Backhouse Jones Watermark

BACK to the classroom

18 April

“my life would be so much easier if it wasn’t for my drivers…….”

This is a typical response that we hear daily from our clients, mostly in jest, but often seriously as Operators become exasperated with the quality, knowledge and reaction of their professional drivers. Professional drivers should be just that, professional, but often knowledge and sloppiness do become factors as driver’s progress through their career.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on which side of the fence you sit, driverless vehicles are still a little way off and therefore driving up the quality of our professional drivers is something that we should all aspire to. This drive is still weighed in the balance against the ongoing driver shortage in both the PSV and HGV industry. Through professionalism we can hope to attract younger people to the industry as it becomes seen as a quality career choice.

In previous editions of BACKchat we have discussed the disciplinary aspects of driving forwards compliance and therefore do not wish to retread old ground. What we are going to concentrate on below is ideas and tips for engaging your professional drivers, helping you to improve standards across the board.

BACK to the Classroom
Proper Driver Training is still something that in our opinion is sadly lacking within the industry. The Driver CPC has made a small difference, but again the quality of that training is sometimes lower than one would expect.

This is not all down to the providers, and in fairness to the CPC providers, trying to keep a gaggle of drivers entertained and engaged for a 7 hour period is quite difficult. If you cast your mind back to your own school days, can you imagine being stuck in the class room for 7 hours being taught the drivers’ hours rules!

The UK Government is lobbying the EC, that the Driver CPC should be able to be provided over a 3.5 hour period rather than a straight 7 hours. This should give more flexibility for afternoon sessions rather than a full day out of the vehicle, and in our opinion it is much more manageable. Whilst these wheels are in motion, this change is likely to take some years to come into effect.

So what can we do in the meantime?
The majority of Operators are paying for their drivers to attend the CPC course. As you are paying for it, please make sure you are getting value for money. We are still amazed by the number of Transport Managers who do not regularly attend the CPC Training Courses themselves to assess whether the quality of the training is up to standard.

If it is not up to standard it is important that this is reported through to the JAUPT (the assessment body). They will then send an assessor to the course to see if the reports are correct.

The next point is to try and spread the training out throughout the 5 year period. Do not leave it until September 2019, when the current cycle ends.

The Traffic Commissioners bite BACK
There is currently a big drive by the Traffic Commissioners to make themselves more visible within the professional driver community. There is still a lack of knowledge by the drivers of what the Traffic Commissioners do and the powers that they have.

The Senior Traffic Commissioner has attempted to address this issue in the publication of the revised STC Guidance & Practice Directions on Driver Conduct which are published on the gov.uk website.

The updated No 6 Guidance document sets out the standards expected by the Traffic Commissioners for their Professional drivers and the consequences of breaking those standards. The document also sets out around 30 Case Studies of real life situations that the Drivers get themselves into and the type of regulatory action that they may face from the Commissioners.

We strongly suggest that you print off copies of the guidance and undertake a “tool box” talk with your drivers on the issues raised in the Case Studies. This lets drivers understand what happens if they get a conviction for using a mobile phone, breaching the hours rules or falsifying a tachograph record in respect of their professional drivers licence

BACK training
Of course, monitoring training providers and training staff yourself only works if you have the sufficient knowledge and skills to deliver the training and understand the points being raised. We at Backhouse Jones are more than happy to help.

We offer bespoke training courses for Operators, Transport Managers & Office Staff to give you the tools to deliver the talks to your drivers. Our latest batch of training course will centre on the new STC Guidance and Practice Directions, and on implementing training schemes for your staff members.

Personally, during the latter part of 2015, I spent time delivering training presentations with the Traffic Commissioners to Operators – we have, therefore, a clear understanding of what needs to be achieved. With the ongoing driver shortage, it is important to retain and improve the drivers you already have. Ongoing improvement and professional development is a crucial part of our scheme.

 

For more information on our training products or for upcoming seminars please call

Scott Bell on 01254 828 300.

Alternatively, you can reach him at scott.bell@backhouses.co.uk

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