Drivers are the core of any fleet operation – after all, they’re the ones operating the vehicles that keep a fleet going. That’s why when a driver engages in unsafe or risky driving habits, it can create a negative impact that can ripple throughout an entire company, from the cost of hefty fines and insurance payouts to the tarnishing of the reputation of the organization. So what do you do when you start to see bad behavior trends in your fleet?
Changing any driving behavior can prove difficult, and risky driving habits won’t disappear overnight. But there are a few measures fleet managers can implement to deal with bad habits, create better standards and encourage progress.
First things first: Monitor driver behavior
In order to address poor driving habits, you need to know what those habits are. Are your drivers accelerating excessively? Are they using their phone behind the wheel?
Gaining insight into your drivers’ behaviors can help streamline the time and effort spent trying to correct risky driving behaviors. While most associate it with simple location tracking, fleet GPS solutions like Linxup can be a powerful tool in gauging driver behavior, giving you the ability to not only track your vehicles but also monitor driving habits and optimize routes to reduce potential touchpoints for risk.
GPS solutions let you find out how your drivers are behaving when you’re not watching. By monitoring driver behavior, you can assign drivers scores or grades according to their driving performance. Linxup makes this easy with Driver Safety Report Cards.
Adding in a fleet management software lets you keep track of your drivers’ grades alongside other pertinent fleet data, giving you well-rounded visibility into your fleet as a whole. GPS devices can also be used to register certain driver behaviors like speeding or harsh braking, and those events, when registered in a fleet management software, can be used to anticipate potential wear on a vehicle and demonstrate the impact of a driver’s habits.
Develop a baseline
Once you’ve established a means for monitoring your drivers, you’ll want to create a baseline of operation that indicates expectations for driving behavior to your drivers. An easy way to start is to record initial individual and overall driver grades over a certain time period so you can use them as a benchmark and compare them to future driver grades.
Don’t overlook a baseline when you’re putting together a new driver safety process for the sake of fixing a problem faster. If you don’t have performance to compare to over time, you won’t be able to effectively measure progress. To maintain consistency, it’s best to use the same time period (i.e. monthly, quarterly, 90 days) as the baseline when analyzing future grades.
Concentrate your resources
Don’t spread yourself too thin. Instead of trying to address all your drivers’ performance at once, identify high-risk drivers first. These drivers will put your fleet at the greatest risk for accidents, so concentrate your efforts here to immediately maximize your impact.
While you’re actively addressing high-risk behavior, equally acknowledge and praise the low-risk drivers’ behavior to reinforce their positive habits. After every measuring period, continually reassess your drivers, note their progress and identify high-risk behaviors.
Identify commonalities and educate around them
There are likely several poor driving behaviors that you will see recurrently, such as distracted driving, aggressive driving and speeding. Save time by addressing these issues for everyone through driver education and training.
The key to changing habits on an organizational scale is through education and training. When drivers become aware of poor driving habits and the safety risks, they can identify it themselves and correct it. Coaching drivers supports them, keeping them motivated and continually learning. A couple driver training programs include:
Training sessions should be recurring for all drivers—new and seasoned—to keep them fresh on safe driving behaviors and regulations.
Realistically, some behaviors will initially persist, but with time and consistent education, they will become less prevalent.
Recognize positive behavior
Recognition goes a long way. When drivers exhibit good driving behavior over a designated time period, acknowledge it. Showing that their work is appreciated, either through public praise or even incentives, will reinforce their behavior.
The size of the incentive doesn't matter – it's the acknowledgment that counts. Incentives could vary from something like skipping a driver training class to awarding a gift card or other tangible reward.
Another way to recognize drivers with positive behavior is to make the process lightly competitive. Your fleet can have a leaderboard based on driving performance showing the top drivers and publish new results every designated time period. Drivers with the best driving habits will receive acknowledgement from the entire fleet for their behavior and other drivers will be intrinsically motivated to improve their driving grades.
These steps have focused on improving the safety of your current employees, but it’s important to ensure your future hires are safe drivers too.
Enhance screening for new hires
Now that you have a growing database of driver behavior monitoring data, you can leverage this data to make better hiring decisions. With insight into your fleet’s most common and costly driving habits, you know what behaviors to look out for in potential new hires and the visible signs of that behavior.
When screening candidates, require potential new hires to have a background check and pass a preliminary driving test to assess their driving behavior. This will enable you to weed out the riskier drivers and add safer ones to your fleet. The additional time spent upfront when hiring will pay off in the future in preventing vehicle downtime, as well repair and legal costs.
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