Fleet Driver Training: A New Horizon

We are entering a new horizon for fleet driver training spear-headed by research evidence and an industry that must manage fleet driver risk. Fleet driver training to develop vehicle-handling skills and an ability to negotiate safely through traffic is an “obvious” way of improving fleet driver safety isn’t it? Many training providers use this approach but does it reduce crash risk? Over the last decade, researchers have published several meta-analyses showing that skills-based driver training appears to have little success in reducing risk (Woolley, 2000; Christie, 2001; Roberts et al, 2002; Mayhew and Simpson, 2002). Drivers know how to drive safely, but they do not always do what they know.

There are individual and situational differences in the choices a driver makes at every dynamic traffic event. It is motivation in response to traffic events that determines driver behaviour rather than skill and/or knowledge about the rules and regulations. For example, if a driver is waiting for a gap in the traffic before overtaking at the same time as being late on a job, there are two motives in competition. Firstly, waiting for a safe gap and secondly wanting to avoid any adverse consequences at work. Too often, drivers are motivated by work demands rather than risk avoidance.

With every new horizon, different methodologies and instruments are required for the new landscape. Driver coaching has become synonymous with a behavioural approach to managing driver risk. The method is based on established techniques to develop competencies in self reflection on the behaviours and attitudes that lead to unsafe decisions. Driver coaching aims to build self responsibility with interventions that are tailored to the individual and their work situation. Personalized feedback, group discussions and workshops are reliable methods to influence behaviour.

The Driver Risk Index™ – is designed to identify behavoural driver risk and  develop self reflection, which is the the key to behavioural change. DriverMetrics® also offers training for fleet driver trainers who wish to address behavioural risk through driver coaching.

This article first appeared in Fleet News,  2011.