Mercedes Benz G-Wagon

DEWLP - Victorian Government. New vehicle assessment and driver training procedure review
Total Driver > Mercedes Benz G-Wagon

Issues to be addressed

Over 2 days in the Dandenong ranges in Melbourne’s East Total Driver evaluated the Mercedes Benz G-Wagon and assessed the following under operational conditions

  • Descending in steep country in Low Range Reverse
  • The effectiveness of the DELWP training program, regarding this issue.

In addition, opportunity was taken to discuss with the DELWP trainers/ instructors and evaluate not only their driving techniques, but their approach to training and feedback on the current processes.

Scope of Works

Total Driver were required to:

  • Test the G Wagon performance in steep country descending in reverse low range 4WD
  • Interview and drive with a limited number (3-4) of DELWP G Wagon drivers and instructors
  • Investigate the effectiveness of the DELWP G Wagon training program for this specific issue only
  • Investigate and provide comment on the manufacturers recommendations for driving under these specific conditions
  • Provide overall advice to DELWP, including any recommendations for improvement, on operating the G Wagon under these specific conditions

Executive Summary

The key challenge identified in the two-day assessment is that previous training methodologies have been vehicle and environment specific.

Advancements in vehicle design, with engineering improvements in drivelines, engines, active and passive technology, has highlighted that how we have trained drivers previously also needs to evolve.

The G-Wagon is an incredibly well equipped vehicle with accessories perfect to its work environment. All people within DELWP, and those on the front line, are extremely fortunate to have such quality equipment at their disposal.

Observations infield:

  • Drivers did not realise you can switch between cameras for rear view mode
  • Lack of understanding of automatic transmission operations and procedures.
  • Lack of understanding and field experience of High-Low transmission features, functions and benefits including shifting on the run.
  • Vehicle familiarisation. During the two days of the Mercedes Benz G Wagon program, there was excellent communication of safety and hazards but little communication on how to best utilise the features in the vehicle for each specific condition. It is easy to see how there can be discrepancies in the field as each operator “experiments” with each new field challenge using old school logic. The key outcomes of training then become “region specific”
  • This can be traced back to the trainer’s experience, where their primary role is forestry and fire management. Driver Training could be considered a distraction from their core roles and duties. This was confirmed in a number of key conversations
  • Fatigue management. It is widely acknowledged that members can spend up to 15 hours straight fighting fires.
    • This is in addition to up to two hours travel time to return to base or home.
    • This is twice the hours worked by any employee under any award, under hot, hostile, adrenalin fuelled conditions.
    • Driver fatigue and fatigue related incidences is a real concern for any department in these circumstances. Correct techniques can reduce the fatigue in drivers by up to 30% (4) in addition to this, these techniques can provide drivers with useful tools to manage their fatigue and identify the early warning signs of being affected.

Course codes recommended

  • TLIC 3036 Apply Safe Driving Behaviours.
  • TLI 2025 Operate a 4WD vehicle.
  • TLIC 1051 Operate a commercial vehicle
  • FWPFGM3214 Operate a four-wheel drive in a towing situation.

Ongoing training and support

With both G Wagon and the Mercedes Benz Unimog coming online, this represents the opportunity to realign the training and qualification processes of PFF in the field.

Total Driver would work with the DELWP to finalise the process and would envisage a program of the following

  1. Consult, design and implement a revised training program that addresses the change in operational environments and prepare PFF’s with the competency based qualifications & experience required for field operations in all regions. We have team members who are also experienced and qualified in the latest Unimog specification to assist with this.
  2. Train the key trainers in DEWLP on the new procedures, techniques and outcomes. This team implements a two-day recommissioning program for all DELWP members and is implemented in all regions.
  3. Outsourcing of PFF’s to Total Driver for an intensive five-day program, where competency based training and qualifications are provided, this both aids the time management of existing trainers in DELWP and ensures a high consistency in the deliverables of all inductee PFF’s
  4. Provide additional training on vehicle technologies and general knowledge via Electronic media and online training programs.