It only takes one road trip to remind me that even the bad guys are good in their own ways. I lost count of the trucks we followed at over 100km/h as we headed away for a long weekend on the motorbikes this week. But even these guys see a clear stretch of road ahead of them and indicate for us to pull past them on the bikes. They are quite aware of the roads and the traffic around them. Even following a B train through a tight cornering section with his trailer brakes locking on each turn, we got to the bottom of the hill and he waved us on through. In fact I still wonder if he was driving harder through the corners just to try not to hold us up.
We need to align this on road awareness with the expectations of today’s industry. We do want the drivers to be courteous, we want them to know what is going on around them, but we also want them to drive safely and steadily, with the confidence to do the right thing at the right speed.
We need to do this in two ways.
- Tell the drivers what is expected of them. We don’t expect you to speed to get your job done. If you are late and you feel the need to speed, it’s probably us that haven’t done our jobs right as we have delayed your leaving the depot on time. You won’t make up enough time to make a difference by driving faster. It doesn’t look good, it risks our truck, our customer’s products, your licence and our fuel bill starts climbing.
- Educate the public so that they have a better understanding of how a truck functions on the road. This is still a big issue. Loading the motorbikes onto the interislander ferry this morning, the loader waved us forward to start tying the bikes down, despite the fact that a semi trailer was trying to use the same space to turn into. This is a loader. A man that brings vehicles onto a ferry every day and he couldn’t see the conflict between a large truck revving behind him and a few small bikes. No wonder the average granny in a Toyota doesn’t understand the driving requirements of a truck, never mind the importance of the cargo that it is carrying.
Yes, the ORS is coming and whilst that it is a carrot (or a stick depending on how much you care about it) let’s not forget the reason it has been put together. We want to run an industry that is safe and professional. Drivers need to be seen as more than “the squishy bit between the freight and the steering wheel.” They need to be respected, supported and trained.
At CCS Logistics, we are now providing reporting direct to drivers, pulling together all of the GPS data and mixing it up with some coaching notes and presenting individual feedback on how each driver is performing against operational and legal requirements. The drivers at our customers are soaking it up. The shoulders are squaring, the chests are puffing out; these guys are really proud of the job they do and are loving being told what they are doing well, and being told where they could get better.
Take heart from this, speak to your drivers, respect what they do and make them respect what you do.