Many benefits can be derived from an investment in driver training, including more accident-free miles, more attention to safety, and reduced insurance rates. The best ways to ensure that drivers are, and remain, safe and productive was the subject of Driver Training Practices workshop conducted by Timothy Evans of JJ Keller & Associates, a company that produces transportation safety and regulatory complianceproducts and services.

“Training is about the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and abilities through professional development,” he told session attendees. “It is about knowing where you stand at present, and where you will be after some point of time.”

Usefulness

For training to be effective, a company needs to have a starting point, a set direction, and a goal in mind, Evans said. “Otherwise training will be useless.”

Too often, training is done for the wrong reasons, he observed. Typically it is done because management asked for it, everybody else is doing it, or if the money budgeted for training isn't used it will be lost.

“If — and only if — there is a knowledge and/or skill deficiency, can training help,” said Evans.

Along with reducing the risk of accidents, injuries, violations, and vehicle and cargo damage, effective driver training can be used as a strategic safety investment, improving a fleet's safety ratings and public image.

Evans noted that studies have shown that 80% to 90% of drivers surveyed stated they felt training showed that the company cares enough to invest in their well-being.

Strategies

There are three styles of learning, said Evans: visual — what we see; auditory — what we hear; and kinesthetic — what we do or feel. “Using a variety of training methods will tap into all three learning styles.”

When creating training programs, companies need to understand how adults learn, he continued, noting some key elements to be aware of in their education process:

  • Usually, adults want to utilize knowledge and skills soon after training.

  • They enjoy situations that require problem-solving, not necessarily learning facts.

  • Adults learn better if they are active participants, not passive learners.

  • Motivation is increased when content is relevant to immediate concerns.

  • Adults like immediate feedback, to be kept informed of their progress.

As for training methods, Evans said there are a number of techniques, including hands-on, traditional, on-line, desktop computers, simulators, and self-paced. Each type has advantages and drawbacks, so it is important for fleets to decide upon the methods that work for their operations.

The best trainers are people-centered, have hands-on experience, and are good communicators, concluded Evans. “Great trainers inspire.”