7 Ways to Get Drivers to Participate in Safety Training

Safety compliance is one of the key components of a successful strategy in trucking. But it’s still common for companies to struggle when getting drivers on board. What’s behind the resistance? 

7 Ways to Get Drivers to Participate in Safety Training

Safety compliance is one of the key components of a successful strategy in trucking. But it’s still common for companies to struggle when getting drivers on board. What’s behind the resistance? 

Targeting Veteran Drivers

Long-time drivers are MVPs. And when it comes to setting the tone of trucking culture, they have a powerful voice. But veteran drivers can also be a challenge. They’ve been driving for 20 years, and when they hear you continually asking them to train, they might think, There’s nothing new you can tell me that I haven’t heard 100 times. Veteran drivers can become complacent. They may do things less safely than new drivers. This can result in resistance, negative attitudes, and poor compliance outcomes. 

New drivers tend to be more eager to please. But because any driver can get into an accident, no driver is beyond a review of the basics.

All drivers want to drive, get miles behind them, and make money. You value all your drivers. So how do you get past this hurdle?

100% compliance is not impossible, but it does take some work, including relational work. Here are seven tips to get you on your way.

1 – Improve a Culture of Listening

Drivers need to feel heard. If you want to maintain compliance, you’ve got to nurture the relationship. Why is retention so hard? Why are drivers leaving? It’s not always about money. Drivers often feel a lack of attention from the company. When drivers report problems with equipment, for instance, but don’t see their concerns addressed, it looks like no one cares. Why should they work for someone who doesn’t pay attention when they present a need? Is anyone on the other end? 

Find ways to show drivers you’re listening and improve that relationship. For example, you might create custom training content in collaboration with managers to directly address issues that drivers bring up. 

2 – Respond to Need — Not Attitude

Some drivers are arrogant. Some feel they’re too busy. Some might be having a bad year. But companies must provide safety training, and document it, or they have no way to protect themselves in court. If you feel frustrated, you’re not alone. But remember, your strategy is not to react to an attitude; it’s to respond to needs.

3 – Repeat Why, Not Just What

And what, exactly, are those needs? Aside from safety-related needs drivers address with you, compliance impacts other needs. Compliance makes for a more prosperous business and builds the team. It’s good for everyone who participates. Tell drivers the “whys” and make clear you’re not just doing this to tick a box. 

For example, if an accident happens, drivers and companies are liable to punitive damages in court. When you reduce unsafe practices with compliance, you reduce the chance of criminal charges and punitive damages. 

Compelling “win-win” reasons for 100% compliance include:

  • • Motorist safety (top priority)
  • • Improved personal driving record (can always improve)
  • • Protect themselves in court (vital)
  • • Protect their finances (avoid fines/fees)
  • • Stay ahead of DOT and FMCSA changes (fewer surprises)
  • • Learn new technology early (get ahead)
  • • Address concerns they bring up (improve the company for everyone)
  • • Professional development (lead the pack; always grow)

4 – Avoid Taking Drivers Off the Road

Drivers really don’t like getting pulled off the road. When they’re off the road, they’re not getting paid, or they’re not spending time with family and friends. With online training, you cut resistance to training by reducing or even eliminating the need to pull drivers for in-person training days. You can move orientation online, too. Show drivers you’re dedicated to making compliance as easy and convenient for them as possible, and resistance will go down.

Hear from Chris Conrad, Safety Manager at Sterling Transport: Why Sterling Transport Moved Driver Orientation Online.

5 – Give Drivers Time and Flexibility

If you organize online training modules ahead of time and give drivers plenty of time to finish, you’re respecting their time and schedules.

You’re also respecting their power of choice. No one wants to feel dragged into a classroom. With online training, you can provide a set of videos and a basic timeline for completion — for example, “Have all four training modules done by the end of the month.” Drivers can complete them at their own pace, in whatever order.

Drivers can also complete online training in their downtime, while they’re waiting to be loaded or unloaded, for example, and not lose any time on the road.

6 – Celebrate Positive Change

Do you have a driver of the month, driver of the year, or awards for “million-mile drivers”? Do you offer bonuses for great safety records? Lift up drivers who show signs of outstanding compliance (ex. clean inspections), and celebrate safety milestones as a company. Thank all your drivers for helping make it happen, as well as the ones who stand out.

Final Note: Carrots or Sticks?

There has to be some consequence or mandate to do safety training. But which approach is better, carrot or stick?

Carrot is generally better than stick, but both work. Integrate training with a bonus plan, and ideally, make sure those bonuses come in the form of money as well as praise. Really good drivers count on that bonus as part of their income and will do what they need to do to get it. Online training can be tied into the bonus plan. If they don’t complete training, they’re not up for the bonus.

Negative consequences, such as pulling a driver until he or she completes training, or making training a condition of employment, can be equally effective. People want to get paid. In short, there has to be some motivation to complete safety training, positive or negative. Figure out what works best for your company, and make it easy and clear for drivers! 

Infinit-I Workforce Solutions has a reputation for excellent results in increasing safety compliance while reducing driver resistance, business risks, and administrative stress. 

Browse 800+ training videos, or request your free demo today!

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