The phrase “driver training” conjures up visions of drivers being forced to hear the same information every two years, inducing a zombie-like state that renders the brain impenetrable to any new and valuable information. When training is treated like a box to be checked, this is often the result, but according to Del Lisk, Lytx’s vice president of Safety Services, there’s a better way to train that can have a dramatically positive impact on your fleet.
“There’s a tendency to approach driver training like a chore, reviewing policies and regulations, and then sending drivers back out the door,” said Lisk. “That one-size-fits-all approach assumes that every driver has the exact same training need at the exact same time.”
He said that training “out of cycle” tends to happen only when there’s some kind of critical event, such as when a driver has a collision, gets a ticket, or is reported by a motorist. At that point, some kind of corrective action takes place, depending on the severity of the event and whether it’s a repeat infraction. In some cases, the decision may be that the driver may just be too big a risk to keep, and given the importance of driver retention, a dismissal hurts all parties involved.
“When a crash occurs, the damage is done, and training won’t have the optimal effect, which is to prevent collisions in the first place,” said Lisk. “It’s not logical.”
The Odds Catch Up with Unsafe Driving Behavior
“You could think about collisions as bad luck rather than unsafe driving, but the truth is that it’s really a combination of both,” said Lisk. Often the only difference between a high severity crash, a minor collision and a non-crash incident of unsafe behavior, Lisk said, is luck and timing. The unsafe behavior was there all along and sooner or later, its going to lead to bad consequences.
Training can help curb or eliminate unsafe behavior, but that, too, is a matter of timing.
“Training for prevention is the first caveat when trying to improve fleet performance of driver safety training, and that requires correcting unsafe behavior before an incident takes place,” said Lisk, who said that it’s helpful to use the term coaching instead of training, because what’s really happening is the fine-turning of skills that already exist. “Personalized coaching can have the biggest positive influence in preventing collisions and creating long-term safe driving behavior, and that means addressing each driver’s own particular challenges and habits.”
That kind of interaction between a driver and coach has other benefits beyond safer driving, Lisk added.