The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Online Safety Programs Offer Fleets a New Way to Train

October 2008, by Grace Lauron & Lisajoyce Vergara

Good driver safety training helps improve operations by proactively identifying potential safety and risk issues in advance and addressing those that may have already occurred. With today’s technology, training no longer must take place in person. Though traditional training should not be entirely replaced by new online training programs, these "virtual" classrooms offer a number of benefits.

Stay on the Same Page

Online program features vary by provider, but in general, offer fleets a convenient and consistent method of learning.

"An online training lesson is exactly the same, no matter where or when it’s taken, whereas lessons taught in person, one-on-one or in a group setting, can vary," said Ed Corbally, director of safety and risk management services, CEI. According to Corbally, the most effective safety programs use both traditional and virtual classrooms. However, "the consistency of training can become a very important issue, especially when it comes to a company’s liability for an accident involving one of its fleet drivers," he said.

"By assuring every driver receives the same information and is tested on it, online training can help establish a baseline of knowledge that the other types of training can reinforce," said Corbally.

Save Time and Money

The convenience and accessibility of online training is especially appealing for fleets. Ease of administration means less work for everyone.

"We have a very dispersed workforce, so the easiest way to get to them is through online learning," said Ryan Rebman, director of corporate safety, risk management for EcoLab, which uses CEI’s online training programs.

"You don’t have to coordinate driver schedules and get them all in one place at the same time. Training is automatically captured and made available through our systems’ reporting features. Drivers can also take the lessons at their own pace. They can bookmark where they stop if they can’t finish the lesson in one sitting," said Corbally. CEI’s virtual inventory also eliminates the need for training cassettes, DVDs, or books that must be replaced when content changes.

Clients of GE Capital Solutions Fleet Services also use CEI’s online program, DriverCare. "With 700 drivers and more than 450 personal cars and delivery trucks spread out across the nation, it’s difficult to get everyone together. This program makes it convenient for everyone. Most drivers can use it at home or in the office," said Mitch Harris, manager of human resources/fleet manager for Akzo Nobel.

"Depending on how it is deployed, [online training] allows for shorter, but more frequent repetition of ‘messages’ to reinforce safe driving techniques. It can also be executed more quickly, as follow-up to specific events that may indicate a need for training," said Stratford Dick, director of marketing for Wheels Inc.

Minimal time commitment compared to traditional training is a big plus for drivers, according to Lynn Berberich, VP, product management for risk and safety, PHH Arval. "Drivers appreciate the ability to do online training when and where they want."

"These programs are an easy way to deliver training to drivers throughout the country in a consistent way with minimal manager administration time," said Jodie Varner, manager of business development for Fleet Response. They can be e-mailed to drivers monthly, quarterly, or annually, or as a result of an accident.

ADTS offers interactive courses on topics such as principles of safe driving and how to avoid different types of collisions.

The online process makes it easier to track employee training progress and observe which areas may need more attention, said Tim Scott, director of safety for Gemaire Group, whose company uses PureSafety. "The system is very user-friendly, and I don’t have to manage it," said Scott.

"Online training can be done at anytime, conveniently fitting into the driver’s schedule. The driver can carefully consider the training material without feeling rushed and as if he or she is being evaluated against others," said Lynn Hall, fleet administrator for Affinia Group, which uses Donlen’s online program. "The program is easily accessible through a special Donlen-engineered Web site. Drivers can utilize it at a time most convenient for them," said Hall.

Time saved using online programs can also mean cost savings for fleets. "Safety content delivered online is more economical," said Dick of Wheels.

"The programs are designed to provide ‘high-impact, low-cost’ training solutions that work," said Dan Shive, vice president, risk management services, LeasePlan USA.

"Costs and the ability to target and customize are some benefits of online training. This is particularly true in times of recession, where training needs to be targeted," said Berberich of PHH Arval.

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