More women than ever want to get behind the wheel of a truck, according to the latest statistics. And Scania’s driver training programme Road to Work can help them.

A Twitter poll carried out by the Freight Transport Association asked ladies if they were willing to drive a 44-tonne truck as less than one per cent of truckers are currently female and 79% of respondents voted ‘yes’. As a result FTA now says it is important to explore why more women aren’t coming into the industry.

The increase in women wanting to drive trucks is positive news for the industry, which faces a serious driver shortage in coming years because almost two-thirds of existing truckers are aged over 45 and the average age is over 50.

Around 2,200 of the 315,000 registered truck drivers in the UK are female, but the FTA says in response to the survey results that the latest statistics show that the gender balance, and the number of younger women wanting to enter the profession, is improving, with 15 per cent aged between 21 and 25.

FTA skills policy development manager Sally Gilson said: “These figures are encouraging as it is essential that more women are recruited – currently only one per cent of HGV drivers in the UK are female.

“We believe that one of the biggest barriers for would-be truck drivers is the cost of gaining a licence and training – around £3,000. FTA has been calling on Government to provide a suitable loan system.”

More HGV tests being taken

The survey news comes on the back of some positive figures revealed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), which saw more HGV driving licence tests taken and passed in the year to 31 March 2016.

Category C tests increased by 29% to 45,513 (2015: 35,303). There was a corresponding increase in passes, up 30% to 24,502 (18,867), equivalent to a pass rate of 53.8%.

At the heavy end, category C+E tests were up by more than a quarter (26%) at 19,614 (15,582). Here there were 10,973 passes, 20% higher than the previous year (8,764), which meant the pass rate was 55.9%. While this is an increase over recent years, it is still 30 per cent behind the pass rate of 10 years ago.

Scania helps new drivers from the start

Matthew Watson, general manager Scania Optimised Services, says many of the traditional barriers to becoming a professional large or heavy goods vehicle driver are being removed as employers embrace new working practices to overcome the shortage of drivers. 

He said: “The traditional view of a driver is someone that leaves the yard on Sunday night and doesn’t come home until Friday night but for the majority of drivers that is not the case. 

“Many drivers know what shifts they will be doing weeks in advance allowing them to plan around personal commitments and employers are more open to job share or part time drivers. 

“This is one reason why Scania set up its Road to Work programme in 2014, helping people into the industry.  The Road to work scheme takes people through the process of becoming a driver from the very start including organising things like medicals, theory tests and driving tests.  

“Everyone that successfully completes the Road to Work Scheme has a driver qualification card enabling them to drive professionally for a living for the next five years.” 

To date the Scania RTW programme has helped put over 1,200 new drivers in the road including over 500 job seekers who have received support from their local job centre.

Continuing support in Road to Work programme

The Scania Road to Work programme is able to provide support far after the customer gains their licence, with all Scanias having the OnBoard telematics ‘black box’ fitted as standard since 2011

Scania’s driver coaches can watch new and existing drivers, their driving habits, routes and loads all remotely. 

As Watson explains, this enables Scania’s driver coaches to call up the driver and provide assistance over the phone to improve driving styles which improves fuel consumption and decreases the risk of accidents while also reducing wear and tear on the vehicle.  

“Drivers are treated as professionals by their dedicated coach much like a sports person in training for a major tournament or games drivers can have coaches too. Coaching sessions can be scheduled at agreed intervals with most customers choosing monthly sessions initially.”

As well as the coaching report the transport manager or designated staff can use the Scania OnBoard Control package to track their vehicles and monitor the performance of their drivers and vehicles. Drivers can monitor their own progress by downloading a free app.

Scania’s average fuel saving is 10% and this is when training and coaching experienced drivers!

Driving and working hours compliance is covered by Scania’s Remote Tachograph service which automatically downloads driver card and vehicle unit information instantly analysing drivers performance against legislation.

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