Fleet News

EST launches driver training programme

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) has launched a national nine-month-long roadshow programme to encourage drivers to take up its Smarter Driving training.

It is estimated by EST that drivers who complete the course could save as much as 20p per litre on fuel.

Around 9,000 employees across England – working for organisations which operate company fleets of more than 20 vehicles – will be trained by EST over the next nine months.

The Smarter Driving Programme trains employees in techniques to help them drive more efficiently and is subsidised by the Department for Transport.

It takes 50 minutes per person and the training starts and finishes at the workplace so disruption to the working day is minimised.

Bob Saynor, Smarter Driving programme manager for the Energy Saving Trust, said: “We know that rising fuel bills can really affect a company’s balance sheet.

“It’s why some of the big players like Boots and Vauxhall have already put their staff through our courses to cut down costs and improve green credentials. Our national roadshow will help us reach other companies across the UK.

“Smarter driving is all about reducing fuel consumption. Our trainers work on techniques such as changing up at low revs and helping drivers anticipate the road further ahead.

“Learning a few simple techniques not only makes an economical difference to drivers but also makes them safer as they have better road sense.

“The feedback we have had from employees who have completed the courses has been very positive.”

Julie Fitzell, head of environmental standards, at Qdell & LHR Express Cars Ltd was one of the first to take the training.

She said initially it was hard to get staff interested at the Middlesex-based courier and private hire business: “Their attitude was ‘I’ve been driving for 30 or 40 years and you can’t tell me any different’. My argument was that if I can tell you a way that’s going to save you fuel every week, and it’s only going to take 30 minutes of your time, why not try it?

“After persuading one driver to do the course, the feedback was good and from then on take-up has been impressive – now they’re fighting over places.”

The average rise in fuel economy for Qdell & LHR Express Cars Ltd was significant, shifting from 40.5mpg at the start of training to 48.9mpg by the end.

Fitzell continued: “Several drivers have chosen to repeat the training, and the training is now open to all employees, not just drivers, as a staff benefit.”

The England-wide roadshow will kick off at Northumberland County Council in July.

Smarter Driving courses can be organised through a new online scheduling system which allows businesses to book their own sessions and reminds them of their appointment.

Up to eight smarter driving sessions can take place at one workplace in one day. EST provides the vehicles and insurance. Each lesson costs just £25 per driver.

For more details on Smarter Driving email smarterdriving@est.org.uk or visit www.est.org.uk/smarterdriving.

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