Ian Smith: Driver behaviour, an issue of trust?


Fleet management makes perfect sense. With so many drivers on the road it is only natural to have some sort of strategy in place for ensuring products reach their destination in good time. We live in an age, for better or worse, where customer demand dictates that deliveries be made the same or the next day.

As a result, the logistics industry and its entire supply chain has had to adapt and come up with new ways to engage with this new era of rapid, reactive and challenging standards.

Advocating fleet management then, is a no-brainer. Having systems in place to monitor fuel consumption and route planning is essential. However, what becomes almost a moral issue is the idea of driver behaviour.

Does keeping a tighter than is necessary grip on what your employees are up to over the course of a day impact on their overall performance? The manufacturers of such tech would argue that the gentle pressure applied from these types of software and systems is a motivational tool. Why, for example, would you not want your drivers to be at peak performance as they deliver goods for third parties?

The issue here is not whether it is an invasion of privacy, after all drivers are paid to perform a task. If they are not performing that task on time and within a margin of error then what good are they as drivers?

Also, allowing for traffic, vehicle speed, time of day and breaks means unless running an unreasonably tight regime you are not asking the impossible. But does this kind of pressure, no matter whether logistics firms describe it as light, affect performance?

Could drivers feel that ‘light’ pressure so much it impacts on their day? Could rushing to the next job mean they skip lunch or make decisions that put their lives or those of other road users at risk? The issue of job satisfaction also comes into play. If you feel you’ve done a good job, but your reports contradict that, will you feel valued?

Put simply, does the fact they are being watched mean they act carelessly?

At VisionDrive, we train our team to be considerate of customers’ needs. However, that care does not end with our customers. Our staff are also a vital part of our business and the trust we place in them outshines any driver behaviour software we might employ. We would rather a driver was happy and motivated to do his or her job than to use a carrot and stick method of effort and reward. If a team is happy, then the result is a satisfied customer and a smooth way of operating.

While this might sound naïve to some, the implication of driver behaviour being monitored is tantamount to handing your drivers a letter which reads ‘we don’t trust you enough’.

Controversial? Perhaps, but think of the alternatives. Does a driver need to be admonished if they are taking routes that include challenging terrain, experience traffic problems or are delivering goods which are delicate?

Does a driver who burns more fuel through bad driving etiquette but does a fantastic job elsewhere deserve a dressing down?

Perhaps it is not drivers’ behaviour that need checking but rather our industry’s ethos.


About Author


Ian Smith is a director at vehicle transport specialists VisionDrive, based in the city of Lincoln. Ian has a degree and masters in Criminology, which led to his launching of the first construction rehabilitation training programme led by a construction employer in UK Prisons. The programme directly supported over 1500 prisoners throughout its operation. With VisionDrive, Ian’s greatest ambition is to change the way automotive logistics operates, especially the single car market. Ian hopes to develop more economic practices and to use technology to improve efficiencies. He has also set himself and the wider team the ambitious task of developing the brand into a strong franchise and to take the firm’s ideas to an international level. The company currently makes more than 300 single vehicle moves per month for a variety of dealerships and distributors. VisionDrive specialises in bespoke, fast and professional vehicle deliveries of single vehicles and is expanding into multi-vehicle and transporter movements in 2018.

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