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Safety First: Creating a Drive Safety Program

  • By Ryan Skidmore

Watch out!

Have you ever driven with a complete stranger? Not a cab driver or an Uber driver who was trying to preserve your approval as a customer. Try driving with someone’s uncle or a friend’s brother. The differences of their and your vehicular idiosyncrasies will become painfully, even dangerously, clear. They might appear to follow other vehicles too closely or brake too late, but claim to have never rear ended another vehicle in their years driving. Some passengers state their displeasure with the driver’s performance. “Watch out!” they cry. A quick poll of the Carmine offices finds that it is oh so common to find other persons’ driving inadequate at times. Everyone does. The logic and habits of other drivers makes sense to them when they are doing it. But imagine that these generic “other people” were driving your vehicles every day and you were responsible for their actions. These people are your drivers. “I trust my guys,” goes the common phrase. Trust your drivers as people in general. You trust in their integrity to do the right thing in a morally challenging situation. But… do not trust their judgement of their own driving habits until you have fully observed and understood them yourself because what they find acceptable behind the wheel might not be acceptable to you.

Watch…

In the hall of time honored actions attributed to a successful driver safety program, chief amongst them is to actually monitor drivers. Start using alerts. Sent via email, text, or push notifications, they will privy you to a blow by blow record of your drivers’ days on the road as you go about your day. Periodically run reports on your drivers’ trips and driving behavior. Watch for speeding, extreme braking, and extreme acceleration. These, on their own, are poor driving behaviors, but they usually indicate other risky behaviors. However, these behaviors should always be judged in cluster and in context. A single speeding event in an otherwise well-behaved day is not a concern, especially for a well-mannered driver. Likewise, the time, place, and task at hand may make a great deal of difference if that speeding event was risky or if it was warranted. It is all about looking at trends and evaluating them.

…Out!

“Out” means that once you and your other business leadership determines what safety standards they would like to follow, these standards should be written out. Formal, or even informal, written policies are important for small businesses to establish the legitimacy of their decisions and actions.  When problems do arise, what the problem is will be clearer and along with the course of action. To begin, start with simple and generally acceptable guidelines for driving behavior. Guidelines, at this early stage, should be designed to help your drivers understand what is and is not safe, generally, in a wide variety of situations. Create breadth, but not yet depth. However, avoid creating guidelines that will be too condemnatory in most situation. Like a doctor, you are trying help your safety situation, first do not harm. Next, develop more pieces as they become necessary. Pieces of policy should spawn from trends and not a single event. Good policies are made to deal with general types of situations when or after they happen.  The Carmine system is designed to enable trend watching. Creating a driver safety policy is nearly impossible without such a system.  Companies will be surprised to see how big of a positive impact a well-crafted and deployed driver safety policy can have.  It is a well worth investment that will yield great results.

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