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Companies waste money by training the wrong drivers

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Companies could be wasting money on training by incorrectly assessing drivers as high risk when it is other drivers on their fleet who could benefit most from additional instruction, according to E-Training World.

Graham Hurdle (pictured), managing director of E-Training World, believes that many firms that automatically identify their at-work drivers as high risk due to points on their licence, a recent accident or even because they haven’t had their eyes tested recently could be miss-directing their resources.

He suggests that this simplistic approach, which then automatically leads to extra training, may seem logical but rarely categorises drivers correctly.

“We often come across companies who undertake risk assessments but find that their drivers have been classed as high risk based on one or two opening questions,” he said.

“By stating that they fall into certain categories, such as points on their licence or not having had their eyes tested in the last year, causes some systems to instantly mark that driver as high risk and, subsequently, put them forward for on-road training.”

The reality, adds Hurdle, is that genuinely high risk drivers are less safe on our roads due to factors such as poor hazard perception skills, a lack of observation, poor knowledge and a bad attitude. 

“Put it this way, would you feel more or less safe in a car driven by someone with three points on their licence but otherwise seems to be driving perfectly okay than someone who you constantly thought wasn’t noticing dangerous hazards and had little idea of what road signs meant?”

Pushing either the wrong drivers into a high risk category, or too many drivers, has numerous negative implications.

“Not only are businesses focusing additional training on the wrong people, they are also overspending on defensive driver training," said Hurdle. " In fact if more than 10 to 15% of fleet drivers are coming out high risk I would challenge why.

“In addition, managers are in danger of disengaging their drivers from the overall duty of care process, because many perfectly good drivers who are being told they are high risk and require training feel aggrieved and then blame the risk process. This develops into negative in-house publicity and can lead to a large majority of drivers not buying into a very important area for any fleet department.”

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  • Andy Neale - 04/03/2014 12:37

    I agree with Graham in many respects but the real issue is "can any computer programme" properly identify high risk drivers? Back in the days before computers many fleets trained all of their drivers and coincidentally saved a fortune by drivers having fewer crashes, reduced insurance premiums, using less fuel, etc. Proactive Driver Risk Management is what is required and not merely a computer programme that may/may not make a company legally compliant in their Duty of Care. All DRM should be seen as a way of saving money and an investment that very quickly justifies the spend and produces a significant return.

  • Julian Crombleholme - 04/03/2014 17:28

    There is much more to managing occupational road risk than sitting at a computer with a cup of coffee and doing 20 minute e-learning modules. I have been in post-test driving driver education for over 20 years; one of the biggest problems is that organisations are going down the road of e-learning as it is a cheap option to manage their occupational road risk; it is very easy to identify hazards, even if the e-learning module is one of the latest versions that has 360° view (behind and to the sides), the problem is that e-learning does not address the problem of the attitude of the driver and how that driver is going to approach and deal with hazards. The reality, Mr Hurdle, is that e-learning modules do not address the problem of how people drive on the road, poor hazard perception skills, a lack of observation, poor knowledge and a bad attitude. We're all human: we daydream, get side-tracked, run late and make mistakes. But when we’re at the wheel, we all need to tune in to road safety and give it our full attention. A good organisation that manages occupational road risk will help organisations to develop a road risk policy and identify those that are at risk such as young/inexperienced drivers, high mileage drivers, those with a history of incidents/collisions. The use of modern technology, data obtained through telematics can be used to target drivers that are more at risk. With a good proactive driver management policy that checks on regular basis driving licences, eyesight, and does on-road driver risk assessments and fuel efficient driver training should see the benefits of lower incidents/collisions and lower fleet costs.

  • Robert Lindsay - 18/03/2014 11:24

    Road sign knowledge and standard computer-based hazard perception tests are not valid measures of driver risk. Drivers often know what to do, but don't always do what they know! There are so many other variables at play in real life environments, not least the many added pressures associated with work-related driving. Furthermore, if a driver training company can guarantee that no more than 10-15% of drivers will be high risk, I would question how they are measuring risk. No two groups of drivers are the same. I would argue that the bigger danger in making these assumptions about risk percentages would be the potential emergence of a type II error, i.e. a company would incorrectly identify drivers as low risk when they are actually high risk. My suggestion would be to use a risk assessment tool that actually works and is proven as an accurate indicator of driver risk, preferably with some academic and scientific underpinning so that you can be confident in the outputs. Unfortunately a company that is using a poor risk assessment tool or that is perhaps not fully committed to tackling the risks identified using a good one, will struggle to yield the maximum ROI that is clearly available from a strong driver risk management programme, whether that be through H&S, environmental, financial or employee engagement benefits.

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