Winter brings several different challenges for drivers, from fewer hours of daylight to unpredictable weather patterns. That makes it a great time to instill drivers with safety tips and refresher driver training programs.
Since winter is accompanied by the holiday season, it’s a busier time for virtually every industry. Whether your drivers are pharmaceutical reps driving to appointments, long-haul truckers, or delivery drivers who are trying to keep up with online shopping purchases, it’s harder to work in some of those much-needed training reminders.
Recognizing Winter's Potential Dangers
The challenge with winter driving is that there are so many ways it can be more dangerous than at other times of the year. Weather is, of course, the most obvious threat when discussing winter driving.
Nearly 1 million people are injured in weather-related crashes every year and about 6,000 of those result in fatalities. When drivers don’t adjust their driving habits to accommodate changing or deteriorating weather conditions, it becomes dangerous for everyone on the road around them.
The holidays also mean more drivers travel unfamiliar roads and might make sudden stops or other abrupt moves. With more people traveling on roads they aren’t familiar with, the likelihood of crashes goes up, and the need for greater alertness of surrounding drivers increases.
Drivers who work long hours are fighting fatigue as well as weather and traffic, which leads to more company car collisions. In recent years, delivery drivers with major logistics companies have found themselves facing more challenges to meet demand — particularly once Cyber Monday arrives. The longer hours alone pose a safety issue since drowsy drivers contribute to a growing number of crashes.
Managing Driver Safety During the Holidays
For safety managers overseeing fleets, the holiday season presents a unique array of obstacles. Ensuring that drivers fulfill their work obligations is vital, but it's equally imperative that they do so without compromising safety.
Given the extended work hours and the strenuous nature of the job, allocating time for in-depth behind-the-wheel driver training can be a challenge. It can take a bit of creativity to uncover strategies for maintaining the safety of your fleet drivers and ensuring they adhere to best practices. Here are three methods for overseeing driver safety throughout the holiday season.
No. 1: Embrace a Driver Safety-Oriented Culture
Every professional driver should understand that safety is the No. 1 goal of their job. To do that, they need to know that your company lives and breathes a culture of driver safety and that there are consequences for not following company policy.
Make sure your safe driving policies are written down and clearly spelled out, covering everything from mobile phone use to speeding to seat belt use. In addition to being clear about your expectations, you should also be clear about the consequences.
Drivers need to know that you’re serious about safety and that violations will result in punishment. When drivers know that unsafe driving practices won’t be tolerated, they are more likely to comply.
No. 2: Talk About It Daily
Morning meetings (or the start of a shift) present an ideal opportunity to discuss and reinforce driver safety. Emphasizing safety is essential year-round, and it becomes even more crucial during the holiday season.
By providing daily reminders, whether they relate to recent incidents or the specific weather conditions drivers may encounter that day, you ensure that safety remains at the forefront of their minds as they embark on their journeys. Placing informative posters in common areas such as hallways and the breakroom is another effective method to continually underscore this crucial message.
These gatherings can be a platform to recognize and applaud drivers who consistently exhibit excellent safety practices and maintain a commendable safety record. Offering positive reinforcement can play a significant role in garnering the full commitment of all drivers to prioritize safety.
Finally, have dispatchers get involved in the safety message as well; provide dispatchers with safety reminders that they can share with drivers during the day.
No. 3: Implement eLearning Options
With limited time during the holiday season, this is a great opportunity to utilize fleet driver eLearning options. Selecting specific topics that you want drivers to brush up on based on their individual needs is one approach, or you can introduce one topic each week for all drivers to learn from.
Because time is such a concern, Smith System has introduced a series of short refresher training modules. The Arrive Alive Safety Series includes several eLearning modules, and each one reinforces the safe driving principles taught in The Smith5Keys®. Since each course is brief, they can be viewed quickly as part of a daily standup meeting or used as part of a larger training initiative.
Ensuring Your Drivers Are Safe This Holiday Season
During the holiday season, professional drivers who spend a significant portion of their day on the road encounter amplified challenges, including increased distractions, heavier workloads, and heightened traffic congestion.
Equipping your drivers with the necessary resources for acquiring and implementing optimal driving techniques while consistently emphasizing your safety-focused culture can significantly contribute to their ability to avoid accidents and safely return home.