White Van Man goes back to school

25 January 2006

Van drivers are being given the chance to take free advanced driving lessons, in a bid to lessen emissions and make their driving safer.

The Government's is pumping £1.3m into its Safe and Fuel-Efficient Drivers Scheme (SaFED). The scheme follows a successful pilot project, which found that advanced driving techniques could save drivers and businesses money, while at the same time reducing harmful emissions, without any impact on delivery times.

The government cash, announced today by Transport Secretary Alistair Darling, will fund 200 instructors to train 3500 van drivers across the UK. Drivers in small businesses or medium-sized enterprises using their own van qualify for free training, but others will have to pay what the Department for Transport calls 'a small contribution'.

Once trained, SaFED instructors will be able to market themselves more widely, so it's possible the scheme could, in time, apply to other professional road users, such as sales representatives.

This initial scheme trains drivers to avoid over-revving and to miss out unnecessary gearchanges, maintain correct stopping distances and avoid tailgating, and have greater road awareness.

The Government believes that these measures could offer drivers, businesses and the environment the following benefits (based on a driver doing 20,000 miles a year):

• save over a quarter of a tonne of carbon emissions;

• reduce fuel consumption by around 10% per vehicle;

• up to 59% fewer gearchanges;

• fewer accidents, lower insurance premiums, lower running costs and higher resale value of vehicles.

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