Updated: Aug 28
Safe Urban Driver training has been around for some time now. In case you aren't aware, it was introduced by TfL back in the early 2010's & gave professional drivers an opportunity to experience life on two wheels.
The objective was to tackle a disproportionately high number of cyclist fatalities involving HGVs (& sometimes bus), & it came about following a successful Met Police campaign called 'Exchanging Places', where members of the public would climb into a static cab & learn just how little an HGV driver can often see.
For SUD, the aim back then (as it is now) was to help drivers understand the feeling of rider vulnerability when cycling near a large commercial vehicle.
In 2015, it became a mandatory part of the FORS (Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme) silver accreditation which, at the time, was set to affect thousands of drivers, many of whom hadn't ridden a bicycle since they were a kid!
The on-cycle training, where FORS is concerned, lasts for 5 years. After that, drivers must retake the course. And to its credit, it's been an enormous success. Drivers get training in the classroom & training out on the road; their natural habitat! And yet...
1. Earlier this year, the DVSA expressed concern about on-cycle driver training in bad weather
2. To run a course it must be led by an experienced cycle instructor, & there's not many of those right now!
3. Drivers continue to be at risk on public roads, especially inexperienced ones
4. Distracted riding is a very real issue; is the chain coming off? what gear am I in? is the seat the right height? I shouldn't have had such a big breakfast!
5. Drivers often travel miles away to attend a course, which can affect their rest period
6. Equipment (bicycles) can be in high demand & short supply, affecting the number of places available
7. On-cycle training is often done around an industrial estate (sometimes on a Saturday), which doesn't replicate a real urban environment (traffic, pedestrians, junctions, crossings, noise etc.)
8. The learning objectives are often missed, partly as a result of the points above
So, has traditional SUD training had it's day? Well, perhaps not quite, but it will run its natural course. With that being said, will drivers who retake the practical part of the course learn anything new from 5 years ago? In most cases, probably not.
Everyone's talking about immersive learning right now, & with good reason. It's been proven that an immersive experience has a lasting effect on the recipient. With that in mind, we began developing our immersive SUD course back in 2021. Together with anet360, we worked to create a course to meet the learning objectives of SUD training.
Fast-forward to today, & we're proud to say that our SUD course has been JAUPT / DVSA approved several times already, & it's just been FORS approved by a customer. What does that mean? Well, for the first time ever, independent & in-house trainers can deliver an immersive experience in the safety of the classroom using our course.
We've combined a traditional trainer-led approach with cutting edge tech delivered in numerous ways; eye tracking video from the point of view of an HGV & bicycle rider, ten 360 videos accessed through a smartphone app (including on-motorcycle), a bank of quiz questions to test the driver, with 10 randomly selected from 150 each time they use it, ID & feedback delivered through the app (so no more bits of paper to sign!) & a back-end platform so trainers can see exactly how each driver has performed.
What makes our course different to other VR courses? Well, drivers don't have to wear a VR headset to experience the 360 video (of course, we'd prefer it if they did), no other UK training developer uses eye tracking tech for road safety, drivers can use the app (available for Android & iPhone) after the course has finished (which supports knowledge retention) & it's cost effective; instead of spending hundreds on a VR headset, our headset costs just £29.99. Instead of spending huge sums to develop a course, customers can simply choose a subscription to unlock access to everything they need.
What's more, we update our training content at least once every 6 months. That way, it remains relevant, up-to-date & engaging.
If you'd like to know more, please visit https://www.transformotion.ie/nextgendrivertraining and start your journey towards a different SUD!