Upskill your fleet with proper truck driver training
The performance of a fleet says a lot about the business operating it. Not only does the company stand to maintain or lose its reputation for safe driving, but the health and safety of the workforce itself — and the future of the entire business — is at stake.
This is certainly true of truck-based fleets.
Truck drivers operate larger, riskier vehicles, and must be especially careful behind the wheel. It’s imperative to thoroughly equip truck drivers with the right knowledge and skills in order to keep accidents, downtime, costs and overall risk to a minimum.
Below, we’ll discuss the nuances of safety instruction for your truck drivers, and the key ways it will help keep your employees safe on the road.
Truck driver training vs. driver education: Understanding the differences
First, it’s important to understand the two main ways of transferring knowledge to your drivers. When trucks are involved, there are very important differences between driver training and driver education. However, both are necessary to run the safest fleet possible.
Driver education can be likened to the classroom experience. It entails formally instructing drivers on local road rules, along with your corporate fleet policy. Driver training, on the other hand, refers to the hands-on, practical instruction your truck drivers need in order to operate the vehicles responsibly.
An organised mix of both approaches should be implemented for truck fleets. While the traditional ‘education’ portion reinforces what your company (and the law) expects of your staff, the training builds on that context with true-to-life experience in careful, defensive driving.
Lowering risk by profiling drivers and targeting the training
Every truck driver arrives on the job with a unique level of experience and competence in handling heavy vehicles. And even within a group of highly skilled professionals, each person will have a different temperament in the driver's seat.
For this reason, it is essential to monitor each driver's behaviour to assess individual risk. This lets you know which drivers are most likely to cause collisions (for example, those who make harsh manoeuvres or have had numerous near-misses on the road) and which ones are reliably careful.
Then, you can target your behind-the-wheel instruction and classroom education to the most at-risk drivers. This will improve the safety of your whole fleet as efficiently as possible.
Reinforcing safety culture often and in varied ways
Safety instruction is not just another ‘box’ to tick off; it should be continually revisited. Only by doing that can you strengthen a culture of safety and personal accountability.
Teachings around safety should be held and repeated periodically for everyone. It is helpful to implement this in a variety of ways, such as seminars, behind-the-wheel drills, and web-based exams, so that your drivers learn about safe, skillful truck operation from different angles.
Nonetheless, truck drivers who are constantly upskilled and made aware of expectations are more apt to apply the lessons and reduce risky road behaviours.
Reducing incidents by rewarding safe driving records
Bolstering truck fleet safety shouldn't only consist of 'lecturing' employees. An effective, morale-boosting way to get the message across is to give drivers prizes for a job well done.
You could create a programme, for instance, in which you reward your truck drivers with cash prizes, vacation time, special recognition, or even tangible gifts for driving a certain amount of time without crashes or traffic violations.
Incentivising good performance creates a spirit of friendly competition among coworkers. And, the promise of a reward will motivate your drivers to stay safe and closely monitor their own behind-the-wheel conduct.
While all fleets come with built-in risks, truck fleets are especially vulnerable. The operation of heavy vehicles calls for a higher level of emphasis on safe driving. By smartly combining targeted training and education, repeating safety instruction in different formats, and incentivising great track records, you will build a safe and noteworthy truck fleet.
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