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InsightsInsurance & Risk ManagementNewsTechnologyTruckingTrucking Risk & Compliance

Positive conversations between fleets and drivers a basic necessity that’s often ignored

One of the primary concerns within the trucking industry is the issue of high driver turnover rates – a situation that has consistently held true for several decades. Though there are various reasons for a driver to leave his job, it mostly boils down to a fundamental disconnect and an interactional breakdown between the driver and fleet management. 

“Keeping your drivers safe, recognizing them for doing the right thing and offering a solid feedback loop are key to increasing driver engagement – and retention,” said Adam Kahn, the vice president of fleet business at Netradyne, a vision-based fleet-safety startup. “Although the current turnover rate is far from positive in most transportation segments, you can break the cycle by incorporating some simple features to make your drivers feel safe, secure and valued.”

Kahn started by explaining how fleets overdo safety monitoring by constantly surveilling their drivers when they are in the cab, making them feel suffocated while driving. “Constant monitoring does not make your driver feel safe; if anything, it accomplishes the opposite. Having someone breathing down his neck to monitor his driving habits takes away a driver’s autonomy and contributes to a feeling of insecurity,” he said. 

A lot of rapport can be built between the fleet management and the drivers by approaching interpersonal conversations in a more positive light. For instance, management can seek to understand who its best drivers are, rather than trying to determine who the worst drivers are and chastising them. 

To do this, fleets will have to change the way they measure driver performance. Kahn pointed out that most of the fleets in the last two decades have used inertial sensors as a marker for measuring driver performance, which Kahn felt has “short changed” the conversation. 

“Most systems have been based on the fundamental belief that if something severe happens, the management can analyze it and then talk to the driver to make sure he does not do it again. This is not a good metric. An inertial sensor that measures critical events will be triggered for less than 1% of the day, and that would mean that a fleet can use only one or two minutes of a day to mark the performance of a driver,” said Kahn. 

Moving towards edge computing technology from the legacy inertial sensor systems will enable fleets to process data at the device level. This helps fleets to capture much more driving time and thus keep a reasonable track of driving behavior. “This allows the management to approach a driver not only when something bad has happened, but to have a conversation where they could appreciate a driver’s efforts of having had a great week,” said Kahn. 

Having regular conversations that tend to lean towards more positivity helps to build trust between the fleet’s management and its drivers. Kahn pointed out how this can foster a cultural change. 

“Historically, you can imagine the type of feedback you might get from angry drivers working for a fleet. But it was very inverted with our technology, as drivers asked us how to get more ‘green minutes’ and ways to improve their driver scores,” Kahn said. “It is about harnessing technology in the right way with the purpose of leaning into that positive driving experience.”

In the case of smaller fleets that cannot invest heavily in technology, Kahn believes management should have longer and more frequent conversations with its drivers. It will serve management well to approach drivers who are having a great day behind the wheel and tell them they are doing an excellent job. Ultimately, as Kahn said, it is about promoting conversations that have a more collaborative touch, while actively steering clear of accusatory one-way discussions. 

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Vishnu Rajamanickam

Vishnu predominantly covers technology stories from within the logistics and transportation space. He connects with key stakeholders within the freight industry, profiles startups, and brings in perspective from thought leaders in the freight space. In his spare time, he talks to plants, searches for cheap flights, and writes poetry under the sun.

4 Comments

  1. Quote:

    Though there are various reasons for a driver to leave his job, it mostly boils down to a fundamental disconnect and an interactional breakdown between the driver and fleet management. “

    Do you know what the general reason is for this “disconnect“ ? A glut of drivers . An over flooded industry with labour(drivers) that are a dime a dozen . Truck drivers are considered to be “expendable“ labour . And isn`t that exactly what the industry is showing them with their autonomous trucks ?

    The way I see it is that truck drivers are an extremely important element in the road transportation business and extremely undervalued . The reason that they are extremely undervalued is due to the glut of drivers out there . And whom may I ask is to blame for the “driver glut“ ? Whom does it serve to have a truck driver glut ? BONGO ! Certainly not truck drivers .

    Management simply doesn`t get it . They don`t care ! You`re a number to them ,period ! And pretty soon to be replaced with a “machine“ .

    I view drivers as an enormous data bank . They have a tremendous amount of information at their finger tips that could be easily converted in to major dollars . Unfortunately most truck drivers don`t realize it . Their weakness is their division . United they could take the market by storm . I know this for a fact because I tested it through simple observation and simple application . And I was astonished at how simple it really was . I came up with a simple theory , a leading indicator, and applied it , and it materialized .

    Truck drivers deal with businesses on a daily bases . They know first hand if a particular sector ,industry, and or business is slowing down or growing . They know this before Wall Street realizes it . That my dear friends is equivalent to insider information at its finest , however, this kind of “insider info“ is legal and can be legally acted upon while providing one with an edge over Wall Street . It certainly beats the rubbish you read in the media that states X is occurring when in fact Y is occurring in REAL TIME .

    These days we have electronic devices in/on trucks that obtain data that is not driver friendly . That data is not serving truck drivers per se . It`s serving the industry and others at the truck drivers expense .

    There is a ton of information that is being generated and obtained off of the backs of truck drivers blood and sweat for profit . However, that “profit“ isn`t being shared with truck drivers .

    That being said , if employers developed a more friendly and professional attitude with their employees , they would be astonished at how positively it would increase their bottom line . After all everything that surrounds us was and is being created and invented by people . Never ever be arrogant enough to allow yourselves to underestimate the potential people possess and with which they can be of service leading to cutting costs and increasing profits .

    In my humble opinion ………………

      1. Testify ? Are we in a court of law here ?

        LOL you`re asking for ` `evidence “ and or “proof“ aka “facts“ which would contradict my “disclaimer“ .

        “In my humble opinion“ which is the last sentence in my comment is a disclaimer removing all responsibility from my “perspective“ aka “point of view“ based on my senses and experienced perspective .

        An opinion is not necessarily based on fact or knowledge . It is at your liberty to determine if “my opinion“ appears to make sense or not . And my opinion is based on my “senses“ . Perhaps my “senses“ are “out of whack “, LOL !

        And on what part exactly of my expressed “opinion“ in written form on a website that allows opinions to be expressed on mass communicated articles are you asking for evidence ?

        You need to be a little more precise . And keep in mind that if I deem it to be necessary to reply to your question that I will reply with another “opinion“ . Do you catch my drift ?

        Negligence is frowned upon . This is something you should be acquainted with in the “trucking industry“ `especially as a “truck driver“.

        One must exercise “prudence“ and be vigilant . Would you not agree ?

        In my humble opinion ……………. (wink)

      2. ..
        Testify ? Are we in a court of law here ?

        LOL you`re asking for “èvidence“ and or “proof“ aka “facts“ which would contradict my “disclaimer“ .

        “In my humble opinion“ which is the last sentence in my comment is a disclaimer removing all responsibility from my “perspective“ aka “point of view“ based on my senses and experienced perspective .

        An opinion is not necessarily based on fact or knowledge . It is at your liberty to determine if “my opinion“ appears to make sense or not . And my opinion is based on my “senses“ . Perhaps my “senses“ are “out of whack “, LOL !

        And on what part exactly of my expressed “opinion“ in written form on a website that allows opinions to be expressed on mass communicated articles are you asking for evidence ?

        You need to be a little more precise . And keep in mind that if I deem it necessary to reply to your question that I will reply with another “opinion“ . Do you catch my drift ?

        Negligence is frowned upon . This is something you should be acquainted with in the “trucking industry“ `especially as a “truck driver“.

        One must exercise “prudence“ and be vigilant . Would you not agree ?

        In my humble opinion ……………. (wink)
        .

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