Driver training is one of the most effective ways to reduce fleet risk and improve efficiencies, yet it often gets overlooked or is considered an unnecessary expense. This can be a costly mistake…
It’s a common misconception that fleet driver training is simply a course where drivers learn to drive specific vehicles and how to operate them on public roads. Modern fleet driving courses cover a lot more ground, with topics ranging from cross-border procedures to hijacking prevention methods.
No matter what size or type of fleet you operate, ensuring drivers receive the relevant training will improve your fleet productivity, which, in turn, has a positive effect on the company as a whole.
Many businesses only focus on how they can reduce fleet costs through fuel management and vehicle tracking. While these are valid, many forget it’s often the drivers who make the difference between efficient fuel usage and excessive fleet costs.
Driver training programmes are a vital part of reducing fleet costs. Even experienced drivers may have received poor training in the past and, therefore, picked up bad driving habits.
We had the opportunity to speak with Eugene Herbert, the CEO of MasterDrive, to gain insights on how prioritizing regular attendance to comprehensive driver training courses can significantly contribute to maintaining the smooth operation of your fleet.
Reduce fuel cost
Every fleet manager's goal is to keep fleet fuel costs to a minimum. Well-trained drivers know that excessive idling and speeding will push up the vehicle’s fuel consumption. With the right training, drivers learn where the ‘green zone’ is on their vehicles and will attempt to drive within this zone as much as possible.
Remember that being a fleet driver is not just about driving in a straight line!. A good driving course will teach drivers how to tackle steep inclines and twisty roads in a safe and efficient manner. This type of driving can only be taught in practice - it’s not something you can just talk through. .
Companies that ensure their drivers get the right training often see a dramatic reduction in fuel spend within a few months.
Effective driver training will reduce your company’s risk of damage to vehicles and goods, as well as the risk of injuries or fatalities on the road. Reducing your overall fleet risk has multiple benefits:
- Lower insurance costs
- Lower fines cost
- Fewer incidents that result in delays or loss of goods
When you consider the monthly or annual costs associated with the above points it's easy to see why so many professional fleet companies insist on regular driver training.
Hijacking prevention courses are also highly recommended as it teaches drivers how to reduce their risk of being hijacked. This improves the safety of your drivers and fleet vehicles.
Reduced repair costs
Well-trained drivers will save you a fortune in repair costs. This applies to anything from small dents to engine failures.
Many fleet drivers have to navigate traffic, tricky parking or delivery areas, and poor road conditions on a daily basis. It takes skill and regular training to ensure even minor vehicle damage is kept to a minimum, especially if your fleet consists of larger vehicles.
Training is also essential for different weather conditions. Safely transporting cargo during the rainy season is not easy on South African roads. Keep in mind that training drivers received before joining your company might not be up to your company standards and it’s best to ensure you provide the right training for your fleet requirements.
Vehicle repairs are a big fleet expense that can be reduced dramatically by making sure your drivers are trained to handle all local road conditions.
Reduced maintenance costs
Maintenance costs can quickly drain your fleet budgets if vehicles are not properly cared for. While scheduled service and maintenance costs are unavoidable, everything else can be reduced with proper driver training.
Items that wear and tear, such as tyres and brakes, last much longer if drivers know how to take care of them. Drivers who have been trained to accelerate and brake smoothly, to be aware of traffic patterns, and keep safe distances will take much better care of the brakes and tyres.
This applies to many other aspects of the vehicle from interior materials to the battery.
Unplanned vehicle downtime is a fleet manager’s nightmare, especially if it’s avoidable. Excessive downtime is not only costly in terms of replacement vehicles or lost revenue, but also in your brand reputation.
When vehicles have to be removed from the fleet for repairs or replacement it often means a delay in services or goods delivery. This can quickly affect customer relationships and result in the business losing key clients.
Many of the above points can lead to unplanned vehicle downtime and, as mentioned, many of these can be mitigated with decent driver training. When you look at it from a complete business angle it becomes clear that driver training can have a business impact that reaches far wider than just the fleet department.
Reduced staff turnaround
Well-trained drivers are in high demand which creates the misconception that you are ‘training drivers for their next job.’ This is a myth.
Drivers who receive good training and competitive remuneration will, like any other employee, stay if they are happy. By combining training with a driver incentive programme you can create an exceptional, reliable and efficient fleet that perfectly suits your business.
When you consider all the benefits of driver training, such as reducing risk and overall fleet cost, it really must be considered an investment in the business, not only individuals.
Whether you’re a Fleet Industry veteran or just getting to know the ropes, take a look at our resources page for information that will help you optimise your fleet operations.