Even the most reliable, safe drivers are being monitored these days

By on July 7, 2014

Drivers, does your company trust you? Does management trust you not to steal and cheat? Do they trust you to show up on time and do a good job? Do they trust you to get your load safely from one point to another?

You’re probably thinking these are ridiculous questions. “Of course my company trusts me,” you’re saying. “They wouldn’t have hired me if they didn’t.”

Alright then, why is there so much technology in the cab and on the truck to “watch” you? Cab-facing cameras continuously monitor your behind-the-wheel activities and forward-facing camera systems constantly record the road ahead. Indicators on the dash tell you when you’re over-revving the engine and should shift gears. Systems monitor fuel consumption, as well as hours of service. Devices warn of lane departures and possible forward collisions, and the list goes on and on.

Then there are those integrated onboard fleet management systems that operate in real time. They keep tabs on such things as vehicle location, speed (actual and against the posted or company-set speed limit), idling time, hard braking, hard swerving, time at stops and much more. Some rigs are equipped with real-time alerting that allows management to enter business rules and receive notifications of violations.

So let me ask again: Does your company trust you as a driver?

An explanation would help

I understand that trucking is a very challenging and competitive business. I get it that anything that can be done to reduce costs through better management of assets, fuel expenses, equipment maintenance and safety and compliance is a must nowadays. So, too, is the need to meet the demands of increased customer service expectations.

I, for one, pride myself on being a good and safe driver. I have a great deal of accident-free miles under my belt. I know how to get trucking done. However, I do appreciate things that will help me continue to perform well and safely.

I believe that most companies do trust their drivers, but they don’t realize that their actions indicate a lack of trust.

How do you feel when you climb into the cab and find a new technology that you were not expecting? How do you feel when fuel economy ratings are posted on the board in the driver’s room when you had no idea mpgs were being ranked?

Management needs to keep drivers informed about what is going on at the company and why. If new technology is being added to vehicles and the back office then they must teach drivers how to use it and explain the benefits to both company and drivers themselves. No new vehicle technology will perform as advertised if drivers don’t understand why it has been added and know how to best employ it.

Drivers should be open to new ideas too, and give honest consideration to the reasons behind the decision to employ a new tool. The natural first reaction might be annoyance, but once the doubts get shrugged off, it’s possible that certain measurements and tracking will actually help the driver meet new regulations.

Two-way street

Management must do more than talk, though. They need to get their drivers engaged in the bigger goals of the company. An employee who knows the big picture of company strategy goes the extra mile at work, innovates and assists in reaching those goals.

Engaged truckers actively care about their work, their company and its future. A stronger emotional bond supports higher retention levels, higher productivity levels and lower absenteeism.

Research shows that engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave a company than the disengaged. Are you listening, management?

About David A. Kolman

David A. Kolman, an over-the-road driver for many years, is the Senior Editor of Road King magazine.

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