The Department of Conservation (DOC) is the central government organisation charged with promoting conservation of the natural and historic heritage of New Zealand on behalf of, and for the benefit of, present and future New Zealanders. The nature of DOC’s work sees employees driving long distances, often to a work site and back in one day, and the organisation wanted to ensure its staff were safe both onsite and on the road. Analysis of DOC fleet activity had identified driver distraction and fatigue were contributing to bad decisions, so improving driver behaviour became a priority. That priority led to the establishment of a partnership with Fleetcoach, New Zealand’s leading provider of research-based online driver training.
DOC’s analysis of its existing driver behaviour meant the organisation knew what issues driver training needed to address. DOC Project Manager, Lesley Jones, said the purpose of the training was to not only reduce incidents and accidents but foster a wider culture of safety within the organisation.
“Our desired outcome of the programme was to promote a safe driving culture within DOC and to ensure that drivers and managers had the tools and information they needed to enable this,” Lesley explained.
“It was critical that the online training solution had the ability to meet the issues we had identified in our prior analysis, while also providing a mechanism to develop new training on material to address emerging issues as they were identified. In other words, we wanted an online training solution that would make areal difference to our drivers’ behaviour.”
A further requirement was for the online driver training solution to integrate with DOC’s existing Learning Management System(LMS) while also being able to be used in a standalone fashion.
Fleetcoach’s driver training is designed on behavioural research. The training challenges participants on what they deem to be good (and bad) driving with the outcome enabling the individual to gain a greater understanding of what behaviour makes a good driver.
“Staying safe on the road is about more than simply reading the road code. It requires an integrated approach to learning, health and wellbeing,” says Craig Cockerton, Fleetcoach COO. “DOC understood their driver training requirements went beyond ensuring their staff and volunteers were safe behind the wheel; they understood that wider education on driver behaviour needed to take place.”
Fleetcoach’s interactive online driver training, which focuses on the individual and coaches behaviours so people can learn to make better choices, was the solution DOC was looking for and included:
- Full integration into DOC’s Learning Management System
- Software functionality with thin client, Amazon Workspaces
- A wide range of modules, aimed at targeting the different driving conditions DOC workers/volunteers could come across
- Development of a 4x4 module with consultation from DOC, for the benefit of all Fleetcoach customers.
But the organisation’s unique requirements of needing to train both staff and volunteers on a wide range of driving conditions and vehicle types, meant Craig and the team needed to work with DOC to determine the most effective roll out.
DOC released Fleetcoach’s mandatory online driver training components (Skills Check and Skills Awareness) early to senior management and Public Service Associations (PSA) delegates. “We wanted our leaders to be setting an example for staff,” explained Lesley. “That approach also meant we had advocates within DOC from the outset.”
Fleetcoach modules were then integrated with DOC’s LMS. “We did this deliberately so as to present the training modules to staff within a familiar context. Having Fleetcoach integrated with our LMS also allows us to report on staff completion by organisational structure,” added Lesley.
Such was the importance for DOC on upskilling and improving driver behaviour that Fleetcoach’s Skills Check and Skills Awareness modules were made part of DOC’s existing driver authorisation process and retaining authorisation to drive was made conditional on completing the training within a specified time period.
“We trained staff on how to access the online training, what the training looked like, why the online training would help them become better drivers and the science behind Fleetcoach the company as part of national face-to-face training campaign,” said Lesley.
DOC released its national training programme in February 2019 in conjunction with a GPS project. This saw all DOC vehicles fitted with GPS software which tracks speed and fatigue. Within six months, more than 2,000 drivers had been placed through the training programme, a reflection of DOC’s commitment to reducing risk and keeping staff and volunteers safe on the road.
DOC’s Health and Safety Manager, Mike Massaar, is encouraged by the positive changes he’s identified in DOC staff driving behaviour. “We’re already noticing the new driving initiatives becoming a part of our everyday culture and our driving risk decreasing. We’re very encouraged by the early results and will be leveraging these coaching modules to help maintain our focus on driver training and continuous improvements,” he says.
“Fleetcoach has been great to work with and we have benefited from their skill and experience implementing online driver training in other organisations,” Lesley said. “We provided clear requirements which helped Fleetcoach deliver exactly what was needed. There has been minimal support requests or issues with the online training and this has been due to our implementation. Our ‘one team’ approach and collaborative partnership has meant we’ve been able to quickly resolve issues as they came up.”
The combination of Fleetcoach’s driver training modules, the fitting of GPS software and improved targeting of practical driver training has delivered a successful result for DOC, with staff acknowledging they’re becoming better drivers.