One of the region’s leading manufacturing companies, Husqvarna, has made substantial savings after putting all of its drivers and managers through a safety and efficiency motoring course.
The Newton Aycliffe-based company, which produces Flymo garden products, has seen its fuel bill reduce and its driver safety record improve following completion of the Safety and Fuel Efficient Driving (SAFED) course.
Funded through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and run by road safety officers within local authorities, the one-day course aims to improve the driving standards of people who drive for work, while also reducing fuel consumption and saving money on transport costs.
Paul Mather, Health and Safety and Risk Manager at Husqvarna, said all the company’s salesmen, delivery drivers and managers with company cars, about 68 in total, had completed the course during the past 18 months. New members of staff are completing it as they join.
“The course has been a revelation to us as a business, and our staff, because not only does it save us money in the long-term, but it helps us to safeguard our employees against collisions that can easily be avoided,” said Paul.
“The course is not about labeling people as good or bad drivers, but the instructor looks at how you drive and then advises on how you can improve and drive more efficiently. It concentrates on braking, gear changes, planning ahead, and driving more efficiently.
“It illustrates that even though you may feel that you are driving more slowly, you actually get to your destination within the same time or even sooner.
“Everyone who has taken the course here, including myself, felt it was beneficial. As a result, they all feel that driving has become less stressful. There are no down sides. It is a free course, so what have businesses got to lose – they can save money and relax in the knowledge that they are doing something to reduce the risks to their drivers.”
At the start of the course, everyone is asked to drive about 9 miles with an instructor in their usual driving manner, with recordings on fuel consumption taken at the end, along with a risk score.
Then, at the end of the day, they are asked to drive the same route again, with new figures taken.
On average, the drivers at Husqvarna saved ten miles to the gallon at the end of the course and saw their risk score drop from 11.42 to 1.44.
Paul added: “We have installed driver behavior monitors in all of our sales and delivery vehicles, so we can see that they are continuing to drive in a safe and efficient manner, so we are benefitting.
“Our drivers have had fewer minor road accidents and we haven’t had any injuries at all and hopefully that will continue. I can’t think of a reason why companies would choose not to do the course.”
Husqvarna driver Paul Milner, who is a Returns and Rework Controller, said: “The course was fantastic. It proved to me that I don’t have to be in a mad rush all the time. I definitely think I’m a better driver for it.”
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