Trained drivers save lives and save money

A poorly secured load can cause major financial losses. And every year people die on Europe's roads due to inadequate driver training. To improve the skills of truck drivers, including in areas such as the securing of loads, Volvo Trucks is the first vehicle manufacturer to roll out an extensive programme of driver training throughout Europe.

The incline gradually approaches 60 degrees. On the cargo bed is a two tonne heat exchanger, lashed down with tensioning straps and restrained with a wooden beam secured by four nails. The heavy heat exchanger does not move an inch. We are at the Volvo Truck Corporation’s facility in Göteborg where load safety training is in progress. Another practical exercise is to see if the weight of the load has any effect on how easily it starts to slide.

"Most drivers think that lighter pallets slide more easily, but the only determining factor is the friction between the surfaces," says Nils Andersson, load securing expert and the instructor today.

The participants in the course today are already experts in the field. They are here to further develop their expertise and qualify to teach professional drivers themselves. All of them are going to be instructors in the Volvo Trucks Driver Development programme, of which today's course in load securing is a part.

"In Sweden the driver is always solely responsible and can be fined for poor load securing. But the worst thing is sloppiness that is not detected, because that can lead to injury and death," says An Paepen, Manager of Volvo Trucks Driver Development programme.

In Sweden, for example, one or two people die every year and 50 to 60 are injured or maimed by loads falling on them, according to statistics from the Swedish Work Environment Authority. Euro Contrôle Route, ECR, an association of 14 European countries for the inspection of road transport, notes that 25 percent of all commercial vehicle accidents in Europe are caused by poorly secured loads. And for the same reason 10,000 loads are lost at huge cost.

Although there has been an EU standard since April this year, legislation in Europe related to the securing of loads differs from country to country. In countries such as Germany there is no law on load securing, instead there is a "state of the art" agreement which is very strict.

An Paepen says that Volvo has offered its customers driver training for as long as anyone can remember. But because the new EU regulations say that all drivers must undergo 35 hours training within a five year period, Volvo has put together a new comprehensive training programme which meets the EU statutory requirements.

"We started rolling out this training package as early as 2009 and will be up and running throughout Europe in 2014, to meet demand from our customers. In the past two years we have trained over 15,000 drivers in 25 European countries and the number continues to increase. The courses are constantly being improved to satisfy the needs of our customers and our drivers," says An Paepen.

The level of expertise of professional drivers in Europe varies considerably. Kevin de Ridder, a driver trainer at Volvo Trucks in Belgium, says that the level of expertise of Belgian drivers is quite high.

"They generally know what they are about and how to do the job. But unfortunately there is some carelessness with things such as load securing, more because of stress perhaps than anything else. We are fairly late in the training process and the level of interest is not that high yet. Having said that, I gave the course on the haulage sector and legislative requirements last week and everybody was very satisfied," he says.

In the Czech Republic the drivers are not as proficient.

"Generally speaking the proficiency level is low. We have a major shortage of drivers and many of them are young and lack experience. The older drivers can also be suspicious, they think they know it all already, but quickly change when they have done a course. We train both drivers and owners in several stages, everybody gets an introductory course when the vehicle is delivered and a follow-up course a month later," says Vladimir Myslik at Volvo Trucks in the Czech Republic.

The requirement for further training is only one of a series of measures adopted in recent years to make the requirements on professional drivers more stringent, and this is something that is changing the role of the professional. The digital tachograph, on-board computers and the development of the sector as such are some examples.

"I think we are going to see greater professionalisation of the job, there will be fewer occasional drivers and the status of the job is being raised," says Gert Jardle, one of the participants in the Volvo Truck Corporation’s load securing course.

An Paepen explains that load securing training normally takes just over a morning and the afternoon is spent on transport security; that is to say how the driver can protect himself and his load against crime. In addition to load securing and transport security Volvo's courses for professional drivers include efficient driving, health and first aid, safe driving and the haulage sector and its legislation.

June 1, 2010

Volvo Truck Driver Development
The training programme comprises five components totalling 35 hours, and meets the EU requirements related to the further training of professional drivers per five-year period. The training consists of five courses that last a whole day:

Efficient driving:
The participants learn to drive fuel efficiently and to use the vehicle's equipment properly. The course can focus on long distance haulage, construction site operations or driving in urban traffic, depending on the needs and wishes of the participants.

Safe driving:
The participants study a number of common accident scenarios identified by Volvo's accident research team and discuss how they could have been avoided. During the course the participants run through and discuss the most common causes of accidents and receive in-depth information about how to prevent them.

Health and first aid:
The participants meet Healthy Henry and Curvy Carl who are both truck drivers but lead otherwise very different lives. Using these characters as a starting point, the drivers learn how nutrition and sleep affect their health and how they can achieve positive changes using simple techniques.
During the second part of the day the participants learn what they should do if they arrive at the site of an accident and they practise cardiopulmonary resuscitation and different types of first aid.

Load securing and transport security:
How many tensioning straps do I need? How should they be tensioned? Which regulations apply in different countries? The participants learn the regulations and principles of load securing and carry out group exercises related to some common situations.

The second half of the course focuses on transport security. How should I protect myself, my cargo and my vehicle against crime, and what should I do if something does happen?

The haulage sector and legislation:
This course is about everything apart from driving a truck. The participants learn how the haulage sector is structured and the factors governing it. They also learn how a haulage company works financially and set freight prices for a fictitious haulage company. This training gives the drivers an understanding of how they themselves can influence the image of their company and its profitability.

For further information, please contact:
Marie Vassiliadis, Media Relations Europe, phone +46 31 322 41 27, e-mail