We are going to give you an example and then follow it up with recommendations on how you would handle such a situation, as an enterprising fleet manager. We are going to call this case study: When Good Drivers Are At Risk.
Take a good truck driver who is flagged as at risk. Perhaps the fleet manager thinks highly of this individual, mainly because he has a long safe driving record. Yet, as time went on, perhaps this truck driver’s score deteriorated to a level where he was suddenly identified as someone who may need proactive intervention. What if the fleet manager had a way to prevent the accident?
Fleets must be well aware of predictive factors that could shine a light on potentially unsafe behavior or life factors. What if the fleet manager had noticed that the truck driver had been leaving his house later every night? Perhaps the truck driver even had speeding events. Without being able to identify these factors, the fleet will be at a disadvantage when it comes to preventing an accident before it even happens.
Now imagine that the truck driver has a history of driving aggressively. After speaking to him or her, the manager finds out that the driver’s home was damaged in a storm and they are trying to rush home to fix the damage before it gets worse. So, he left the house later and drove faster. Speaking to the truck driver is important, but an action plan must be put in place to assist the employee in eliminating the stress of the situation and getting back to a level where an unsafe pattern can be modified. This is where coaching comes in.
Planning a Coaching Intervention
Being able to predict a potential crash based on bad behavior means nothing if no action is taken to handle the matter. Intervention, education, and effective coaching must be implemented to reverse the potential risk. Fleet managers must be trained on proper intervention techniques that allow for frank conversations when they uncover data that denotes an elevated crash risk.
Common coaching between a fleet manager and a truck driver should involve conversations about critical events or remedial training. Even more, these conversations need to be objective and relational so that truck drivers understand they are merely taking an active interest in safe operation of the fleet’s equipment. This is the only way the fleet manager will understand the stresses the truck driver is dealing with and be able to speak to them in a compassionate and understanding manner.
When a truck driver is dealing with issues related to health, family, finances, pay, hours, or work conditions, they may be at an increased risk for an accident. Fleet managers must be having proactive and positive conversations to uncover any underlying issues that may be contributing to said risk. They must be able to find a way to help lest a severe accident occur as a result of their inaction.
Consider that a 2017 study in Transportation Journal shows that truck driver stress extends beyond health, family, finances, or work conditions. Other factors stressing truck drivers include feelings of isolation or a lack of respect from managers and/or colleagues. These are factors that fleet managers should be able to address.
Don’t let at-risk behaviors or other factors lead to a potential accident. Isolate the cause through a productive conversation and work with your truck drivers and others within your organization to provide relief and ensure compliance and safe operation.