Learning in lockdown – Q&A with Nick Caesari, CEO of Fleet Source

18 June 2020

Transport for London (TfL) has given the go-ahead for driving training company Fleet Source to deliver FORS-funded training on road safety and environmental responsibility during lockdown. Fleet Source will provide the theory element of Safe Urban Driving, Van Smart and LoCity training but its online training is altogether different. We spoke to Fleet Source’s CEO, Nick Caesari, about its new lockdown-friendly training method.

Tell us more about this project?

We have been working with TfL since 2014 delivering its funded training programmes. TfL invests in FORS operators and contractors to allow them to meet FORS requirements with regards to vulnerable road users and environmental training.

What are classified as vulnerable road users and what does the Safe Urban Driving Course, in particular, do?

Cyclists, pedestrians, motorbike riders and horse riders are classified as vulnerable road users – anyone who is vulnerable when using the road network.

The Safe Urban Driving course is about giving drivers defensive driving skills: the ability to anticipate what vulnerable road users are about to do. It’s about building empathy in terms of space, particularly important when it comes to cyclists, and also the behaviours in and around small vehicles and horses.

Do all drivers have to go on the course?

Yes, every driver must undergo 35 hours of approved training every five years if they are driving heavy goods vehicles. That is governed by the DVSA. Typically, a driver will have seven hours a day of training over five days to get their 35 hours in that five-year period. The five-year term ends in 2024. FORS also has specific courses that FORS employers must undertake to meet accreditation requirements.

How many drivers will benefit?

In relation to this FORS training, there will be funding training available for around 5,000 drivers

How has the training changed during lockdown?

Before lockdown the basis of our training was classroom-based with up to 24 in a class. For obvious reasons, it was not practical to put 24 people in a classroom. A lot of our competitors moved to webinar platforms, like Zoom, and started delivery that way.

We wanted to differentiate our offering to make sure that engagement was at a higher level, so we effectively built a TV studio to deliver that training. The benefit over the traditional webinar is that in those instances the screen is dominated by a Powerpoint and you’ll be lucky to tell which one is the trainer.

With our training the delegate gets a full view of the trainer so you can see their face clearly. The trainer also has a presentation screen next to them – just think of Sky News and it’s exactly like that.

We are using the latest green screen technology, and in our studio environment the trainer gets to look at a 3.2-metre by 2.4-metre screen so he or she can see every single delegate clearly. This ensures higher engagement between trainer and delegate. The only challenge is that we are dealing with up to 20 different environments – people’s homes – so we do have speak to people about the importance of not being interrupted and keeping background noise down. We’ll mute them if it gets too noisy.

How do you monitor who’s watching and how do you know they have done the full required hours?

We have strict enrolment requirements to make sure the drivers are who they say they are. Licence checks have to be carried out beforehand as well.

In terms of the sessions themselves we have a tech team that monitors behaviours throughout, so if anybody disappears for some time, we monitor and track how long they went away from the course. We also monitor their attention to the screen to give us what we call an ‘attentiveness score’.

Operating in a similar way to a classroom, we build in rest and bathroom breaks, but if a student does need to step away from the course, we clock up the amount of time they have left to see if they meet the pre-determined pass threshold required for the course.

How many people can you get in on training course at any one time?

It’s limited to 20. They must register, providing a photo of themselves and their driving licence. On the morning of attendance, they must verify their identity. There are three forms of ID required.

Will this kind of training be the new normal?

We want it to be the new normal – we have invested in this. The benefits of doing it this way, outside of lockdown, are numerous. There is the great reduction of commuting time which also comes with additional environmental benefits, as the need for travel is eliminated completely.. We are collecting the data, with the objective of demonstrating to DVSA that Fleet Source Live truly has a place in driver training.