Sweden’s Volvo Buses is embarking on a driver safety training initiative together with its partners in the Middle East transport industry, private bus operators and regional public transport authorities.

By working closely with operators and authorities in the UAE, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, the OEM hopes to have a positive impact in the MENA region by reducing road accidents, as well as improving fuel efficiency and thereby reducing the environmental impact of its vehicles.

The initiative will consist of a series of refresher driver training programmes conducted in the native languages of the drivers in the region.

In an example of a recent training course conducted for a Volvo Bus customer in Tunisia, drivers increased their fuel efficiency by a full 8% - lowering costs for the operator, as well as the impact on local air quality and carbon dioxide emissions.

The course covers topics will also emphasises product knowledge, including the correct use of Volvo bus features and hands-on training in the execution of daily checks and preventive maintenance.

Steve Hedouin, vice president for the region at Volvo Bus Corporation, notes: “The human factor plays a decisive role in nine out of ten road accidents. It is therefore paramount that drivers know the risks on the roads.

“We intend to focus on improving driving and behavioural skills, and helping drivers make the right decisions, with the right attitude, to prevent accidents from occurring. Our driver safety courses can also impact businesses financially as skilled drivers improve fuel efficiency and vehicle uptime.”

The company also aims to develop local expertise through the process of creating the course content for the training programmes in each market.

From people to product

In Volvo’s B8 range of buses, the latest models are also equipped with features such as Electronic Braking Systems, Electronic Stability program and I-Coaching, that take the pressure off the driver.

I-coaching is a telematics-based assistant that monitors driving patterns and provides drivers with instant feedback on vital parameters, including over-speeding and harsh braking, to prevent poor behaviour from leading to accidents.

Hedouin adds that millions of people across the region us Volvo buses, and the company has made ensuring that passengers are safely delivered to their destination a part of its corporate mission.

He explains: “In 1927, Volvo’s founders stated that ’Safety is and must be the basic principle in all design work’. Today, almost 90 years later, we’re still leading the way with a range of pioneering safety innovations that are making their way throughout the vehicle industry.”

Notably, in ‎‎1958, it was a Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin that invented the three-point safety belt that is used ‎globally in trucks, cars and buses today, and which has saved millions of lives all over the world.

Hedouin concludes. “Safety always comes first at Volvo Buses, it is a core value and part of our soul, so our vision is clear: Zero accidents with Volvo Group products.”