Learned behaviours within driving can include what we learn from our parents, family and friends. Within the driving for work context, this sphere of influence extends to colleagues and managers.
When we learn to drive we already have a lot of knowledge picked up over the years by watching how others react to other road users and situations. Friends, colleagues and peer pressure can also influence what we believe to be acceptable driving behaviours such as risk taking and our use of speed.
As an employer have you ever thought about how you influence the behaviour of your driver's to reduce their on road risk?
You probably have more influence than you realise. For example, how you nurture a safety culture sends out an important message to your staff. If you are proactive in managing risk then you are reinforcing and building upon this safety culture. A safety culture which should extend to road safety. So what can you do to proactively manage driving for work risk?
At the most basic level the example you provide in your day to day dealings with your staff set the tone and benchmark for expectations. Communicating clear expectations around road safety is important because everyone needs to understand their roles and responsibilities within the organisation. Even better, these expectations should be written down in the form of policies making clear what is expected and the potential consequences for failing to adhere to these policies. Reward and recognition also have a very important part to play. For example, who gets the highest mpg in your organisation? Why would you possibly be interested in this? Because this driver is saving you money every single day! High mpg also correlates to safer driving because many eco techniques are also defensive driving techniques. What are you doing to publicise this? Why aren’t your other drivers matching this mpg?
Approachability is also desirable so that staff feel able to have conversations with managers when things are not going right. By listening to staff, risks can be identified which the company may not otherwise have known about, control measures can be agreed and near misses or incidents avoided.
If it is common knowledge that drivers regularly speed, go through red lights or make dangerous overtakes in the course of their day to day driving on company business then this would indicate a weak safety culture because by not challenging this behaviour your managers and staff learn that no one is interested and there are no expectations or consequences for good or poor driving behaviours. If you do not care, why should others?
Not challenging poor driving behaviour may also be indicative of an organisation blind to risk. Perhaps staff at all levels within the organisation do not recognise or understand these risks or do not have the skills to be able to effectively manage drivers. A lack of action to address these behaviours perhaps condoning these risks and reinforcing learned behaviour which continues to manifest itself in these poor driving choices perpetuating a cycle of risk. Ask yourself who are your top ten drivers responsible for most accidents? Because these drivers are the ones costing you the most money! What are you doing to manage them?
Contrast this style of management to an organisation which proactively manages risk by challenging inappropriate culture, promotes responsibility, sets high expectations, confronts and challenges risky driving behaviour, supports staff in their development, imposes sanctions or recognises safe driving as outlined in driving for work policies before an incident or near miss.
Do you accept poor performance such as missed deadlines, not meeting sales targets, poor attendance? Then why do you accept poor driving behaviour potentially exposing you to higher fleet costs every single day?