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SAFED scheme reaches milestone

The Safe and Fuel Efficient Drivers (SAFED) aggregates programme, which aims to help drivers improve their safety and fuel-efficient driving techniques, has completed the training of its 1,000th driver.

Christopher Claxton of King’s Lynnbased Middleton Aggregates Ltd achieved an improvement of 7.95% in fuel efficiency (miles per gallon) and a 51.6% reduction in gear changes by adopting an enhanced driving technique, which could reduce the company’s fuel cost by £1,400 a year.

Funded by the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, the free one-day SAFED course involves a mixture of classroom and on-the-road tuition. It teaches the use of driving techniques such as better use of gears to avoid over revving and unnecessary gear changes, keeping correct distances to avoid hard breaking, and an overall awareness of fuel economy and road layout.

So far, the average performance figures for trained SAFED drivers are:

  • 14% fuel consumption reduction
  • 34% reduction in the number of gear changes
  • 56% reduction in driver faults.

The SAFED programme has also demonstrated reduced carbon emissions on roads and increased defensive driving skills by the trained drivers. The scheme is free to drivers from small- and medium-sized companies until March 2007, although a small charge is applicable to drivers from larger companies.

Road haulage operators J.W. Morrison fully endorse driver development training; 16 of their employees have participated in the SAFED scheme, and the company trains new and existing drivers through the Scottish Driver Training Scheme.

The business operates a commercial fleet of 12 articulated tippers and eight rigid trucks that transport aggregates around the UK. It recently scooped Scotland’s top road haulage operator training award from Skills for Logistics, the Sector Skills Council for the freight logistics industries.

‘It’s very encouraging to see that SMEs are supportive of training,’ commented Ian Hetherington, chief executive of Skills for Logistics. ‘Companies like J.W. Morrison are open minded to the opportunities for continuous professional development and up-skilling and, as a result, are reaping the rewards in more ways than one.’

Another keen backer of the SAFED scheme is Kevan Tomlinson, managing director of K.J.Tomlison. His company runs more than 10 vehicles, principally for Tarmac, transporting a variety of aggregates, such as sand and gravel and topsoil. Mr Tomlinson employs nine people and often takes to the road himself, to cover drivers’ illness and annual leave.

He recently took part in the SAFED programme and is full of praise for the specialized training.‘Prior to taking advantage of the funded-scheme,’ said Mr Tomlinson,‘I reserved judgment until I was able to see the benefits of SAFED, which amounted to over £3,000 in fuel savings for each truck.This is nearly 28% of the company’s running costs. Therefore, I’m totally committed to investing in this type of driver training. I’d personally recommend SAFED to anyone.’

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