Drivers who work with a reward system are more willing to go the extra mile, so to speak, for...

Drivers who work with a reward system are more willing to go the extra mile, so to speak, for their companies

Photo: Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

Truck fleet safety managers can instantly list their worst drivers but often need to stop and think before naming the best drivers. The script is backwards. The best drivers should not be forgotten, but celebrated and rewarded. Why?

Studies show that businesses with engaged workers have less absenteeism, accidents, and errors, and greater productivity and profitability. How can companies achieve greater driver engagement? With positive reinforcement.

First, prioritize understanding who your best drivers are and reward them for positive driving behavior. When drivers consistently maintain a safe following distance, move over for vehicles, or don’t run stop signs, these are the drivers you reward. Positive driving incentives also motivate poor-performing drivers to improve.    

Imagine — or remember — as a driver, what it feels like to have to appear in front of a supervisor for coaching feedback. Drivers who constantly receive negative feedback typically become less and less motivated. However, starting out with positive reinforcement will create an impactful and actionable conversation.

Below are five steps to implementing positive reinforcement in commercial truck fleets that we’ve seen work time and time again:

1. Embrace Technology

The most advanced in-cab video cameras use cutting-edge technologies such as Advanced AI and Edge Computing (analysis on the device) to see 100% of driving time including positive driving behavior, like creating a safe following distance. 

Such a solution compiles all driving events into a driver score for managers to easily see the best and worst performers. It also has real-time alerts to correct and coach risky behavior. We all have bad habits, and reminders really do help. 

2. Positively Recognize Your Best Drivers

Beware of safety solutions that are built solely on reviewing videos after an incident occurred. Technology has advanced. Implement systems that positively recognize your best drivers.

Reward them! Set the tone that positive driving behavior earns perks. We’ve seen time and time again that a nominal cash reward or prize incentive can accelerate change.

3. Encourage the Best and Coach the Worst  

Now that it’s clear who your best and worst drivers are, you can confidently encourage and reward the safest drivers and coach the worst performers. Advanced safety systems help to automatically coach underperforming drivers or alert them to risky behavior. From there reward them as they show signs of improvement. Then, make the edges visible.

These two groups are the examples that will show middle-of-the-road performers what to do and what not to do.  

4. Apply Gamification  

Games are not just for kids. We all have a competitive streak, and games help us become more engaged. Who doesn’t want to earn points for doing good work? It gives a sense of achievement, especially when you’re competing with your colleagues and friends for top scores.

Drivers who work with a reward system are more willing to go the extra mile, so to speak, for their companies. It also helps drivers feel connected to the team while they’re out on the road alone.  

5. Create Bite-Sized, Team-Based Goals

Set compliance goals such as average speed, percentage of drive time spent with a safe following distance, or full stop sign compliance. Focus on one metric until that goal is achieved, and then move onto the next one. Create driver teams to extend the gamification, further motivate your drivers, and build camaraderie.

Everyone wins when safety managers prioritize understanding who their best drivers are and reward them for positive driving behavior.

Companies increase drivers’ motivation and productivity, retain top performers, and improve your company’s bottom line. The ultimate benefits far outweigh the costs.

About the Author: Adam Kahn is president, Fleet Business and Certified Transportation Professional (CTP) for Netradyne.