When I switched to electronic logs a couple of years ago, I was very keen about the potential going electronic had for making my life easier. The fact I don't have to spend any time filling out log pages and performing manual recaps is reason...
When I switched to electronic logs a couple of years ago, I was very keen about the potential going electronic had for making my life easier. The fact I don’t have to spend any time filling out log pages and performing manual recaps is reason enough for me to never turn back.
But my belief that an electronic system would make managing my time easier and less stressful has proven to be somewhat of a pipe dream. In many regards, an electronic log is an unrelenting taskmaster that does not allow you any flexibility. You have to complete your daily tasks within a given time frame regardless of the curves that are routinely thrown your way over the course of any given day. As drivers, we see lots of junk thrown our way. Weather, dock delays, equipment failure, border crossings, unforeseen traffic problems, etc.
So rather than relieving stress as I had originally believed it would, electronic logs have added a considerable amount of stress to my day and have become a means of measuring my performance. In fact, the trend seems to be towards measuring driver performance through critical incidence reporting via a truck’s on-board software.
Reports are generated automatically and e-mailed to a driver’s safety manager. And it doesn’t stop there. Programs have also been developed and rolled out to notify a driver’s manager when a driver is showing signs of fatigue so that preventive action can be taken.
I’m not even going to attempt to dispute the fact that all of this information can be beneficial for a carrier in a number of ways. It can reduce costs, ensure compliance with legislation, reduce accidents, create learning opportunities for drivers, improve overall safety and so on. But if these programs are so wonderful, why am I left feeling stressed and tired at the end of the day? Shouldn’t all of this stuff be helping to make my experience on the road happier, healthier, and give me more time for myself and my family? Where is the efficiency in this system?
The fact is that all of these software solutions designed to provide greater economic efficiencies and a higher degree of safety are often not designed with the driver in mind. At least that’s my assumption as an end user of this technology.
I think that drivers want the same thing as the carriers and enforcement agencies when it comes to safety and efficiency, but the parties are miles apart when it comes to methodology and implementation of these tools. Why? Because drivers often view these in-cab systems that monitor their performance as big brother watching over them. The nature of the system reporting is a form of constant negative re-enforcement to a driver. It only tells you when you are doing something wrong, no matter the gravity, circumstance, or context of the situation at hand. That’s irritating, frustrating and demoralizing. At least that’s my personal feeling. There is no accounting for the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of things I do right in the course of my day.
What if an incident reporting system was developed that turned the whole thing around? What if reports were to be generated for all the positive actions that occur in the course of a professional driver’s day? There would be so many e-mails generated to our respective safety departments that we may very well crash the company server. Man, it would be great to get immediate positive feedback in recognition of a job well done.
How about a resolution for 2012 that only allows satellite messages sent to the truck to be positive in nature? In addition to that, for every critical incident report generated by on-board performance monitoring software that is brought to the driver’s attention by a carrier’s safety department, they have to also discuss two positive incidents generated by the driver on the same day. I think that would go a long way to relieving driver stress, improve driver morale and improve overall driver health in 2012. Imagine the effects on productivity!
There is no doubt in my mind that you can’t go back to the way things were in this life. Life is impermanent in nature and changes continuously. That means that the situation at hand in the present moment is bound to change tomorrow or the next day or the day after that. I also believe we can influence that change. We have monitoring systems that feed drivers with a stream of data highlighting their shortcomings and expect improvement. But if that information isn’t framed within a compassionate intention to benefit the driver, it will erode performance, not enhance it.
I know safety managers have an especially tough job these days. If they want to build trust with their drivers I believe they need to find creative ways to soften this reporting technology, embody it with a little humanity and frequently reassure their drivers that as long as they are sitting in the wheelhouse, the driver’s decision is final. Cheers, and Happy New Year to all.