Quality of driving is rooted in five key principles: eco-driving, attention to safety regulations, respecting road traffic legislation, effective use of professional tools, and the driver’s adaptability to different tasks without this affecting driving. Encouraging this quality of driving represents a win-win strategy for both the company and the driver. Apart from obvious benefits, such as reducing the number of accidents, it produces indirect positive consequences: by enhancing the brand image, it enables companies to become more competitive and win new contracts.
Driving quality: the economic advantages
For a haulage company, putting in place strategies to make drivers respect these five criteria will reduce fuel consumption, for a start. For example, eco-driving will cut fuel costs by 20%.
Careful driving also reduces the risk of accidents, which offers greater security to drivers and increases the durability of professional tools. Fewer technical maintenance operations and longer-lasting parts and vehicles are so many elements which have a positive impact on costs.
Also, encouraging drivers to maintain high standards of driving, regularly challenging them to demonstrate the skills they have acquired, and offering them access to training programmes, will show them that their work is valued and make them aware of their responsibilities. All of this will have a positive effect on their motivation and involvement.
What’s more, it will improve your brand image!
Putting in place strategies to improve the quality of driving can also represent the foundation for an interesting external communications strategy: present clients, prospective clients and partners with the image of a company which is sensitive to environmental concerns, the wellbeing of its drivers, and other road users. In the long term, this will have a positive financial impact in terms of new contracts, and may attract new employees.
It is for reasons such as these that certain haulage companies have signed up to the “CO2 programme objective” Charter launched by the French state. This charter invites haulage companies to assess their consumption and to put in place a strategy for measuring reduction. The objective is to reduce their emissions to help meet national objectives for reducing greenhouse gas emissions: -20% by 2020 and -40% by 2040. NB, the EU has set the objective of reducing CO2 emissions from transport by 60% from 1990 levels.
For a company, signing up to this charter can therefore be presented as a real strength, as well as a means of differentiating the company from competition when responding to calls for bids.
Drivers on the front line
It is no surprise that is down to the driver to apply the quality of driving principles on the road, from respecting safety regulations to the Highway Code, through the implementing a series of good habits (respecting other drivers, reducing fuel consumption, etc.). Beyond their skills, personal choice, in particular whether or not they are able to maintain a healthy lifestyle, will have a major impact on their driving.
Apart from implementing their technical skills, the driver must also ensure their work tool is well-maintained. Implementing best practices when it comes to braking, steering and using headlights can improve the durability of the vehicle. Finally, taking care of your work tool also means reacting immediately in the event you notice an issue, and ensuring it is fixed, in particular during the vehicle inspection.
Companies innovating to improve the quality of driving
It is from this perspective that more and more haulage companies are putting in place programmes, challenges, and other original training schemes to raise awareness and develop their drivers’ skills in areas related to quality of driving.
This is the case of XPO Logistics (formerly Norbert Dentresangle), which has been running a “good driving” plan for over twenty years. This plan starts as soon as drivers join up and follows them throughout their entire time at the company. At the end of the hiring process, new employees go through a week of integration and awareness training, before doing a month of driving with a training instructor. Six months later, they must pass a preventative audit to test their theoretical and practical knowledge again. This test is then carried out every 18 months. Beyond this, they receive classes for eco-driving or driving in difficult conditions.
A few years ago, the company even launched a “Top driver” challenge, which involves several theoretical and practical tests. Following regional selections, the 12 chosen drivers compete in a series of tests including calculating security distances, Highway Code knowledge and five hands-on workshops: eco-driving, rings, backing a trailer, spiral and reacting to unexpected situations. For Luis Angel Gómez, General Transport Director at XPO Logistics Europe, these 12 finalists become “the best ambassadors for the company among clients and other road users”.
Companies are outdoing one another with technological innovations many companies are developing 2.0 tools to improve quality of driving for their drivers. This is the case for the Swedish haulage firm Scania, which has developed and integrated the Active Prediction speed regulator in nits HGVs. This innovative system anticipates bends in the road and road incline through GPS mapping. In this way, the driver can better manage the use of the accelerator, or adapt their speed depending on the incline of a slope or weather conditions. As a result: HGVs save an additional 3% of fuel.
Cassiopée: an original solution
A growing number of companies in the sector are using driving simulators or interactive software to train their drivers.
In the Lot region, in France, Cassiopée, one of the most realistic driving simulators in Europe is being used to train drivers. This simulator was developed in 2011. It is equipped with flat screens and is used to teach classes or simulate real situations. In February 2017, over 30 drivers from the Delbos haulage firm were able to access it to learn about eco-driving practices.
Applications to support companies in these processes
Michelin solutions is supporting companies in their initiatives to improve quality of driving through developing innovative applications available on smartphones. This is what MyTraining is doing. It is an application to support the work of driving instructors and MyRoadChallenge, a game-style application which assesses and rewards the best drivers in a company.