Driver training is essential for every company that has drivers, whether they’re driving a heavy-haul vehicle or one of the sedans in the company fleet. The most successful driver training program starts with behind-the-wheel training where driving behaviors can be identified, examined, and reinforced. While thorough behind-the-wheel training is a great place to start, it’s just that: a starting point.
Follow-up training is critical for refreshing drivers on what they’ve previously learned and pinpointing shortfalls where unsafe habits may have slipped back in.
Not all driving behavior will change overnight, even with proper training. Therefore, it’s important to provide drivers with the right tools and training to keep them from defaulting to old habits behind the wheel to avoid crashes in company vehicles.
Timely reminders of safe practices and promoting a culture of fleet safety are instrumental to ongoing success in reducing collisions and the associated costs.
Including routine follow-up driver training as part of your company’s driver safety practices can help lower the number of employee-involved crashes each year and reduce risks for both your own drivers and for others on the road.
Developing a Follow-Up Driver Training Program
Companies should provide in-person behind-the-wheel training as the foundation of every successful fleet safety program. This training provides a solid base to build on and equips each driver with the key principles for safer driving.
With Smith System driver safety training, this can be done one of two ways:
- DriverDirect, This advanced classroom and behind-the wheel training program teaches safe driving practices using The Smith5Keys®. Our on-road training combines the physical realities of traffic, weather and dynamic driving conditions with the reinforcement of a Smith System instructor. By learning in real-world scenarios, drivers are better able to replicate their skills on the job.
- DriverTrainer, For companies with in-house safety programs, we offer train-the-trainer certifications. These sessions provide trainers with the skills they need to bring our proven crash-prevention methods to your fleet drivers. Trainers learn to identify drivers’ strengths and weaknesses behind-the-wheel and provide personalized, practical solutions to driving deficiencies. Using the DriverTrainer Starter Kit, they’ll have all the resources they need to begin providing expert instruction as soon as they receive certification.
Recommended Follow-Up Training Timeline
After initial behind-the-wheel training, drivers should routinely review Smith System videos or E-Learning and receive full classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel training every 18 months to 2 years.
Below is a suggested timeline for follow-up training:
Monthly: eLearning Course or Video
1. eLearning Bundle
The Smith eLearning bundle delivers driver safety training where you need it, when you need it. eLearning allows students to review our driving methodology at their own pace and incorporates testing to improve learning and retention. The eLearning bundle provides access to our full library of courses for one year, including the following courses:
- Core Content
- The Smith5Keys to Forward Motion and Backing (60 Minutes)
- Driving Series Courses
- Driving the 5 Keys
- Driving Reverse
- Driving Distracted
- Driving Drowsy
- Driving Weather
- Driving Space
- Driving Prepared
- Driving Technology
- Driving Family
- Driving at Night
- Arrive Alive Courses
- Building Effective Seeing Habits (4 Minutes)
- Following Distance (4 Minutes)
- Avoiding Distractions (7 Minutes)
- Avoiding a Rear End Collision (6 Minutes)
- Avoiding Backing Collisions (5 Minutes)
- Foul Weather Driving (5 Minutes)
- Drowsy Driving (7 Minutes)
- Avoiding Intersection Collisions (7 Minutes)
- Saving Fuel (7 Minutes)
- Emotions and Driving (5 Minutes)
- Margin for Error (5 Minutes)
- Proper Positioning in Traffic (5 Minutes)
2. Videos (Available in DVD or USB)
Using the catalog of Smith System videos is a great way to supplement training and provide ongoing instruction. One way to use these videos is to offer monthly or quarterly topics for drivers to focus on as part of a company-wide initiative. Videos can even be used during relevant times of the year, such as offering the Foul Weather Driving course during wintertime. Use any of the Smith System Driving Series videos that feel pertinent to the specific needs of your drivers, whether that’s drowsy driving, distracted driving or preparedness prior to driving.
6 Months Post Training: Refresher Video
Six months post initial training is a great time to revisit some of the principles taught in the original course.
The Smith System video for recommended follow-up training is “Driving the 5Keys.” This video is included in the DriverTrainer Starter Kit and provides a detailed review of The Smith5Keys® and how to utilize the principles to build space and visibility to have time to avoid crashes.
Annually: Online Refresher Course
One year after initial behind-the-wheel training is an optimal time for drivers to enroll in an online refresher course.
Smith System’s eLearning options include various courses, so it’s possible to choose a specific topic to focus on or select a more generalized Smith System overview.
Online courses are broken down by different industries and vehicle types, such as bus and transit, large vehicle and small vehicle, so the training can be more targeted to each driver’s needs.
For ease of delivery, the online courses are self-paced and have individual tracking and reporting features, making it simple for safety managers or trainers to assign the training and follow each driver’s progress.
Annually: Ride Along
Some companies opt for every driver to have a ride-along driving evaluation annually. Ride-alongs can be conducted by Smith System Instructors, certified in-house Driver Trainers or in-house Driver Skill Evaluators. How do you certify Driver Skill Evaluators?
- Driver Skill Evaluator Course: The Smith System Driver Skill Evaluator Course teaches managers the skills they need for the one-on-one, behind-the-wheel, follow-up training. The course focuses on client-specific driving problems and solutions based on the Smith System.
Every 18-24 Months: Advanced Driver Safety Training
Even with continued supplemental training, it’s important for drivers to go through the complete Smith System classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction every 18 months to two years.
This allows trainers to observe any problem areas that might have developed and allows drivers to target areas where their driving skills can be improved.
DriverDirect Refresher courses can be delivered by Smith System Instructors or in-house DriverTrainers. To add variety to the DriverDirect Refresher classes you can emphasize certain problem areas such as intersections, lane changing, distractions, inclement weather, following distance, and drowsy driving.
The Advanced Backing course is another great option to utilize as follow-up training. This course instructs drivers on how to avoid backing whenever possible and how to properly use safe parking and backing techniques to avoid crashes when backing is necessary. The course includes classroom instruction, as well as behind-the-wheel, on-location close-quarter maneuvering.
This advanced hands-on training includes:
- Blind area demonstrations
- Positioning of mirrors
- Diminishing cones exercise
- Serpentine maneuvering
- Backing when parking practice
- Right hand turns
This course can be taught by Smith System Instructor or certified in-house DriverTrainers that have completed the DriverTrainer Advanced Backing certification.
What Companies Gain from Additional Training
Drivers aren’t the only ones who reap the benefits of follow-up training. Companies that offer continuous learning for their employees can avoid expensive work-related crashes that, in 2013 alone, cost employers $25 billion.
Each crash without a fatality costs an average of $65,000, while fatal crashes cost employers more than 10 times that amount for an average of $671,000.
Compared to the cost of a crash — even if it’s a fender-bender that results in moderate damage and wasted time for the employee involved — the investment of time and money in a driver training program is one that pays off quickly and continues paying off over time.
Other common benefits that result from more efficient driving habits include lowered fuel costs and wear and tear on vehicles, resulting in lower maintenance costs; less severe crashes when incidents do occur, and improved productivity overall.
When it comes to creating a comprehensive driver safety training program, including follow-up driver training is a key component that will reinforce what drivers have been taught and remind them to always keep safety top of mind when behind the wheel.