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Help your drivers help themselves: how to correct risky and inefficient driving habits

Bad driving behaviour is one of the most challenging problems a fleet manager has to tackle. The impact is varied, ranging from health and safety issues to company reputation.

Examples of poor driver behaviour include:

  • Accidents
  • Speeding
  • Excessive idling
  • Aggressive acceleration
  • Harsh braking
  • Sudden deceleration
  • Fast cornering
  • Using mobile phones
  • Texting while driving
  • Failure to wear seat belts
  • Parking tickets

 

With GPS fleet management technology or telematics, it’s now possible to track how individual drivers are behaving on the road.

Some habits, such as speeding and harsh braking, have cost implications because they will both lead to increased fuel consumption and greater wear and tear on your vehicles.  They may also affect the safety of the driver, other road users and pedestrians.

Others, including texting and mobile phone use while driving, plus failure to wear seat belts, are not just unsafe but illegal and must be treated with the utmost seriousness and dealt with immediately.

The driving behaviour of your employees can also negatively impact your company’s reputation.

However, it’s also important to remember that everyone makes mistakes. Your challenge is to use the data, weed out the persistent offenders and correct their bad habits – and to make sure new recruits get the best training.

Tips for tackling poor driver behaviour

Communicate expectations

Set out guidelines to your workforce, making it clear what is acceptable, what is not, the implications and how you are going to help them achieve their goals. However, they must also be made aware of the consequences of their actions. There should be a clear disciplinary process which might include verbal and written warnings, withheld bonuses and, ultimately, termination of contract.

Monitor driver behaviour

Traditionally employees’ motor vehicle records (MVRs) have been used to assess driver behaviour. They log a driving history encompassing things like speeding tickets, collisions they have caused and insurance claims. However, modern systems such as telematics software tracks high-risk driver behaviour, gathering real-time data and metrics on everything from excessive speed and acceleration to harsh cornering and hard braking.

Educate drivers

Provide regular individual driver-tailored feedback based on hard data. Identify a plan to reduce risk and a timeline for expected results and offer training, if necessary, to correct any failings.

Recognise the best

Acknowledge and praise the low-risk drivers’ behaviour to reinforce their positive habits. You might want to present awards for the lowest fuel consumption levels, for instance. Or you could consider setting up a leaderboard based on the ability to drive safely and efficiently.

Training

If necessary, enhance the screening of candidates for jobs by carrying out background checks and perhaps even asking them to complete a preliminary driving test to assess their behaviour on the road. The hiring process may take more time, but it will pay off in the future. Also, when new recruits are taken on, make sure they are fully trained and made aware of your expectations and the possible consequences.

And it’s not just new recruits that benefit from training. Regular training and refresher courses are not only useful but in many countries mandatory for experienced drivers. Courses can help inform all drivers of heavy goods vehicles (HGV) or large goods vehicles (LGV) of the requirements they need to remain compliant.

There are also legal requirements for HGV that drivers must undertake. In the UK, drivers must undertake 35 hours of periodic training every five years as well as renew their licence every five years when they reach 45 and every year when they reach 65.

Act fast

Things can go wrong, even with the best guidelines and training. If there is an incident such as an accident, action should be taken immediately in order to reinforce safe driving expectations. The action may include driver training or ride-along observations – or a disciplinary in serious cases.

Finally, don’t forget that you have a duty of care to your drivers. You need to keep them safe and make sure that the general public is safe from their actions.

It also should go without saying that if you want your workforce to drive professionally, you must make sure they have well-maintained vehicles at their disposal.

 

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