Managers: The Secret Weapon in Your Driver Risk Management Toolbox

Originally published in Fleet Management Weekly 10/15/2021

By Ed Dubens, Founder/CEO of eDriving

Are the Managers of your Drivers playing their part in creating a crash-free culture across your organization?

Official figures revealed a surge in deaths on U.S. roadways in the first quarter of 2021 – a 10.5 percent increase from the same period last year. And we already know that around 94% of collisions can be attributed to driver attitudes and behaviors, which tells us that the key to reducing collisions is to improve those attitudes and behaviors. But does that mean that your driver risk management program should focus purely on driver attitudes and behaviors, or those of managers, too?

eDriving’s primary research has proven what other cognitive studies have shown: namely, that training – whether virtual or in person – can only change the risk level of a driver so much. Personal performance coaching has been found to be one of the best methods of reinforcing safer, sustained low-risk behaviors.

Over the last 25 years of working with organizations globally to manage driver risk, the involvement of line managers as driver safety ambassadors and role models has proven invaluable in engaging drivers in the safety mission.

eDriving client BT ran what was, at the time, one of Europe’s biggest driver risk reduction programs, involving 65,000 drivers, one of the UK’s largest motor fleets. Over a 12-year period, BT reduced claims per 1,000 vehicles from 59 to 27 and cut annual costs by over £14 million. The starting point for the program was to identify driving as the biggest injury risk facing the organization and members of the public. The program was accepted as beneficial by senior management, based on a quantifiable business case focused on compliance, cost and corporate social responsibility.

The program involved the development of a road safety management course for managers, and the engagement of managers in a quarterly working group. Many areas of the business built road safety process indicators into their management objectives and scorecards. Developing a management culture and focusing on policy and people engagement were important features of the program, and central to the approach was the positioning of road safety as an occupational safety and health issue.

Other client experiences reinforce the importance of manager coaching and engagement. One Fortune 250 eDriving client recently embarked on a pilot of eDriving’s Mentor program that delivered 30% reduction in Collisions per Million Miles (CPMM) vs. a 23% increase in the control group, setting the stage for a successful global rollout over the next two years. The client’s subsequent rollout to 12,000 drivers across 10 divisions in the U.S. and Canada proved that sustained CPMM reduction came when focus was put on on-time coaching completions and quality reviews/manager follow-up. In short, the quality of manager coaching made a significant difference.

A third global eDriving client recently published a nine-year analysis of its road safety program, demonstrating that countries using eDriving’s comprehensive risk management program – which includes a heavy focus on local leadership at the management level – achieved a CPMM 36% lower than countries without the program.

That’s why, at eDriving, we advocate and support organizations in engaging the manager, who in turn engages the driver. One of our favorite workplace sayings is “What interests the boss, fascinates the worker” – and it’s true. If the manager considers the safety of the driver a high priority, the driver will too.

The question is HOW to engage the manager. This largely comes down to the importance of a company-wide crash-free culture, and of assigning program ownership to managers. Some managers, despite feeling perfectly qualified to provide feedback to their team members on their sales, service or delivery performance, might not feel qualified to coach drivers when it comes to collisions, injuries, incidents or license violations. Training them in how to use your program’s tools is essential, as is equipping them with templates to guide critical coaching conversations with drivers.

When managers are required to take ownership of, and responsibility for, the driving performance of their direct reports, it results in a stronger commitment to safety. Not only do managers feel empowered, but at the same time they improve their own knowledge and skills, ultimately championing the road safety message to their direct reports.

About the Author

Ed’s passion is helping companies proactively manage driver risk and prioritize the safety of their employees who drive for work purposes. The ultimate goal of eDriving’s programs is to help drivers return home safely to their loved ones and communities at the end of each day. Ed has been fortunate enough to be living out his passion for over 25 years, impacting lives and helping transform the field of driver risk management along the way.

eDriving’s Mentor program identifies risky driving behaviors for intervention and safe driving habits for recognition. In-app features include micro-training and coaching templates, gamification, collision reporting, vehicle inspections, and an individual FICO® Safe Driving Score validated to predict the likelihood of being involved in a collision. Mentor’s integrated automatic crash detection and Personal SOS features powered by Sfara and Bosch trigger a voice call and emergency support, as needed, from one of Bosch’s Global Call Centers supporting >50 countries. Through its five-stage, patented Crash-Free Culture® risk reduction methodology, eDriving helps organizations embrace safety and reduce risk for Sales, Service, Delivery and Warehouse drivers, all within a privacy-first, data-secure environment.

eDriving is the digital driver risk management partner of choice for many of the world’s largest organizations, supporting over 1.2 million drivers in 125 countries. Over the past 25 years, eDriving’s research-validated programs have been recognized with over 100 awards around the world.