One of a fleet manager’s key responsibilities is to ensure their employees’ driving and risk management skills are regularly assessed and sharped.
Fleet operations arguably rely on training programmes more than many other areas of business thanks to the frequent legislative changes relating to road transport.
But beyond the legal requirements, there are excellent personnel and business reasons for investing in additional training opportunities for your drivers.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) has long been seen as a key business strategy. A combination of approaches, ideas and techniques, CPD helps develop personal growth within a company while focusing firmly on wider business results.
Why continue to train your drivers?
Providing fleet driver training can help your business in a number of ways including improving road safety performance, reducing insurance premiums and claims, reducing fuel consumption and vehicle wear and tear as well as improving your corporate image. Training can also reduce workplace accidents and maintenance costs.
Investing in an employee’s driver training tells them you’re invested in their future at the company and can have a positive impact on staff morale and motivation, helping to reduce staff turnover and absenteeism and in turn cutting recruitment expenses and time and costs lost through sickness.
Your legal requirements
The introduction of Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) qualification for HGV, LGV and PCV drivers in 2009 has meant that for some fleet drivers, continuous training is a requirement in order to retain a licence.
If you run a fleet that employs staff who need a Driver CPC, they will need a minimum of 35 hours of periodic training every five years. This usually involves just a one-day training course once a year, but it still requires you to think about what training is required (perhaps in tandem with your company’s HR or training department).
What training is right for your team?
There are plenty of companies that offer a range of Driver CPC courses. For example, there are general driver development courses and courses that cover the essential components of driving on today’s roads. Then there are those that offer an understanding of Driver CPC theory and drivers’ hours, or train drivers sharing roads with vulnerable road users such as cyclists.
The syllabus for the subjects covered by Driver CPC can be found here.
Like Driver CPC, there are numerous fleet driver trainers that can run courses from large national providers to local approved driving instructors (ADIs).
Again, the Gov.uk website can help you locate a suitable course in your area.
Leading the way
The final area for fleet managers to look at is upskilling yourselves – which is vital for helping you stay abreast of changes in the industry.
Peter Eldridge of the Institute of Car Fleet Management – which has been running fleet training courses for decades – explained how the information that fleet managers need to have in their possession has changed.
“We don’t need to know how a vehicle works anymore: we need to know how to manage them,” Eldridge told us.
“We did some market research to find out what were the top five topics, so we’re taking them in the order in which people expressed most interest.
“We recently ran the first one on salary sacrifice and the next one is about operational road risk. Then we’re going to keep that series going, because we see that as much more pertinent, more relevant to people’s needs.”
The business incentive to train
Driving training is central to the smooth and efficient running of all fleet operations.
Educating drivers in road safety can have direct business results such as lower insurance claims and premiums. But there are also other financial upsides, including a reduction in fuel costs, thanks to a greater focus on efficient driving skills, and less vehicle wear and tear from smoother driving behaviours.
In the current fast-changing fleet environment, regular training not only ensures that all driving staff keep up-to-date with these changes, but it’s also beneficial for employees’ career progression and advancement. For employers, training maintains high standards, increases staff morale and promotes greater engagement with their drivers.
All of which is a worthwhile return on a relatively inexpensive investment in staff.