Driving change

Better driving habits can save businesses money and reduce accidents.

Better driving habits can save businesses money and reduce accidents.

Better driving habits can save businesses money and reduce accidents.

It’s rare to hear of a government business initiative that generates much enthusiasm. In its quiet way, the Safe and Fuel Efficient Driving (SAFED) campaign has bucked that trend.

Darren Trotter, training network manager at SAFED, says about 13,000 van drivers have undergone subsidised training to increase the fuel efficiency of their driving since 2005, plus many more lorry (HGV) drivers. Fuel economies average out at 12 per cent for HGVs and 16 per cent for vans, adding up to real savings for businesses.

Rory Murphy, external affairs manager at workplace health company Water Wellpoint, says the company’s drivers undertook SAFED training in 2006 and 2008. Not only have real fuel savings resulted, but a culture of better driving in the organisation has led to fewer accidents, cutting the company’s insurance premiums.

Murphy adds, ‘We have a responsibility to our drivers to encourage them to drive safely and properly, but also our client base wants us to go green.’ The training has advanced both objectives.

Since companies quickly realised the economic benefits of the HGV programme, the government stopped funding it in 2005, allowing market demand to take its course.

SAFED for vans, though, still attracts a degree of subsidy depending on the size of the organisation. The cost of the one-day course is likely to work out at about £175 per driver when two drivers use the same trainer.

To stop drivers slipping back into any bad habits, Murphy points out that it’s important to repeat training at regular intervals. As an extra incentive, the company also offers prizes for the greenest drivers on the team.

Green driving tips

•  Change gears at 2,500 rpm (for petrol vehicles) and 2,000 rpm (for diesel)

•  Skip gears when appropriate, for example when changing from second to fourth

•  Make sure tyres are properly inflated

Nick Britton

Nick Britton

Nick was the Managing Editor for growthbusiness.co.uk when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence to Head of Intermediary...

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