Professionalism: “The skill, good judgement and polite behaviour that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well.”

We need to create a positive culture that recognises good performance, supports willing compliance and is generally attractive to new recruits if we are to create a sustainable industry.

After more than 9 years working alongside operators who want to improve their standards and talking to many others, some who are getting ready to take that same challenge, some who are not, I am still learning about all of the different things that come together to shape attitudes in our industry.

On the whole it is the actions of the few that affect the reputation of the many. However, in the post Global Financial Crisis boom, when truck and trailer builders can barely keep pace with demand and there aren’t enough drivers to go around, the pressure is certainly coming on and corners are starting to get cut, either consciously or not.

I am hearing a number of variations on a phrase uttered to me about 18 months ago: “We’re too busy making money to save money Corinne.” It was only a few months later that I watched agape as a truck from that operator’s fleet overtook a car and a ute heading downhill on Porter’s Pass in Canterbury.

GPS and associated technology has certainly done wonders to improve transparency in our industry, and using that data to increase awareness and tackle breaches of standards has definitely brought benefits. As many of you will know, we work with transport managers to set standards in the fleet and to recognise those drivers who meet them, and offer needs based support and training to those who don’t.

Technology providers are also doing their bit to develop tools that reduce the reliance on the transport manager to find the time to have these conversations with drivers.

Is this a problem that technology can fix?

Having built a business around leveraging technology, this may sound like a strange thing for me to say. BUT, technology shouldn’t be used to fix a people problem. As I write this, a media release is due, highlighting the upcoming enforcement activity on speeding and behaviours that distract from driving.

Is there a limit to the number of devices that should be installed into the cab to ping, bong or light up as a driver is negotiating the hazards of the open road? Whilst I understand the case for giving drivers real time awareness of their actions versus a performance standard, is it the right way to go?

The goal is to generate awareness, safety and respect. If you had a bonging device on the end of your desk that went off every time you were unproductive, or unprofessional, but stayed quiet when you did a good turn, won a new contract, saved money through a contract negotiation and all of the other good things you do in a day, how would you feel?

Technology has a role to play in changing human behaviour, but its value is as part of a wider, more personal approach.

If our drivers are professionals, let’s treat them that way and let them keep their eyes on the road when they are doing their job.

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