Operations

Lessons From A Back-To-Basics Round-Up

Martin Romjue
Posted on January 12, 2019
Judges measured contestant parking and spacing results to compute scores. (All photos by LCT staff)
Judges measured contestant parking and spacing results to compute scores. (All photos by LCT staff)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — While the industry’s focus goes mostly to customer service, sales, and revenues, none of it happens for a company if the chauffeur behind the wheel doesn’t do a good job maneuvering the vehicle.

The first ever industry driving test, the “LCT Chauffeur Rodeo” held Nov. 4 at LCT-NLA Show East, tested operators on skills everyone assumes are mastered. While the event scored all the drivers and produced winners, the big takeaway is what operators and their chauffeurs can learn about safety in unknown weak spots.

At one station, drivers had to avoid tapping a pylon with an egg on top. . . whoops.
At one station, drivers had to avoid tapping a pylon with an egg on top. . . whoops.
“The primary goal was getting drivers and managers together to demonstrate what people in the industry do every single day,” said Bob Crescenzo, the vice president of Lancer Insurance Company, which sponsored the rodeo in the parking lot of Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center, site of LCT East. “It raised awareness of how important driving skills are, but that we sometimes take for granted what we think we know but haven’t been challenged to do in day-to-day driving.”

Practical Training

The event consisted of two parts. First, each contestant took a short driving assessment quiz which counted as 50 points toward the overall score. Second, each engaged in four key driving skill challenges — such as parallel parking, cornering, left turns, and backing — which counted for an additional 200 points (50 points each) for a possible total score of 250 points.

Contestants could choose to participate in the CDL (commercial drivers’ license)  and/ or non CDL divisions. Contestants in the CDL division drove a minibus, while those in the non-CDL one drove a Cadillac Escalade. Winners were chosen based on rankings of overall scores (see accompanying photos). “We wanted to go beyond just driving skills, and evaluate their customer service skills and knowledge,” Crescenzo said.

The three winners in each category tended to do well in all of the categories, but some  who were OK in the driving part excelled in the knowledge assessment, while others were somewhat better in the driving skills test but exceptional in the customer service (written test) part, Crescenzo said.

Skills Alert

The

Everyday driving skills can require a lot of concentration, even for seasoned operators.
Everyday driving skills can require a lot of concentration, even for seasoned operators.
most common claims Lancer Insurance sees in its vast book of luxury ground transportation business are sideswipes, parking collisions, and rear-enders, Crescenzo said. The most expensive claims are pedestrian hits.

“The course was set up specifically to look at the ability to do serpentine moves around objects, parallel park close to a curb, back into a tight spot, and be able to complete a safe left turn,” he said. “All of those stations relate to parking, sideswipes, rear-end situations, and pedestrian hits.”

Tennessee operator Bonnie Boss backs up the big SUV with room to spare.
Tennessee operator Bonnie Boss backs up the big SUV with room to spare.
The rodeo proved insightful and humbling for participants, as they could see how well they’ve kept up with refined driving skills. Future Chauffeur Rodeo courses should be expanded with more participants, adding more test stations to expand skill evaluations.

“At Lancer, we are committed to safety driver training and relying on skilled drivers,” Crescenzo said. “The rodeo combined our philosophy with those of participating companies of testing skills and providing safe, smooth, and comfortable rides to passengers.”

Behind The Wheel Winners

The first, second, and third place trophies for the First Annual Chauffeur Rodeo were presented at the People’s Choice Awards celebration on Nov. 5. In that order, CDL winners included Marlo Denning, Alex Darbahani, and Robert Gaskill, and non-CDL winners were Ivan Batiashvili, Harry Dhillon, and Mohmmad Mumtaz (pictured is Ron Robinson, who accepted on his behalf). Overall, the best scoring participants were Marlo Denning, Alex Darbahani, and Ivan Batiashvili.

(L to R) Robert Gaskill, Alex Darbahani, Marlo Denning, and LCT Publisher Sara Eastwood-Richardson.
(L to R) Robert Gaskill, Alex Darbahani, Marlo Denning, and LCT Publisher Sara Eastwood-Richardson.

(L to R) Ron Robinson, Harry Dhillion, Ivan Batiashvili, and LCT Publisher Sara Eastwood-Richardson.
(L to R) Ron Robinson, Harry Dhillion, Ivan Batiashvili, and LCT Publisher Sara Eastwood-Richardson.

(L to R) Marlo Denning, Alex Darbahani, Ivan Batiashvili, and Lancer’s Bob Crescenzo.
(L to R) Marlo Denning, Alex Darbahani, Ivan Batiashvili, and Lancer’s Bob Crescenzo.

Related Topics: chauffeur behavior, chauffeur training, driver behavior, driver safety, driver training, hiring chauffeurs, human resources, Lancer Insurance, LCT-NLA Show East

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