The ongoing shortage of good truck drivers means the trucking industry needs to start rethinking driver training straight away. The position taken by DECA, a long term member of the driver training community, sees it no longer offering the basic driver training to get the first licence. Instead the organisation has gone down a different track, creating the Pro-Driver program. This has been designed to address the skills gap it sees between the skill levels of drivers available and what operators would like to see in their drivers.
“Heavy vehicle fleet operators know there is a huge difference between someone who holds a bear licence and someone who is a professional driver,” said Brendan Tenison-Taylor, a Director at DECA. “Professional drivers know how to get the most out of their vehicle. They know how to reduce costs and they also know how to drive safely, how to approach corners at the right speed. How to drive to under all conditions.
“As an industry we’ve got a responsibility to provide opportunities for drivers to bring themselves up to the highest possible professional standards. This what DECA Pro-Driver achieves. Professional drivers are those who drive in the most efficient and safe manner possible. Professionalism not only provides significant cost benefit for the transport industry, through a reduction in fuel, accident and maintenance costs, but it also creates a culture of responsibility and pride a cross a fleet.”
The Pro-Driver courses have begun to run this year and have proven themselves to be effective. Simply when looking at fuel consumption the average improvement from the start to the finish of the course has been 13 per cent. The course is aimed, initially, at existing drivers, upping the professionalism of the existing workforce and cutting costs. However, if insurance companies come on board and offer reduced age requirements or premiums, then the course would offer the new starter an option.
The training mix is about 50/50 on the course. They are two day courses for drivers and five days for fleet driver trainers. At the beginning the drivers do a road test and at the end of the course they all take a challenging driving test to see if they pass or fail and to quantify their improvement.
It’s recommended each driver returns every two years to top up their skills to help retain the improvements. As a way of keeping the standards up between courses DECA is offering a service in which quarterly telematics reports can be analysed. The amount of data produced by telematics systems is so great many operators have little time to use it, DECA asks for a snapshot where it can pick up trends in behaviour and suggest improvements.