Your employee has just passed their driving test – what next?
As with any newly-learned skill it takes time to build up the experience of all the situations a new driver is likely to encounter on the roads.
Not only that, but there will be some situations, such as motorway driving, that will not have been covered on the lessons and in the practical test because currently learner drivers are not permitted on motorways.
Although the Government announced plans last year to introduce new legislation that would incorporate two hours of motorway driving as part of learner driver instruction, this has not yet happened.
In any event, it could be argued that as, quite properly, would only be permitted in a dual-controlled car, it would not really give the learner the full experience of having to think ahead, make decisions and act correctly on such a fast-moving and busy road.
So what can an employer do to help the new driver?
Firstly, employers have a duty of care under Health and Safety Regulations to ensure their drivers are driving safely not only for their own protection but for that of other road users and pedestrians.
Therefore, it makes sense to find out more about the range of experiences that have been covered in the newly-qualified driver’s lessons.
For example, with more than 50% of accidents occurring on rural roads, it is worth asking whether this has been covered during their lessons and for how long. Similarly, driving at night, in towns and in a variety of weather conditions.
New drivers, especially the young, have a tendency to be over-confident, which, coupled with their inexperience explains why one in five new drivers will be involved in a collision in their first six months of driving. It has been calculated that a driver needs to have completed at least 1,000 miles of independent driving before they have encountered most of the potential hazards they might meet and have learned how to anticipate them early enough and deal with them.
It could be a good investment to organise a special safe driving session for the new driver with a suitably qualified and experienced trainer. You can also encourage them to take the Government’s Pass Plus training, which takes at least six hours and offers six modules of practical experience of driving:
- in town
- in all weathers
- on rural roads
- at night
- on dual carriageways
- on motorways
Your business should have policies in place and written down on the use of mobile phones while driving and these should be clearly communicated to all drivers, but especially to the newly-qualified employee. Some businesses operate a total ban on the use of mobiles, even on hands free sets, and if so, employees should know this and there should be penalties if they have been found to ignore it.
Similarly, the business should have clear policies about driving under the influence of drink or drugs policies, especially about carrying out random spot checks, and about the penalties if a driver has infringed the policy.
It makes sound business and economic sense to ensure that a new driver is supported and encouraged with additional training.