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North East bus drivers are the elite

16 Mar 2017

Nearly 300 Stagecoach North East employees have joined the ranks of the elite and leading the way in a global performance scheme which measures safe and fuel-efficient driving.

Michael Emmet 3

A total of 280 drivers from the local bus operator’s six depots across the north east have been awarded Fleet Elite status under the programme managed by GreenRoad, whose telematics system serves professional drivers in the UK, Ireland, Europe, the Middle East, America, Australia and New Zealand.

29 drivers from Hartlepool, 68 drivers from Slatyford in Newcastle, 56 drivers from South Shields, 29 drivers from Teesside, 52 drivers from Sunderland and 46 drivers from Walkergate in Newcastle have received the Fleet Elite standard. 

Of these, 182 Fleet Elite drivers throughout the six depots have achieved the Gold badge for consistently maintaining the Fleet Elite safe and fuel-efficient driving standard.

Using a traffic-light LED system on the dashboard, GreenRoad gives drivers instant feedback on their driving manoeuvres, encouraging smoother, safer, and more fuel-efficient driving. The GreenRoad system is installed on all Stagecoach vehicles at the Group's bus companies. It uses a dashboard traffic lights-style system to provide instant feedback to drivers to encourage smoother and safer driving. 

28-year-old Michael Emmet from Houghton-le-Spring, a bus driver in Sunderland of almost four years, has achieved the gold standard for Fleet Elite this year for the first time, after gaining silver last year. He said:

"I try to keep my score down to zero as best as I can and drive how I normally would in my car. The best way to achieve this is by planning ahead and trying to expect the unexpected, which is what I was taught when learning to drive the bus, so I have improved on my driving record.

"At the end of the day you are carrying people so it is very important to to maintain a smooth and safe driving style. Driving a bus on the roads at least 40 hours or week in the conditions of a city centre is challenging so it is nice to be recognised and I am very proud." 

Fleet Elite standard drivers must clock up more than 500 driving hours in a year and achieve an average of five or less events, such as harsh braking or acceleration, per 10 hours of driving over the calendar year. 
Steve Walker, Managing Director, Stagecoach North East, said: “This achievement reflects the thorough training our drivers receive as well as the commitment and professionalism that our people display on a daily basis. Smoother, fuel-efficient driving is safer and provides more comfortable journeys for our customers as well as helping to cut our carbon footprint.”

Stagecoach drivers account for almost half of the 9930 drivers globally who met the Fleet Elite standard in 2016. More Stagecoach employees gained Fleet Elite status than any other bus operator – or other company on the scheme – in the UK and worldwide.

Around 19 percent of Stagecoach’s 19,000-strong driving team have achieved the prestigious benchmark. All employees who meet the Fleet Elite standard receive a special badge in recognition of their achievement.

Research by GreenRoad shows that in extreme cases driving decisions are responsible for up to 33 percent of fuel spend. Even experienced, professional drivers have the potential to improve their fuel efficiency 4 percent with the right guidance. To date, use of GreenRoad’s system and Stagecoach’s comprehensive driver training programme has helped deliver a 3 percent improvement in fuel efficiency across Stagecoach operations in the UK.

Stagecoach has also supported its multi-million-pound investment in the GreenRoad technology with a dedicated annual driver bonus pot. Employees can earn ‘green points’ for greener driving, which is converted into a cash bonus. In 2016, around £1.1million of bonus payments were made to Stagecoach drivers.

Dougie Portwood, Head of GreenRoad’s Strategic Programme Management, said: “2016 has been an impressive year for GreenRoad drivers worldwide with more than ever attaining Fleet Elite status.” 

“Fleet, Safety and Risk Managers around the world recognise that the Fleet Elite programme has a huge positive impact on driver safety, performance and overall organisational culture. Many drivers have spoken of the pride of attaining Fleet Elite status year after year.”

In 2016 more than 11 percent of GreenRoad’s professional driver base achieved Fleet Elite status, representing a 15 percent increase over 2015. Each year the percentage of GreenRoad drivers who achieve Fleet Elite status worldwide has increased – a testament to the in-cab feedback that encourages drivers to continually improve, embedding good driving habits. This not only improves road safety, leading to lower insurance premiums and reduced accident-related costs, but it also improves fuel economy.

Stagecoach has invested £1billion over the past 10 years in brand new vehicles for local communities across the UK.