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Don’t just train drivers, train them effectively, PIT panel advises

TORONTO, Ont. — Training drivers on efficient driving techniques but neglecting to provide ongoing feedback, usually results in them reverting back to their previous bad habits within two months.

That was the finding of a study conducted by Performance Innovation Transport (PIT), the results of which were shared at its second annual conference this week. Benoit Vincent, researcher with the PIT Group, said 75 drivers from two fleets (one of them a school bus fleet) were studied between October 2013 and March 2014. The trucking company was an LTL provider and the routes were mostly urban.

Drivers were divided into three groups: a control group, a group that was provided training with ongoing follow-up reviews and another group that received the same training but with no follow-up. Vehicle performance data was tracked for seven to eight weeks before training was conducted and then another 13-14 weeks afterwards.

Drivers who received ongoing reviews after their training showed an 8-15% improvement compared to those who did not. Those who received no follow-up reverted back to their original driving behaviour within two months, Vincent explained.

Some of the benefits seen among the group of drivers who received training and subsequent reviews included:

  • 30-45% improvement in shifting at the correct rpm
  • 59-89% reduction in harsh accelerations
  • 39-100% improvement in anticipation
  • 12-20% reduction in brake applications
  • 49-61% reduction in harsh braking

Some drivers, who before the training were on the gas pedal 400 or more times per 100 kilometres driven, dropped that to 25-27 times.

Angela Splinter, CEO of Trucking HR Canada, shared some tips on how fleets can improve efficiencies through better driver training.

“What can you do? Commit to developing and fostering a training culture, develop a plan of action. Lots of fleets do that,” Splinter said. “We’ve seen it through our Top Fleet Employers program. There are a lot of fleets that do invest in training and it’s working for them. These organizations have made a formal commitment to developing and fostering a training culture.”

She then shared six steps on how to implement an effective training program.

  1. Understand the context and objectives of what your training program needs to be. “It won’t be the same as somebody else’s.”
  2. Ensure the program aligns with your business goals. “If your focus is on customer service or fuel efficiency, make sure these plans are aligned,” Splinter suggested. “When you go to measure the progress and evaluate the success or failure of this program, it’s linked with your business plan.”
  3. Communicate the plan with employees. “Engage them. Ensure you have a plan for how to communicate the program,” Splinter advised, adding it should be communicated to existing drivers, prospective new hires and even to customers.
  4. Choose good trainers, coaches and mentors, preferably with an adult education background. Ensure they can recognize different learning styles.
  5. Ensure the program aligns with its target audience. Take into account the needs of new Canadians, generational differences and different levels of comfort with technology.
  6. Manage the investment. “Measure and track progress,” Splinter said. “Link it back to your business goals, evaluate.”


James Menzies

James Menzies

James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.
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