This June, Netradyne participated in a roundtable discussion hosted by Fleet Owner magazine’s editor-in-chief, Cristina Commendatore. This event was attended by our own director of product marketing, Danny Korrs, and three leaders from fleets recognized as “Best Fleets to Drive For” by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and CarriersEdge. The conversation focused on how top fleets get driver buy-in for in-cab safety systems, increase driver retention, and leverage technology for better safety. Overall, it was an insightful event with multiple takeaways. Below, we’ve summarized some of the highlights.
Table of Contents
#1 – Get Driver Buy-in by Taking a Grassroots Approach and Going Slow
In-cab safety technology can meet with driver resistance. Here’s how the industry’s most successful fleets are getting buy-in.
Garner Trucking. Before Garner Trucking invests in any technology, they have a group of demo drivers test it. We tell them: “Find out what’s good and bad about it.” Afterward, our demo group spreads the word about their experiences with their peers. We even provide that feedback to the OEM, which they appreciate. That’s how we get our driver’s buy-in. We don’t do anything without talking to our drivers because whatever technology we install ultimately affects them the most.
Central Oregon Truck Company. It’s important to avoid making any major changes in what you do so that drivers get a chance to adjust. Whether it’s installing new technology or modifying an existing process, the effects are like throwing a pebble into a lake—they ripple outwards and can have unintended consequences. Instead, make incremental changes, watch their effects, and gather the data. Central Oregon Truck Company lets that process lead to make data-driven decisions, which lead to the best results. Above all, start from the grassroots level with drivers, not top-down with management.
Boyle Transportation. Technology and systems implementation is a very people-driven process for Boyle Transportation. Often, their drivers have ideas about what they want to try or implement. We have an in-house professional driver advisory committee where new ideas are tested and presented for feedback to ensure driver buy-in. In addition to driver testing, try the committee approach because it helps identify areas in your company that are really innovative, which the rest of the industry might benefit from. You also discover other companies’ best practices, which can create a better experience for drivers.
#2 – Ensure Driver Retention by Focusing on Communication and Education
Implementing safety systems can impact retention. These are a few tactics to turn driver objections into positives.
Garner Trucking. In this competitive market, driver retention is essential. You don’t want to lose a single driver due to your safety practices or technology. At the same time, the trucking industry’s legal environment is extremely treacherous. Recently, there have been extensive nuclear verdicts, so fleets need to protect both themselves and their drivers. A key question for any jury in an accident will always be: “what was the driver doing?” So its essential to capture video outside and inside the cab. To successfully deploy safety cameras—and also retain your drivers—you need to focus on communication and education. Make sure to emphasize that cameras protect everyone. You also need to be very clear about where each camera will be placed and what exactly it’s seeing. For example, in-cab cameras only see what drivers’ hands are doing, what their eyes are doing, etc. Drivers need to know that cameras won’t invade their privacy.
Boyle Transportation. A few years back, when dash cameras were first rolled out, the industry’s mentality was that cameras were only to capture drivers’ mistakes and that firing the bad drivers would keep everyone else in line. This approach really soured drivers on cameras. To overcome this negative image, fleets need to emphasize that cameras level the playing field for drivers by backing up their version of events in every accident. Fleets also need to give drivers the training they need. It’s essential to teach drivers how these safety systems work and how to interact with them. When you have these conversations, you’ll be surprised at the level of misunderstanding that’s out there. And you’ll change a lot of minds.
Central Oregon Truck Company. It’s important to keep in mind that the trucking industry is very safe, but it does a really poor job at marketing how safe it is. Believe in the goodness of your professional drivers and your whole team. Be willing to have honest conversations. By approaching every project with that perspective, you’ll get better outcomes and higher retention.
#3 – Use Data to Create Positive Experiences and Motivate Drivers
Data helps fleets identify areas for drivers’ improvement. Rather than focus on negative moments, it’s important for fleets to find a positive approach.
Garner Trucking. Data tells us which drivers are reducing their hard-braking events, achieving the best miles per gallon (MPG), getting a zero score on their cameras, and more. We use that information to motivate and empower our drivers by giving that data back to them. It’s more than just tracking how drivers are performing on the road. Drivers can learn about their truck’s average MPG, as well as how much gas they’re using when idling. This data motivates drivers to work at maximizing their driving performance and efficiency. In fact, Garner Trucking has a program that gives more money to their best-performing drivers—drivers can earn up to four additional cents per mile based on their truck’s performance.
Boyle Transportation. In the past, talking to drivers about behaviors they needed to improve was complicated. With safety cameras, fleets have indisputable video evidence and data that facilitate those conversations. Managers can pinpoint positive behaviors as well as driving skills that need improvement. Training doesn’t have to be cookie cutter with everyone learning the same thing. You can provide individuals with tailored training. That way, you don’t have drivers asking themselves: “Why am I getting training on making left-hand turns?” Using data, training can be a positive experience that motivates drivers because they know they’re learning something they really need to work on.
Central Oregon Truck Company. I tell my team that when they see something good on a video, they need to reach out to me. I spend Fridays calling employees who are doing great work and thanking them. Last year, I asked for discretionary funding in my department’s budget. Now, I don’t need to get approval for buying gift certificates to give these employees a nice dinner. I’ll call the spouse or the driver and ask, “where do you like to eat?” and I’ll get them a reservation. It’s the little things that really make a difference. This changes drivers’ perception of how these systems collect data that benefits them.
#4 – Exercise Transparency to Improve Driver Performance
With new technology, the key to acceptance is transparency—show drivers exactly what you’re seeing.
Netradyne. By being transparent, especially with positive events, drivers will learn to really appreciate the technology. For example, when a driver in the slow lane sees a vehicle pulled over the shoulder, a good practice is to create more separation by changing into the center or fast lane. Showcasing these positive behaviors helps drivers improve their own performance. Ultimately, this boosts overall fleet safety.
With built-in AI machine learning, Netradyne Driver•i automates notifications and helps drivers replicate a lot of these successful behaviors while they’re on the road. This gives them real-time transparency for their own performance. Netradyne includes real-time notifications and coaching that teach drivers positive behaviors in the moment to directly impact their driving. With Netradyne, fleets are able to predict and prevent a variety of safety issues. Our customers see reductions in traffic light violations (64%), stop sign violations (48%), and speeding violations (50%).
What types of safety systems have leading fleets implemented? How are they using the data to make changes in their operations? To answer these questions and more, listen to the entire roundtable discussion “Driver Safety and Retention Best Practices.”