Correcting Unsafe Behaviors of Drivers!

In my last blog, I talked about the meaning of Safety, and that as managers, we have to understand that the people we hire to drive our vehicles are different and will behave differently to a given circumstance. In addition, the people we hire learn at different rates. If you remember your days in school, think back to the math class. A subject that was tough for some of us to learn was algebra, but other students in our class seemed to breeze through it! With adult learning, we have the same type of scenario going on where some adults will learn quicker than others. We need to make sure that we can provide a training program that is consistent, and that becomes the learning foundation of everything that the driver will do or be asked to do during a given set of circumstances.

What are the given set of circumstances that a driver will face and will need to know how to handle?

Our drivers are faced with many tasks during a typical day on the road. Defensive Driving, Customer Service, executing proper driving techniques, passenger Safety, mobility device assistance, mobility device securement, loading and unloading, and the list will go on.  In this area of driver tasks, there are some 200+ tasks that a driver will do daily. So, the question becomes, how do we get them to exercise correct behavior and eliminate or reduce the risk associated with unsafe behaviors?

How to Correct Unsafe Behaviors

If we hire the right person to drive our vehicles and handle our passengers safely, they will have a “Can Do” factor. These factors are made up of a person’s knowledge, skills, and abilities. The knowledge, skills, and abilities for our driver’s needs begin when training starts by using the foundation of your training program, or what I call the “Norms”.  The NORMS are a direction on how a driver is to behave in each set of circumstances. For example, what is the correct procedure to secure a wheelchair? There should be a set of procedures for the driver to follow that is written, that they are trained to follow, how risks are minimized, and the driver will understand that bad behavior, or not securing the wheelchair properly will lead to passenger injuries.

The Norms

When we talk about the norms, we need to understand their meaning. Norms are understood as the expected and designated way duties and responsibilities are to be consistently performed.  The Norms make up the foundation of training programs and it is how drivers are trained. The foundation of the training program will help set the tone on what the drivers will need to learn. It provides a consistent way drivers are trained to perform their job.

The Three P’s

During development, each NORM is made up of a Program, Policy, and a Procedure. For example, if we expect our drivers to observe proper following distance of 4 seconds, then the norm will read like this:

  1. The Program: Proper Following Distance
  2. The Policy:    Every driver will keep a following distance of 4 seconds or more. Depending on the elements (weather) following distance can be increased by 2 seconds.
  3. The Procedure: For the driver to understand how to set a four-second following distance, the procedure will be:
    1. The driver is following a vehicle in front of them, and when that vehicle passes a point in the road (a telephone pole, or a bridge, or a driveway) the driver will begin counting.
    2. The driver begins counting by 1001, 1002, 1003, 1004.
    3. If the driver passes the point identified in step A before they reach 1004, they are traveling too close. They will need to back off the speed and recalculate from another spot and count it off.

By setting this Norm, the Program, Policy, and Procedures are detailed and explained of what is expected of the driver in these situations. If a rear end crash would occur, then we can go back to the Norm and determine if the driver followed or violated the procedure.  If the procedure was violated and bad behavior (risk) was identified, then you will need to take action to correct it and eliminate the bad behavior (risk) from happening again.

You Might Have Norms now!

Your operations might have Norms in place currently and drivers are being trained using them. But how did you get them? How were they developed?   This might depend on the points below:

  1. The quality of your training program
  2. The extent of your training program.
  3. How the training was provided.
  4. The level of consistency in enforcing desired behaviors.
  5. The orientation process you have for new trainees.
  6. The actions are taken for unsafe behaviors.

The question is, are your current NORMs consciously set, or have they just happened?  Did you decide how you want your employees to act, or did they develop their own practices? Are you in control?

In Summary

To change Unsafe Behaviors, you will need to set the NORMS, and have the 3P’s; Programs, Policies, and Procedures developed for each task that a driver will perform. Ask yourself the questions, how do you want them to act, and what do you expect them to do in each circumstance? 

I hope to see you all next time!

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