Fleets are using technology to improve truck driver safety and shape driver habits. Onboard safety technology improves safety and can increase efficiency, reduce liability and cut costs – but fleets need to gain driver acceptance of any new solutions.
“The important thing is to communicate, communicate, communicate with drivers. Tell them new technology is coming. Have meetings about it. Then have one-on-one conversations," said Chuck Pagesy, director of safety for Penske Truck Leasing. “Tell them the benefits and how it can help them."
More and more companies are embracing adaptive cruise control, brake assistance, collision avoidance and onboard cameras, which means many drivers are becoming more comfortable with the technologies. “In the beginning, if drivers didn't like it, they could quit and go to a company that didn't have it, but now all the big companies have it," Pagesy said.
Even still, he suggests fleets take a gentle approach when introducing new technology or welcoming in a new hire who isn't as familiar with it. “After you explain it, you want to coach drivers, so they understand what they're doing wrong, while ensuring frustration does not set in," Pagesy said.
Having specific data available can help fleets create customized safe driver tips and improvement plans. “Most people change their behavior quickly because they want to be good, safe drivers," Pagesy said.
He said it is vital for fleets to emphasize benefits, particularly cameras, which can concern some drivers. “It will make them better drivers, and in the event of an accident, it will document it, which can exonerate them," he said.
Fleets can also share examples of situations where having cameras in the trucks benefited drivers.
However, fleets deploying onboard safety technology need to ensure they're monitoring it. “My big concern is that if you're going to invest in safety technology, you better make sure your supervisors and dispatchers are looking at the data and using it," Pagesy said. “If you're not going to look at the data, my recommendation is not to get the system."