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Young Staff At Risk

27 Apr 2009

A major new study into young at-work drivers,  has found major failings in the current driving test and highlighted the need for additional post-test training by fleets.

The study – the first of its kind into the risks associated with young at-work drivers – concluded that motorists aged between 17 and 24 do not have the skills needed to cope with driving for work, despite holding a driving licence.

Three-quarters of employers surveyed said that their young employees were driving in situations that were not covered by the current test, for example driving at night or in icy conditions.

In addition, more than two-thirds of young employees are driving vehicles at work that are larger than a car and in which they have not been trained or tested to drive.

Encouragingly, the report found that many fleet managers are already ahead of the game – and the Government – in identifying the risk young drivers present and are taking action.

“Employers are not relying on the driving licence as evidence of competence in driving for work,” the report found. “Many conduct their own assessments before allowing their employees to drive.”

The authors of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’  report, which was commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT), said the current driving test fails to prepare young drivers adequately for the challenges of driving for work.

“The current system of learner driver training and the driving test does not cover all of the situations in which young drivers will find themselves when driving for work, or all of the skills they will need for driving for work,” it said.

Fleet managers are particularly critical of the current driving test, with 60% of those asked saying they felt that it failed to prepare young motorists to drive for work. Almost 90% of employers who took part in more detailed telephone interviews replied the same.

More than half of employers said they want a post-test driving qualification introduced – something the Government is now committed to doing.

They said developing safer driver attitudes, driving in different conditions, enhanced hazard perception and motorway driving were the top issues they wanted covering in the post-test qualification.

Both young drivers and at-work drivers have been identified as ‘priority groups’ in the Government’s second review of its road safety strategy.

As a result, the DfT is working towards introducing post-test driver training. As part of this, the Driving Standards Agency has already conducted research to develop a programme for training car and light van drivers.

“Employers would welcome post-test training as long as their concerns over cost and relevance are met,” concluded the report.