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Highway with blurred speeding lights

Drivers with a high count of speeding events don’t speed to do their work; they speed because they don’t really understand the risks they are taking.

Telematics devices have the power to be a significant asset within a company’s loss prevention program. The data gleaned from these devices can be used to craft an effective driver monitoring and coaching program. The program collects information about driver behavior, specifically the frequency and severity of unsafe driving practices such as speeding, hard stops, hard turning, following too close and lane departure, to name a few. The information can be used for operational and equipment utilization, as well.

Start by Focusing on Speeding

It is widely believed that speeding is a leading cause of motor vehicle crashes, and research indicates that vehicle speed is directly correlated to increased severity. Speeding increases the risk of crashes in the following ways:

  1. Longer reaction distance
  2. Longer braking distance
  3. Longer steering distance
  4. Higher impact severity
  5. Reduced seat belt/air bag effectiveness, leading to increased injury potential
  6. Rollover/loss-of-control potential

Research shows that drivers who drive fast on highways have more “hard stops” and “hard turns” than their counterparts. Research also shows drivers who have these speeding events aren’t driving longer distances than others. These “high event count” drivers don’t speed to do their work; they speed because they don’t really understand the risks they are taking.

Once the telematics devices are installed, inform the drivers the company is implementing a program to improve safe driving. Publish your standards of performance so that drivers will understand what is expected of them and how the program will be managed. It is critical for them to realize that implementing this program will not only benefit the company, but more importantly how they will benefit from the program as well.

Regularly monitor the data. Periodic or infrequent monitoring can send a perception to the drivers that your company is not taking the program seriously. If just starting a program, begin by identifying and coaching the bottom 10 percent of drivers who stand out the most. Once you have been able to make positive steps, concentrate on a larger group. However, make sure the size of the group is manageable.

The drivers must truly understand you are concerned about their behavior to protect their health and safety, and that you will continue to monitor their performance and provide the training to prevent future errors. They must be sincere about giving you a commitment that they are willing and need to change their unsafe behavior. Continue to track those individuals to determine if their status improves. If it doesn’t, meet with them again and use a more effective approach. Document the guidance that you provide. Good drivers do not need to worry about the data being collected, because it will confirm their good performance.

Coaching Guidelines

  1. All drivers must participate in the program at all times with no exceptions. Driver violations must be included and addressed in all driver performance reviews. Protective also recommends that driver performance recognition programs be created to identify and reward the best performing drivers. The program should be effectively publicized and consistently maintained to reinforce the company’s commitment to uphold the program standards.

  2. Drivers with the most violations should be included in a Progressive Disciplinary Plan. The plan should be developed with the support of executive management, human resources and operations so it will be consistently enforced by all functional groups. A “three strikes” or similar format is recommended in which a driver is provided corrective remedial guidance and coaching to help them identify and improve upon their weaknesses. Determining their cooperativeness and attitude towards improvement is a key element in how further corrective action or guidance needs to be applied.

  3. Drivers are often concerned that telematics systems are “spying” on them. They must understand these systems are designed to not only assist them in performing their job legally and safely, but also provide fleet data to improve vehicle location/utilization logistics, routing/off-route movements, fuel consumption, idle time and vehicle malfunction information. Along with helping drivers, these systems also help fleets operate more profitably and more safely. The geo-fencing capabilities not only help management know where their vehicles are, but can be used by your operations team to determine if drivers are stopping at forbidden or unsafe locations, which can compromise vehicle and driver safety.

Additional Uses for Telematics

There are multiple systems for monitoring numerous aspects of vehicles, dispatch, driver performance and maintenance. Many will even duplicate data produced by the other systems, which can oftentimes result in an overload of more data than you can proficiently work with. Meet with each of your company’s departmental leadership and midlevel management to determine exactly what they need to know to promote better equipment utilization, efficiency, profitability and safety. In addition to the data needed by the safety department, determine how you can use the other departments’ data to improve your information. Most reports from each system are very good as a stand-alone product. However, tie multiple reports together to get an even bigger and more complete profile of what you need to know. Multiple reports can also aid in collision reconstruction. The following are other methods to use with telematics for driver coaching. This information can help you with the following:

  • Determine the root cause for an event, whether it be driver performance, dispatcher forced/motivated, operational inefficiencies, distracted driver situations, fatigue, illness, injury, personal problem, etc. Perhaps your driver has experienced multiple hard braking events because they are not effectively managing their sight distance or recognizing a stale green light. The information may not provide all the details you need, but it does create a starting point for your investigation.
  • Examine current trends and compare to previous behaviors, coaching, and desired results. Determine what has been done previously to make positive adjustments and what modifications need to be completed to attain the desired results. When used properly, an objective scorecard recording results provides a historical evaluation process for both driver and operational measurements.
  • When are poor results being recorded? Are they due to traffic lanes, time of day, traffic, fatigue, length of trip, customer demands, poor trip planning or aggressive dispatching? Or is it due to driver training needing to be improved with better orientation, defensive driving or remedial training programs?
  • Is there a specific terminal that has higher violation frequency or severity? If so, determine if the root cause is due to improper driver behavior, driver management or operational management.
  • Determine if trends exist with the recruiters, those that complete the driver paperwork, or if there could be a specific road examiner or the road examination process that needs improvement.
  • Did violations start immediately or have they progressively developed over time? Either way, it must be determined if and/or what circumstances may have changed or are developing that are affecting it. In addition to driver behavior, consider all aspects of the company that may have been a contributing factor.
  • Follow-up as soon as possible with the driver when notified of events, especially if there are several events in a row. Perhaps the driver is becoming ill, distracted, fatigued or being pushed by dispatch.
  • Tailor your guidance/corrective action to the situation. Even though the driver is ultimately responsible for the vehicle, if they are being pushed by dispatch to hurry with a run, you will want to have corrective action with that dispatcher and their supervisor as well.

Be sure to recognize drivers that are regularly demonstrating safe performance. This gives them satisfaction in knowing that their safe habits are noticed by management, and it enforces to all drivers that you are monitoring everyone’s performance. Create a performance incentive program, not just a disciplinary program.

  • Categorized in:
  • Driver Management
  • Transportation Safety