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Driver training goes well with telematics

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Many truck manufacturers have driver training programmes and competitions

Effective training a cost savings driver 

Driving behaviour is a leading industry concern, making it doubly necessary to make sure a company’s driving pool is trained to operate as safely and efficiently as possible.

“By better understanding the impact of driving, fleet managers can design a more effective training programme, with a direct impact on the bottom line,” says Benjamin Bezuidenhout, manager: Strategic Client Development at DriveRisk.

Poor driving costs the South African #trucking industry millions annually Click to Tweet

Eclipsing the business imperatives is the need to minimize accidents and reduce on-road risk. Rising insurance costs can also be mitigated or aggravated by behaviour.

However, improving driving standards are not that straightforward, Bezuidenhout says. “We need to understand the complexities of road conditions; the various vehicle configurations; individual driving styles as well as entrenched driving habits. This is a significant management challenge,” he adds.

He says commercial vehicle drivers usually have a driving “style”, defined by their expertise, experience and habits, and their reaction to common stimuli experienced on the road.

“They should have behavioural categories, too. Positive behaviours promote safety and efficiency. Poor behaviours are fraught with risk and costs. Mixed bag behaviours contain elements of both positive and poor behaviours.

“Drivers need to be monitored, measured and ranked against specific behaviours within identified categories, thereby creating a clear picture of those in need of training, those who need to maintain their current standard, and those who need to exit the role entirely.”

Based on performance, they can be ranked into defined driving style and behavioural bands, enabling fleet managers to fine tune training programmes and address specific areas of up-skilling.

Green (top) ranking guys would demonstrate optimal driving style, low on road risk and low-cost impact.

Red (bottom) ranking ones would indicate serious and persistent behaviour in urgent need of management attention.

Yellow (middle) ranking guys fail at the top and need minor correction on specific skill or behaviours. Management programmes to move them into the green category would be a requirement.

Red (bottom) ranking guys are flagged for immediate and comprehensive training, with those on the very bottom being potential candidates for termination.

“The objective of any training programme should be to improve performance. But moving from a red band to a green band often requires major changes to working practices and even to the culture of businesses,” he points out.

Role of telematics

While transport companies have traditionally used telematics to track the movement of vehicles in corporate fleets, technology enhancements now allow for detailed analytics, with a much more sophisticated view on how vehicles are being driven in the field.

Telematics-driven training can empower businesses to improve their bottom line by modifying behaviours through granular visibility at an individual level.

These systems and technologies are capable of monitoring, measuring and recording behaviour, in real-time, while guys are behind the wheel. Real-time fleet data allows for exception management – highlighting journeys where sub-optimal driving is exhibited – and flagging them for management intervention.

Instant correction, action and feedback are given via in-cab devices, which become an extension of the trainer. This is referred to as a “digital co-drive”, which promotes safe driving, reduces aggressive behaviour, and achieves better fuel economy.

Sharing the information with offenders can help them understand how behaviour impacts profitability while assisting fleet operators in designing training programmes that embed good habits.

Being able to identify, track and measure the impact of behaviours is essential to reap the long term benefit from such an investment.

Also read: Driver training in need of review

A common pitfall of training programmes is a successful rollout, followed by a period of stability as the improvements take hold. The success is celebrated and top performers rewarded – and then all is forgotten.

“Training is often seen as a one-off project, designed to identify fixes for a few bad apples. But after the behavioural issues have been identified, addressed and corrected, it is easy for them to fall back into their old habits,” he explains.

Bezuidenhout believes sustainability is key. “A sustainable programme is managed from the top-down,” he affirms. “C-level support and full-time implementation management are necessary.”

Success factors for a successful telematics-driven programme include:

  • C-level sponsorship
  • Dedicated project management
  • Training resources
  • Communication from management to drivers
  • Driver buy-in (often involving a rewards system)
  • Champion involvement
  • Weekly/monthly reporting

“The most successful implementations are those where the system is well embedded into the day-to-day operations and has good levels of management ownership and driver buy-in.”

He says proper training can lead to a 92% reduction in incidents of speeding, resulting in a commensurate lowering of accident rates and fines, up to an 80% reduction in collision-related costs and as much as a 12% fuel-efficiency improvement.

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