What makes for a better driver?

Graham Wood 01/03/2019 Driving Tips

We all know what a good driver is. But what makes for an even better driver? If you have a fleet or manage one, you may already know the answer, as you will [hopefully] have more than one of them in your own fleet.

And even if you have some of the answers, it’s highly unlikely that you have all of them. Additionally, it’s always good to stop, take stock and remind oneself about what it is that makes a better driver.

We like this excerpt from the AA from a few years back, which says:

Driving is a skill that demands constant honing and polishing. And it has a lot more to do with character and personality type than one would think.

Another personal favorite is this answer from Ben Huffman on Quora:

Situational awareness 100% of the time, and seeing things others don't to actively avoid risks.

At first sight it may seem like both are simple statements, loaded with common sense. But there’s a lot more elements hidden within this one sentence. And of course, don’t forget, times change. And new technologies, like fleet management solutions and diagnostic apps, so what makes a better driver actually evolves hand in hand with such developments.

From a good driver to a better driver

So, how do you identify a good driver and make sure they become a better driver? First let’s look at the main issues that affect how effective a driver can be. The way we see it, there are three main pillars: 1. Driving skills/behavior, 2. Safety considerations, 3. Care for vehicle. We can also add a fourth which would say “willingness to learn and adopt new technologies and approaches.

What do you need to get right as a fleet manager to make sure you have the better drivers on your team? Try some of these for size…

A better hiring process

  • Quality hires - and keeping them - are important to offer quality services in terms of your fleet, as well as business continuity. Staff retention is less costly than having high turnovers
  • Less training. If you hire the right drivers then the training you will need to carry out will be minimal and you won’t lose time or resources.
  • Better collaboration. Hiring the right drivers first time means that you will more than likely have much happier drivers and build a solid team spirit. Not only that, but if you have happy drivers then you will also undoubtedly have happier customers. And this paves the way for more growth for your business

Incentives go a long way towards making a better driver, and having a healthier business

  • Offering bonuses for good driving behavior will also help to boost the motivation and morale of your fleet personnel to become better drivers
  • Perhaps a raise in salary based on merit or completion of training modules is also another way to try and boost efficiency among drivers
  • More leave days, as time progresses is another tactic that many businesses use. Let’s face it, having free time is pretty priceless
  • Bonding activities for the entire staff. Arranging periodic out of work activities in a relaxed environment can work wonders for teams of fleet drivers

Safety first!

  • Your drivers should always have safety at the top of their minds, and to encourage it even more as a fleet manager you can allow them to be (somewhat) late for the sake of safety if necessary
  • Always act on car dashboard lights (or notifications from the app). This one is for both fleet managers and drivers.
  • Get or offer training on topics such as selecting the proper tires and vehicle fluids for a long-distance trip for example
  • Get or offer training on defensive driving, as it really is the pan on making a good driver a better driver. Why? Well, firstly it’s a matter of safety. Secondly, it’s a super way to avoid accidents. And it also has several other benefits, like fuel savings, maintenance cost-savings, as well as lower insurance costs.
  • Plot routes that include stops at healthy intervals (every 3-4 hours). This will help avoid fatigue and keep your drivers sharp.
  • Respect 8 hour shifts. This is self explanatory and we can’t stress this enough to be honest.

The road to a better driver...

...is paved with good intentions and a real focus on safety and trying to always be one step ahead of other road users. That’s it in a nutshell. But, as you have seen from the above points, there are plenty of things and guidelines to help you and your drivers get there. And by there we mean simply better. Because after all, who doesn’t want to be the best version of themselves?

Bearing all of the above in mind, the benefits for the individual drivers are as important as the benefits that you will reap as a business owner or fleet manager. The main ones being more willing (and motivated) drivers, building up of experience (great for drivers’ CV’s), less absenteeism, and less damages, maintenance and downtime. Everyone’s a winner.