Driver training adds value to cash allowance deals

Moving to cash allowance schemes could land employers with increased duty of care responsibilities which can be addressed with driver training, says Jamin Robertson

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Cash allowance providers are facilitating access to driver training to help bosses comply with duty of care obligations.

Training should include a thorough risk assessment, and on-road tests for at-risk drivers.

There should be little cost distinction between procuring training as part of a cash allowance package and sourcing it independently.

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Although moving from a traditional company car to cash allowance scheme can help to reduce fleet costs for employers, doing so can also open organisations up to increased duty of care risks. Providing driver training for staff is one way for employers to meet these duty of care obligations.

Yet, Employee Benefits Fleet Research 2006 shows 54% of employers offer no form of driver training, so doing so will at once move employers ahead of the pack. Charles Davis, head of driver and fleet solutions for The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa), believes it is imperative that high-risk business drivers are enrolled in remedial training. "Around 1,000 people each year are killed.

This is the biggest issue that this country faces in terms of occupational safety," he says. Typically, a training package should begin with a legally-required health and safety risk assessment, and include on-road training for high-risk drivers. But there is little point in providing such a scheme unless it is backed up by a suitably supportive driving policy.

Graham Hurdle, managing director of training provider Pro-Drive, explains: "There’s no point having a policy stating a driver needs a break every two hours if the manager is scheduling drivers for four or five hours [continuously]."

Several providers now offer package deals to employers which combine a cash allowance arrangement with driver training. The Miles Consultancy is one such firm.

Paul Jackson, managing director, says: "What we try and do is to put in place a strong case for duty of care, and categorise drivers so that [those in need] are put [forward]." Rospa, meanwhile, has launched a dedicated occupational advanced driving test in association with training provider DriveTech (UK)."Until recently, there’s been no occupational standard for at-work drivers. We’ve now [tried to] implement that," says Davis. The test includes a theory test, hazard perception test and in-vehicle evaluation of driving standards.

Similarly, this month, LeasePlan will launch a duty of care package that will include on-road training, ranging from a short session to advanced driving techniques, tailored to drivers’ needs. David Barnes, new product development manager at LeasePlan, says: "It’s difficult to say you have met duty of care obligations but you can show you have taken reasonable steps to ensure duty of care is in place, by offering training."

Gerard Gornall, managing director of fleet consultancy Intelligent Fleet, expects little cost variation between a package deal and independent sourcing of training. However training is sourced, cost-conscious employers could benefit from using a driver profiling service which can identify employees who are most in need of being put through their paces.

These services typically include psychometric testing and an evaluation of driver history, to identify at-risk drivers and enable employers to avoid the expense of putting all their drivers through training.