Training for tanker drivers: Safely on the road despite black ice

Thomas Berger is an experienced hand. He has been driving tankers for 20 years, and supplies AGRAVIS-Mineralölzentrum Mitteldeutschland (AMZ) customers with heating oil and diesel. When at the steering wheel of his tanker, he very rarely loses his composure. Nevertheless, he got to learn about a different aspect of his Volvo FM. Berger and 13 other colleagues from AMZ in Querfurt and also from Mineralölhandel Piening Mineralölhandel Piening , a subsidiary of AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG, took part in driver safety training in Nordhausen.

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The reassuring result: Drivers and vehicles are ready for critical situations in traffic, whilst everyone hopes that these situations will never occur. "The difference that ten kilometres per hour makes is blatant", said Berger, after he initially drove his truck at 30, then 40, then 50 km/h on the test track before carrying out an emergency stop. The ABS keeps the truck exactly in the lane – even on a wet road. However, the following still applies: The faster the vehicle, the greater the braking distance. The tanker drivers found out during training that this was not just theory. At a speed of 50 km/h the braking distance was three times as long compared to 30.

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An emergency stop is hardly part of day-to-day activities in traffic for tanker drivers. "I've never had to do one" said Sven Winnefeld, who works for Mineralölhandel Piening. Nevertheless, he found the training very helpful. "It is certainly sensible at any rate". The notion that drivers can fully rely on their vehicles in case of an emergency stop or evasive measures "is certainly reassuring", said Winnefeld. What is equally important is that the drivers in the cab are able to react correctly to a potential case in fractions of a second. They were able to practice this in Nordhausen whilst also gaining valuable tips from the trainers.

Prevention is the primary focus

"Our focus is prevention", emphasised René Lutze, training manager with the Berufsbildungszentrum Straßenverkehr (BBZ) in Nordhausen. With the autodrome in Nordhausen, the BBZ has the ideal site for simulating potentially hazardous situations. The asphalt track is 300 metres long, three different surfaces imitate real road conditions – from dry to black ice, a slippery surface that often arises during harvesting time.

Delighted after 20 years

Karsten Müller, head of the AGRAVIS oil centre in Querfurt, had the idea for driver safety training. "We did this once about 20 years ago", he remembered. "Those who were there back then are still delighted about it even today". Managing director Michael Rosehr explained that he had planned such training for drivers in the Piening Group for a long time. "As soon as the opportunity arose to do this together with AMZ Querfurt, I accepted instantly".

One pleasing side-effect: Driver safety training is recognised as a component within legally required training in accordance with the German Driver’s Qualification Act (Berufskraftfahrer-Qualifikations-Gesetz, BKrFQG). Driver safety training should be repeated every three years, recommends René Lutze. Thomas Berger and Sven Winnefeld certainly intend to be there once again.

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