I’m writing this while sitting on a plane, ignoring the safety video they play before every flight, the one that tells you about the exits and life jackets — the one that could save your life but that no one pays attention to these days.
I remember paying attention to these announcements when I was younger, because flying was new and the flight attendants made it sound like it was of the utmost importance. And it is, but after you hear something so many times, you just want to put on your headphones and be left in peace.
This reminds me of safety policies and programs fleet organizations have put in place. Safe driving practices can save drivers’ lives, as well as the lives of pedestrians and other motorists, but how do you know that your drivers are paying attention at all?
Is requiring employees to read a policy and sign it effective? Are signs and banners? Are vehicle stickers and decals effective? Buy-in is what fleet managers want, but is it what they get?
Telling an employee who has been driving for decades to be safer is maybe like trying to tell someone to change the way they run — they’ve been doing it for so long, why change something that is ingrained and seems to be working just fine?
Working on Enforcement
Policy alone can be passive and easy for drivers to ignore. Fleet organizations often take additional steps in order to enforce their policy.
Built-in vehicle safety features are one option. Safer vehicles include back-up cameras in smaller cars that are now standard. Public agencies adopting Vision Zero safety programs are adding trucks with more driver visibility and sideguards in case a collision does happen. A recent report prepared for the National Association of City Transportation Officials found that agencies can often procure smaller, safer vehicles that do the same amount of work as larger vehicles — such as smaller ladder trucks having the same reach. And fleets can even retrofit their current vehicles for improved visibility to provide immediate safety benefits.
In addition to changing the vehicle design and built-in safety features, there are various technologies available that can track and help enforce certain driving behaviors. These technologies range from in-vehicle cameras to speed and acceleration tracking, to even speed limiting. And while nobody likes to be tracked and prodded to do the right thing, if it’s the best way to ensure mass compliance, some fleet managers will take this route.
Sometimes it takes an incident, perhaps a collision or a near-miss, to really bring the point home (in my case, moderate turbulence just now made me regret not paying attention to the safety video, but just momentarily). But of course, you can’t have everyone learn their lessons this way — it would be a deadly (and costly) method.
Not Just About the Driver
There is a recent situation when I did pay a lot of attention to the safety announcement before a flight: I was lucky enough to get an exit row seat, which faced the flight attendant’s jump seat. When it came to being responsible for the lives of others, I perked up, and even asked the flight attendant questions. In case something happened and I was responsible for this exit, I did not want to mess up!
I’m not sure how you apply that to the fleet world, but it’s one example of when requiring more active participation makes a participant more engaged.
How do you ensure that your drivers are taking heed of safety policies?