What I love about my job is helping fleets to make improvements despite real life getting in the way. Of course, if the operation flowed smoothly, trucks didn’t break down, staff didn’t leave, ferries weren’t cancelled and pigs flew in a straight line, all fleets would have heaps of time on their hands to ensure everything was being done to the highest standard. Of course, we’d all welcome a week like that, but it just doesn’t work out like that very often.

There is no two ways about it, making change is difficult. We are asking drivers who have been driving for many years, to change something which has become second nature to them. The research and the evidence is overwhelming – slower, risk averse drivers don’t crash as often, have lower fuel and maintenance bills and gather fewer infringements.

Eliminating risky driving habits takes time and commitment, not just from the drivers but from managers and supervisors too. You can’t sit in the cab nagging each driver individually, and even if you did, you’re unlikely to get the result you wanted. Which means you have to be smart about it, you have to use the data you can gather remotely and use it in a way that inspires and encourages your drivers to want to make the changes that you want to see.

Last week I had some great conversations with fleets who are at varying stages of working with their drivers. Each of them was grappling with a different barrier to making progress.

1. What if the drivers leave?
This is a very real concern. The customer contracts are signed, the volume is flowing, the trucks are bought – having no driver is an expensive calamity. I get that, I really do. But is it an excuse to ignore dangerous driving behaviours? More and more fleets are now using their GPS data, and yes ORS data, to manage their performance. Rest assured that your drivers don’t have far to run to before they find another fleet where their behaviours will be questioned. We are working with a number of fleets who have turned their performance around and are now in a position to be screening applicants for driving positions. They have a CHOICE of who they put behind the wheel because drivers want to work for them – they aren’t pressured into speeding / overloading / log book offences and go home to their families happy to have done a good job.

2. We don’t want drivers to get disheartened because management vehicles aren’t performing well
This was a really interesting discussion. The management cars have the same GPS system installed as the trucks. Great – here is a fleet that practices what they preach. Oh, except the Leaderboard has all of the management cars at the bottom (worst behaviour) and all of the trucks at the top (best behaviour). So – errr, time to talk to the managers about their driving? You can imagine the reaction – how do I tell the wife to drive properly when she has my car? My stats were good before that one trip to Auckland… One of the drivers borrowed my car that day…
If you’re serious about setting and achieving high standards, at some stage, you have to decide if this is a company wide change in attitude, or just a truck driver thing. Them and Us rarely ends well though.

3. Ignore him, he does high kms
What a great conversation. We’d done an initial healthcheck appraisal of the fleet performance, benchmarking this fleet’s data against other similar fleets and provided some feedback on their fleet behaviour profile. We’d highlighted a particular truck that had very high kms and a worrying number of poor driving events. As most of you know, here at CCS Logistics, all of our data is normalised and peer reviewed to make sure we tell you how it is. This was one high risk driver, with higher exposure than the rest of the fleet, and risk metrics off the scale. Having the fleet manager tell me that this driver is on a separate run to the others so he can be ignored was unfortunately not a new response to such a situation. I understand that it is often a long serving, trusted, senior driver who is offered such a route, but I also understand that he isn’t immune to the laws of physics just because of that status.
We discussed, we learned from each other, and a photo of the repot was dispatched to the driver’s smartphone for discussion.