Despite all the efforts to train drivers, vehicle collisions remain the leading cause of on the job fatalities. According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2016 report, work injuries involving transportation incidents accounted for 40% of all work related fatalities. For human services organizations, this exposure also presents significant third party liability where consumers and members of the public are injured as well.
We begin with the assumption to obtain a driver’s license the employee must know how to drive safely. While this may be true for some, the statistics indicate otherwise. To address the issue, training is viewed as the solution. However, vehicle collisions continue to occur.
 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2016:
https://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/cfoi_12192017.pdf Published 12/19/2017
 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. From Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, Fatal work injury counts by event, recent years: https://www.bls.gov/charts/census-of-fatal-occupational-injuries/fatal-work-injury-counts-by-event-recent-years.htm Published 12/19/2017.
Driver Training Approaches
For most incidental fleets (driving is not the primary function) driver training is usually done at the time of hire. Driver training approaches for incidental fleets include online training and classroom defensive driving courses.
Online training is available from a variety of vendors as self-paced courses or streaming videos. One of the main benefits to online training is that it offers flexibility to train the driver at a time and location that is convenient with their schedule. The length of these courses can range from twenty (20) minutes up to four hours. Knowledge test questions may be embedded throughout the course or at the end of the course. Additional training modules are often used to supplement the basic course with specific topics like distracted driving, winter weather driving, and road rage.
Classroom defensive driving courses may be four hours or more depending on the content. They typically include a video, discussion, and a knowledge test. Instructors interact and challenge the students to participate and demonstrate understanding. Classroom defensive driving courses are more costly and require more coordination in scheduling, especially where employees work at multiple locations.
Regardless of the training approach, organizations need to examine their training program’s effectiveness. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t do any follow up with the driver after the new hire training is completed. The completion of training is simply noted in the driver’s personnel file until or unless an issue arises such as a complaint against a driver or a vehicle collision. As most driver training programs provide very good content, the course itself is not the problem. They are just not structured in a manner to deliver ongoing training reinforcement.
As a best practice, organizations should consider using driver coaching by a supervisor or manager during check rides or ‘ride along’. This begins with a formal road test for each new hire in a position that requires driving. Ongoing check rides can be preplanned or occur during the normal day to day operations. During the ride, the manager observes the driver’s attention to potential hazards, demeanor, and choices. If choices are good, positive feedback on specific driving behaviors help reinforce the habit. For example, “You did a great job on keeping two seconds of following distance!” If the choices are poor, the coach has the opportunity to provide immediate feedback and may follow up with additional training for the driver. This method provides the driver with the opportunity to demonstrate that they can practically apply the knowledge gained in the driver training, and provides the manager with some evidence of the effectiveness of the training. A road test form may be used to document the check ride and discussion.
The manager performing the check ride should be trained in giving feedback. SafetyFirst, which is available to qualified policyholders of Berkley Human Services, provides training modules for supervisors on how to coach/counsel drivers. In an organization with a good safety culture, check rides can be done on a peer to peer basis as well.
Additional driver monitoring tools are available electronically.
- Telematics is a relatively new technology to monitor driver behavior. By equipping vehicles with devices using GPS or wireless networks, data can be captured in real time giving information on speed, acceleration, braking, cornering, etc. This information is then used to establish driver patterns which can be used to identify coaching opportunities. Some systems also provide integration with cell phone lockdown technology.
- ‘Apps’ can be downloaded onto cell phones to track driving performance. Using the cell phone’s technology, similar telematics information can be obtained and evaluated with a safe driver score.
- While not a new technology, driver monitoring can also be done using a 1-800 driving service. Berkley Human Services offers the SafetyFirst 1-800 Driver Monitoring service for qualifying policyholders.
In conclusion, the potential for vehicle collisions cannot be eliminated. However, the risk can be minimized by hiring good drivers in the first place. The importance of an effective driver selection and qualification process cannot be overstated. Driver training then can be focused on making good drivers better with periodic feedback and reinforcement.
This information is provided for general educational purposes only. This information is not intended to provide you with legal advice or legal counsel, and is not intended to assure compliance with or complete analysis of any law, rule or regulation. In addition, this information should not be interpreted to imply that all exposures, hazards or loss potentials on any subject or issue were identified or considered. No warranty, or guaranty of accuracy, fitness or suitability, express or implied, is granted with respect to any of the information contained herein.
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