A Netradyne survey found that 58% of decision-makers in commercial fleets with five or fewer vehicles prefer to avoid addressing negative driving behavior.

Even if you’re not in that 58%, bringing up problematic incidents with your drivers probably isn’t high on your list of preferred activities.

But fleet managers must address negative driver behavior or they risk safety incidents and preventable accidents. Effective communication in fleet management is the foundation of a successful operation. In a Fierce Inc. survey, 86% of respondents blamed miscommunication for workplace failures. In commercial fleets, workplace failures are costly and put people’s lives at risk.

The good news is that with an open line of communication and the right technology, these hard conversations are a bit easier on all parties. In fact, modern fleet management solutions encourage healthy manager-driver relationships. In this blog post, we provide four practical tips for improving communication with your drivers to support your safety efforts and see better fleet operations overall.

1. Establish Expectations for Communication for Yourself and Your Drivers

Communication is a two-way street, so setting expectations with new drivers about how both you and they will keep that line open is vital. Doing so establishes a framework for healthy communication throughout their tenure with your fleet. There are many ways to approach this management style, but here are three main recommendations:

  • Make communication expectations clear and a part of onboarding training. When and how often will managers and drivers be expected to communicate? In what instances will communication be required versus optional? 
  • Provide technology that supports free-flowing communication. Whether you use mobile devices or fleet management tools, train drivers on these solutions so there’s no user-error excuse to block communication.
  • Make it clear throughout your interactions with drivers that feedback is welcome and you are open to listening as much as talking.

To facilitate streamlined communication, it’s smart to adopt a fleet management system that allows you to remotely engage with your drivers. For example, Netradyne’s Driver•i solution allows fleet managers to stay in contact with drivers and get notified of any behavior that might warrant extra communication. 

2. Lead With the Positive

When you do sit down to have conversations with drivers about negative behavior, you’ll find it ineffective to solely focus on the problematic driving behavior at hand. Positive reinforcement and recognition of what a driver is doing right are much more effective ways to incorporate criticism. Delivering the good with the bad—but delivering the good first—opens a driver up to receiving constructive criticism and changing behavior.

Leveraging data from your fleet management system is a helpful way to demonstrate to drivers that you see the great driving they do. It lets them know there is an unbiased system that tracks their safe habits so they aren’t simply dinged for a poor decision without any context. For example, an in-cab fleet management solution that captures 100% of driving time enables you to display both positive and risky behavior to a driver. Highlighting the driver’s good performance or ability to self-correct is a way to support that driver’s future efforts to self-coach.

3. Share Fleet Video to Lift High-Performing Drivers

Your fleet management system is also key to encouraging communication fleet-wide. You can use it to highlight the exceptional driving moments of high-performing drivers to the entire fleet—underscoring positive manager-driver relationships. When you celebrate great driving in a public sense, drivers are more likely to see their opportunity for recognition. They’re also more likely to communicate with you about issues because your safety culture will be built on rewards and trust. 

4. Encourage—and Use—Feedback

Asking drivers for their feedback is an important component of a successful safety department. The drivers are the ones in the field every day—using the vehicles and following the rules—so they are the only ones who can truly sense if changes need to be made to improve safety. What routes give them trouble? Are there vehicle quirks that make it difficult to maintain safety protocols? The answers to these questions can help you steer your safety efforts.

When it’s clear that your fleet’s management actually uses driver feedback, you encourage a healthy, open line of communication with drivers. Instead of worrying how their feedback might be received, they’ll realize you value their perspectives. This trust is essential for effectively managing operational and safety challenges.

How Do Real Fleets Use Driver•i to Improve Communication?

Load One Transportation and Logistics uses Driver•i to keep in touch with their drivers on the road. Through camera alerts, comments, and self-coaching features, the fleet keeps communication lines open between managers and drivers in real-time. The Driver•i app makes it easy for drivers to report problems, for managers to see what’s going on with each vehicle and driver, and for managers to offer real-time feedback to support safe behavior.

GreenZone Score showing positive recognition

Driver Star notification with GreenZone Score

Driver•i offers virtual coaching—prompting drivers to self-correct behavior in the moment. These prompts come from the technology, not necessarily a human manager, putting distance between a driver and any sensitivity they might have about obeying a manager. Drivers perceive the technology as a more unbiased source.

The solution also gives drivers access to critical information like real-time route updates, delivery schedules, and safety protocols that help them give feedback or request assistance.

Load One saw a 59% reduction in claims after the first year using Driver•i. After the second, they saw an 82% decrease in claims.  

Ready to Transform Your Fleet-Wide Communication?

The right technology is the game-changer for your manager-driver relationships. When tools keep your communication lines open and encourage positive recognition and safe driving, you successfully build a fleet culture focused on safety. 

Driver•i helps fleets establish and cement those lines of communication. Explore the Driver•i fleet management system and book a demo today to see how it works. 

Live Webinar on April 11

What are your chances of being hit with insurance rate hikes or a nuclear verdict? Building a positive safety culture could help mitigate risks. Join experts in technology, trucking, and law to see what steps you can take to build a positive safety culture.
Register Here