In logistics today, staying static is synonymous with falling behind. For logistics managers overseeing HGV drivers, ongoing training is not just a buzzword but a necessity.
Such training emphasises the importance of practical experience in driver training, bridging the gap between theory and real-world application.
Through a blend of technology, practical training, and risk management debate and discussion, ongoing training helps better educate drivers on hazards and how to overcome them.
For the logistics firm, it helps reduce HGV wear and tear, promote safety and lower insurance premiums.
Why continuous training matters
The bedrock of any successful logistics operation is its fleet of HGVs and, by extension, its drivers. However, acquiring an HGV license is only the first step in a long journey for many professional drivers.
A newly licensed driver might have the skills to pass a test but is not yet an experienced professional. There is a difference between passing a test and having the experience needed to manoeuvre an HGV through the myriad challenges on modern roads.
This situation is often why many logistics firms do not hire inexperienced HGV drivers, who may be more likely to have an accident. When the average insurance claim can be upwards of £10,000 when an HGV strikes a building, we can understand why logistics managers are keen to avoid such risks.
The repercussions of a lack of ongoing training extend beyond accidents. There is also wear and tear on the vehicles, where inexperienced drivers are more likely to cause damage to tyres, clutches, brakes, and more. Costs can quickly escalate if a firm needs to replace a £400 HGV tyre every three months.
Furthermore, drivers lacking ongoing training and professional development are more prone to stress, which can adversely affect their health. Studies have shown that the health of van drivers can deteriorate by up to 30% over a year without proper training. This stress impacts the driver and leads to decreased efficiency and increased downtime, impacting the business.
Plugging the gap
However, while logistics firms and their managers understand the need for ongoing training, many cannot provide it.
They may have to focus resources on training new drivers or getting recently qualified drivers familiar with their vehicles and loads. Resources for ongoing training are tight.
Even where there are resources, with some firms being able to offer ongoing training and others not, the industry, as a whole, suffers from a lack of consistency and standardisation.
While HGV drivers must maintain their Driver Certificate of Professional Competence, there is a lack of professional development in the sector.
Even the DCPC is flawed in this respect – it is attendance-based and might not always translate to skills on the ground.
So, the challenge is clear. How do we ensure that every HGV driver, regardless of their training source, meets a standard that guarantees safety and efficiency
Meeting the training need
Firms must look at several training scenarios and courses to help develop their drivers and provide the requisite experience.
These include post-accident refresher training programmes, which ensure drivers learn from mistakes and are better prepared for future challenges. Competency training for new drivers is extremely important to get them up to speed with different vehicles and scenarios they may experience as professional drivers. And, as the saying goes, prevention is better (and more cost-effective) than cure, so regular, ongoing behind-the-wheel / on-the-road refresher courses should be provided to nip any issues in the bud and ensure good driving habits are maintained.
As important for drivers are courses that embed the latest technology to improve efficiencies or enhance safety. For instance, telematic systems can provide real-time data on driver performance, allowing for immediate feedback and remedial training to be provided to those drivers who are deemed to require it. Alongside this, virtual reality training helps reduce risks by simulating real-world driving scenarios in a controlled environment.
Given the need for many, if not all, logistics firms to meet environmental and carbon reduction targets, eco-driving is becoming ever more significant. Driver should be trained in efficient driving techniques, ensuring minimal consumption and maximum efficiency, even with electric vehicles.
Finally, some firms may need bespoke packages where ongoing training is tailored to specific vehicles or company requirements, ensuring that drivers are trained correctly.
Highlighting the success of such ongoing training, we recently helped one firm reduce accidents. Before our safety training, the firm had experienced 11 accidents over three months. After our safety training, no drivers were involved accidents in subsequent three months.
As the logistics industry evolves, so too must our approach to training.
At HGVC, we pride ourselves on staying ahead of the curve, offering training solutions that address today’s and anticipate tomorrow’s challenges.
For logistics managers looking to ensure safety, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness, the message is clear: ongoing training is not just important; it’s indispensable.