do not believe advanced drivers are immune to having or causing accidents. There is no evidence that I am aware of that makes advanced drivers better than drivers who have undergone additional driver training on a regular basis.
D.M. Details supplied

Yes. The way things are going it is only a matter of time before those who drive in furtherance of a company's business (and the company itself) are the subject of increased scrutiny in the event of a serious accident.
The implication is a need for driver awareness, training, and aggressive management of driver behaviour and vehicle condition, by the company. Some form of examination of driver competence in key areas of safety is inevitable.
Len Ward, Spring Skills

A resounding yes. I myself passed my advanced driving test a few years ago and now pass this knowledge on to other associates of the Institute of Advanced Motorists who wish to take their test.
Being an Advanced driver teaches you to develop observation skills so that you can be in the correct position, going at the correct speed, in the correct gear to accelerate and make good progress.
After all, you are sitting in a potentially lethal weapon - you would not be allowed to use equipment at work without full training. There must be thousands of drivers who were last tested sometimes decades ago.
Pat Marks, Hilton

Definitely not. There are a number of flaws in this proposal:

  • At what point to you define 'high' mileage?
  • What about people who commute long distances in private cars?
  • How do you define 'company car drivers'? We have company car drivers whose business mileage ranges from virtually zero up to 40,000 miles per annum.
  • What about the numerous former company car drivers who have elected, in light of the forthcoming tax changes, to run their own vehicles?
  • How can you differentiate in law between a 'company car driver' who would be obliged to take an advanced test, and a 'private' driver who would not?
    The list of arguments against such an idea is endless and I find it hard to believe that it is a serious suggestion. You have touched a raw nerve with this question.
    Jeremy Spring, Pechiney

    No. I would argue that the low mileage drivers should be made to prove their competence. High mileage brings its own pitfalls however, that are not usually related to competence. Fatigue from early starts and the frustrations of trying to get around the clogged-up road system will be key reasons behind speeding, mistakes and accidents, together with things like mobile phones that are not at least on hands-free. Less cars, better and cheaper public transport, etc, etc, would ease the pressure on everyone.
    Martin Dowsett, systems and admin manager, Komori UK

    Such a test and/or extra training should be left to each individual company on a case- by-case basis. If legislation were passed to the effect that company car drivers were forced to take an advanced test, where would the lines be drawn? Would it include all drivers of company vehicles regardless of business mileage and would someone who uses a pool car once a year have to take a test? Then there is the wider issue of people using their own vehicles for company business. What about mechanics taking a vehicle for a road test?
    Paul Featherstone, Churchill Express

    As an IAM member since 1965, my own thoughts are that we should try to encourage all company car drivers to be more aware of their driving skills or lack of them and improve where possible. However, I am not convinced that an obligation to do so is necessarily the right answer, as I feel that the whole basis of the IAM is to encourage those drivers who take pride in their driving, rather than impose an accreditation level that might be seen as dictatorial.
    Peter Eldridge, fleet manager, Motorcare Holdings

    Yes, I think advanced driving would not only be beneficial for the car drivers themselves in terms of their own abilities, but will reap benefits for their employers too, in the form of reduced insurance premiums through reduced accident rates, and lower running costs.
    J.H. Details supplied

    No. Firstly, it would be unfair to newer drivers, as it is necessary to have some experience before being competent enough to pass an advanced test.
    Secondly, if a qualified driver is not competent enough to drive a company car, then what on earth is the standard test for?
    3. The standard test should be upgraded, bearing in mind that most drivers today will drive on a motorway often and yet there is no practical assessment included in the current test.
    4. Whose opinion is it that advanced drivers are any better than others? Is it not possible that complacency could set in?
    Paul Adey. Details supplied

    No. As with any test you are only as good as you are that particular day. There are many competent drivers who are equal to the standard achieved at advanced level. Question: are there any figures to indicate that current company car drivers who have advanced driving skills have fewer accidents?
    G.K.G. Details supplied

    No, but 'driver development' should be compulsory for any company car/van driver who has had a speeding offence or had any kind of accidental damage done to their car.
    S.M. Details supplied

    Yes. An advanced driving test should be viewed as a qualification. Perhaps the onus should be on the individual rather than a company to ensure he/she has reached a high standard when considering a job involving a lot of driving.
    C.D. Details supplied

    No. This is getting silly. We have introduced training days and refreshers which are focused and useful. We try to encourage our drivers to be aware, thoughtful and safe. However, we will not be insisting that they qualify as pursuit drivers for the Sweeney.
    S.S. Details supplied

    The Driving Standards Authority usually only requires drivers to take this test once in a possible 52-year driving lifetime. One has to ask what value has a driving licence? Just think how motoring has changed in the past 52 years.
    A.P.M. Fleet manager, Details supplied

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