Call for improved driver training as serious injury and deaths on UK roads rises

Operators could be doing more to reduce the risk of injury to their drivers and other road uses posed by driver inexperience, or error, something widely acknowledged as the principal cause of road traffic accidents, says Richard Brown, Managing Director of Licence Check.

His comments follow figures from the Department of Transport, showing a significant increase in the number of people killed, or seriously injured in road traffic accidents between the years ending June 2015 and 2016.

A total of 24,620 people were killed, or seriously injured (KSI casualties) in the year ending June 2016, up by 3% from the previous year. Traffic levels rose by 1.5% compared with the year ending June 2015.

Operators could be doing more to reduce risk,  says Richard Brown, Managing Director of Licence Check

Says Mr Brown: “It is disturbing to see that road safety has worsened over the last 12 months. There are multiple factors driving this, such as the distance people travel; the mix of transport modes used; the behaviour of drivers, riders and pedestrians; and the mix of groups of people using the roads.  

“DfT figures show that driver error is responsible for 68% of incidents, with failing to look properly, driver distraction and injudicious driving (such as travelling too fast for the weather, or road conditions) being far and away the main culprits.”

Driver behaviour

Licence Check, is a provider of driver and vehicle management solutions, and Mr Brown adds: “All the evidence supports the conclusion that the main cause of road traffic accidents is driver behaviour.  

“If this is correct, it follows that the most effective way to reduce the accident rate (and the associated costs to the employer) is to address the root cause of the problem through the better education and training of drivers.  

“However, driver training is such a generic term and in the minds of fleet managers and those responsible for health and safety.  They often see this as teaching their employees how to drive properly and remain safe. Albeit, this is true in part, the most vital part is to change behaviour, not to teach the rules of the road.

“Employers need to identify those drivers that pose a higher risk on the roads and put in place training to address unwanted behaviours.

“The challenge here is that driver behaviour, response and attitude will vary according to age, sex, experience, vehicle, the time of day, the driver’s emotional state, external stimuli and a host of other variables.  

“The same driver may react differently to similar situations, depending on the prevailing circumstances.  So a ‘one size fits all’ approach to training is unlikely to be effective.

“The difficult question is how do you change behaviour? This is individual to each person and a one solution fits all overtime simply does not work.

Individual profile

“A more effective method of directly addressing unwanted driver behaviour is to focus on the individual driver’s attitude and aptitude, with a view to building an individual profile that identifies areas of particular risk.  

“Having identified potential areas of weakness, it then becomes possible to determine the type and level of intervention, or training that is needed to begin to address these.

“Tailored individual solutions, supported by various interventions to change long term behaviour, is the only way forward. This is the purpose of davis’ assessment and training modular service.

“There is ample evidence to suggest that any expenses associated with running such a programme, are far outweighed by savings from accident reduction.

“The hidden costs of any accident in terms of operational inconvenience and the administrative overheads tend to be ignored, but they generally far exceed the direct costs.   Over time and with consistent commitment by management and drivers, this sort of intervention really works.”

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