Staff training leads to fuel savings

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RMC’s UK Cement Division has improved the fuel efficiency of its fleet of 154 Volvo lorries by more than 7% in the past 12 months – the equivalent to a £332,000 saving – through an educational programme of the company’s 300 drivers. The programme, which aims to enhance driving skills and raise awareness of the benefits of economic and defensive driving, was initiated in July 2003 and is being led by a dedicated driver development team.

As part of the programme, the UK Cement Division works closely with Volvo UK which has installed the Dynafleet in-cab information system which generates monthly reports on driver and vehicle performance via an Internet solution. The reports include data on the drivers’ fuel consumption, excess idling, use of cruise control and the eco-roll function that allows the vehicle to freewheel when no power or engine braking is required.

All drivers are required to undertake a half-day economic driving course. When performance falls below target, drivers will be required to undertake additional training from a driver development officer.

Driver development officer Keith Lacey explains: “Constant speed and less stopping breed safer driving and better fuel economy. 70-80% of accidents are caused by following vehicles too closely, but by always looking ahead, keeping away from other vehicles and slowing down to avoid sharp breaking, impact and the number of accidents may be reduced. In our experience, defensive and economic driving effectively go hand in hand.”

As part of the additional training course, drivers are asked to drive a 32-mile challenging route in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, using their normal driving style. An accompanying driver development officer will comment on driving style and explain where improvements may be made and how the momentum of the vehicle may be maximised for safer and more economical driving.

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