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Your Driver Policy is unmanageable!


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Your Driver Policy is unmanageable!

by Dennis P. Druhe

President/Founder at GPSisUS and Mobile Tracking and Consulting Services, Inc.

 

Your Policy states “no cell phone use when driving a company vehicle” but when it comes to managing whose using their cell phone while driving you pretty much don’t know and need to trust your employees here. So, since you can’t manage what you don’t measure, your Driver Policy is unmanageable!

 

Remember, your GPS System can’t do this either: Detect and monitor cell phone use when the vehicle is in motion.

 

 

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It is only unmanagable if you do not have the proper technology in place. This, among many other reasons, is why I am a strong proponent of driver facing cameras. Not to create a "nanny state", but rather to be able to properly defend my clients, including their drivers, should a critical event occur.

 

A good fleet safety policy has multiple elements to it, some which are there simply to satisfy the regulators -such as the prohibition on hand-held use of cell phones and other electronics in commercial vehicles- as well as others that have a real impact on reducing safety critical events. Part of this fleet safety policy must include implementation and use of multiple types of safety technology. I have long been a supporter of gps based telematics, not only for the operational advantages they bring to the dispatch process (meaning you can be more productive and profitable), but also for the driver coaching data they provide.

 

With the reduced cost and ready access to dash cams I have started recommending including them in the overall telematic package, the reason being is to be able to verify why there was a critical event recorded by a gps linked sensor. Often I find that the event was caused by a factor outside of the driver's control and the recorded hard brake or other event was a justified response to the threat.

 

Now, before you say that a camera will not catch 100% of cell phone policy violations, I agree. However, it will catch the most egregious of violations, the ones that trigger a safety critical event because the driver was using, and most likely distracted by, their cell phone or other hand held device. There are other technological solutions as well, such as signal jammers, however they may not be legal in all states or situations. For this reason, I do not recommend blocking type technology, unless app based. And even then, forcing an app to be installed on employee owned devices as a condition of employment is a grey area, and water I would not wade into!

 

Lastly, and this is an area many employers struggle with, for the cell phone policy to be enforcable it must be honored by both sides. You can not have a no cell phone policy then attempt to call your drivers on their cell phone, this sends a mixed message. So, if you rely on cell phones for communication you need to either tailor your policy to permit hands free usage (legal almost everywhere) or provide an alternative communication method in the cab of your trucks. I suggest having a hands-free policy and providing quality Bluetooth devices for your employees to use. This will encourage their use, meet the regulatory burden of having a policy but not providing the equipment to effectively implement it and may even improve overall employee retention if your employees see that you truly care about their health and safety.

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Just for a moment, imagine today's industry without cell-phones, telematics, GPS, tablets and modern day technologies. So, Brian ... the Devil's Advocate asks ... Who enforces the, "Blue Tooth Policy"? Forward facing cameras can identify the problem, but, when good operators are hard to find, does a company owner or safety manager dismiss a violator for using his/her cell-phone (in the course of their duties), or, simply look away? Having a Blue-Tooth Policy may work on the administrative side, but operationally, getting the job done typically takes prescedence.

Randall C. Resch

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On 7/17/2019 at 12:11 PM, rreschran said:

Just for a moment, imagine today's industry without cell-phones, telematics, GPS, tablets and modern day technologies. So, Brian ... the Devil's Advocate asks ... Who enforces the, "Blue Tooth Policy"? Forward facing cameras can identify the problem, but, when good operators are hard to find, does a company owner or safety manager dismiss a violator for using his/her cell-phone (in the course of their duties), or, simply look away? Having a Blue-Tooth Policy may work on the administrative side, but operationally, getting the job done typically takes prescedence.

Randy, I do love when you play devil's advocate, as you always make a good point. I will stick to my previous opinions and reiterate that no one, and I truly mean no one is irreplaceable. If we fall into the trap of keeping a "bad apple" because they are a high producer, or worse yet the only help we can find, we will never be rid of the hindrances that come from poor company culture.

 

We can not take the risk of keeping the policy violator, no matter how much we need the body in the seat or as you put it "getting the job done". Once we are aware the employee is not following policy, or worse yet law, we must take action or the liability for their wrongdoing falls squarely on our shoulders. This could cost a owner everything, as there is no more plausible deniability. That said, I still believe in the value of telematic data and strongly urge all towers to install and utilize the available technology.

 

It has been my experience that although painful to let the top dog go, it usually relieves a lot of unspoken tensions within the company and everyone is better off. I had to make this critical decision many times, although the one that sticks out was when I had to let the heavy duty division manager and lead driver go. I felt bad, he had literally built the heavy division from the ground up by himself in 4.5 years, however that did not give him the right to go around me and contact a customer directly telling them that the driver I was dispatching was not up to the task.

 

Although this is not the cell phone policy, it still was a serious black eye for the company and he was terminated immediately. Talk about tense, I had to watch him hastily clean out his truck so I could send the driver of my choice on the out of state job, and then give him a ride home, in a state where everyone conceal carries. I wasn't afraid, although it was uncomfortable to say the least. Funny thing is, now almost 10 years later, he and I are close friends and he understands why I did what I did that day. He even says it has made him rethink how he acts at his current job.

 

Lastly, as for the days before this technology, well it is a double edged sword. The technology has definitely led to increases in distractions, some may even say the technology that is supposed to make vehicles and drivers safe is doing the opposite, and they may be right -I am still debating that point. As for policing our drivers in the days gone by, we used to have to invest significant time into trailing them, attempting to catch them doing something wrong or rely on sharp eyes friends to call up with the latest intel reports. Telematics really isn't any different, it is just must faster and usually more reliable than the old fashioned gumshoe methods of employee behavior monitoring.

 

I will say, if you are a company owner that is a get it done at all costs, damn the torpedoes type then maybe having admissible evidence and documentation is not the right fit for your company. It would be ill advised to hand the enforcement officers or opposing council the evidence to hang yourself with!

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Great response Brian. Once again ... your comments are well accepted and tow owners should take appropriate heed. In 1984, our police cars had "spiro-graph recorders" that created data when the police car was driven with its emergency lights on, it's siren activated, sudden acceleration and speeds above 65-miles per hour. We called it, "Cop in a Can", as graphs were reviewed for inconsistent or improper vehicle operations by the cop behind the wheel. It DID have an impact on the way officers drove as a means of changing driving behaviors and response protocols. Although telematic data is frowned on by many, I too believe that there's huge value in their systems and they make for a great management tool. Accordingly, if tow operators are driving in the manner that's acceptable to state law, company policy and procedures, the operator shouldn't be worried. That goes hand-in-hand with a tow owner or safety manager that get's out from behind their desks only to follow their drivers on a periodic basis. What also works is a folded up twenty-spot that's stuffed into your driver's pocket that says ... "Thanks for your safe driving habits."     R.

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Randall C. Resch

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5 minutes ago, rreschran said:

Great response Brian. Once again ... your comments are well accepted and tow owners should take appropriate heed. In 1984, our police cars had "spiro-graph recorders" that created data when the police car was driven with its emergency lights on, it's siren activated, sudden acceleration and speeds above 65-miles per hour. We called it, "Cop in a Can", as graphs were reviewed for inconsistent or improper vehicle operations by the cop behind the wheel. It DID have an impact on the way officers drove as a means of changing driving behaviors and response protocols. Although telematic data is frowned on by many, I too believe that there's huge value in their systems and they make for a great management tool. Accordingly, if tow operators are driving in the manner that's acceptable to state law, company policy and procedures, the operator shouldn't be worried. That goes hand-in-hand with a tow owner or safety manager that get's out from behind their desks only to follow their drivers on a periodic basis. What also works is a folded up twenty-spot that's stuffed into your driver's pocket that says ... "Thanks for your safe driving habits."     R.

I equate telematics and driver facing cameras to the same security measures we employ in the lot and office. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy, and as such there should be no reason not to have this technology in the truck. That said, I am also a realist and understand that the personality type attracted to driving, more so the long haul rather than vocational drivers, usually picks driving as a career because they desire to be left alone to do their job as they see fit. The problem with that is too many cut corners and ignore policy when they don't think they are being watched. 

 

As you said, if the driver is not doing anything against the law or policy they should be fine. In fact, I use this data to defend many more drivers than I use against drivers. It is so critical to me that I have these systems in all my personal vehicles, and even take a dual facing dash cam with me when I am delivering a sold truck or using a rental car.

 

By the way, I have hundreds of hours of my off-key signing and extremely dry humor as I entertain myself on these long road trips if anyone is interested in a good laugh.

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