An increase in home deliveries, including those at night, presents new challenges for LGV drivers.
As road casualty statistics from RoSPA show that 40% of collisions occur in the hours of darkness, even though only 15% of vehicle miles are travelled at night, RTITB is warning that LGV drivers may not be receiving the training they need to operate safely and efficiently.
The convenience of online shopping and home delivery is clearly beneficial for the consumer but has resulted in big changes for LGV drivers, who are increasingly required to make road-side deliveries to consumers’ homes, rather than to warehouses or depots. This has introduced a whole new set of challenges for delivery companies and drivers to consider, such as increased time pressures, navigation around city centres or housing estates, and interaction with customers, as opposed to warehouse managers.
“This is where training becomes vital for ensuring professionalism, safety and efficiency,” explains Laura Nelson, Managing Director, RTITB, the largest Master Driver CPC Consortium in the UK.
“With an increase in deliveries to be fulfilled each day, drivers are experiencing as much pressure as the depots picking the items and must also handle the pressures of time-specific deliveries, all while providing a high customer service level,” says Nelson.
Despite these challenges affecting an increasing number of drivers, these key aspects of the job are often overlooked when it comes to training. To support employers in addressing these specific issues, RTITB offers relevant, professional driver training topics in its Driver CPC Periodic Training courses.
Route planning can help drivers with time keeping, enabling them to plan ahead and make their journey as efficient as possible.
Sat-navs cannot always direct drivers effectively, but effective route planning can help to navigate around built-up areas, which pose additional obstacles such as parked and moving cars, and pedestrians. Drivers are required to contend with these obstacles, whilst remaining safe and alert when looking for specific houses and buildings.
A training topic dedicated to urban driving can also be combined with route planning to help problem solve successfully.
Vehicle limitations are important for drivers to understand, particularly as they can change throughout a shift.
“Narrow streets, cul-de-sacs and one-way systems can be a nightmare for drivers, even in smaller, 3.5-tonne vehicles,” says Nelson. “Transport Managers should look to implement training that improves and develops their drivers’ awareness of their vehicle and, where possible, even provide a refresh on all vehicle types in their fleet that they may be expected to drive.”
Night Time Deliveries
As many logistics operations, particularly those in the food and drink sector, operate 24/7, night deliveries are becoming commonplace for LGV drivers. With proper training, driving in the dark should not present any significant challenge to drivers. However, training is important for helping drivers understand how to minimise disruption from the noise and light of the truck in residential areas.
Deliveries at the kerbside demand vehicles to be unloaded (or loaded) in a public area, presenting different safety considerations. Firstly, drivers need to have the knowledge with which to assess the best place to park to make the delivery. For urban deliveries, lorries at the kerbside could pose disruption to traffic or the ability for pedestrians to cross safely, both of which must be managed by the driver.
Drivers also need to be aware of pedestrians and other parked and moving vehicles when operating tail lifts, as well as considering the safety implications of the load when it has been removed from the vehicle. Loads left on the pavement, or in transit across a public footpath, may cause a risk to pedestrians.
Drivers are often left on their own to handle delivery items from the vehicle to the designated address and large items, such as beds and sofas, present high risk to drivers, especially when manoeuvring up narrow staircases and in small spaces.
“Manual handling incidents are still a great issue within the industry, primarily because employees aren’t given sufficient training,” adds Nelson. The inclusion of manual handling within Driver CPC training will further educate drivers on correct handling techniques, helping to minimise injury, as well as potential damage to goods.
“Dealing with a customer in their home is very different to dealing with a warehouse manager,” says Nelson. “As with any customer facing role, appropriate training must be provided so that drivers are equipped and comfortable to interact professionally with customers. They should have the manners, tone and competence to handle any situation.”
RTITB Driver CPC Periodic Training now includes topics such as interpersonal skills and customer service. This helps drivers to communicate effectively with all types of customers, enhancing their professional skillset while also helping to improve business customer service ratings.
A free "Safety When Delivering" download sheet to help managers and drivers address some of the issues outlines above is available from RTITB: www.rtitb.co.uk/download/deliveries.