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Understanding and learning from technology incidents

You’re already a good driver. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t have your job (or you wouldn’t have it for long). Why, then, do fleets keep on installing more and more driver-assist technologies?

It’s not because they think that they know how to drive better than you.

It’s not because they don’t trust you.

It’s because they want to reduce risks, improve performance and understand how to optimise operations.

Managers don’t always do a great job of communicating why they’re introducing new technologies. However, it’s usually not so they can micro-manage drivers. 

Driver-assist technology: here to help

Technologies like electronic braking and stability systems, speed and GPS trackers and even fatigue and distraction monitors can help you become a better and safer driver. 

Sometimes that’s because they’ll help you avoid a crash. Or it might be to help reinforce good driving habits, like taking regular breaks, sticking to speed limits or not being distracted while driving.

The key is not to take new technologies personally. When the boss installs a DMS (driver monitoring system), it’s a chance for you to learn more about managing fatigue and distraction. It may help to protect you from the worst happening if you get distracted or have a micro-sleep behind the wheel.

Drivers: understand the data

There’s no doubt that the best piece of safety equipment for any vehicle is a good driver behind the wheel. But that’s not to say you should be passive when it comes to driver-assist technologies. There’s plenty you can do to help:

  • Find out what data is being collected: this will tell you what your managers are looking for. You might also be able to suggest different or better measures.
  • Find out how it is being used and analysed: this will tell you how the business is changing or adapting to the data. Again, you might have some thoughts about what the proper uses or changes could be.
  • Ask for feedback: don’t wait for a presentation or a meeting. Get on the front foot and ask your managers how you and other drivers are performing. 

Use your knowledge 

You may need to adjust the way you drive. The typical case is where a fleet starts monitoring speed, idling time or alerts from braking or stability systems.

If you get a ‘bad’ result, don’t take it as an attack. Take it as a chance to become a smoother, safer driver.

Daryl Hutton, Managing Director at ANC Forestry, recalls talking to a driver about their braking performance – and how the driver took the feedback to heart.

“We run an average then we run the best and the worst. We have a talk to the worst performer but it’s not like we get them in and say ‘you need to improve’. 

“We just show them how they’re going compared to the rest of the fleet. Most of them have no idea. One driver said ‘I’ll fix that tomorrow’ and he went out with a totally different attitude.

“Now he gets out of the truck each night feeling so much fresher because he’s changed his whole driving style.

“He was receptive and he’s stayed like that. It was a massive win for us and for him too.”

Keep in mind that having objective data about driving behaviour is a relatively new thing for managers. They might not have developed their skills in interpreting the data and providing constructive feedback. 

If your manager isn’t great at providing feedback, can you help them understand your perspective better? What would you do differently if you took the feedback to heart?

At the business level, policies around analysing data and measuring performance might also still be in flux. So don’t feel insulted or threatened if a manager comes to you with data that suggests you need to change your driving style. 

Take any feedback on the chin, but if you can help your manager understand the information better or explain why your measures look the way they do, the better.

There could be a poorly engineered stretch of road, a long but shallow incline, a bad traffic pattern or other factors affecting the data. Only you can provide that context, and it’ll help your boss understand what’s going on.

How to get the best from your technology and your boss

Transport businesses are changing all the time, and you need to change with them. Assistive and monitoring technology is here to stay; the only question is whether you resist or use them to improve your skills. Here are our suggestions on how to get the best from yourself as a driver and an employee:

  • Keep learning: recognise that you can use new systems and technologies to become an even better driver.
  • Be positive: if you think your manager is wrong, don’t get angry, help them understand driving, and gather the data.
  • Get involved: understand what data is being gathered and how it’s being used.
  • Be helpful: find out how you can help the business improve, whether by taking the lead with new technologies or simply concentrating on your driving skills.


Disclaimer: Information in this document is a guide only. It does not take into account your personal or business circumstances. Whilst all due care has been taken, you must not rely on the information as an alternative to legal, legislated regulatory and compliance requirements associated with your business activities.  NTI.M001.1.24052021

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