Training and Technology: Create the Optimum Courier Fleet

If your job entails managing a fleet of courier drivers, the task of running a safe, efficient and sustainable operation is, at times, a very delicate balance. Not only will you be responsible for the day-to-day administrative aspects of the business, but you’ll also be relying heavily on the skills and abilities of your courier drivers out there on the road to keep the clients happy and to keep the bottom line healthy.

A recent white paper released by IAM Roadsmart suggests that the best way of achieving success is with a combination of technology and training – not by focusing resources on one to the detriment of the other.

It Takes Two

In their report (Driver Education – What More Can Be Learned?), the road safety charity says that many companies focus far too heavily on the component of technology, without ensuring their courier drivers receive adequate training.

One of the issues highlighted is that of driver retesting (or lack of) and lifetime licences. A spokesperson for IAM Roadsmart makes the point that driving is a complex skill, which requires optimum concentration and awareness. But the fact is that one is only required to demonstrate an ability to do this for just one hour during their driving test. After that they will never be required to do it again. The report says that this is simply illogical, given the ongoing changes to vehicles, road conditions and driver behaviour.

The Influence of Education

While the use of ‘smart’ technology and the connectivity of modern vehicles makes driving seem much easier, the report says that the most effective way of minimising risk and maximising road safety is by “direct educational feedback from a qualified trainer”.

Appropriate training can also (the report states) have a direct effect on the efficiency of a delivery/transport business’s operations. Driving style is a huge factor in terms of fuel consumption, and just a small change in the way courier drivers use the accelerator or brakes can make a massive difference.

The Cost of Training vs. the Cost of Not

IAM Roadsmart’s report asks the question of why more businesses are directing their resources towards technology but not education. The most often-cited reasons are the cost and ridiculously long sign-off process of such programmes for employees. But with the above points in mind, the report puts forward the argument that this resistance is basically bad business. It says that, in reality, the cost to a company of implementing a ‘comprehensive risk management programme’ (aka driver education) can be as little as £5 per month, per driver.

In a Nutshell

IAM Roadsmart’s white paper makes for extremely valuable reading for anyone who manages a fleet of courier drivers. It should be noted, however, that it certainly does not argue against the use of progressive technology when it comes to maintaining a workforce. It simply points out that a business that focuses resources heavily on technology and doesn’t also invest in education programmes for their employees is missing valuable opportunities in terms of both safety and efficiency.

Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day work for courier drivers in the express freight exchange industry. Numerous transport exchange businesses are networked together on their website, trading jobs and capacity through what is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange in the UK.

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