Rising diesel prices, an environmental tax, a truck toll, and intense competition are forcing shipping companies in Germany to do all they can to keep costs down in order to succeed on the market.

This principle has been the primary focus of Mercedes-Benz’ driver training programs at the Wörth truck plant, which have been meeting customers’ needs for 40 years. The plant itself produces state-of-the-art trucks, while professional trainers ensure that these vehicles can be operated as economically as possible. This is important because those who drive economically can conserve fuel and reduce vehicle wear and tear. In addition, economical driving enhances traffic safety, helps to protect the environment, and reduces driver stress, even at the same level of transport volume.

Drivers of Mercedes-Benz trucks get the technical knowledge they need to efficiently operate their new vehicle from the Driver Information Service, one of the three standard components in the service package offered by the Mercedes-Benz Professional Driver Training program. The majority of customers who pick up their truck directly from the factory also take advantage of the opportunity to take part in the program. Recently, the new PLUS driver training feature began offering them the possibility of combining the vehicle pick-up with a seven-hour instruction module based on the requirements of Germany’s new professional driver qualification law.

40 years of Mercedes-Benz professional driver training
The Professional Driver Training program, which originated in Wörth, is also offered locally in all the brand’s key export markets. Last year, more than 65,000 drivers worldwide participated in the broad-based, practice-oriented training and instruction program. A total of 22,000 of the approximately 31,000 professional training customers in Germany took part in the Driver Information Service module at the Wörth plant in 2008, and nearly 9,000 attended Eco and Safety workshops, as well as other special classes.

Energy prices are not expected to stabilize in the near future, which is why more drivers than ever before are making use of the training and information opportunities available at the Wörth Customer Center. The large number of participants in the various seminars and courses demonstrate not only the great demand for knowledge, but also the high level of acceptance that the training facility in Wörth enjoys. “We want to show drivers that it’s not just technological progress that contributes to higher transport volumes, maximum safety, and lower fuel consumption, but also that economical driving habits can play a very helpful role,” says Frans Eikelboom, head of the Wörth Customer Center.

Mercedes-Benz has been providing its truck customers with services for safely and efficiently operating their vehicles for four decades. The Wörth Customer Center opened in 1969 at the Wörth plant, which is one of the largest truck manufacturing facilities in the world. From the very beginning, the service center provided training courses focused on technological advances that reduce the strain commercial vehicles place on the environment, and on driving techniques for improving traffic safety. It was also at that time that the Wörth Customer Center began putting together an information package for drivers who came to pick up their new truck at the Wörth plant.

30 years of Mercedes-Benz Eco training
Then, ten years later, the first training programs for achieving greater economy with truck operation were created. The second major service component of the Mercedes-Benz Professional Driver Training program is learning, understanding and actually implementing techniques for economical driving. The Driver Information Service offered to customers picking up their trucks can only touch upon these areas, which is why the Economy programs focus on economical and ecological vehicle operation. “Today’s Eco workshops for reducing fleet costs, which run for one, two, or three days, can therefore fall back on three decades of experience,” says Eikelboom.

Eco training seminars really pay off, as Eikelboom explains: “Our experience with the program over the last 30 years shows that participation in a Mercedes-Benz professional training Eco workshop nearly always results in long-term fuel savings as high as five percent.”

Driving-safety training for nearly 20 years
Traffic jams, disabled vehicles, cargo spills, snow and hail — drivers have a lot to face day to day. Truck drivers are particularly challenged in this regard, as hardly a day goes by without some type of precarious situation occurring — situations that require drivers to react quickly and properly by braking, taking evasive action, counter-steering, and warning other road users.

Professional trainers at Mercedes-Benz therefore established safety training for truck drivers as the third service package component nearly 20 years ago. This training program, which is conducted by experienced instructors, makes use of an extensive fleet of commercial vehicles of all classes, including a tractor-trailer with stabilizers.

New professional driver qualification law
A new German law requires commercial drivers who transport cargo to receive additional training until September 2014. The legislation is designed to improve overall traffic safety, ensure better protection for drivers of vehicles over 3.5 tons GVW, and reduce environmental pollution. The new law requires commercial vehicle drivers to complete 35 hours of further training at a certified facility every five years. Participation is mandatory, and an entry is made in the participant’s driver’s license upon completion of the course. Those who fail to produce such confirmation can be fined up to €5,000 as a driver; the fine for employer companies in such instances can be up to €20,000.

“Our professional trainers at Mercedes-Benz have long been equipped to accommodate such a law,” says Eikelboom. Since 2008, in fact, the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles has been offering seminars that fully satisfy the new law’s requirements, and the brand’s training programs and seminars are all certified in accordance with the legislation.

Source: Daimler AG