Local firms go the extra Countrymile
EMPLOYEES at Barnstaple based building firm Pearce Construction are about to complete the final stage of a major programme to develop their driving skills. The company has a 45-strong vehicle fleet, ranging from cars to 7.5 tonne trucks, with drivers cov
EMPLOYEES at Barnstaple based building firm Pearce Construction are about to complete the final stage of a major programme to develop their driving skills. The company has a 45-strong vehicle fleet, ranging from cars to 7.5 tonne trucks, with drivers covering up to 500 miles a week. All 110 staff have had their driving assessed through Devon's Countrymile project - at no cost to the company. Expert instructors provided a mixture of theoretical and practical training for staff at Pearce, who took part in groups to avoid disruption to the business. The training was aimed at improving and developing their existing skills on the road.Cllr Margaret Rogers, Devon County Council's executive member for environment, said: "Driver training is one of the many innovative ways that the Devon Countrymile project is making a difference to improving safety on our country roads. Education and helping people improve their skills is a vital part of the project."Pearce Construction managing director David Parsons was the driving force behind his staff signing up to the scheme. He was concerned about meeting the latest corporate responsibility requirements for company vehicle drivers. The company decided to first assess and where necessary enhance the skills of the company's younger drivers - an age group statistically at higher than average risk. This successful initial phase was so well received that it was a natural progression to provide other staff with similar training, ensuring that anyone driving the company's vehicles throughout its operating area from North Devon to Cornwall now has the knowledge and skills to be a safer driver. Mr Parsons said: "Staff have been very appreciative of this scheme. The actual training was of high quality and professionally handled, and we're now much more confident about meeting the company's legal responsibilities. "We've all learned something - but best of all it didn't cost our company anything, as the training was fully funded in the Countrymile project area."Devon County Council is one of four Beacon authorities to receive �1.5 million of funding from the Department of Transport to research problems facing road users to find how to reduce casualties in rural areas.