Many of us hate being told what to do, and reluctantly follow the rules because… well, it’s the rules. This is particularly true in a work environment and that can range from the warehouse, to the office, to driving in a company vehicle.
Yes, there are health and safety requirements at work, but if bending the rules appears to do no obvious harm, it can be tempting to be a little bit rebellious or turn a blind eye to someone else’s lack of conformity.
On the road, however, this approach can pose a threat to a company’s risk profile and, ultimately endanger lives. Furthermore, it can have a direct impact on a company’s fuel and vehicle maintenance costs.
A decade ago, the idea of installing equipment that monitors driving behaviour in someone’s company vehicle may have met with a degree of resistance. But in an era where individuals record and document both significant and insignificant incidents in their lives, posting them to social networks, it’s possible that we are now witnessing greater acceptance of technology that monitors driver behaviour.
Dash-cams too have played a role in creating an understanding that monitoring can help drivers, and defend them against untrue or unfair accusations.
The information these systems can provide to fleet operators is fascinating, highlighting high-risk behaviour and problem drivers, and can be used to identify savings in fuel and in vehicle maintenance costs as well as reducing the risk of crashes. The investment however can be wasted if drivers relapse into their bad habits.
Delivering lasting change to driving behaviour is a challenge, but fleets that have successfully saved money through telematics have found that creating incentives for sustaining good driving behaviour have worked – and so have ensured costs don’t creep back up.
Sustained results can also be found in creating an environment where ‘safe’ driving behaviour is seen as the norm. The behavioural scientists at transport research organisation TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) have made a list of specific intervention goals, which may be followed in some form by many fleet operators.
- Make sure you have data on behaviours, collisions and near misses; you cannot manage what you do not measure.
- Have a risk management system based on ‘plan-do-check-act’ (see HSE Guidance INDG382).
- Reduce the amount of driving people do by using technology and smart meeting planning.
- Schedule necessary driving so that it avoids the peak periods for sleepiness (2-6am and 2-4pm).
- Have a policy that requires drivers not to use their mobile device while driving.
- Allow sufficient time for journeys to remove time pressure.
TRL says that when considering the ‘carrot and stick’ approach, the carrot can be far more effective, in terms of showing employees desirable alternative behaviours.
Evidence of success with this approach usually cites a classic study of hotel guests’ use of towels, with three different in-room messages, when the hotel was seeking the best way of discouraging fresh towels every day.
The first message read: ‘Help save the environment. You can show your respect for nature and help save the environment by reusing your towels during your stay’.
The second was: ‘Join your fellow guests in helping to save the environment. In a study conducted in Fall 2003, 75 per cent of the guests participated in our new resource savings programme by using their towels more than once. You can join your fellow guests in this programme to help save the environment by reusing your towels during your stay’.
Message three was: ‘Join your fellow guests in helping to save the environment. In a study conducted in Fall 2003, 75 per cent of the guests who stayed in this room participated in our new resource savings programme by using their towels more than once. You can join your fellow guests in this programme to help save the environment by reusing your towels during your stay’.
The study found statement two was 26 per cent more effective in encouraging the re-use of towels than statement one, while statement three was 33 per cent more effective.
The study demonstrated how a collaborative approach and the reinforcement of social norms can have a powerful impact on changing behaviour. If these social norms are backed up with the correct tools on a daily basis, they should become second nature.
Technology such as OptiDrive 360 can deliver live coaching for drivers to help demonstrate that improvements are easily achievable.
Tips are relayed via TomTom PRO driver terminals, giving them pointers before they start the vehicle, as well as feedback on speeding or harsh braking, encouraging more efficient and safer driving.
While the organisation receives performance reports, enabling the fleet manager to identify serious issues, the driver is already being given guidance behind the wheel, helping reduce the need for deploying the ‘stick’.
To provide an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to improving driving standards, Webfleet Solutions has launched the Driver of the Year Awards. Register today and engage your drivers to adopt a safer and more efficient driving style. For full details, registrations and rankings visit the Driver of the Year Awards homepage.
 Goldstein, Cialdini and Griskevicius, 2008