Whenever we talk to fleet safety managers, the question often comes up about how to fix a safety problem. Our most successful clients also ask, what is the real root of that truck crash? What really caused that OOS inspection?
We find a somewhat simple way to categorize root causes for fleet crashes and truck infractions boils it down to two simple reasons: lack of knowledge and lack of discipline. Knowing which is which improves the odds of success when you try to fix it. Let's look at the difference.
Knowledge-based Safety Problem
Some examples of a knowledge-based safety problem include using equipment like a liftgate incorrectly. Or mislabeling training time as "off duty." Or not following a client's specific loading or unloading procedure. With a minimal amount of discussion and checking into training records, a safety manager can verify that a driver has never received any kind of formal training about how a certain liftgate is used. And if you're relying on "the other guys in the yard" to train him, you're at serious risk of a lawsuit.
Knowledge-based problems are the poster-children for online training. Don't know how to properly categorize different tasks on their log? A specific checklist or course that for which they must demonstrate mastery is the perfect solution.
Discipline-based Safety Problem
Examples of discipline-based safety problems are things like speeding or DVIRs not being completed daily. If that's the case, and with a little bit of questioning, the idea of complete retraining can be seen merely as punishment. Drivers are not above quitting due to petty punishments.
However, as a company who is entrusting a truck to driver, you cannot ignore it. Instead, you likely need to provide a shorter performance improvement program that focuses on why. Why is it important to observe speed limits? Why are vehicles inspected daily? What is the benefit to the driver?
Culture Problems are Discipline Problems Writ Large
When you have a group of people who all have the same problems — like frequent OOS violations or maintenance problems all from a particular distribution center — you may have a cultural problem. Safety culture problems tend to be discipline issues that have taken root and been accepted as "the way we do things around here."
These are typically fleet management or leadership problems, and will need to be addressed in a top-down manner.
Channeling the Firehose of Driver Data
One of the hardest parts of training and safety in these days of nuclear verdicts is drinking from the firehose of telematics, camera, and ELD data. If you're not acting on that data in a timely manner, a plaintiff's attorney will eat you alive in the courtroom. It's not just "what did you know?" any longer. They'll ask "what could you have known?"
One solution is Idelic, a company with whom ITI partners. Among many groundbreaking features of Idelic's Safety Suite is that they've partnered with many fleet technologies providers, using their APIs to pull in that data and acting as a hub. Moreover, their Safety Suite allows you to trigger a series of actions with all that data. It's called training automation, and it's changing the way fleets approach safety.
So if you have a driver with a persistent habit of speeding, you can assign that driver a performance improvement plan that you design, including a stop-gap incident-based training assignment, a series of one-on-one conversation with their manager, and many other tasks.
More importantly, you can follow up: did the PIP work? If not, you can choose to escalate the issue. And if it did work? You can reward that driver and recognize their efforts.