Do It Yourself (DIY) Hotlines

Frequently, companies read about the many success stories of “How’s My Driving?” hotlines and decide to try and run their own hotline. It’s not an unreasonable argument to make:

  • The company phone number (main switchboard) is probably already stenciled on their vehicles
  • The company already gets the ‘occasional’ call from an upset motorist.
  • Taking advantage of the current switchboard staff will save money over paying a third party firm to answer the phone.

Unfortunately, the best intentions and the most sincere efforts don’t always translate into results that match those published by fleets using a third-party fleet safety hotline program. Why? Your efforts necessarily focus on the administration of the program:

  • dealing with incomplete calls,
  • off-hours voicemails,
  • transcribing reports,
  • getting the report to the right manager for follow up,
  • tracking to confirm that training was provided to the affected driver,
  • filing the completed report to defend against possible “negligent entrustment” claims, etc.

If you let us handle the administration (what we are efficient at handling since it is our company’s specialty), you can focus all of your energy on training drivers and coaching them to replace bad habits with better ones.

That’s what gets the results you’ve seen and/or heard about!

Here’s a summary of points to consider:

  • We use properly designed decals with lettering large enough to read at a reasonable distance.
  • Our operators are professionally trained to politely interrogate the caller to confirm details and defuse emotions. They answer calls 24 hours-a-day, 365 days a year.
  • Our operators handle calls about safe driving issues only (no other types of calls come into our call center). Your staff would probably be very happy to give up dealing with irate callers or unfounded calls, and will be able to focus on their regular job duties,
  • We legally record calls from motorists enabling you to verify details as needed,
  • We organize all incident reports and records in a sophisticated, but easy to use, database that can provide very detailed management reports to further help you improve safety results.
  • We are an unbiased, neutral party – we don’t have any temptation to “take sides” or “spin” the handling of any report based on who was driving at the time of the incident.
  • We send training materials along with the report to help your manager and driver focus on safety practices, not arguments about pointless details.
  • Since this is the focus of our business (safety and call taking) we’re very efficient and can provide additional insights about driver safety issues (we work with 4,000 other fleets who have the same types of concerns about safe driving as your team).
  • Many insurance providers pay for our program because we’ve demonstrated our results – they don’t pay your expenses to maintain your internal program.
  • All of the published results studies that we’ve seen were based on using a third-party service – NOT an internal program.
  • We automatically include training documents with the individual reports, and again on a monthly basis to help your drivers improve their habits (it moves the report process from arguing about the details to discussing safety issues instead).
  • Many of our loyal clients switched from an internal (DIY) hotline and saw immediate improvement in results (and they still have their number on their trucks, but motorists happily identify our sticker and call us for road observation reports).
  • Our program is less expensive on a per truck basis than a new set of wiper blades – why be pennywise and pound foolish?
  • The “expense” of our program is offset by the end of the first month in most cases.
  • provides a direct link to our Driver Safety Hotline overview.

A third-party, professional service provides an early warning system to help drivers identify and replace bad habits. The upside is that they could avoid: tickets, fines, collisions, injuries, and worse. 

Trying to save a buck or two shifts your DIY program from results to administration, headaches, incomplete (inactionable) reports, and continued loss activity.  Trust SafetyFirst to run the program for you so that you can spend your time helping your drivers drive the best that they can!

2 thoughts on “Do It Yourself (DIY) Hotlines

  1. Thanks, Paul, for the great tips and insights you’ve provided over the years to CPCU Society members.

    I wanted to get your thoughts regarding a situation that occurred while driving to work this morning.

    There is a low overpass on the road used by many drivers in my area, and quite often a large truck operator learns too late that the truck will not fit through the overpass.

    The vehicle must then proceed in reverse until it finds a place to turn around.

    This morning I (and many others, including two police cars) wasted a lot of time and gas waiting for the driver to complete the correction process.

    My question: do trucking companies stress paying attention to overpass warning signs?

    And do law enforcement agencies have a plan to deal with such situations when they occur?

    Thanks, Paul!

    • John,

      The situation you witnessed is frustrating. Truck drivers like to be called “professionals” and for the most part are truly pros at what they do. Unfortunately, some commercial operators don’t pay attention or get into slack habits. A couple of months ago, a double deck motor coach made a wrong turn due to construction lane changes and ultimately ended up hitting a “low bridge” with fatalities as a result.

      Most common maps and GPS units don’t include warnings about low bridge clearances and that’s one part of the problem. Sometimes there aren’t enough signs, or the measurements are no longer accurate (ie. the road has had several layers of asphalt added over the years and the clearance signs were never updated.)

      It’s hard to answer for all trucking companies (about what they stress or consider important enough to offer training), but I don’t think that they mention it very often unless they specialize in “over size” loads or “double deck buses”. Our clients get a monthly driver training topic that highlights things that the drivers “ought to know already” as a way to remind them and refresh them. I think I know what we need to inlclude in our topic rotation — dealing with adequate clearances!

      Regarding law enforcement’s response — I think it depends on the experience of the responding officers — I would be surprised to learn that handling trucks in the situation you described was actually part of the “academy curriculum” (but I’m certainly NOT an expert authority on police department training or procedures!)

      Thanks for the question — and sorry for your delay today! — as we say here, Traffic Safety Is Everyone’s Responsibility.

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