Appearances are important. How you drive, your speed, your cornering, courtesy to other road users, in short your professionalism, speaks volumes about the company you work for. The way your vehicle is presented is another consideration – it doesn’t have to be the newest vehicle on the road, but it should be well maintained and clean.
When you look at another truck, do you think “would I be proud to be a part of that fleet?” What would another driver be thinking when he watches you go by?
One driver explained it to me in Rugby terms (with me not being very good with Rugby, you’ll have to accept that these are his words not mine…). When the Blues run out onto the field with their untidy beards, unruly hair and socks not pulled up smartly, is it any wonder that they are not winning games? Their appearance suggests a lack of discipline and pride in their job, which plays out when they get onto the field.
A manager at one of our customers put it another way; they advertised a driving position when they had three vacancies to fill. They received 67 applications.
GPS data should be used to educate you to help you to improve your driving. We understand that you spend hours behind the wheel and that you like to take pride in your job, but you rarely get feedback about your good driving, only about the lateness of the load (which probably wasn’t your fault anyway) or speeding past Granny in the Corolla (when it was probably her that got distracted and slowed down to 78 km/h again).
We know there are companies out there using GPS data to beat you up or when it suits them to make a point. We know that this isn’t helpful to anyone in the long run. We know that you want to be the best on the road but that it can be hard to know where you stand or if you are as good as you can be when you aren’t getting good feedback, or any feedback at all, about your driving.
Our customers tell us that changing the culture of a new employee is an eye opening experience which shows that not all companies are giving your drivers clear messages about what is expected from you. Little things like confirming that it is company policy not to drive over 90 km/h. If you think you will be late, it is OK to ring the manager before you leave and let him know why and when you expect to be able to safely get it delivered.
Professionalism is a mindset – a commitment to driving well, not a collection of numbers or a ranking. It is acknowledging that your job is not easy but you plan to do it well. Accepting that other drivers can be idiots but that they don’t all need yelling at and overtaking.
When you are ready to make this change, you will want to know how you are improving. This is where I am at myself. I have never put GPS in my car because I couldn’t choose one supplier over another. But now I have my new Android Smartphone I can track my own driving.
I use an application called “My Tracks” which I set going before I leave, and stop recording when I arrive. While I am driving, it records a map track of where I have been and collects a bunch of statistics, including my max and average moving speeds. Knowing I am being recorded strengthens my resolve to drive as well as I can, even though only I will see the records.
Some of your navigation GPS screens (the standalone ones like Tom Tom and Garmin) might have this feature too, and I am sure there is an iPhone equivalent too. If you’ve got the technology you may as well use it, and what better way than to monitor your own driving and measure your improvement? Our customers tell us that their drivers have taken a copy of their GPS performance reports when they move town and have to look for another job – more relevant than a CV.
After all it is not a matter of whether someone is watching you, it is a question of their intentions, and when the intention is to achieve professionalism, it is a great feeling.