I’ve read a LOT of “Driver Safety” or “Fleet Safety” articles over the course of my 23 year career. They all look the same, they all cover the “basics” or “essentials” in the same way.
And they all miss the mark in the same way.
You see, they’re not bad articles and the tips are meaningful, but instead fall short in one key area: managing the performance of your fleet drivers.
The articles talk about the need for “top management support” for the fleet safety program (and that is important!). The articles stress the need to have a written, enforced policy statement or handbook (and that is important, too.) The articles plead with the reader about recruiting properly, qualifying prospective hires thoroughly and thoughtfully. They talk about the need to obtain a driver’s history of tickets and past collisions, and then to score or profile that history against a standard (a meaningful exercise).
Of course, what self-respecting author would not then devote a couple of paragraphs about the need to “train-train-train” the drivers (before they drive, as they drive and after they crash). After all, “Training is Great Stuff” (and a HUGE industry unto itself).
Then, alarmingly, these authors jump to the end of the story and tell you how drivers need to report crashes, and supervisors need to investigate the incidents with great attention to detail.
What happened to managing a relationship with the driver during their tenure as a productive employee? What about performance reviews that actually solicit feedback from drivers, catalog responses, identify common patterns of driver complaints?
What about carefully managing the reporting out put from driver monitoring programs such as EOBR, GPS, $Camera-In-Cab$ or my personal favorite — Driver Safety Hotlines?
These authors are brilliant professionals with many years of experience — I don’t doubt their knowledge or ability, but I can’t understand why “The Fleet Safety Story” has this gigantic hole in the middle on a consistent basis, either.
If the average tenure of a driver was under a month or two, it would make sense to constantly be replacing and training drivers as your primary day-to-day safety activity, but we know that’s not reality (or shouldn’t be). Sure there’s turnover, but what are safety managers doing in between that initial driver training class and the next accident investigation? It seems to me that if a realistic “driver management” program were in place (as suggested by ANSI Z15), then the safety manager would spend much of his/her time working that program to PREVENT collisions, injuries and moving violations.
Drivers are bright people doing a difficult job in most circumstances. Likewise, safety managers genuinely care about helping drivers be safe.
Let’s see authors spend more time and energy on the need to build relationships, provide helpful performance feedback and tailor training efforts to the individuals who need urgent attention from their management support team at the time they need it — before their attitude leads to a crash. The day-to-day management of drivers is where discipline and creativity is most needed and often least available. That’s where the articles need to fill in the gap, or build a bridge to achieving results (not just jumping to how we should diagnose the inevitable collisions and injuries).
Our program – the driver safety hotline – is one realistic method to identify drivers who are “at risk” of becoming involved in a collision. When a motorist sees risky behavior and takes the effort to file a report, there’s a real need to intervene with the affected commercial driver. We send driver training materials matched to the reported behaviors so that the intervention is compassionate, not punitive. The goal is to avoid tickets, fines, injuries or fatalities.
The missing bridge between effective driver qualification and results is an effective driver management program!