Hiring new drivers is hard but a good training program can help improve driver retention.
If this sounds like a familiar scenario, learn about the top 5 things you can do to help start your new drivers out on the right foot, and monitor their progress.
Driving behavior feedback
The best way to train new drivers is to put an experienced driver or manager in the cab with them for the first few weeks or even months. Unless you have a dedicated trainer on staff, this isn't going to be realistic, but you can have an electric coach riding shotgun.
Using a feedback mechanism to train drivers automatically helps them to identify bad habits and correct their behavior over time. In the same way a trainer would provide feedback, the driver will improve habits and receive less corrective feedback.
Trust and protection
Assuring your new hire that you have their back out on the road will help you build trust and rapport. Of course, it is human nature to be looking out for your own best interest, so how do you sort out the fact from fiction you hear?
Using an impartial monitor like a dash cam helps immensely when you have to get to the bottom of an incident. Whether it's an angry caller that your driver damaged their property, that they were at fault for an accident, or their behavior was unsafe on the road.
How much faster (and with less drama) could you reduce these incidents with a quick look at what happened? And how much better would the driver feel knowing you will believe their accounting of the event? The last thing you want to do is fire a good driver over an incident that isn't their fault.
Reduce their workload
New drivers have a lot they have to learn: the truck, the customers, the business, the route, etc. By taking a few things off of their plate will allow them to focus on safe driving instead of looking for the address.
Commercial GPS navigation takes into account the truck dimensions, weight, and cargo to keep the driver where they should be. It's a safety net that helps keep them clear of hazards and aware of road signs like changing grades, traffic, and local speed limits.
Another thing to keep in mind, they are still new to the truck and the customers. When they show up on-site, whether they are backing into a loading dock or dropping off a load of gravel, the pressure is on. Helping them see around the truck is paramount for them to complete their job safely.
In addition to mirrors, side and rearview cameras can help to reduce accidents and speed up the job. Imagine if you had a reverse camera when you started, how much faster could you have been, and how many accidents or near misses could you have avoided?
Okay, you have given your drivers the tools they need to reduce their workload and complete the job safely, how can you figure out if it's working? The less glamorous task of creating a system and sticking with it is where actual change happens.
Whether it's innate or learned socially, people want to know where they stand, how they compare to others. Keeping track of this can create a daunting amount of paperwork and take up valuable time.
Leveraging the existing safety data generated by a fleet management solution can help deliver the info you need to run effective reviews. Here are a few tips to streamline the process.
Review safety events daily
If necessary, review dash cam footage with the driver right away; this re-enforces your message of safety. It shouldn't take up more than a few minutes of your morning routine and can help save headaches down the road.
Schedule monthly driver safety meetings
Add a driver safety topic to your existing monthly meeting or create something new. This will give you a change to review overall safety rankings and make sure to post the results in a common area.
Create a safe driver incentive program
If possible, create a reward system for your top drivers; you'll be amazed how far a gift card or fuel card as a prize can go to motivate. Even if you don't award top drivers with a monetary reward, recognition alone provides a reward for top performers.
Are there other tips we missed? How to you on-board new drivers?