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Transparency, data are keys to driver buy-in for safety programs – Truck News

Truck drivers are more likely to buy into safety discussions that are clearly communicated and transparent — leading to the all-important return on related investments, speakers stressed during a Truckload Carriers Association webinar.

The key is to motivate drivers rather than forcing them to make changes, said Nate Lewis, Tyson Foods senior director – risk management, transportation. And packaging data from various sources into one version of the truth will help drive business decisions, he added.

Men standing in front of a truck looking at a tablet
(Photo: iStock)

Litigation and nuclear verdicts are pushing carriers to ensure they have the right data to manage collisions, said Tim Eckhardt, Dot Transportation’s director of safety.

His fleet openly shares information about insurance premiums and accident costs to ensure drivers buy in to decisions. And data is now readily available, allowing safety professionals to trim hours from their meeting prep time, Eckhardt said.

Partnership in driver development

Lewis, meanwhile, stressed the need to focus on patterns rather than specific risky or bad behavior, approaching driver development as a partnership.

“We leverage technology and walk down the path with them, so they are not alone during training,” he said.

But the benefits of such training may not be immediate. It takes 21 days to change behavior, noted Jonathan Bikowski, Idelic’s director of customer experience. In some cases the conversations may extend over four to six weeks.

“The conversation has to be about ‘I care about you, will work with you and want you to work here long term,’” he said, noting such commitments need support throughout the organization.

“You have to win every safety conversation.”

Nate Lewis, senior director risk management, transportation, Tyson Foods

“You have to win every safety conversation,” Lewis said, noting how every driver is motivated in a different way. “Give them a feeling it is more than a job.”

Once drivers buy in, however, they’ll share the good experience with peers.

As for how to reach the drivers, Lewis urged carriers to use different platforms such as in-person chats, YouTube videos, and onboard devices.

Eckhardt said drivers look forward to attending his fleet’s safety banquets with their spouses or partners. If they are in a crash, having to tell their significant other that they can’t attend the event is not a conversation they look forward to, he added.

Target one behavior

But Idelic’s Bikowski said fleets fall flat when coaching plans try to address all behaviors at the same time.

Target one behavior like speeding, he advised. Create a key performance indicator and find a champion like a terminal manager. Choose one driver and show how behavior changed with coaching over time. Celebrate the achievement and scale it up, he added.

When it all comes together, this shows up in driver retention, on-time performance and great customer reviews, Eckhardt said. The indicator of success is hiring the right drivers and retaining them.

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