High risk drivers behaviour can affect not only your vehicles and team, but your profits

High risk driver behaviour can affect not only your vehicles and team, but your profits

The identification of high risk behaviour is important for any business. From faulty products and investments to taking on new staff, risk is inherent but it needn’t be high. Looking specifically at new staff, driver behaviour in business that operate fleets of vehicles is of paramount importance. This is because drivers behaviour can affect not only your vehicles and team, but your profits, premiums and business growth.

Looking at the key ways you can identify high risk driver behaviour, we’ll offer solutions and tools to help you manage driver behaviour.

Driver behaviour can be indicated by MVRs

Motor vehicle accidents remain one of the most common causes of workplace fatalities. While safety innovations go a long way towards improving accident prevention and outcomes, determining high risk driver behaviour—and taking steps to improve those behaviours—is necessary if businesses intend to keep their employees and enterprise safe.

In the past, fleet managers have used an employee’s motor vehicle records (MVRs) to assess driver behaviour. MVRs are used to pre-screen an individual’s driving history, encompassing things like speeding tickets they’ve received, collisions they have caused and insurance claims they have made.

MVRs are used widely to identify high risk driver behaviour, where they are considered necessary for compliance with employer responsibilities and a way of holding fleet drivers accountable. A driver’s records are interpreted by analysts and used as an indicator of how likely that driver is to repeat poor driver behaviours in future. This also enables fleet managers to intervene before new accidents occur.

Yet, while MVRs can help business managers build a detailed picture of a driver’s history, it isn’t always an accurate way to determine the specific driving practices that are causing those accidents. So what is?

Fleet telematics software tracks high risk driver behaviour

Technological solutions are providing ever greater insights that paper records, as managers turn to fleet telematics software to gather real data and metrics on driver behaviour. This involves installing a small electronic device within the vehicle that transmits data on how the vehicle is being driven to a web-based software. The benefit of telematics is that it allows fleet managers to track specific driver behaviours as they occur and monitor behaviours over time.

Fleet telematics is used to indicate a number of driver behaviours that are considered ‘risky’, such as excessive speed and acceleration, harsh cornering, hard braking and shortchanging of gears. These are considered aggressive driver behaviours that increase a driver’s risk of an accident.

Aggressive driver behaviour is also an indicator of inefficient fuel consumption: aggressive driving behaviours affect the extent to which drivers accelerate and brake hard. Evidence shows that training can address both risky driver behaviour and improve fuel economy at the same time.

Furthermore, in-built GPS tracking also allows fleet managers to monitor where drivers are, including time spent idling or route diversions. They can then determine aspects of driver behaviour that may not necessarily be considered risky, but that are detrimental to the business in terms of productivity, such as use of company vehicles for private purposes.

Correcting high risk driver behaviour

Using the data collected from MVRs and telematic software, fleet managers can identify risky driver behaviour and take the necessary steps to correct it. Correction can be achieved in one of three prime ways:

Training and communication

Fleet managers generally agree that the best way to improve driver behaviour behind the wheel is to give each individual driver tailored feedback and training based on their performance. Generalised instructions on how to improve driver safety can often be dismissed or ignored by employees, but if those suggestions are made one-on-one based on specific driver insights, they are more likely to be taken seriously, and prove more effective overall.

Fleet managers will likely find it is beneficial to conduct ride alongs with risky drivers to help them better understand why they are struggling to correct their behaviours. This enables the fleet manager to discuss with the employee the behaviour that led to their high-risk rating, and together they identify a plan to reduce risk and a timeline for expected results.

Safety reward and incentive programme

Improving driver behaviour is an integral part of company culture. It improves employee morale, and safer driving practices contribute directly to your bottom line, so should be recognised as such. Positive results are more likely to be realised when driving performance is incorporated into an overall evaluation of job performance, with rewards for improvements.

Disciplinary action system

In the event a driver performs consistently poorly and makes little or no effort to improve their driver behaviour, they must know there are consequences for their actions. Consequences might include verbal warnings, written warnings, withheld bonuses—even immediate termination depending on the severity of the risk.

All the while, the fleet manager must acknowledge the specific circumstances in which risky driver behaviour is more common to help drivers find solutions to their specific challenges.

Commonly, for example, risky behaviours are more common in wet weather conditions, and under cover of darkness. If a driver has a specific issue when visibility is reduced, fleet managers can take steps to ensure that driver is not assigned jobs in these conditions and therefore alleviate the risk with more serious ramifications.

Promoting better driver behaviour improves fleet safety, productivity, and efficiency. Having identified high risk drivers, you can formulate ways to ensure high-risk fleet drivers are trained on proper driving practices that improve fuel economy too, and create the best version of your business.

Further reading on high risk drivers

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