Fleet Driver Training - A Brief History

Way back when (some time in the early 1980's) it became apparent, not least to the new breed of fleet managers, that, with the sudden upsurge of 'the Rep' and the arrival of the company car driver, people who were either being asked to drive for their work or who had 'perk' cars as part of their remuneration package were disproportionately featured in road accident stats.

No-one really knew the extent of the problem (indeed the figures were only compiled for the first time in the very early part of this century) but that there was a problem was in little doubt - both to insurers of vehicle fleets and, indeed, to employers.

Fleet driver training was therefore largely borne out of a need to reduce fleet running costs, together with a tacit understanding that the traditional lynchpins of driver training and testing, operated as they were by Government departments and agencies, were failing to prepare drivers for a rapidly increasing driver population, increased congestion and the arrival on the scene of a large number of fast but affordable new breed of hot-hatch, 'must have' cars.

Among the more enlightened employers to embark on fleet driver training programmes with a number of nascent companies, mainly those attached to road safety charities, were organisations who already had a well-defined 'safety culture'. These in turn tended to be those with links to the petro-chemical, pharmaceutical and burgeoning IT industries - all of whom recognised that road accidents were costing them lives, employees, huge insurance claims (and rising premiums), wrecked residual values of their shiny new fleets of go faster cars and potentially quite a lot in image and credibility among their client bases and the general consumer population.

Pretty much all the earlier fleet driver training providers focussed on using currently serving or retired police officers to deliver practical, in-vehicle driver training based on the police drivers' manual Roadcraft.

Whilst this undoubtedly derived successful outcomes and a subsequent reduction in both accident frequency and severity for some of those individuals who had received training, the means by which they were selected for it was often viewed as a 'stick rather than carrot' approach and the sometimes didactic instructional styles of some of the trainers tended to give fleet driver training a less than helpful image.

Since those days of the 80's, however, both the providers of fleet driver training and the market in which they operate have become much more sophisticated and most (though not all) now provide and expect a more 'holistic' approach to risk management.

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