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4 Ways to Train and Retain Your Drivers

Est. 5 min read

Onboarding new drivers and correcting poor performance is essential to becoming a top-performing fleet. There are 4 proven methods to train new and at-risk drivers. Each poses advantages and disadvantages, and knowing which methods work best in various scenarios will help prevent your drivers from getting into potential accidents.

In-Person Counseling & Coaching

Sitting down with your drivers and getting to the bottom of their issues is the most personalized approach to performance improvement. Leveling with each other and seeing eye-to-eye is a great way to bridge the gap between driver and safety manager.

The most prominent issue during in-person meetings with drivers is keeping the discussion relevant to the issues that brought them there in the first place. To facilitate change in a driver’s poor performance, you must have all the information around their employment history at your fingertips. With this data in hand, you can clearly illustrate the areas of improvement by presenting them with a full report of their performance.

Driver management platforms, such as the Idelic Safety Suite, allow safety managers to print an entire driver history report containing data from both in and outside of the cab. 

Being able to present data allows you to ask a driver, “Look, this is what we’re seeing, help me understand why it’s happening” instead of firing a driver that didn’t have the chance to correct their behavior. Being proactive also allows you to have a much better relationship with your drivers. Many times, a driver will see their record in front of them and be shocked by the results. They don’t realize how often they are speeding, harsh braking, or incurring other safety-related events. Once drivers gain visibility into where they are underperforming, they then can start to get motivated to be safer and improve.

Advantages: most personalized approach, gives actionable insight to issues

Disadvantages: not easily scalable, challenging to keep the discussion relevant without an understanding of the issues

In-Cab Training

Hands-on driver training is one of the best ways you can get to the bottom of issues within your fleet and correct an individual driver’s behavior. There are two main types of in-cab training:

  • On-Site Driving Course
  • Ride-Along with Safety Manager

Each method comes with advantages. The value of a driving course is that it’s timely, effective, and only requires a confined area. Using the Idelic Safety Suite, fleet managers can pinpoint precise problem areas their at-risk driver is experiencing and practice skills such as backing or other maneuvers on the road.

Ride-alongs provide even more insight into in-cab driver behavior, however, they are more difficult to schedule because they often consume a fleet manager’s full day of work.

A common misconception is that drivers behave differently with their fleet manager in the cab. However, with fleet managers watching every interaction, they can notice behaviors that their drivers may not realize or perceive as dangerous. The fleet manager can then discuss those behaviors with their driver and assign appropriate corrective action to fix the issue.

Advantages: first-hand insight into driver behavior, hands-on training

Disadvantages: time-consuming for fleet managers and others

Classroom Setting

Educating drivers in a classroom setting is a great way to share information with your team in a short time period. These sessions can be overarching training for your safety program or more specific.

The safest fleets often administer these training sessions to an entire terminal on a monthly or quarterly basis and rotate topics depending on what’s relevant at the time.

For example, October or November is a good time of the year to discuss changing to winter tires and driving on snow or ice.

If your fleet is utilizing the Idelic Safety Suite, you’re able to easily review all of your fleet data and notice which actions — backing, checking mirrors, inspections, speeding – are causing your drivers the most trouble. Then, easily schedule meetings and have a conversation with particular drivers, an at-risk group, or the entire terminal to foster a change.

Advantages: blanketed training across an entire fleet, time-effective

Disadvantages: not personalized, drivers may tune out, difficulty tracking who attends without the Idelic Safety Suite

Online Training

Online training is an incredibly scalable way to administer customized training across an entire fleet without much time, effort, or resources. Quality online training programs, customizable to drivers’ preferences — long vs. short modules, interactive vs. simple, smartphone vs. desktop, etc. — optimize the educational content to adapt to how each driver learns best.

The drawback of online training is that it requires a great content library and a way to distribute it efficiently. The Idelic Safety Suite can administer online training and track driver progress during the recommended timeframe. Few fleets have excellent in-house training programs and a way to track training progress across each driver. Consider both of these solutions:

  • A partner to provide a proven, effective method of training your drivers
  • A driver management platform to easily administer and monitor online training

You are also able to integrate both of these services and maintain an effective safety awards program easier than ever before. Some of Idelic’s integration partners have some of the best fleet training programs available in the industry.

Advantages: scalable, cost-effective, time-effective, customizable

Disadvantages: upfront costs of a training partner, difficult to track progress without the Idelic Safety Suite

Be Proactive

Taking a proactive approach to preventing accidents makes drivers feel they are being watched after, not watched over. Choosing the right training for a given situation requires knowledge and proper execution of the training available, but also a way to track your at-risk drivers and stay on top of their progress throughout professional development plans.

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