Driver safety teams still experience an escalation in the frequency and severity of accidents despite using techniques and tools such as better candidate screening and coaching programs to improve driver performance. Many fleets have implemented bonus systems and reward programs to motivate drivers to self-impose recommended safe driving techniques.
Although incentives may well form a valuable part of a driver safety program, it can be a dangerous shortcut to quick results if these incentives do not contribute to a long-term improvement of driver safety practices.
Managers who are desperate for immediate results may offer bonuses for good driving behavior in a knee-jerk reaction to their worsening statistics, and thus cause proper monitoring and coaching programs to lag. Such incentives can generate temporary behavioral improvements while ignoring fundamental safety principles. In other words, any positive results will only be positive in the short-term.
Are we incentivizing the wrong metrics?
In these incentive programs, employers reward positive behaviors, but also publish long lists of negative behaviors that will lead to the removal of the promised bonuses. These systems do not inherently reward positive behaviors, but rather pay drivers for a decline in bad practices.
The correlation between rewarding safety-positive driver behavior and how employers measure these behaviors must be clarified and amplified by rewarding positive behavior, rather than paying drivers for a decrease in bad behavior.
We can do better than a system where driver training modules are assigned, but encouragement to complete the test within a specified time is lacking. Even worse, we do not measure the test taker’s ability to retain the information.
However, should we measure and reward positive completion, but fail to notice noncompliance?
In a better system, successful completion of online training modules would be regarded as a positive activity and rewarded. If a test taker ignores the assignment or fails the exam, then (s)he forfeits the bonus. Further, the bonus could increase for tasks completed within a specified time, and an additional bonus provided for those who score top marks on the quiz.
Telematics systems are invaluable in gathering safety data including seatbelt usage, heavy acceleration, hard braking, hard cornering, speeding, and more. The systems are inexpensive and highly automated and configurable.
Behavior scoring from telematics units
Gamifying the driver experience drives behavior and does so in a positive and rewarding way to your team members. Telematics units can provide progressive scorecards about each driver and can also give in-cab feedback with audio and lights warnings when drivers exceed nominal threshold behaviors. Safety teams could focus on rewarding those drivers who actively modify their behavior to comply with established threshold conditions. Rewards not only stops bad practices; it also provides incentives to drivers for long-term adoption of positive behaviors such as shutting off the engine rather than idling during long stops and curbing harsh braking.
Rephrasing or renaming the reward metrics may be useful. A decrease in speed alerts by the GPS can be rewarded as “greater occurrences driving at or below speed limit” which emphasizes a positive behavior result, rather than referring to “speeding less,” which emphasizes a reduction in negative behavior.
Telematics is a practical way to reward drivers who maintain good MVR records. Drivers earn bonuses for adherence to recommended practices and avoiding penalties by following their company policies.
Are you ready for an incentive program?
Fleets should self-audit their policies and plan against an established standard like ANSI Z15 to ensure that they meet essential policies before they plunge into bonus programs. However, if their fundamentals are solid, they should be able to decide on “best fit” metrics to reinforce the desired behaviors in their company.
This information assembled by DFM, fleet management experts and the company behind Fleet Wellness®.
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