By investing in safety, dash cams, and fleet management software, safety managers can create and maintain a culture of safety. Apart from road safety, a culture of safety can also help increase efficiency, productivity, and profitability.
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers had the largest number of fatal injuries of any industry in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of fatalities, 840, was the highest since they began tracking that statistic in 2003. The total number of people killed in crashes involving large trucks that same year was 4,761 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Those statistics were both higher than the same ones in 2016. That could be because the growing economy means more trucks on the roads. However, the public often believes truck drivers are to blame. To get those numbers down, drivers need to follow the best safety practices.
People matter the most; there’s no argument there. Losing anyone is reason enough to keep safety top of mind, but other benefits to creating a culture of safety also exist. It boosts your bottom line by saving money and time (dealing with accidents and insurance), instills pride in your drivers, and gives your company a good reputation.
Make safety a top priority with the following tips on how to create and maintain a culture of safety with your drivers.
1. Serve as an example
Not only are you a manager, but you’re also considered a leader. In that role, you inspire those you supervise to do their best. As a role model to truckers, you should do what you want them to do – tell the truth, embrace change, listen to them, value their suggestions, admit your mistakes and treat everyone with respect.
You should also give drivers opportunities to learn and improve and keep your promises and commitments to them.
When was the last time you did a ride-along with one of your drivers? Schedule one to find out what he’s experiencing on the road. Not only will that help you do your job better, but it will foster the respect of your drivers.
2. Provide clear and frequent communication
KeepTruckin offers a key to streamline your organizational communications with a fleet management solution equipped with messaging and GPS tracking. That solves how to talk to drivers on the road, but communication includes other approaches. Arrange regular safety meetings. If all your drivers can’t meet face-to-face for those meetings, consider video conferencing them at locations near your on-the-road drivers. Hotel conference rooms make good alternatives.
Display flyers and posters with safety messages, send out emails and/or create a newsletter. Find as many ways as possible to communicate about safety. You never know when you’ll hit the mark.
3. Prioritize training and coaching with dash cams
Education needs to be ongoing from the time of employee orientation until a driver leaves your company. The KeepTruckin Smart Dashcam lets you know when a driver needs coaching due to driving habits that trigger events such as hard braking, hard acceleration or hard cornering. Ongoing training helps improve CSA scores and may decrease driver turnover.
John Haverstick, safety manager for Miller Expedited, used the Smart Dashcam to coach a drive. He says, “we had one driver with some incidents. After he was shown what the dash cam recorded, he’s more conscious of what he’s doing. He’s slowed down and has less hard brakes and hard accelerations.”
4. Always follow up
Whether you’ve introduced some new training, coached drivers or listened to their issues, you’re obligated to follow through on each. Haverstick explains, “When you resolve their issues, you retain drivers better that way. They know you’ll keep your promises.”
Not only does follow through give you credibility, but your drivers feel respected and valued.
Following up on training and coaching lets you know if the drivers grasped and implemented the suggestions and changes.
5. Recognize safe drivers
Even though safe driving is a requirement of any driver’s job, recognizing them for certain milestones helps develop a culture of safety with all your drivers.
Haverstick offers an incentive safety bonus of $300 per quarter. That means the driver had no accidents, no incidents, and no log-related problems during that three-month period. A good roadside inspection nets a driver $25, and for a positive phone call about a driver, Haverstick gives out a gift card. “Those calls do happen,” he says.
You can also reward them by honoring them at a safety meeting, sharing their positives in a newsletter or sending a press release to your local news outlets.
6. Implement a fatigue management policy
Although the hours-of-service (HOS) rules say drivers must take 10 hours off prior to driving and spend eight of those in their sleeper berth, that doesn’t mean they get eight hours of sleep. Sleep apnea, noisy parking lots, obesity, and busy minds all contribute to getting less sleep than needed.
That’s why some type of program that prevents your employees from driving drowsy needs to be in place.
First, you need to inform your drivers about the signs of fatigue, so they realize what’s happening.
Then give them a way out. When creating a fatigue management policy, think about the following questions to help guide you.
- Can they request a lighter duty when they know there might be a problem?
- What are policies around taking naps?
- If the issue is chronic, can you schedule him during the time of day when he’s most alert?
7. Partner with KeepTruckin and our safety solutions
A crucial part of KeepTruckin’s mission is to build modern technology products that help improve the safety of the trucking industry. Our ELDs increase safety by holding drivers accountable to the current HOS regulations, which were implemented to reduce driver fatigue.
With the Smart Dashcam, you can see how events unfold through the driver’s eyes. Then you can easily identify at-risk drivers. Because the Smart Dashcam is a front-facing camera. It’s not intrusive to drivers, and drivers understand that the camera is there to protect them in case of collisions and critical safety events.
Everyone in your company needs to be invested in safety. You can do your part to lower the crash statistics, while at the same time showing your drivers you care. Reward good performances, hold your drivers accountable for risky behaviors, and exonerate them when they are not at fault.