Drivers Have Some Thoughts about Safety Training

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There’s a common misunderstanding from motor carriers about truck driver safety training. In reality, drivers want training, but historically, the delivery is all wrong.

Traditionally, safety training has been presented in orientation and then not again until insurance says so, or as a form of punishment. Of course, with that kind of cadence, it’s no wonder drivers have so much to say about safety training.

“Carriers must recognize that training should be proactive and ongoing,” said Mark Murrell, President of CarriersEdge. “If a company positions it that way to drivers, drivers will welcome it as a professional development opportunity rather than retribution.”

In almost every other occupation, continuous training or professional development is possible. So how can carriers adopt a similar approach for their drivers?

For starters, Murrell says that carriers should understand that drivers simply don’t want bad training.

“Oftentimes carriers will inflict death-by-powerpoint lectures, condescending videos, content that regurgitates well-known regulations on drivers,” said Murrell. “Which wastes precious driver and company time while detracting value from their experience.”

From Murrell’s experience with CarriersEdge, drivers want training to be organized, clear, concise, and respectful. Drivers are intelligent professionals and want to be treated as such.

Just as how the WorkHound feedback loop works, driver feedback and safety training should be approached with a positive reinforcement cycle.

This means that in order to encourage the workforce to complete the desired behavior, we have to respond with positive reinforcement. This helps by encouraging positive habits of drivers and helps them see that they can benefit from leaving feedback and participating in training, leading them to do more of it.

That being said, when it comes to driver feedback, the reinforcement cycle is pretty straight forward. For example, a driver leaves a comment with a specific concern and their carrier takes action to make sure that their specific concern is taken care of, empowering the driver to know their carrier takes their perspective seriously and is willing to listen.

While safer experiences on the road is certainly a reward, for safety training, many carriers also offer incentives to encourage drivers to complete regular training. This can be a great way to empower drivers to stay on top of professional development. However, as we’ve learned from driver feedback on WorkHound, incentives have to be clear and consistent.

According to CarriersEdge, here are just a few ways companies are tackling training incentives as positive reinforcement:

  • Pay for participation – If drivers are taking time to complete safety training that’s ultimately going to benefit your company, pay them for their time.
  • Incorporate training into safety bonuses – When drivers experience a positive correlation between training and on-the-job safety, reward them.
  • Contests for completion of truck driver safety training – As drivers complete certain thresholds of courses, enter them into contests.
  • Public praise for the completion of courses – Congratulate and thank drivers who’ve completed courses. This not only feels good to your drivers, it encourages others who haven’t participated to take action and become part of the praised group, too.

On the flip side, negative reinforcement actions can easily cause a driver to reconsider their loyalties at their carrier. Some of those ways include:

  • Threatening to park drivers who don’t complete courses
  • Exclusion from bonuses
  • Public shaming

Most of all, it’s important to understand drivers’ core concerns so you can get the messaging around safety training right for the drivers.

In launching a truck driver safety training program, CarriersEdge says it’s important to take precautions to make sure drivers understand that this a proactive measure initiated by their company to help with their professional growth.

“Drivers want to make money,” said Murrell, ”And they want to have good hometime, but they’ll sacrifice both of those to avoid looking stupid. It may seem counterintuitive, but we’re social creatures by nature, and people will go to great lengths to maintain social standing.”

While safety is certainly an important concern, if carriers are using safety training as punishment, drivers will consider training a burden simply because they feel like they’re being ridiculed rather than informed.

So, say you’re receiving feedback from drivers that your safety training isn’t working the way you intended. Maybe instead of scrapping your program altogether, it’s time to recognize there’s a different approach. Refreshed content, proactive training, and positive reinforcement will pay off dividends in the long run — for your time, your drivers’ safety, and your company’s bottom line.

If you’re interested in learning more about what your drivers aren’t telling you, get in touch with the WorkHound team.

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