Assessing the situation

DIA Insurance ADI News

In previous issues I have spoken about legislation and the occupational risks the driver can pose to the company. I also mentioned the subjectivity and objectivity of the judgements and the weighting applied to strategic risks.

We mentioned reports in the last edition, and this time we will look at the assessment form and the weighting of the faults. The marking could be a points based system, or a ‘satisfactory/unsatisfactory’ system.

When engaged in the fleet sector, you may get asked to carry out one of two types of work:

Assessing only

Assessment with development

Assessing only

This is where an organisation is recruiting and need to use you as a ‘gatekeeper’ to ensure that the standards of the driver that enters the business meets a minimum competence that is worth building on and improving to reduce risk later.

Assessment with development

This is where the trainer may get a trainee for a half day and assess the calibre of driving at the start of the session and develop the candidate to help improve to a standard that is acceptable to the business, and re-assessing at the end to show improvement, and reporting the findings.

In each case a report is written. Some organisations will give you the assessment form and you complete it according to their instructions, weighting the faults to their instructions and writing the report at the end of the session according to the layout they request.

If you are independent, this could be different, and you will have to supply your own forms and sensible marking criteria to formulate the risk rating. In this instance, the simplest marking system is 1-4 over 20-25 descriptors. This gives you a score out of 80-100. The marking is considered in the following way:

Assessment scoring
Score Grading Recommendation to management
0-20 (0-25) Green (low risk)
21-30 (26-38) Amber (medium risk)
31-80 (39-100) Red (high risk)
Table 1: Assessment scoring for a 20 descriptor form (and a 25 descriptor form)

Recommendation to management is completed according to whether you are a gatekeeper, or a developer. If gatekeeping, ‘green’ would be ‘employ’, ‘amber’ would be ‘consider carefully for driving’ and ‘red’ would be ‘do not employ for driving’.

You must remember that although you are assessing a candidate’s driving competencies, if they do not score well, they could still be useful for warehouse duties and developed for driving later. We, as trainers, must also consider that interviews cost the business money too, and so any business will not want a huge waste of potential ability that can be made good use of elsewhere. This is why you have got to get to know the company you are dealing with.

The actual marking of the assessment sheet is done at the end of the assessment. We are not dealing with the DL25 which is marked at convenient times during the practical driving test by a DVSA examiner. By marking at the end we can have a chance to reflect on what we are marking and not be hasty. Of course you can make reference to the notes that you made while you were on the route as mentioned in the last issue. The risk rating is as set in table 2 below.

Marking category Overview Description Example
4 Actual/potential danger An action that produces a danger to the safety of the occupants, vehicle or other road users. This would include actual contact with another object where no/late evasive action was made. The assessment would be terminated in the interest of road safety Driving too close to parked obstructions where contact is made with no evasive action or consideration.
Not stopping at a red light.
Approaching to turn left/right into a junction mouth forcing those crossing to run into danger.
3 Inappropriate actions Actons which were causing the driver to react in an inappropriate manner, including late reactions, lack of planning/observation which in general, was causing concerns to safety of driver/occupants, vehicle and other road users. Approaching a traffic light controlled junction with no regard to the fact that the lights could change to red at any time – just simply following the vehicle in front.
Meeting situations where the driver fails to slow for oncoming traffic that clearly has priority.
2 Minor deficiencies in driving Minor weaknesses which are regarded to cause undue concern to the driver/occupants, the vehicle, or other road users. A late gear change that stretches the engine slightly too much.
1 A high standard Showing a high regard in terms of confidence, competence, care, consideration, courtesy and safety to themselves, passengers, vehicle, and all other road users. Drives to conditions under control with full awareness of the environment that they are driving in and through.
Table 2: The assessment scoring shown in table one is derived from the allocated score to each descriptor (above) according to the competence being shown by the candidate. 

In the actual/potential danger category the description shows that the assessment should be terminated. If ‘gatekeeping’ (assessing only) then this would warrant the vehicle to be pulled up to the side of the road and the assessor stop the assessment in the interest of road safety. The assessor would note what happened and where, and drive the vehicle back to the company.

If assessing and developing, the trainer would stop the remainder of the assessment and pull the client up and discuss what happened and develop that straight away and then continue with general development. Of course, all is reported accordingly.

You can see from the assessment form example on page 36 (fig 1) that table 2 relates to the 20 descriptors. There are two columns on the form. On the left is the initial assessment, scoring 1-4, which conjugates the specific objectives that need to be developed. These should be the most serious of the weaknesses and there should be agreement that these should be worked on in the development stage. There may also be some disciplines to cover that are stipulated by the client company. It is not uncommon for companies with larger vehicles to insist that at least 30 minutes is designated to reversing.

The column on the right is for the final assessment to establish if learning and understanding has been achieved and also helps to develop the content for the report. It helps the client see their improvement and reflect on what behavioural changes and attitudes need to continue.

There are a few cosmetics to consider too. For example, when assessing and developing, ensure that you are insured for driving the client’s vehicle if demonstration driving is required. You may be required to be added to the fleet insurance.

This could be an advantage, because once this is done, you become the ‘go-to’ driver trainer. Being added usually consists of obtaining a driving licence check code and providing a copy of your PL/PI certificate. Depending on the insurance company, you may need to be on the Fleet Register, but this is not always the case.

Another thing to be careful of is times. Always make a note of the start and end of the training, and also the time you are behind the wheel if doing a demonstration drive. If the client company gets a speeding notification for that vehicle for that day, you need to ensure you know whether it was you or not. It shouldn’t be, of course, but you could be questioned over the times you drove the vehicle. If you are training a full day on 2:1, ensure you keep records of who was driving when for the entire training session. The company may ask the question and if you can furnish the answer, then it makes things easier for them to deal with.

I had an instance many years ago where a researcher was brought over from China for a medical research programme and had very little experience of driving in the UK. He was brought into work by a colleague in the same car that I was using for training, and the colleague allowed my candidate to ‘have a go at driving’ on the A23 dual carriageway, close to M23 Pease Pottage services. My candidate was caught by a mobile camera unit doing 62 in a 50 limit through roadworks. I was unaware of this incident, but the vehicle was registered to the company I was engaged by.

I received a phone call about 10 days later from a very serious sounding fleet manager demanding what I had been up to. I told him to read the report that I had written about the day’s training. Because I had put the times on the assessment sheet, and I also had to sign for the vehicle for the training session, I had a paper trail of times. The speeding incident took place nearly 90 minutes before I had even got on site!

On the reverse of our example you have the three specific objectives. These are derived from the marking of the form on the front in the left hand column of descriptors. So those descriptors that are marked as the weakest would be the things to highlight, but not to solely concentrate on. You may have four, or even five weaknesses but you must work on the serious ones first and then everything else that needs attending too. The specific objectives must be agreed with the client so that they have ownership of the learning objectives and ask them how they think they can improve on the weakness. A lot of the problem is behaviour and task management that needs to be addressed. By tackling it, they take ownership of the changes in behaviour too and will start to make concerted efforts, under your guidance, to correct it.

The right hand column of descriptors is used for a second assessment towards the end of the session. You must allow time for discussion at the end to inform what is going to be put in the report. Generally, the report is required to be with the client company within five working days.

If you are assessing only, then you would have a form that would have one column of descriptors. At the end of the assessment you would normally ask the candidate to comment on the drive and perhaps give a little feedback. Very often you will be asked by the client company to write the report up straight away in privacy and the HR department would give the result as they would have to look at the notes of how well the interview went and consider the suitability of the candidate.

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Source: ADI News

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