Carrots, Sticks and Engagement: Improve Driver Safety

July 11, 2018 | Blog
improve driver safety

Fleet Managers know better than most how difficult it is to attempt to modify driver behavior and driving habits to improve driver safety. Teaching old dogs new tricks has always been challenging and the dog never had a smartphone whilst behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. They also lack thumbs. You have choices to attempt to modify driver behavior and promote safe driving.

You can opt for carrots, sticks or engagement.


As human beings, we understand the power of the reward. Creating an incentive for the workers and fleet drivers behind the wheel to win through recognition or reward of good driving habits can move the needle. It also is a softer approach than the curses of the reprimand. We know of one global pharmaceutical company that rewards good driving habits and a good driving record with added driving privileges such as XM Radio subscriptions. This approach is not without challenge though. Incentive design is hard work. Workers and fleet drivers can find ways to game systems and it is a largely relying on trailing indicators of driving behavior. Lots of writing is dedicated to how to get this right.


Sometimes the consequences can be curbed toward the positive, such as a driver improvement program or driver improvement clinic required for poor drivers or motor vehicle reports (MVRs) that let you know there is a problem with a subset of your motor carrier drivers or employees that drive for their jobs. In the U.S., the Department of Transportation does a good job of making these violations available to the public. While the expense, risk, liability and frustration of poor driving skills, driving habits and distracted driving are huge for companies, going the reprimand route does have challenges. Examples of poor driving skills and driving habits are disobeying the speed limit, accidents, not wearing a seat belt while operating a vehicle, moving violations, traffic violations, and ignoring general highway safety and traffic safety. Examples of distracted driving include driver fatigue, hands off the steering wheel for any amount of time, texting, and any unauthorized cell phone use that violates laws or your company’s safety policy. We’ve had managers and fleet managers express frustration at zero tolerance policies for using a mobile device while driving a vehicle because fleet managers are unable to actively enforce their policy to improve driver safety and fleet safety as a whole. The behavior does bring great risk and expense to the company, however, the best fleet managers feel these consequences will only change behavior in the short-term and a long-term change is what is sought.


Clearly, the best approach is to get the workers engaged in the behavior of safe driving practices and training for safe driving. What better way to accomplish this than by putting the driving scores on the devices. At the end of each trip, you could score the driver on a scale from 1-100 and have technology that measures harsh braking, dangerous cornering or disobeying the speed limit. You’d also be best suited to adopt a solution that is not creating more distracting alerts and alarms while the vehicle is in motion, such as notifications from telematics data and gps fleet tracking notifications.


Finally, you’d be best served to have each trip record the score and make it available immediately to the employees and also accessible through a web browser application so fleet managers and fleet operators can catch people doing things right. This piece allows for coaching discussions to occur and for drivers to benchmark themselves to others as the safety of the vehicles rises alongside overall motor carrier safety for your business.

The best fleet managers know this is really the approach that can create safe driving, reduce risk, improve employees driving habits, and improve driver safety.

Share this article

Like what you read? Check out the latest posts.