Road safety is the number one concern for the transportation industry. For some time, safety programs were viewed as a costly expense, but through the adoption of AI technology and embracing new ways to help teams grow, the transportation industry has shifted to seeing safety as a necessity for business success. In addition, the challenges facing the market right now have emphasized the need for a positive safety culture and how it can reduce costs.

In a recent webinar, Netradyne’s director of performance marketing, Austin Schmidt, addressed how safety can be a cost saver for trucking companies rather than a cost center. 

In part one of this blog series, we will discuss how to improve your safety culture through the science of change. Here’s a quick recap:

Benefits and Reality of Dash Cams

Incorporating dash cams into a safety culture has been proven to retain drivers and improve safe driving behavior. Benefits like remote coaching allow for streamlined communication between fleet managers and drivers. Also, drivers have transparent insight into their driving performance, giving them autonomy over their overall driving performance. With these features, dash cams are compliance tools allowing drivers to assess their risky and positive driving behaviors

The reality of dash cams is that they will not instantly reduce operating costs. However, they can be utilized to improve areas within your company to benefit workflow in the long run. For this to happen, businesses will have to implement the science of change. 

The Two Key Principles of the Science of Change

Instant Feedback

While communication between a safety manager and a driver is important, there can be a delay between when a driving mistake was made and when the driver is coached on that mistake. In a study done to measure the impact of delayed v.s instant feedback when learning a second language, researchers found that even a 2-3 second delay reduced a student’s ability to learn from mistakes by 21 percent. That 21 percent gap in learning and putting that knowledge into practice is too much of a delay when trying to operate an efficient safety culture. 

A delay in feedback can also result in recency bias, defined as a “cognitive bias that favors recent occurrences over ones made in the past.” An example would be if a driver has a history of following too close to other vehicles, but the last two close following alerts were the fault of a passenger vehicle; the driver will focus on the recent occurrence rather than looking at their past violations in addition to present occurrences. This can make giving and receiving feedback difficult because the driver isn’t looking at the situation as a whole. If not approached correctly, recency bias can make it seem like the fleet manager is only focusing on negative occurrences without acknowledging the positive events. However, through positive reinforcement, this can be mitigated. 

fleet manager and driver


Positive Reinforcement

To promote and maintain positive change when it comes to safety and compliance within the transportation industry, an incentive plan needs to be established. Some businesses give shoutouts in a company-wide newsletter for high-scoring drivers, while others give out gift cards to drivers who performed the best over the quarter. The key to these programs is that they’re done on a regular basis and mitigate negative repetitive behavior

Positive reinforcement ensures that bad safety habits like distracted driving and speeding are broken. We as human beings are wired to adjust our behavior to achieve favorable outcomes and adjust our learning when we know what we are doing makes a positive impact. A study done by the North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y, found that when positive reinforcement was given to employees for washing their hands on a regular basis, compliance rates reached 90 percent within four weeks. This is also an example of operant conditioning, which is a method of learning through rewards. By rewarding positive outcomes, you ensure long-term positive behavior.    

smiling driver with phone


Final Thoughts

Through the practice of instant feedback and positive reinforcement, transportation companies have the ability to improve their safety culture without making budget-breaking investments. Also, having a safety system that allows transparent and streamlined communication between safety managers and drivers reduces friction when giving feedback. Making these changes with the right tools and plan of action will strengthen a transportation company’s safety department.

On-Demand Webinar

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Courtney Chunglo

Content Writer