Is this really how we do things round here? – April 2022
By Simon Turner, Campaign Manager for the Driving for Better Business programme
Culture can be defined as ‘the way we do things round here’. When new people start working for an organisation, they’ll look around them at how things are done and copy the prevailing behaviours. If they see corners being cut, they’ll cut corners themselves and, if they see everyone taking care to do things right, then they copy them to fit in.
This is why it’s so important to manage your drivers well, ensuring they are clear about the standards expected of them. This means you need to focus on three things: a good driving for work policy, that is clearly communicated to all staff, and consistently applied and monitored.
A good policy should explain to drivers why they are receiving a policy and what the company’s legal obligations are to manage road risk plus details of any driver checks to be carried out.
It needs to set out guidance on vehicle management and maintenance – explaining the driver’s responsibility to conduct proper pre-use defect checks, and the company’s obligations to ensure the vehicles are properly serviced, maintained and repaired.
And then it needs to set out the guidelines to ensure safe driving including topics such as driver’s hours and fatigue management, mobile phone distractions and drug and alcohol impairment.
One of the key points about communicating a Driving for Work policy is the distribution. It must obviously be shared with everyone who drives, but it must also be shared with everyone whose role might impact those drivers.
Managing mobile phone distraction is a good example of why this is necessary. If your policy states that drivers mustn’t drive while using the phone, then other staff who might typically phone them such as managers or work schedulers need to be aware of that policy.
Not only that but it’s crucial that everyone, including directors and managers follow the same policy. Nothing will derail a good safety culture quicker than watching senior staff disregarding the rules they expect others to abide by.
Managers must be seen to apply the policies fairly and consistently across the organisation and to also meet their end of the bargain. If the policy tells drivers to report faults with their vehicle, for instance, those faults need to be rectified promptly to maintain confidence.
It is increasingly common that line managers are required to discuss Driving for Work issues with drivers at their annual appraisals. This may involve discussing any collisions, failure to carry out vehicle checks or reports of poor driving, and it is also an ideal opportunity to refresh their memory on company policy and the standards of driving that the company expects.
The benefits of a good culture and good, consistent communication include:
- Clearly defined rules that reduce the level of driver risk.
- Drivers who understand why the rules are in place.
- Drivers that are more likely to behave as you’d want them to.
- A clear framework for disciplining drivers that don’t follow the rules.
- These are the key building blocks of a strong and resilient safety culture. Your existing drivers play a vital role in the successful integration of safe new drivers.
If you’d like to learn more about what you and your organisation should be doing and whether you have any gaps in your driver risk management, join our free programme at www.drivingforbetterbusiness.com. We have a wealth of free online tools and resources to help you understand where your priorities should be to reduce risk, control costs and improve efficiency.