Since the introduction of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) and the Chain of Responsibility (CoR), there’s been a shift in the way compliance technologies is viewed by the transport industry. From changes in legislation to the constant improvements to technologies in fleet management software and Electronic Work Diaries (EWDs), it’s easier than ever to find effective ways of keeping drivers safe.
However, installing telematics in your trucks and handing drivers a device doesn’t always go over as well as you hope. While providing many benefits to drivers, compliance technology also comes with its fair share of misconceptions. The risk of creating a toxic work environment is a very real possibility when the process isn’t introduced in a constructive and open manner.
In sitting down with Anthony Laras, Teletrac Navman’s Regulatory Program and Partner Manager, we discussed why getting drivers involved from the get-go helps to get the most out of the solution and creates a more positive and connected work environment.
Q: Firstly, why is it important to take compliance seriously?
A: If your drivers are compliant, your business is compliant. Transport is still the most dangerous industry in Australia, so we must reduce risk in terms of fatigue, maintenance, mass and speed any way we can. Compliance technology helps with that. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not there to catch drivers in the act but to assist them with maintaining their compliance.
It’s understandable that drivers are taken aback by the sudden roll out of a system they weren’t told about. That’s why a business will have far better results when they explain to their drivers what they’re trying to do in advance, rather than telling them to just accept the technology once its installed.
Q: What causes resistance between drivers and management when it comes to compliance technology?
A: The biggest reason is change and not fully understanding the reason for the change. Managers get the technology with the best intentions, but if they don’t take the time to explain what’s happening, it creates a lot of confusion and hostility. If I came to work, and my boss put some strange object on my desk and told me to start using it, my first question would be, “Why? What’s it going to do for me?”. It’s human nature to be scared of change. To counteract that fear, we need to instil confidence in drivers that the technology is there to help.
When you don’t have that conversation (sometimes even before it is even implemented), it creates an atmosphere of distrust. Drivers are less likely to use the technology properly, as it hasn’t been explained to them, and management won’t see results they want.
Q: How can businesses succeed in getting drivers on board?
A: Results will be far better when you take the time to explain things, invest in training and dispel any myths about the technology. I recommend getting a specialist in to talk directly to drivers before anything is installed. They can answer questions, show them how to use the technology and demonstrate how the data is collected and displayed.
Explaining things from the start and having drivers involved makes the process far easier. Everyone is on the same page, drivers feel like their concerns are heard and the business sees a better ROI, as well as a healthier work culture. A big part of my job is finding out about driving culture and the best way we can deliver information. Talking directly with businesses about what technology can do to help with compliance is a key part of ensuring their solution succeeds.
Q: When it comes to maintaining compliance with technology, how can businesses effectively respond to their data?
A: The technology will ultimately find compliance issues as they arise. The important thing is to know how to use that data to educate and reward drivers. If a driver performs well but has one or two breaches over the course of a month, punishing them for those mistakes while failing to recognise all the times they did a great job will create tension. While it’s important to ensure drivers are as compliant as possible for their own safety, recognising and rewarding them is just as important too.
Drivers feel more motivated to maintain safe behaviour on the road, as well as feel like their employers considers them a valuable member of the team. This helps to improve work morale and create a healthier workplace. Businesses also reap the benefits of having a workforce united on its commitment to safety.
That’s what makes technologies such as vehicle tracking and driver scorecards effective tools. Businesses can look at how individuals are doing on both sides of the spectrum. They can use the info as an education tool to coach through mistakes, which are often things drivers simply didn’t know about. Alternatively, it’s an easy way to give a shout out to those who have shown consistent driving behaviour or have improvement over time.
Q: How do you hope drivers feel about the technology?
A: Ultimately, if you work in a transport business that has invested in safety technology, I hope drivers think, “My employer really cares about me. They’re not out to catch me, they’re looking out for my safety and have made an investment towards it”. There’s already so much in place that aims to target drivers, like speed cameras, but businesses who implement technology and thoroughly explain the reasons why, are those who are built for success. Drivers have a really hard job. They’ve got a lot of pressure on them and compliance technology is there to help, not hinder them. When it comes to compliance, businesses that put the driver front of mind are ones that will come out on top.