The plan, involving in-vehicle and classroom teaching from qualified instructors, has seen the number of incidents in the 422-strong fleet of vans and light trucks drop by 42%, to an average of six per one million kilometres driven, less than half the industry average, the firm claims.
Malcolm Polhill, general manager of strategy and technical support, said: 'The Driver Development Plan has already proved itself to be very successful and it has been well received by our drivers.
'We are very pleased with the improvement in our accident rate, especially as we've had a 45% increase in fleet size and a 62% increase in the distance our vehicles travel each year.
'Our aim is to further reduce the number of accidents our drivers are involved in by 20% over the next five years.'
Polhill added that the reduction in the fuel bill, as well as reduced costs for wear and tear on the fleet had offset some of the training costs.
The training, which the firm instigated in 1997, covers a number of topics: road safety, personal safety, vehicle safety, advanced driving techniques, legal aspects of vehicle operation, and new vehicle technology. There is also mentoring for new drivers.
DFDS Logistics has also set up an advice line, giving 24-hour technical support, runs safety campaigns at its nine depots and annual bonuses are scaled according to each driver's accident rates.
Polhill continued: 'Professional driver development and training is a very important part of our business – not just at the recruitment stage, but on an ongoing business. We developed this scheme to improve the safety of our employees, but it has had other knock on benefits – not least it allows us to offer a more professional and reliable service.'