David Abbott, general manager of RAC Risk Management, who is responsible for delivering training services to several large firms, said Roadcraft-based courses, often delivered by ex-police officers and launched in the late 1980s, were purchased initially on moral grounds by companies with health and safety as core values.
New techniques encourage fleet drivers to understand the benefits – mainly safety to themselves and cost savings to their employers instead of simply forcing training on staff.
Abbott said: ‘People are less likely to change jobs if they feel they are being invested in. Training can reduce accidents by 50% and fuel use by 8%. Drivers using the most fuel are most likely to have an accident – they need training to improve fuel economy and improve safety.’
He urged companies to identify high-risk staff through individual assessments and to conduct a fleet audit that reveals the depth of the problem, as well as examining accident statistics that may reveal high-risk areas.
Abbott was concerned that too many employers told drivers never to admit an accident was their fault, and yet did not investigate causes properly.
Fleet matters should be discussed at board level more often, and senior executives needed to avoid making cost-saving the prime consideration.
He said: ‘Companies often do not understand the wholelife cost of their fleet operation and of accidents. Insurance premiums, excess payments and own-damage repairs are often hidden in the maintenance budget.
‘Sometimes departments don’t communicate but managing a fleet should be a joined-up management operation. Fleet is probably the second highest cost to a company after staff, yet accidents may be accepted as inevitable.’
Abbott wanted a new attitude to driver training in some companies.