We hosted a webinar recently on improving fleet safety with driver behavior monitoring (DBM), featuring Matt Camden from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI). We wanted to provide an overview of the topics and main takeaways in this three part blog series so you could take them back to your fleet.
There are four key steps to follow to implement a driver monitoring system effectively:
Step 1: Get driver buy-in
It’s difficult to implement a fleet-wide safety program without the drivers on your side. This is a critical first step, but much easier said than done.
Here are a few best practices when attempting to gain buy-in across your fleet:
Know your organization - In order to get driver investment, you need to consider your organization as it is now. Understand the current safety culture of your fleet and consider the success of policies that are already in place to assess risky driving behaviors. Identify common risky behaviors you are already aware of that you could target initially.
Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach - Things that were successful at one fleet may not be at yours. Focus on your own organization and involve stakeholders at every level, especially the drivers. Listening to driver and manager feedback and tailoring the safety program accordingly can go a long way.
Understand that it takes time - When implementing a new solution, it’s natural to expect to see instant changes. It’s important to remember, however, that there has got to be a culture shift in the fleet, which won’t happen instantly.
Step 2: Use the right measures and KPIs
When it comes to proving the success of a DBM solution, you need to make sure you’re measuring the right things. The following measures can help you gauge the progress and success of the driver monitoring system:
Process measures - These are leading indicators that focus on behavior and things within the control of the driver or manager. Examples include the number of hard brakes or rapid accelerations or percentage of time speeding. These measures should be at the center of a discussion when delivering feedback or recognizing driver accomplishment.
Outcome measures - These measures focus on an end result or in other words the outcome of behavior. Unlike process measures, drivers or managers may not be in control of outcome measures like if a driver is in an accident but it’s the other party’s fault. Examples include the number of preventable accidents, total crash free miles, or number of driving injuries. Focus on these indicators when measuring the overall program trend and effectiveness.
Step 3: Driver coaching
Effective coaching is critical to the success of a driver monitoring program. In a VTTI study, the rate of severe safety related events per 10,000 miles fell by 75 percent for fleets with coaching but rose by 40 percent for fleets without coaching.
Key elements for coaching your drivers well are:
Remaining positive - It is tempting to be critical or rebuke a driver for risky behavior, but it’s best when you can instead be encouraging and find ways to support them in altering their behavior.
Frame the monitoring system as a training tool, not punishment tool - Emphasize to your drivers that this monitoring system is intended to help keep them safe and return home to their families every night rather than to call them out on every mistake they make. Let them know that when drivers remain safe, it’s a win-win for them and management.
Allow feedback and listen actively - Drivers are more likely to listen and respond to a program when they feel listened to. Provide a space for feedback and actually implement some of their ideas. Drivers may have program suggestions you have not considered since they are using the monitoring systems daily and have a different perspective on the situation.
Encourage goal setting - As drivers become invested in the safety program, encourage drivers to set measurable, actionable goals for their own improvement. Ideally, drivers will make behavioral changes based on their personal motivation to improve rather than doing so to appease management alone. SMART goals—goals that are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Repeatable, and Timely—can be an effective tool for drivers to create actionable objectives.
Step 4: Program Evaluation
Once drivers are receiving regular coaching, it is important to start evaluating the effectiveness of the program. Program evaluation should be ongoing especially when there is an operation change, you are unsure if fleet safety is progressing or a new technology or driver task has been added. When evaluating, consider whether new procedures are working, if there are new risky behaviors, and compare overall safety as it is now to before the program was implemented.
Implementing new programs and shifting company culture is not easy, but these outlined steps will help you have a successful transition to a safety-focused fleet.