Fleet News

Training scheme aims to tame white van man

THE Government is aiming to end the scourge of white van man – by offering to tame his reputation for wild driving through training.

Transport minister Alistair Darling has announced that he is investing £1.3 million in a new voluntary training scheme which will teach wayward drivers the error of their ways.

Better driving techniques, he believes, will result in a £500- per-vehicle saving on fuel, together with a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and fewer accidents on Britain’s roads, which in turn will lead to lower insurance premiums, lower running costs and higher resale values.

Darling unveiled the Safe and Fuel Efficient Drivers (SaFED) scheme at the MIRA proving ground in Warwickshire last week. He said: ‘Many van drivers wouldn’t like being told they need extra training but we are saying there is something in it for them.

An annual saving of £500 per vehicle a year in fuel and over a quarter of a tonne less of carbon dioxide in the air is a good delivery in anyone’s books. What we are saying is that if you drive just a little bit better, you can save a lot of money.’

A similar scheme has already been launched successfully in the HGV industry and now Darling hopes that large fleets and smaller business users will take up his offer of 3,500 free training sessions.

But firstly the Government is recruiting 200 special new instructors across the country who will supervise the training. They will already be approved trainers who will undertake extra tuition to cover light vans.

Once trained, they will be free to charge for their services after the free places have been used up – and it is anticipated that their charges will range from £50 to £100 per driver per day. Courses will be one-day affairs, including training both in the classroom and on the road and should start in June or July. The free sessions will be offered on a first-come-first-served basis to small business users, while larger fleets will be expected to pay.

After announcing the new scheme, Darling was taken round the MIRA track by an instructor in an LDV Maxus van and was given some tips on economical driving.

After emerging from the vehicle, he said: ‘I have just learned a thing or two about gear-changing and use of brakes which will be most useful to help me drive in a more economical manner.’

The fuel saving claims come after tests at MIRA on a Ford Transit, which showed that under harsh driving techniques the vehicle returned 23.12 miles per gallon while with more gentle driving, the same van managed 29 miles per gallon.

  • Next week: does white van man really deserve his negative image?
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