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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Barlows UK delivers better driving
Article Type: Notes and news From: Industrial and Commercial Training, Volume 43, Issue 5
An electrical, fire, security and plumbing installation and maintenance company has set its engineers on the road to safer driving and cut its fuel bills through a dedicated training scheme.
Barlows UK introduced a City and Guilds driving goods vehicle course while it was working through a quality standard scheme that required it to respond to customer complaints. Analysis showed that almost the only complaints it received were about poor driving. Further investigation found that 90 per cent of the complaints involved drivers who were aged under 30.
Senior management decided to take action not only because of the company’s duty of care to staff and others, but also because of the costs of insurance and potential damage to its reputation.
A training scheme designed to achieve the City and Guilds driving-goods-vehicle certificate was developed for the company’s 118 drivers, male and female, aged under 30. By increasing awareness of the benefits of reducing speed and the problems of inappropriate driving, the company aimed to reduce speeds by 10 per cent across the workforce, monitored through a company fleet log management vehicle tracker system, and to cut customer complaints to one per quarter.
Ahead of the scheme launch, three members of Barlows UK staff were trained as advanced drivers by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) and went on to complete a Rospa driver-assessor course. These staff, supervised by a team from Shropshire Business Centre, provided on-the-job training for staff, who were monitored through three separate driver assessments, held at different stages of the course.
Drivers learned about highway regulations on goods vehicles and about better driving techniques through talks, videos on road-craft, role play on emergency procedures and coaching at the three driving assessments.
Since all of the trainees completed the course, at a cost to the company of £120 each, a marked improvement has been seen in their driving. The vehicle-tracker system showed that speeds were down by about 15 per cent, with knock-on fuel savings, while incidents of harsh braking fell by 10 per cent. In addition, customer complaints have fallen towards the target of one complaint a quarter.
In his report, Brian Bullock, the City and Guilds external advisor on the scheme, said: “I was impressed by the centre’s approach to obtaining best-practice standards in the delivery of this award”.
One trainee said his knowledge of the Highway Code had increased “enormously” and that he drives more slowly and more carefully since completing the course.
David Prince, Director of Barlows UK, said: “The driving-goods-vehicle course tackles the problems of health and safety when driving and challenges one of the organisation’s main environmental problems, rising vehicle fuel costs.
“The program, which won a regional prize in the latest National Training Awards, has significantly reduced drivers’ speeds. Drivers themselves are more aware of the problems caused by speeding, driving too fast for the conditions and driving too close to other vehicles and it is the company’s intention that the new behaviour becomes part of the culture”.