Reviews, teamwork support safe driving, expert says

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Safety should be a company’s cornerstone value and not a priority because priorities change over time and values don’t.

Gary Falldin, Trimble’s senior director of industry solutions drove home the message during an Insight webinar on Thursday, saying drivers should not be pushed when they are tired or during bad weather.

Gary Falldin, Trimble’s senior director of industry solutions says drivers must be brought into a company’s safety culture as soon as possible. (Photo: Trimble)

“Nothing we do is worth endangering ourselves and the motoring public,” he said. Avoid phrases like hard-runner and use terms like a good, safe driver. It should be reiterated to drivers that they have the final say in safety, he added.

Falldin said safety and compliance can be established using culture, teamwork, training, and technology.

He said a disproportionate number of accidents occur within a driver’s first six months with a carrier, no matter if they are experienced or not. It is advantageous to bring them into your safety culture as soon as possible, else they will continue with their previous company’s culture.

Safety and operations departments’ actions must match their words, and everyone must be on the same page, Falldin said.

Non-driving staff should go through the training that drivers go through, like orientation and in-class sessions. They should also receive weekly messages sent to drivers, so that they see the same words and speak the same language, he said.

Reinforce safe behaviour by recognizing drivers yearly, on milestone years and million miles without accidents.

Bring them into the office, congratulate them in front of whole company, Falldin says. “Put their names in your newsletter. Other drivers see that and want to do the same,” he said.

Falldin said safety needs to be operationally driven. Operations involvement is key as they deal with drivers and safety needs to hand information to them. Safety and operations must trust each other, and the teams must be involved in all safety conversations with drivers, he said.

Plans need to be put together in advance and operations must sign off on them. They must be reviewed regularly as must the results obtained. Scorecards are required for fleet managers and the safety team. Falldin says those who perform well must be recognized and how they achieved good results must be shared with others.

Operations and safety teams should conduct weekly or biweekly meetings that provide an opportunity to share information and training material.

(Photo: Trimble)

Drivers must be offered monthly training and the operations team must be trained before that, so they can answer questions. Keep driver training interactive during orientation, Falldin advises. Quizzes at the end are a great way to get people to pay attention, he said. Use the time you have with a driver before and during a road test to reinforce a carrier’s safety standards, he said.

When a driver starts at a company, conduct weekly safety reviews for the first five weeks. After that, hand the driver over to a safety advisor. The advisor can build a relationship with the driver over the next 45 days, Falldin said.

For all other drivers, conduct monthly training, Falldin said. It should be on a relevant topic, five to 10 minutes long and have a quiz at the end. He prefers short periods of training during the year rather than one long session.

An annual in-depth training must be also held, preferably right before winter, lasting about a couple of hours, he said.

A short safety message should be sent to drivers weekly. Let them know about accidents and violations in the company and recognize safe driving. Always leave them with a safety tip, for example, lean over when making a right lane change.

A good remedial training process will help retain drivers in this high turnover environment, he said. A driver may have got into an accident due to a skill issue or a poor safety attitude. Skill issues can be fixed, attitude can’t, he said.

Falldin believes technology has helped drivers with safety. Active technology like collision mitigation has saved countless lives. It is how you sell drivers on technology, ensuring they accept it. He said with cameras, he told drivers it would help them if they were in an accident.

Collision mitigation, roll stability, blind spot detection and automatic transmissions help drivers concentrate on driving, he said. He added that drug testing is also an important part of ensuring safety.

Falldin said getting a safety culture ingrained in a company from scratch, takes about year.

By Leo Barros

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Leo Barros is the associate editor of Today’s Trucking. He has been a journalist for more than two decades, holds a CDL and has worked as a longhaul truck driver. Reach him at