Spread the ideas, not the virus: How coaching is helping to improve driver safety amidst COVID-19
I’ve been working with fleets, their managers and drivers for many years. In that time the benefits of personalised coaching, based upon the individual behaviours of drivers, have really become apparent to me. Sitting down with a driver, and using data collected by advanced video telematics, is incredibly effective in helping them to improve their safety on the road.
Of course, complications due to the Coronavirus pandemic mean that face-to-face coaching has by and large been put on hold, but there are effective alternatives available.
COVID-19 has brought a great deal of pressure on everyone, as we worry about the safety and wellbeing of our families. For fleet drivers around the world this pressure is even more intense. They are required to deliver vital supplies including groceries and medicine across the country, while trying to look after their own and their families’ health. For fleets that deliver internationally there is also the stress of keeping track of quarantine and lockdown measures between countries - and of driving through hotspots where the risk of infection is high.
We recently carried out a study which revealed an increase in risky driving behaviours since the outbreak. These included the use of a handheld device and driving without a seatbelt, suggesting that these increased pressures have caused a change in focus amongst some drivers.
In light of this it’s more important than ever that fleet managers are able to continue coaching drivers, helping them stay safe out on the road. Effective coaching will alert a driver to their own good and bad driving habits and provide them with bespoke advice about how to improve – as well as rewarding good driving.
Cameras in and outside cabs can supplement telematics data so that the factors contributing to erratic driving can be easily analysed. While drivers cannot currently meet with managers face-to-face, a combination of video conferencing and sharing of the data online is going a long way to bridging the gap - and offering unexpected advantages.
Firstly, online coaching allows greater flexibility. It removes the need to schedule a convenient time for manager and driver to be together in one place – instead, coaches and drivers can hold sessions anywhere there’s a cellular connection, using a connected computer or mobile device.
Additionally, when schedules don’t allow for convenient times to connect directly, coaches can let drivers independently review event videos and leave notes for the coach to look at later. This is a major bonus to fleets which are distributed internationally, with international borders no longer a hindrance to coaching.
We can and must continue to stay connected despite the challenges we now face. Remote coaching can help drivers just as effectively to act in the safest and most efficient way, whatever the challenge.
Even when this pandemic is under control and lockdown measures are eased, remote coaching will continue to offer many benefits for both fleet managers and drivers. The accessibility of online platforms, from wherever a driver may be, means that even when a driver is out on the road, hundreds of miles from the depot, they still have the opportunity to improve and stay safe.
Author: Damian Penney, Vice President, Lytx Europe
Brandon Nixon, CEO of Lytx, was one of the speakers during a panel discussion with the CEOs of three major telematics companies, part of the 2020 Global Fleet Virtual Conference. Watch the recording here.
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