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Driver training is a subject dear to my editorial heart, but I fear we don’t do it well enough. For one thing, the focus of training is almost always on making sure truck pilots don’t “go agricultural” too often, or infinitely worse, whack the aged librarian’s Toyota.
Safety is obviously paramount, but there’s more to it.
Think fuel economy.
The PIT Group in Quebec, Canada, recently released a driver-training effectiveness study exploring the true value of driver monitoring and coaching to address bad habits and reinforce efficient techniques. PIT is a research and engineering outfit focused on improving truck spec’ing, maintenance, and operations practices. It has both supplier and fleet members, many of them in the U.S., and it often works with NACFE, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency. It operates a full-bore test track north of Montreal.
PIT’s study suggests that training to promote driver fuel efficiency and safety is only effective if it includes refresher courses to reinforce good practices and address weaknesses.
“While vehicle technology designed to improve fuel economy continues to advance, driver training is the element that has the largest impact on fuel consumption,” says Yves Provencher, director, market and business development, at PIT Group. “Our studies show that various ways to train drivers, including classroom, in-cab, and simulator training, all have their advantages.
“However, the lessons and techniques they teach don’t last without monitoring behaviors,” he continued. “Providing refresher training and in-vehicle coaching technologies that address bad habits and reinforce effective skills is what’s needed to maintain and improve fuel-efficient and safe performance.”
In one study of long-haul operations, PIT compared 47 control and 38 test drivers before and after simulator training that focused on things such as road and engine speed, acceleration, and more. Baselines were established over two months before the 38 test drivers were