First Published May 2015
There is a real perception at the moment that fleet managers and training managers in companies within any industry are simply not spending the money on training their drivers. In fact, over 59% of companies are failing to provide appropriate training for their drivers. Given the facts and implications of failing to provide a duty of care to employees, that’s a shocking statistic.
A few years ago, the situation was even worse. When Defensive Driver Training started back in 1989, the only way that fleet driver training would be successfully sold was to highlight the cost implications and savings to budgets.
However, it was only really the large American corporations that would spend money on training as part of their health and safety strategy.
This included Kelloggs, Johnson & Johnson, Conoco, Mars, Mircrosoft, Exxon Mobil and other household named companies. They undertook this training to show an appreciation of their drivers and to make them feel valued. However, their British counterparts had no appetite for this type of training. High insurance premiums were tolerated as the cost of running a sales force and expecting them to perform.
Then it all changed. There were two factors forcing change – the Corporate Manslaughter Act and a reduction in insurance premiums following fleet driver training.
General Accident was the pioneer in promoting the carrot of lower insurance premiums through driver training. GA subsidised training at £40 per day per delegate. This was at a time when only about 20% of company car van or lorry drivers were receiving advanced driver training.
As time went on it became obvious that this strategy was working as GA customers saw their claims rates fall closely followed by a dramatic fall in the following year’s insurance premium. In 1992 we were asked to help a company with 1836 drivers and a claims rate of 98%. Just to put that in perspective, 1836 drivers had made 1800 claims in one year. Tragically one particular collision resulted in the death of several people and serious injury to others. The company’s brokers were having problems finding an underwriter to take on the fleet policy.
Over the next 12 years we trained 27000 drivers using a half-day format. The claims rate fell to 40%, and they saved over £500,000 in premiums, year on year, for an annual investment of around £100,000. Better still, because their claims rate was under control and consistent, they were able to self-insure. We accept that in today’s terms a 40% claims rate is still high. But in a high staff turnover environment, getting drivers on a course before they received their company car was a challenge. Many joined the company, got involved in a collision and left before preventative training could be put in place.
The message that we try to get across to any company considering a driver training programme is to have a long term strategy and stick to it. Over the last 30 years we have encountered just about every type of fleet and driver and logistical difficulty. We can advise you on how best to organise your training and how best to invest your budget in the most cost effective way. If you would like to discuss how driver training can help your company please call us on 01384 442233 or complete the contact form here. We look forward to hearing from you.