Putting Safety First

All of Downton’s drivers will soon be completing special cycle safety training as part of the company’s commitment to FORS (Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme). This is a programme of skills and awareness training for commercial vehicle operators implemented by Transport for London to encourage safer and more fuel-efficient driving in the capital.

Although the FORS programme includes a number of different modules, Downton will be focussing first on cyclist safety awareness in support of city cycle initiatives and its own desire to keep the growing number of cyclists safer on the roads. The training is computer-based and all of the company’s drivers will work through an online, e-learning module to help them understand about driving safely in built-up areas where pedestrians and cyclists are likely to be present. Cyclists can be particularly vulnerable, especially at junctions, and drivers can help reduce risk by better understanding the safety issues.

The online module includes an interactive video that shows typical city-driving scenarios and content about incidents involving cyclists and vehicles. The drivers are asked to respond to specific questions that show they have understood the safety issues. The test takes less than half an hour and drivers can repeat it until the reach the score needed to pass. The company will help drivers who are unfamiliar with computers so that they can complete the test.

Downton will be rolling out the cyclist safety awareness training over the next few months, depot by depot, with the aim of including all drivers as soon as possible.

The FORS Professional scheme provides managers and drivers with a package of essential training designed to improve knowledge and professional standards. Designed for commercial vehicle operators, it addresses in detail today’s safety and efficiency challenges. In addition to the cyclist safety module the programme also includes sections on smarter driving, parking and loading safely, and fuel-efficient driving. Downton will introduce these other modules once its drivers have completed their cyclist safety training. As part of its wider commitment to road safety, the company ensures that all its vehicles are equipped with the correct mirrors, alarms and other safety devices.

Mark Whittall, Downton’s Health & Safety Manager, said: “As professionals, everyone at Downton wants to make sure our operations are carried out as safely as possible, not just in London but everywhere our vehicles visit. By completing the FORS training, our drivers will learn new skills and become more professional while ensuring we are fully compliant as a business.”