FLEET intouch recently had the opportunity to catch up with driver training expert Stephen Haughey of XDrive. Stephen was recently awarded certification by the International Four Wheel Drive Trainers’ Association and we asked Stephen about his journey in driver training.
FI: Stephen – how did you get started in the industry?SH:
I started my career as an auditor/accountant before changing over to engineering. I always had a love for the outdoors and all things mechanical.
I hold a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), am a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a fleet management certificate from IPWEA and management, training and occupational health and safety certificates.
I have managed workshops and garages, including government entities comprising of 7 locations, 2500 vehicles, 1200 items of yellow goods and 4500 employees.
I write articles for magazines and publications and I am working on two books, one on on-road driving titled ‘Think Different Drive Different’ and the other on off-road driving techniques and skills.FI: So where does XDrive fit in?SH:
XDrive specialises in safer driving (defensive driving), introduction to four wheel drive, advanced four wheel drive, winch/recovery, sand driving and trailer towing courses.
XDrive undertake fit for purpose evaluations and consultancy relating to change management, fleet management and reviews of policy and procedures. XDrive train individuals and corporate clients throughout the worldFI: I understand you’ve been involved in enduro and off-road motorcycle racing, how did that come about?SH:
Growing up in Scotland, we would hike the glens and mountains of the highlands I moved to Africa and explored on off-road motorcycles and old Land Rovers.
I really liked the remoteness of the places I visited and was lucky enough to have a job that enabled me to visit most of Sub-Saharan Africa. I was involved in plant and machinery valuations as well as consulting to the world bank on privatisation issues and visiting countries ravaged by war or natural disasters and rebuilding the infrastructure.
So began my real test of four wheel driving skills. I became more involved in off-road racing, both cars and motorcycles, taking part in some of the best off-road races in the world, including the Desert Race, Roof of Africa and many more one and two day enduro and off-road events throughout Africa. Managing off-road motorcycle teams, culminated in sending one of our riders to the famed Dakar Rally.
Four wheel drive vehicles were becoming more and more popular and with the advent of the dual–cab concept, things really started to change, as a four wheel drive was now not only the realm of farmers and miners.FI: How did the training idea develop?SH:
Working with vehicle manufacturers, distributors and dealerships as well as owning four farms in Africa also helped develop the concept of four wheel drive vehicle training and the driving skills associated with driving off-road. We used the farms for four wheel drive vehicle launches and drive days. Working with manufacturers and distributors also allowed me insight into the technology, which was developing rapidly including, ABS braking systems, traction and stability controls and the advent of off-road driving aids such as downhill assist and locking differentials.
So began my career as a four wheel drive trainer. I was a SCUBA diving instructor at that time and I took a lot of the training I had learnt from the diving and adapted this training methodology to driving.
I have lived in Australia for ten years. Snow driving to desert crossings, rainforests and sand islands are amongst some of the thrills awaiting exploration in a four wheel drive vehicle in Australia.
I have trained in many countries, including the UK, Africa, China, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea and the US and have enjoyed spending time with like-minded people who wish to learn more.FI: What does it mean to be certified by the International Four Wheel Drive Trainers’ Association?
SH: I am the only four wheel drive trainer in Australasia to be certified by the International Four Wheel Drive Trainers’ Association - I4WDTA as well as the only four wheel drive trainer in Australia to hold the Master Tread Trainer certification from Tread Lightly LLC and now I am one of only five people in the world to be certified as a Master Trainer by the I4WDTA.More information on XDrive and Stephen is available here.