Highways are a vital logistical component of the economy. However, they pose a real and tangible risk to the people who make the open roads their occupation.
This risk is shared with the fleets the drivers work for, and while they may not be affected by the physical aspects of an accident, they will suffer the financial ramifications as a consequence.
Collisions on the road are becoming a more frequent occurrence as the number of distracted, tired, and intoxicated drivers increases. According to the OSHA motor vehicle guide, the monetary expenses associated with a crash involving a commercial vehicle start at an average of $16,500 and exceed over $500,000 if a fatality occurs.
One way fleet managers can prevent their drivers from adding to these numbers is by incorporating a driver safety program. However, only including a new ruleset in and of itself may not be enough to change driver behavior. Many employees may even resent the idea that they need additional safety training.
Fleets have found that including a driver safety incentive program dramatically increases the efficacy of the new protocols, helps mitigate ill-will, and encourages widespread adoption of new policies.
By integrating a safety rewards program alongside the new safety rules, employees are still held accountable for their mistakes, but their achievements are recognized.
A safety incentive rewards system can gain traction by acknowledging outstanding safe practices. Today, we’ll explain how to create a driver safety incentive program and how it can help a business’s bottom line.
What is a Driver Safety Incentive Program?
Safety incentive plans for truck drivers are a method of formally recognizing and rewarding a driver for maintaining safe driving practices and keeping a clean driving record. Through positive reinforcement with a safety bonus, managers and supervisors provide a tangible reward for adherence to safety guidelines instead of only punishment for breaking them.
By instituting a written safety incentive program, drivers are aware of what’s expected of them and how they will be evaluated. It reduces any ambiguity when it’s time to receive a reward. Workplace safety incentive programs should be, in their purest form, a meritocratic system that is fair and unbiased when awarding drivers.
Scorecards are the most frequently used method to determine who’s granted a safety incentive. Programs for manufacturing a system of awards can utilize various data to determine what constitutes good behavior.
Clean driving records are usually part of the equation, but many companies will also include telematics data. However, rewarding behaviors like the highest number of deliveries can be counterproductive as it can cause drivers to exceed speed limits to reach the target numbers.
Types of Programs
There are various truck driver incentive programs that a fleet company can adopt. However, the proper safety incentive plan aligns with the goals of the company. The program should also coincide with what your drivers will perceive as valuable to ensure compliance.
Once a company has decided what it hopes to achieve by implementing a driver safety incentive program, such as reducing minor accidents, tardiness, or driver retention, it then needs to decide how to measure driver behavior.
Using telematics data has proven to be an effective method to motivate drivers to operate their motor vehicles more defensively. Telematics data can easily track and trace data to individual drivers and vehicles while providing concrete and unbiased evidence.
Using telematics data, the system also alleviates the additional burden placed on the supervisor to maintain records and evaluate the drivers without letting personal feelings affect the results.
The correct driver safety incentive program for a company doesn’t need to include convoluted pieces of data that need to be weighed against each other. The initial launch needs only to address the driving practices desired and mitigate the actions that can lead to accidents, injuries, and lawsuits.
Most fleets already have some form of automated record-keeping that provides a wealth of information. The company only needs to decide which metrics to reward.
Everyday items that should be factored into the equation include:
- Adhering to schedules
- Near misses
- Using safety equipment (such as a seatbelt)
- Driving record
After determining which metrics to use for evaluating its drivers, the next step is to determine which incentives will best motivate them to comply with safety regulations.
Keep in mind that a driver safety incentive program should be a significant aspect of providing drivers with positive reinforcement and recognition but shouldn’t be the only source.
Driver Safety Incentive Program Reward Ideas
The most frequent reward that fleets offer is a cash incentive. However, a purely economic boon hasn’t proven to provide lasting changes in behavior. If money is the only reward, drivers won’t create a lasting emotional connection, which is necessary to foster a long-term behavioral change.
Companies that choose to incorporate merchandise, trophies, public acknowledgment, and perks alongside a small monetary safety bonus create more successful driver safety incentive programs.
Deciding what rewards should be part of a program shouldn’t be left to one individual, as specific bonuses may be appropriate for only a portion of the drivers, alienating the others.
Also, a large bonus may affect a driver’s income tax bracket, nullifying the benefit they would derive from it. However, whatever rewards are selected for the program, they need to be valuable enough to incentivize drivers properly.
Here are a few rewards to consider:
- Gift cards to local businesses
- Company apparel
- Certificates or a letter of recognition
- Plaques or trophies
- Tickets to an event
- Bonus checks
The size of the prize should correlate to the frequency of the rewards. If a company holds an annual picnic, more elaborate rewards may be necessary to motivate drivers successfully. For companies that have a meeting once a quarter, awarding points that drivers can later cash in may be more appropriate.
However, supervisors should discuss all of these incentives with operational managers. Since both the safety officer and the op manager have specific duties and responsibilities, the desired results can at times be opposing. A driver safety incentive program should not neglect safety or productivity.
Driver Safety Program Benefits
The main benefit of adopting a driver safety incentive program is that a company is promoting safer roadways. Aside from this advantage, a company is also building rapport and loyalty with its drivers. Creating an environment where merit is awarded, employees can feel as if their efforts are valued, outside of receiving a base salary. It also protects your company from nuclear verdicts, bad DOT inspections, and other regulatory issues that can result from having a bad safety record.
A fleet can motivate drivers to avoid preventable accidents and disasters by introducing a well-crafted driver safety incentive program. If delivered correctly, the company shows that it cares about its drivers’ well-being, which reduces driver turnover.
This increase in driver retention means that a company doesn’t have to rely on new hires who are statistically known to be involved in more accidents. The small investment into a driver safety incentive program can yield an unprecedented ROI.
Driver Safety Incentivization Implementation
Once a fleet has sorted out the objective it hopes to achieve, the metrics used to evaluate drivers, and the driver safety incentive program’s rewards, it needs to organize the project’s launching.
As with any new program launch, a little planning goes a long way toward successful implementation. A driver safety incentive program has many parts that need to be overseen and could be challenging for a single supervisor.
Here are a few items that should be addressed when deciding how to integrate a new program into the fleet’s operations.
The company will need to identify:
- What is the budget for the driver safety incentive program?
- What timeframe will be used to track progress?
- Who will be in charge of supervising the program?
- How will the relevant information be conveyed to the drivers?
- How will drivers know where they stand?
Coordinating these details with upper management is vital to ensuring the program’s launch isn’t met with reservations.
Communicating the Program with Drivers
For a driver safety incentive program to benefit a fleet, employees must be aware that it’s been put into effect. The incentives, metrics, and goals need to be clearly stated and posted in areas that are easily accessible to employees.
Tracking and evaluations should be reserved until it’s time to grant awards and accolades and shouldn’t be used to negate or demean any underperforming drivers.
Communicating the rules and how the standards are set using unbiased data-gathering techniques will assuage feelings that favoritism is a factor in deciding who receives which award.
Truck drivers should be updated as to their current standing. Those performing exceptionally well between awards can be further motivated with public acknowledgment in company press releases or internal memos.
They should also be able to access their standings by request. Keeping the communication lines open is critical to integrating a driver safety incentive program into employees’ minds.
Tenstreet’s driver rewards program is built for carriers – they can design their rewards based on key milestones and behaviors, such as clean inspections, training, and accident-free miles, keeping drivers engaged and connected. Drivers track their current point totals and can redeem points for a wealth of items, like electronics, home goods, movies, tools, and more.
If you’d like to learn more about how our driver safety incentive program can impact your fleet, contact us today at [email protected] or 877-219-9283.