Driver Behavior: What Are They and How to Address Concerns
August 10, 2023

Driver Behavior: What Are They and How to Address Concerns

Fleet managers face immense challenges in overseeing and optimizing their fleet operations. The key to efficient and cost-effective fleet management lies in harnessing the power of data. Fleet managers can gain invaluable insights into driver behavior by understanding the different types of fleet data, their sources, and how they interact.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the world of fleet data and explore how fleet managers can capitalize on driver behavior-related insights to improve fleet operations proactively.

The Significance of Driver Behavior-Related Data

The Significance of Driver Behavior-Related Data

Driver behavior is crucial in determining fleet performance, safety, and operating costs. Understanding how drivers operate vehicles can help fleet managers identify areas for improvement, reduce fuel consumption, minimize maintenance costs, and enhance overall fleet efficiency. 

Sources of Driver Behavior Data

Data related to driver behavior is collected from various sources, including manual data tracking through spreadsheets, telematics systems, and comprehensive fleet management solutions.

Spreadsheet Data

Though manual data tracking through spreadsheets may seem rudimentary, it remains one of the cheapest methods to document fleet data upfront. Fleet managers can collect various data types through this approach, including driver behavior-related data. However, the challenge arises when attempting to cross-reference data points from multiple sources to obtain relevant metrics. 

Fleet managers can leverage fuel logs, preventive maintenance schedules, and work orders to determine the reasons behind increased fuel usage, PM discrepancies, and excessive wear and tear.

Fuel and Maintenance Data

Fuel and maintenance data are fundamental pillars of fleet management, as they constitute the two most significant variable expenses for fleets. By meticulously tracking fuel logs and comparing projected average mpg to actual mpg, fleet managers can unearth potential red flags related to driver behavior. 

Speeding, erratic driving, and extended idle times are just a few driver habits that can contribute to increased fuel consumption. Furthermore, PM schedules and inspections provide valuable insights into driver behavior issues when adjusted due to recurring fail items or unusual wear and tear. Work orders can also pinpoint driver behavior-related service issues, aiding in identifying and resolving problems.

Telematics Data

Telematics systems represent a pivotal tool for monitoring driver behavior. With GPS tracking and onboard diagnostic capabilities, telematics can internally monitor behaviors such as speeding, harsh acceleration, braking, and cornering. Fleet managers can receive real-time notifications when drivers engage in unsafe behaviors and generate weekly, monthly, or annual reports to analyze driver performance. 

Moreover, the integration of dash cams provides visual evidence of unwanted driving behaviors and enables coaching to enhance driver safety. Many telematics services also offer driver safety resources to support driver retention and promote a safe driving culture.

Fleet Data with FMS

Fleet Management Systems (FMS) centralize and consolidate all fleet data, offering a comprehensive view of driver behavior-related insights. FMS automates reports based on this consolidated data, simplifying cross-referencing and analysis of essential fleet metrics. 

Integrating telematics data into the FMS provides a holistic perspective on how driver behaviors impact fleet costs, downtime, and revenue. This integration facilitates risk management decisions, enabling fleet managers to determine if coaching or training is the most effective.

Impact of Driver Behavior

To improve fleet operations proactively, fleet managers need to quantify the impact of driver behavior on key performance metrics. By comparing actual service history against PM schedules, fleet managers can assess how much poor driver behavior costs in maintenance. 

Fleet managers can also calculate downtime over specific periods for vehicles assigned to drivers exhibiting concerning behavior. This information allows them to estimate lost revenue associated with avoidable downtime, giving a clear picture of the financial implications of driver behavior.

How to Address Poor Driver Behavior

Addressing and changing poor driver behavior is essential for improving fleet safety, reducing operational costs, and enhancing overall fleet performance. Here are some key steps fleet managers can take to tackle poor driver behavior effectively:

Monitor Driver Behavior

The first step in addressing poor driver behavior is to monitor it closely. Implementing telematics systems or using fleet management software with driver behavior monitoring capabilities allows fleet managers to track various metrics, such as speeding, harsh braking, aggressive cornering, and idle times. This data provides insights into specific driver behaviors that need improvement.

Develop a Baseline

Establishing a baseline for acceptable driver behavior is crucial. This baseline serves as a reference point against which driver performance is measured. By setting clear and realistic expectations, fleet managers can identify drivers who deviate from safe and efficient driving practices.

Concentrate Your Resources

Fleet managers should focus on addressing the most critical driver behavior issues. Prioritize behaviors that pose the highest safety risk and have the most significant impact on operational costs. Targeting specific behaviors allows for more effective resource allocation and more significant improvements.

Identify Common Poor Driving Behaviors

Analyze the data collected from monitoring driver behavior to identify patterns of common poor driving behaviors. These may include excessive speeding, aggressive driving, inconsistent use of seat belts, distracted driving, and improper vehicle maintenance. Understanding the prevalent issues helps tailor coaching and training programs accordingly.

Coach and Educate the Drivers

Coaching and education play a vital role in changing poor driver behavior. Fleet managers should provide one-on-one coaching sessions with drivers to discuss their performance and improvement areas. Use the collected data as evidence during these discussions to encourage drivers to recognize their mistakes and take corrective action. Offer relevant driver safety training to address specific behavior issues and provide resources to help drivers improve.

Recognize Positive Behavior

In addition to addressing poor behavior, fleet managers should recognize and reward positive driving habits. Positive reinforcement can motivate drivers to maintain safe and efficient driving practices. Consider implementing a driver reward program or recognition system to acknowledge drivers who consistently exhibit good behavior.

Implement Incentive Programs

Create incentive programs that tie rewards to safe driving behavior. This can include bonuses for maintaining a clean driving record, reducing fuel consumption, or achieving specific safety milestones. Incentive programs foster healthy competition among drivers and encourage continuous improvement.

Provide Ongoing Training

Driver behavior improvement is an ongoing process. Offer periodic training and refresher courses to reinforce safe driving practices and keep drivers updated on new regulations, technologies, and best practices. Continued education helps drivers stay engaged and committed to safety and efficiency.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

It’s important to understand and leverage fleet data, particularly insights into driver behavior, which plays an indispensable role for modern fleet managers striving for proactive and efficient fleet operations. Fleet managers can identify patterns, reduce costs, and enhance safety across their fleets by comprehending the various data sources and how they interact. 

Combining spreadsheet data, telematics, and comprehensive fleet management systems, they can make well-informed decisions, optimize operations, and foster a culture of safe driving within their organizations. Equipped with data-driven insights, fleet managers unlock the full potential of their fleets, achieving unparalleled success in an increasingly competitive landscape.

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