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Rethinking Fleet Driver Training Programs: New Perspectives on Safety and Retention

Screenshot 2024-05-28 at 3.04.56 PM-minMany companies treat driver training as a one-time onboarding task – a checkbox to tick off before a newly hired driver can hit the road. But let's face it, this old-school method just doesn’t cut it anymore, not with the driver shortages, high turnover and risky behaviors we see today. Companies must shift their focus and rethink their fleet driver training programs to tackle these growing issues head-on. 

Building a Culture of Safety 

For a training program to be successful, safety must be a core value within an organization, not just a compliance requirement. When safety is truly ingrained in the company culture, continuous training becomes a natural extension of daily operations and broader safety policies. This commitment must start at onboarding and continue throughout a driver’s tenure with the organization. 

Orientation Sets the Tone 

A strong orientation program establishes a solid understanding of a company’s commitment to safety, building trust and setting expectations from day one. Training plays a critical role here in getting new drivers up to speed with company policies, safety protocols and the basics of their roles.  

Successful Training Is Strategic and Consistent 

But while orientation training is important, it can’t stop there. Without continuous development, even the best onboarding programs fall short. 

Drivers need ongoing education to stay current with safety practices, regulations and evolving industry standards. Regular refresher and follow-up training sessions help reinforce key concepts and keep safety top of mind.  

Take it from Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist whose studies show that people forget about 50% of new information within just an hour after learning it, about 70% after one day and up to 90% within a week. This steep drop-off, known as the forgetting curve, highlights the need for continuous training to keep drivers sharp, avoid disqualifications and retain the right talent. 

Flattening-Forgetting-Curve-Graph 2

By implementing more comprehensive practices, companies can achieve better training outcomes and foster a long-term commitment to a safer workforce. 

An Effective Fleet Safety Training Program... 

Promotes Driver Loyalty 

Showing drivers that you’re invested in their growth and safety speaks volumes.  

Continuous training sends a clear message: we value you. According to a 2023 study by edX, 77% of employees said they'd likely stick around longer at a company that cares about their learning and development. Many even said they'd leave their current role if they found better growth opportunities elsewhere.  

Ensuring drivers feel supported and see a clear career path can boost retention rates and foster a more committed workforce. 

Embraces a Positive Approach 

How training is delivered and framed to drivers is extremely important. Training should not be characterized as punishment or negative in nature. Organizations that focus on a positive training experience as a means of skill development and provide incentives for training see much better reception and results. 

Maximizes Information Retention 

For training to be effective, it must be designed to maximize the retention and utilization of information. This involves creating content and visuals that are easily digestible and resonate with drivers’ unique roles and vehicle types. When drivers can clearly understand and remember what they learn, they are more likely to apply it in real-world situations. 

Proactively Improves Drivers’ Skills 

Regularly updating drivers' skills and knowledge helps maintain high safety standards and adaptability, which is crucial for meeting the challenges of modern driving environments and developing a culture of safety. Even the most seasoned drivers benefit from reinforcement as skills and awareness of issues fade over time. 

Assigning proactive fleet driver training programs in areas like defensive driving, managing distractions and adapting to seasonal driving conditions is key for both rookies and experienced drivers.  

Combats Driver Disqualification 

Ongoing training is also about identifying and fixing dangerous driving behaviors early on. With targeted training, fleet managers can quickly step in to correct risky actions like texting while driving or speeding. This proactive step is vital for preventing serious incidents and maintaining a safe and qualified fleet. 

Better Visibility Drives Companies to Rethink Their Training Strategies 

In today’s landscape of driver risk, effective fleet driver training programs require a deeper level of insight into driver behavior. Companies must be able to target specific areas of risk at both the macro and micro levels. At the macro level, programs should address common company-wide challenges and trends, while at the micro level, they must focus on individual driver behaviors and specific areas needing improvement. 

This comprehensive approach necessitates a complete picture of risk across driving populations. Tools that monitor driver behavior and violations play a crucial role in this process. These solutions provide end-to-end visibility into driving patterns, enabling companies to finetune their training programs and implement fast and highly targeted interventions. 

Telematics Monitoring 

Integrating telematics data into driver safety programs can level up your training efforts. Telematics monitoring collects billions of real-time data points from various devices, boiling down complex information into simple, contextualized alerts. These alerts provide risk and safety managers with immediate visibility into high-risk behaviors like speeding or harsh braking, so they can assign targeted training to drivers before a violation or crash occurs. 

MVR Monitoring 

Motor vehicle record (MVR) monitoring continuously tracks and alerts companies of changes to a driver’s record, providing a complete overview of their violation history and compliance. This monitoring complements telematics by offering transparency into reported violations that might not be captured by vehicle sensors alone. With these alerts, managers can assign training courses tailored to address specific issues before minor violations escalate into major incidents. 

CSA Monitoring 

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) monitoring uncovers regulated drivers’ compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines. Through CSA monitoring, carriers can track and receive alerts on the violations, citations, roadside inspections and DOT-reportable crashes contributing to CSA scores. This enables the development of more targeted intervention programs that ensure drivers adhere to regulatory requirements and maintain high safety standards. 

The Real Impact of Combining Monitoring and Training 

Combining driver training with monitoring has proven to be a powerful strategy for improving safety outcomes. 

SambaSafety’s insights reveal that, on average: 

  • Companies using both training and monitoring achieve a 77% reduction in violations after the first 12 months.
  • Adding targeted training to monitoring alone results in a 46% incremental reduction in monthly violations. 

By merging the strengths of both training and monitoring, companies can craft a solid driver safety program that promotes ongoing improvement and proactive risk management. 

Dive Into Driver Trends Impacting the Industry 

Our team dug into our extensive database to bring you new insights into driver behavior and its effects on hiring and retention, regulatory compliance and insurance costs. 

To learn more about the role proactive risk management plays in the future state of the industry, download our 2024 Driver Risk Report: Key Trends Shaping Automotive Mobility. 

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