Bringing your drivers along with you on the improvement journey

By Chris Evans - EROAD Health & Safety Stakeholder Manager

EROAD believes that every community deserves safer roads.  This includes all the people driving for work who are constantly exposed to the hazards presented by bad driving on our roads.

The Fleet Manager of today has many hats to wear, one of the most important is the safety hat.

Before the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, vehicles were not explicitly mentioned in any definitions. But this changed when they were included in the definition of a ‘workplace’ and ‘plant’. There are now few other aspects of work that must comply with as many legal requirements as using a vehicle.


But what do we mean when we use the term ‘vehicles’?

Semi’s and trucks immediately spring immediately to mind as they form the life blood of transporting goods across New Zealand, however one must not forget the UTEs, vans and our company cars. In fact, it is often argued that they present a higher risk as they do not have to be driven by professional drivers and by many are only seen to get to and from the work site, not part of the work itself.

And do not forget the famous ‘Grey Fleet’ where many seemingly private vehicles are on the road travelling for work purposes. They attract much the same legalities as work vehicles do.

So where does a Fleet Manager start to safely navigate the complexities of the safety aspects of their drivers and fleet? 

Simplicity…… Sustainability…... Effectiveness…. Value Driven


Bear these philosophies when considering the four key aspects of fleet management

Vehicle…. Load…. Journey…. Driver

icon circle Service Module 120x120Vehicle

  • Is it suitable for the task and load?
  • Has it been safety checked by the driver?
  • Is it legal to be on the roads?
  • Has it been serviced and maintained?
  • Has it been set up safely?

The roadThe Load

  • Is it within weight limits and on each axle?
  • Is the load secure?
  • Has it been correctly signed?
  • Are there any overhangs?
  • Has the 5th wheel been checked?
  • Are dangerous goods being carried and segregated?

icon circle Service Module 120x120The Journey

  • Has the journey been planned?
  • Has the weather forecast been checked?
  • Have you considered the direction of travel in sunrise and sunset?
  • Have you considered congestion and weight limits?
  • Have you planned in rest breaks?

icon circle Service Module 120x120The Driver

  • Are they legal to drive?
  • Are they competent to drive?
  • Are they fit to drive?
  • Have you limited distractions?
  • Are you providing supervision?
  • Are you managing lone working issues?

As much as 94% of crashes are caused by people’s behavior so it is important to focus heavily on supporting your drivers.

Subscribing to a telematics service from a reputable supplier is a reasonable and practical first step to provide supervision and support to your drivers out on the road.


What you decide to do next will be critical to your success

You have a simple choice to make.  Do you engage your drivers by employing the carrot, or do you choose to adopt the stick?

The most common immediate reaction of a driver to having to drive with telematics monitoring them is “It’s the company’s spy in the cab !!”. This reaction is an indicator to which is best….

It is commonly accepted that the best recipe for changing behavior is

  • A positive reward for behavior you want repeated;
  • The reward is as immediate as possible after the behavior;
  • Certain and consistent each time the behavior is seen

Investing in an in-cab system such as the EROAD Gen 2 system where the driver receives instant feedback on his driving performance is invaluable.  It enables the driver to instantly adjust their driving and over a short period of time, learn to drive within the limits set by the telematics system which mirrors the law.

The colour coded digital speed display delivers instant feedback to the driver as to whether their driving is within the speed limit, marginally over or indeed, way over.

It becomes a driver aid, instead of a hindrance or an innocuous box sitting on the windscreen feeding back data on driving infringements for the driver to explain to the supervisor at some later date… if they can remember.

To achieve a sustainable driving improvement, fleet managers need to ensure they have their drivers onboard with the telematics. It must be a tool to support them, not to chastise them.

No one likes being closely monitored, and drivers especially enjoy the freedom that the open road delivers. So, getting your drivers on board is key to the success of your fleet risk management.

They need to want to drive safely for themselves, not for the boss, or to avoid being chastised when they get to their destination.  People that drive safely will arrive less stressed and almost at the same time as their colleagues who rushed and put themselves at risk numerous times along the way.

I am a great believer that ‘positivity breeds positivity’.  Being greeted by a smiling person makes you want to smile back even when you have had a bad day.

Focusing on improvements in your driver’s performance is key to delivering sustainable change. Let positivity drive your journey to improvement.

Engage your drivers with competition between themselves so that they can spur each other on to self-improvement.


What about the drivers with bad attitudes I hear you say?

The best motivators for improvement are not the directors, or managers, or even supervisors… it’s the driver’s colleagues.  If it becomes obvious that a driver is not interested in embracing their colleague’s philosophy on driving, then their life soon becomes uncomfortable and they leave for another company that does not care so much about how their drivers treat their trucks or even the rules of the road.  I have seen it work like this in the past.


But what about the cost of all this?

This is the interesting part. Many EROAD customers see a step change in their driving performance when they swap from the Gen 1 to the Gen 2.  From a safety aspect they are chalk and cheese.

Gen 1 customers already enjoy the auto RUC reclaims that many companies are losing out on but the ability for a driver to continually adjust and improve their driving brings with it a step change reduction in speeding events, improved fuel efficiency, reduced wear and tear, less down time for maintenance, improved efficiencies; less accident repairs, lower insurance costs and reduced staff turnover.


The driving culture panacea

You should aim to achieve a driving culture panacea.  This is where your driving workforce drive safely and with courtesy, respecting your trucks and equipment and all because …

“It just how we do things around here”

You need to show what is important and a priority to you as the owner of the business so they can embrace the philosophy you envisage. Invest in the technology to help your drivers, and then support them in their journey of self-improvement.

Be consistent, be fair, be open, be honest and be realistic in what you want to achieve and above all else, remember that you are all in it as one team together.

If you want to learn more about EROAD’s Health & Safety Solutions 

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