For those who don’t understand what driver coaching, or taking a proactive approach to safety looks like, it’s probably because a reactive approach to safety is easier to spot. Damaged vehicles, injuries, and high-profile collisions captured on the news. These are signs of a reactive safety approach — or no safety approach at all.
Responding to an accident after the fact may address the damage done in the moment, but it doesn’t make fleets safer. Only a proactive approach to safety can do that.
It’s all the more crucial in industries that are inherently and statistically high-risk. According to the most recent data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, in 2018, 1,276 of U.S. workers driving or riding in a vehicle died in work-related accidents on public roads. Among them, the transportation and warehousing industry had the highest share (38 percent), followed by construction (12 percent). In the oil and gas extraction industry, motor vehicle collisions cause more than half of work-related deaths.
Being proactive involves anticipating problems before they happen. For industries that rely on vehicles to conduct day-to-day business, such as those mentioned above, staying ahead of accidents is as vital to the safeguarding of lives as it is to profitability.
But what does a proactive approach to safety look like? Today it involves one key ingredient: video. By having an AI-powered dashcam that captures unsafe driving events on video, every kind of transportation company, from big rigs to bulldozers, can use the video clips to coach drivers to become safer.
Proactive driver coaching is both an art and a science. Here are five keys to doing it well.
Proactive driver coaching is timely coaching. Wait too long to coach a near-miss, and you’ve missed your chance to get ahead of the problem. And isn’t getting ahead of accidents the goal? Best practices stipulate coaching drivers in person soon after an unsafe driving event occurs.
How soon is soon? Common sense dictates coaching at the earliest opportunity after an incident has occurred, when the event is still fresh in the driver’s mind. By letting the individual return to the road with risky habits unchecked, fleets raise their risk of having a more serious incident with the same employee later on.
Use video to pinpoint areas for improvement
Video-based tools, such as Motive’s new AI Dashcam, capture video and driver data to identify unsafe driving habits and alert drivers to them in real-time. While some people perceive dashcams to be nothing more than surveillance tools, they’re actually integral to saving lives.
An AI-powered safety platform can show safety managers when a driver is practicing unsafe behavior and highlight the in-cab distractions putting their team at risk.
Were they texting while driving? Were they following the car ahead too closely? During a follow-up coaching session, AI Dashcam footage can be used to provide the context and demonstrate the potential risk of what happened. The video footage and driver data tell a fuller story of fleet safety. At the same time, they provide valuable insight into what each of your drivers can do to improve.
By reviewing the video together, the driver and coach can discuss why the behavior was unsafe and how to avoid it in the future. A video-based coaching session is where improvements in driver behavior and safety take place.
Driver coaching sessions typically don’t last long, so it’s important to keep the session focused. Videos identify opportunities for improvement in ways that other telematics-based tools can’t.
Show the driver when they took their eyes off the road (and how surrounding vehicles could have been impacted). Show the driver when and where they could have left more distance between their vehicle and the car ahead. Give them the chance to come to it on their own. On the off chance they don’t, the coach can reinforce what could have been done differently to bring about safer results.
In coaching, the right tone is a positive tone. Always. Effective coaches know that positive reinforcement can go a long way, and they look for opportunities to offer praise when it’s due. Footage recorded in an AI Dashcam can pinpoint opportunities for praise and help bring the positive to a coaching session.
Motive’s DRIVE score is another coaching tool that helps to establish goals for drivers to work toward. Short for Driver, Road, Imaging, Vehicle, and Environment, DRIVE generates a risk score meant to foster continuous improvement in every fleet. Based on driver performance, DRIVE identifies and rewards positive behaviors just as it alerts to unsafe ones. In this way, DRIVE helps elevate and retain top performers.
Use proactive driver coaching to teach empathy
A proactive driver coaching session provides a great opportunity to build relationships with your team. Establishing trust begins with empathy and a willingness to listen. When a driver has to be coached on an unsafe event, he or she likely will be on the defensive. An effective coach can put team members at ease by looking for opportunities to connect. Asking questions, taking the time to listen, and establishing shared experiences can foster the relationship.
In finding common ground and looking for ways to connect on the driver’s level, coaches can show that they’re invested. Using a constructive approach, free of blame, can lead to better outcomes and inspire team members to change their behavior.
Learn more about the new AI Dashcam and how it can help your team get proactive on safety.