Highways England (HE) used the CV Show to engage with commercial vehicle drivers and launch a number of new safety initiatives.
The first is a new Driver CPC training course all about using smart motorways safely and efficiently.
This free, eight-hour course, developed alongside the FTA, is said to provide practical training about the past, present and future of smart motorways; it will include the different signals on the network, driver behaviour and the role of traffic officers.
Senior partnership manager at Highways England, Wayne Carey, said: “Hauliers are among the most frequent users of smart motorways so we want to ensure we are providing as much support as we can to ensure those journeys are as safe as possible.”
Dairy firm Muller has been one of the first fleet operators to try the new course, which has been provided through training firm Pertemps. Carey confirmed to CM that Muller had so far put 350 drivers through the new course, with 94% rating it excellent.
Jen Cowie, logistic support and development manager at Müller, said: “It’s essential that our drivers are fully equipped to deal with their surroundings. We are delighted to be working with Highways England on this training, from concept to delivery, and we continue to work together closely, which not only benefits the business, but the overall road network.”
Speaking at the CV Show, Malcom Bingham, FTA head of road network management policy, said association members believe smart motorways are the way to go due to the greater reliability they offer, which is “crucial to our industry”.
However, he said there are certain aspects operators are unsure about, such as why slower speed limits have been set, for example. This has led to a “little lack of faith” in the system from some operators, he added.
He believes the new training will help inform and guide operators as to why such decisions are made.
“This is the right way forward - providing drivers with true guidance on how to use the network and not adding confusion about which parts of the road they can use and when. That has been borne out by driver feedback on the pilot courses we have run,” said Bingham.
“It also demonstrates the need to respect the Red X signs set up when there is a problem on the network and provides assurance that these lanes are vital tool in keeping drivers safe in emergency situations.”
Any company which wishes to enrol their drivers on the training should email: SPTC_Driver_Education_Course@highwaysengland.co.uk
Highways England also launched a new virtual reality safety app at the show, which helps train drivers in HGV blind spots.
It can be accessed on a smart phone attached to a simple pair of cardboard goggles that drivers can use before they get behind the wheel.
It includes five road safety scenarios for both left and right-hand-drive vehicles and has been developed to stress the importance of adjusting mirrors to cater for driving in a different way when in the UK.
Highways England is also working on a number of other safety initiatives with the commercial vehicle sector.
These include partnering with police using HGV cabs to target dangerously driven vehicles; installation of tyre/vehicle measurement technology at key locations; working with HSE and police to improve load security and prevent diesel spillages; development of truck stop apps in Polish and Romanian.
Image: Press Association