Safety is a huge concern for Australian transport operators, with 80 workers killed each year while working in or around trucks. A range of factors contribute to heavy vehicle incidents – from driver fatigue and speeding to poorly maintained trucks – but the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has pointed to driver training as the biggest issue currently facing the transport industry.
ATA Chair Noelene Watson says ensuring drivers are equipped with the necessary skills should be a top priority. This involves enforcing stricter standards for businesses offering training programs, and helping drivers of all vehicles understand how to safely share the road. It also highlights the responsibility of fleet managers and senior executives to help drivers understand the importance of safe driving.
Here are three ways you can provide engaging, accessible and effective training programs for your drivers.
Use Your Data
Talking to your drivers about potential risks is important, but it’s much more effective if you can use real data to back it up. Use information from telematics and other business systems to show drivers how dangerous driving contributes to challenges like rising collision rates, fuel and maintenance costs or an increase in speeding fines. These insights can also be used to pinpoint specific drivers who are consistently breaching policies or repeating unsafe behaviour, so you can schedule a one-on-one conversation with them.
Get Drivers Involved
Interactive coaching programs have far greater impact than forcing drivers to sit through long talks or videos, which can often be dull or hard to follow. Build a training plan that provides drivers with clear, actionable goals they can work towards, rewarding improvement with incentives. Sharing fleet data allows you to show drivers how they rank against their peers, motivating them to keep an eye on performance. Making training an ongoing and collaborative process helps make drivers feel accountable for their behaviour and invested in progress.
Driver training isn’t a one-off, box-ticking exercise. Sending reminders when drivers are out on the road helps to keep safety policies and obligations top of mind. A telematics system enables warnings to be sent when it looks like drivers are in danger of violating a safety policy, like going over the speed limit, braking too suddenly or not taking a rest break when required. This ongoing training helps to reinforce rules and responsibilities so they become second nature. It also means you can respond to incidents straight away, turning them into an opportunity to offer further guidance.
The ATA has highlighted the impact of this “critical skills issue” across the transport industry, but you can take steps to address it in your own business today. Make sure your training programs don’t just exist to tick a box. To deliver real value, driver coaching should be an interactive and ongoing experience, supported by real business insights.