One of the best ways to prevent driving incidents in the first place is to have a proactive policy in place that monitors driver behavior, with recognition and coaching opportunities as needed.  -  Photo: Canva

One of the best ways to prevent driving incidents in the first place is to have a proactive policy in place that monitors driver behavior, with recognition and coaching opportunities as needed.

Photo: Canva

Do you think you’re a good driver? Most of us would answer yes to that question. But not everyone — fleet drivers included — actually practices safe driving habits behind the wheel at work, regardless of how we view our own abilities.

In a recent video episode of Fleet Momentum, we talked with Brian Kinniry, director of product management, and Mark Iorillo, director of sales and marketing, of CEI to find out how fleet managers can best manage drivers of all risk levels and foster a safer fleet.

CEI is a fleet service provider focused on driver safety and collision management. “We view collision management as the reactive cushion of how to handle something after it's already occurred, and safety as the proactive management of how to eliminate these events from happening in the first place,” Iorillo said.

Many drivers think they’re safer than they really are, and those drivers often pose challenges to manage.

Turns out, many drivers that are identified as high risk often haven’t been identified as having collisions or violations. “But there are data elements that are telling us otherwise, that they tend to have risky behaviors, or maybe they’re just getting lucky,” Kinniry said.

A Realistic View of Driver Performance

Iorillo believes that the reason drivers think they’re safer than they are is because of a feedback loop, which is enforced when they haven’t had an accident or speeding ticket in while. But likely the last time that driver was evaluated on driving skill and safety was when receiving their license as a teenager. “When you sit back and find a tool that can accurately measure to a specific standard, and how proficient your skill is, you really have that kind of ‘aha’ moment where you break yourself out of that feedback loop, which forces you to think that you are this excellent driver, with really no baseline of establishing that fact.”

Kinniry encourages leadership to remind drivers of the steps to be safe. This doesn’t have to be in a formal training, but rather short and quick messages. The power of peer influence can be incredibly helpful as well, especially when the message comes from someone who understands the demands and pressures of a drivers’ schedule.

It’s also important to make feedback less punitive and more positive with recognition when someone does demonstrate safe behaviors — “something that just fosters a culture of everybody looking to get home safe at the end of the day and keep their community safe alongside them on the roads as they're traveling every day,” Iorillo said.

Lessen Your Risk Exposure

It shouldn’t take a collision, near miss, or a ticket to turn your drivers’ focus back to safety, though. Kinniry recommends turning your policies from something that might be reactive to a proactive approach that identifies behavior as it happens and allows for coaching and training from the get-go.

“One of the things that we’ve done is use data, such as detecting drivers that have hard braking, acceleration, or speeding tendencies,” Kinniry said. “And we found 46% of drivers in the lowest risk level, meaning that drivers that were not identified as having risky tendencies, were the ones having performance that needed to be addressed.”

When those “lower risk” drivers had monitors in place to report their activity, though, they began to remediate themselves, he said.

In one of CEI’s test groups, 100% of the crashes that happened during a test period were caused by the drivers flagged as lower risk. Those drivers then realized they weren’t actually safe drivers, but rather, lucky. “Your behaviors behind the wheel do catch up with you when you’re driving on the road without realizing the risk that you pose to other drivers,” Iorillo said.

Address Hidden Risks in Low-Risk Drivers

Technology’s advancements have helped turn around the traditional approach to risk management. Features like ADAS, telematics, and tracking and reporting apps can address safety behavior. An even newer and critically important tech is distracted driving products that detect when a driver is engaging with their phone.

“I suggest incorporating those into your policies if you’re not already,” Kinniry said. “And use them in a way to promote positive recognition.”

Iorillo says to take proactive approaches even further and become prescriptive. When you monitor patterns of behavior and identify trends, you can implement measures to mitigate risk and ultimately, stop a crash from ever happening.

One solution is CEI’s DriverCare CoPilot, a smartphone app that detects driving behaviors that may lead to an accident. After each trip, drivers receive a score. This helps increase awareness and turn attention into action.

“These are all predictive measures for a future crash,” Kinniry said. “So again, the sooner we can get in front of these measures, the better chance we have of drivers avoiding that collision while they’re out there on the road.”

Watch the full video interview with CEI here:

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