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Driver training and vehicle choice at O’Donovan Waste Disposal

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O’Donovan is a waste management company with a 160-strong workforce and a fleet of 90 lorries.  Being London-based, the company is acutely aware of the dangers of the City’s congested roads and that road safety needs to be at the forefront of every driver’s mind.


Recent research from The Mayor’s Office revealed that all types of HGVs were involved in 57% of London cyclists killed between 2007 and 2014, despite making up just 4% of traffic. This has made safety and sustainability a major priority for O’Donovan, as exemplified by the following initiatives:

  • Training: Drivers have a clear, defined development plan with education and safety at the heart of their progression. Along with traditional classroom-based training, courses such as Safe Urban Driving sees drivers taking to the roads, cycling with trainers to gain first-hand experience of cycling in close proximity to HGVs and improving their understanding of the streetscape.
  • Fleet enhancements and vehicle design: O’Donovan has had significant involvement with leading manufacturers in the design, development, and launch of new vehicles. For example, they were the first company to adopt the Mercedes Benz Econic 4×2 skip loaders, which boasts a wide field of vision with a deep panoramic windscreen, fully glazed floor to ceiling ‘bus-style’ nearside door and lowered driving position to place the driver at eye level with cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Community events and partnerships: Another component of O’Donovan’s approach is to participate in events to spread awareness about road safety and to give people the opportunity to learn about the relationship between cyclists, pedestrians and HGVs.
  • Telematics: Training combined with a comprehensive telematics system gives real time feedback and identifies areas for further training and improvements in driving styles including speed, harsh braking, cornering and idling. The company has a dedicated Fleet Risk Manager to monitor driving styles and to ensure safe practices across operations.


O’Donovan’s commitment to these initiatives has seen drivers notably improve their driving habits, resulting in a considerable drop in the number of driving incidents recorded (e.g. harsh braking) over the course of a year.  Not only has this improved the safety of the fleet with insurance claims and premiums reduced by 20%, but CO2 emissions have also dropped by 21.5% while kilometres travelled have increased by 27.5% – a dramatic increase in fuel efficiency.