What's the next big thing in driver education?
When you think about driver education, what does it conjure up? I'm willing to bet the first thing that pops into your head is a classroom DCPC session or an on-the-road-practical right? (disclaimer; I'm not actually willing to bet cash!)
But driver education represents so much more than that. The official definition of education, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is 'a process of teaching, training and learning, especially in schools, colleges or universities, to improve knowledge and develop skills' so for me, driver education is anything where a driver can learn something to get better at what they do.
The more connected we become, the more possibilities there are. And while not every tech venture's successful (Hailo; remember that one? it was the next big thing in transportation but failed because it couldn’t replicate success beyond the UK) it shouldn't stop a good idea from blossoming.
With this in mind, there are so many great examples of driver education that use innovation, deploy a different way of thinking and tap into modern tech. Recently I’ve discovered, first hand, some great examples that also happen to make a real difference to road safety.
The Driver Handbook deals with an age old approach to driver communication. Thousands of companies still use print material to communicate and educate, yet increasingly drivers work more remotely more of the time.
In order to ‘manage-on-the-move’ most drivers use a device to stay connected, and it's this trend that the team behind The Driver Handbook recognised.
Like Easyfleetr, The Driver Handbook provides a way of sharing knowledge with drivers electronically, but more than a way of updating staff it creates an opportunity to keep up with continuous professional development; features like monthly toolbox talks, tips and guidance help drivers to stay in the know for more of the time, so for keeping it professional it’s right up there!
I was recently given a demonstration of how it works, and it was hugely impressive. A great user interface, intuitive controls, fresh content and no bits of paper to go missing, and in case you’re wondering the answer’s no, I haven’t been paid to promote it! It's just a great example of something that can make a real difference to driver education.
A couple of months ago I had the pleasure to attend the launch of something called Cycle Angel Alert. This ground-breaking system deals with the very real problem of VRU (Vulnerable Road User) safety by giving drivers something they’ve never had before; the precise location of a cyclist or VRU in proximity to their vehicle.
Currently, drivers use cameras and / or sensors to know what’s around them, which can be overwhelming on the eye and taxing on the brain. But this system uses a driver app to communicate directly with a VRU app to show drivers the precise location of others by pinpointing their whereabouts on the road, which is displayed on a monitor or smartphone.
This totally eliminates blind spots, has the potential to reduce in-cab tech that currently bombards drivers with beeps, bongs and visual clutter and can help educate drivers and road planners through anonymised trend analysis. Clever stuff.
The Driver Handbook, Cycle Angel Alert and our own anet360 immersive learning are great examples of how tech can make a real-world difference to driver education.
If we want to tackle a driver shortage then we should deliver a professional experience to professional drivers, and rather than do things the same as they've always been we should do things differently, not just because we can but for a better, safer working environment.