I’ve seen drivers save up to 40% in fuel

Willem-Jan Majoor has been training truck drivers for nearly 30 years. From complete novices to seasoned professionals with decades of experience – he has yet to meet a driver who couldn’t learn something new from one of his practical courses.

How much influence does the driver have over a truck’s fuel consumption?
The driver has huge influence – in fact they are the single biggest factor. The difference between a well-trained driver and an average driver can be around ten per cent. But I’ve seen drivers save up to 40 per cent. Even if you only make a small saving, considering how many kilometres’ trucks cover in a year, this can quickly add up to a lot of fuel.

How does driver training help?
We start by analysing individual driver technique and behaviour, and measure fuel consumption and driving techniques during the different stages, taking into account the conditions and duties they are performing. By analysing this data, we identify areas where that driver can improve. For example, they could be idling too much, or making too many unnecessary gear changes. We then customize a training programme that targets these areas and help them improve where it matters most.

Do drivers worry about what effect fuel-efficient driving will have on their productivity?
Yes, especially drivers who are often in a hurry. For example, we have a lot of drivers delivering flowers in Holland, who are on tight schedules. But we can actually help them become more productive because we show them how to increase their average speed. It’s all about reading and anticipating the traffic better, and sometimes being patient. This way you save both time and fuel.   

Can even experienced drivers still learn from driver training?
Actually, this happens a lot – I meet drivers with over 30-40 years experience who feel there is nothing more I can teach them. But trucks change a lot over time. They get new features and technology, and you need to know how to use them properly if you want to maximize the benefits.

So is driver training a continuous process?
It’s important to continue with regular training and follow-ups until you bring fuel consumption down to a level you’re happy with. However once you stop training, there is always a risk that drivers can revert back to old habits. For this reason, and the fact that trucks are constantly developing, I would recommend a refresher course every few years, and it’s important to keep monitoring driving techniques in the meantime.

What sorts of habits do drivers often revert back to?
Braking while turning is a common area. We try to teach drivers to get to the right speed before turning at roundabouts or corners, but many drivers can revert back to braking while turning. This not only wastes fuel but also increases the wear-and-tear on brakes and tyres.

Are there any advantages to being trained by the manufacturer, as opposed to a third party provider?
Quite simply, we know the trucks better. We receive the best training and support directly from Volvo Trucks, and really know how to maximise the vehicles and features.

Apart from reducing fuel consumption, are there any other benefits from driver training?
Absolutely. Many of the techniques we teach result in safer driving since it involves better anticipation and awareness. Another benefit is less wear-and-tear on the vehicle since we teach drivers to brake less. In fact often you can identify poor technique by the increased wear on their tyres. And finally, productivity can also increase, as the aim is to increase average speed.