Eurovia | Gritter drivers hone their driving skills with special course
Eurovia UK’s winter maintenance drivers are well equipped to deal with the current spell of snow and ice hitting the country.
The company’s gritter drivers are undertaking bespoke training to help them safely handle these large vehicles in difficult conditions. By training on a special low-friction surface, drivers have been able to learn about speed and spatial awareness, skid avoidance, and techniques for recognising and correcting a potential crash.
The training is being provided by R3 Road Risk Reduction, which specialises in training drivers to reduce road risk, and held at Thruxton race circuit in Hampshire which has a low-friction area able to handle large vehicles weighing up to 18 tonnes.
The winter maintenance drivers practised a number of activities in their gritter lorries including:
- Driving on a slalom course on the low-friction area to gain a better understanding of their vehicle’s characteristics.
- Emergency stops to experience how even a 2-3mph increase in speed can result in skidding much further.
- Driving away safely to demonstrate the subtlety of interaction between throttle control, gears and steering.
- Skid recognition to avoid an impending skid and practise what to do when it happens.
- Slow speed manoeuvres including tight manoeuvring of the gritter with the plough fitted.
Dave Campbell, Group Health, Safety & Environment Director, Eurovia UK, said:
“We are committed to improving safety and reducing road risk. Driving heavy vehicles on untreated roads requires a high level of skill and this investment in our drivers reflects the importance we place both on their safety and the safety of other road users.
“The feedback from the training has been really positive. Hands-on experience is more expensive but also much more effective than purely class-based teaching and we believe this approach will significantly reduce the risk of collisions. As well as improving people’s safety, there is also an added benefit of reduced fleet costs, through reduced damage costs, replacement vehicle costs and potentially lower insurance premiums.”
Steve Lewis, Managing Director, R3 Road Risk Reduction, said:
“Driving is the most dangerous activity that most of us do every day and winter maintenance drivers have a particularly tough job.
“We believe that ‘actions teach louder than words’. By allowing drivers to ‘get-it-wrong’ in a controlled environment, they experience from the driver’s seat just why losing control on public roads will be so dangerous and costly.
“We can’t just tell a driver to drive better but by allowing them to discover their personal limits and then offering memorable training on how to avoid incidents, we are able to revise attitudes and change behaviour.”
To date 206 winter maintenance drivers have undertaken the training with another 400 drivers scheduled to be trained in 2018.
Eurovia UK and R3 Road Risk Reduction are also rolling out similar training to high-risk drivers, that is, those who either drive over 20,000 business miles a year, are aged between 17 and 25 or passed their test less than three years ago. This training, which started in 2016, is taking place on the unique low-grip skid surfaces at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby and will continue into 2018.
Another course, for drivers of Eurovia UK’s Large Commercial Fleet of vehicles, is currently being designed and is expected to take place in 2018.