5 ways to motivate drivers to follow your safety program

March 23, 2021 Casey Nighbor

You know the importance of safety, but how can you motivate your drivers to get on board?

You've dedicated numerous resources towards building comprehensive safety programs, used best practices to train drivers and recruited candidates you felt would make safety a priority on the road.

But after all of this preparation, are you still seeing a disconnect between the goals of your safety program and the attitudes and behaviors of your drivers?

If so, you may need to reevaluate how you're motivating them to be committed to safety while driving.

We’ve gathered five best practices to help you get started.

1. Make safety an important part of your organization’s culture

From the minute drivers walk through your doors for their interview, they should know that safety is one of your organization's central values. This can be done by including safety reminders and training in all steps of the hiring and onboarding processes as well as following through with them during every workday.

One easy way to do this is by ensuring that every driver completes a pre-trip inspection of their vehicle. These can help mitigate violations as well as accidents on the road. They also serve as a good reminder for regular safety protocols and keeps safety top of mind for everyone as your organization.

Not sure where to start with a pre-trip inspection? Download our free checklist.

2. Leadership teams should be champions of safety

Successful driver engagement in safety programs (and all programs, really) depends largely on the motivation and support of leadership teams. All members of the leadership team should strive to set positive examples and abide by the same safety policies expected of their employees.

Along with this, leadership should provide consistent feedback and communication in what is commonly referred to as behavior-based safety. Behavior-based safety can include leadership taking the time to observe drivers and provide feedback, encouraging them to stay safe and ensuring they are informed about all required safety procedures.

At Centerline, we have a dedicated in-house safety and compliance team to ensure every Centerline driver is always in full DOT compliance. These leaders help set the pace for our safety-first culture.

3. Use positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is defined by behavioral scientists as “any consequence that causes a behavior to repeat or increase in frequency.”

Positive reinforcement and safety programs should go hand in hand. Employee satisfaction research has shown this can be done by reminding your drivers that they are truly making a difference and thanking them often.

That being said, leaders should not ignore safety mishaps, no matter how minor they may be. 

In order to create a positive outcome, it’s important to address safety concerns combined with a learning-supportive environment. Teaching drivers how to avoid unsafe situations in the future can increase overall safety and employee participation.

One option to help create a positive safety culture is to create a driver safety incentive program. These can help recognize and promote safe drivers within your organization as well as motivate other drivers to follow suit.

4. Your drivers should feel ownership in the safety process

Drivers will be more committed and motivated if they play an active role in safety programs. As mentioned earlier, this can be done by reminding them that their diligence towards safety has a direct impact on their safety and the safety of others on the road.

Additionally, drivers should have multiple outlets available to provide feedback on their organization’s safety program.

5. Utilize driver feedback to reassess your safety program

Any time your organization encourages driver feedback, you should be committed to using that feedback to make reasonable and necessary changes.

When a good idea or observation is submitted, take action in a timely fashion and make it known that you appreciate the participation with positive reinforcement.

Additionally, if the majority of your drivers are upset with a specific aspect of your safety program, leadership teams should discuss how it can be altered and improved.

When your employees believe that your organization genuinely listens to their concerns, they will be more motivated and less resistant to complying with your safety program.

The bottom line

In order for your safety program to work, your drivers need to be motivated and committed. By making safety a priority from the beginning of the hiring process, using positive reinforcement to thank and educate, and by listening to and taking action with employee feedback, you will be on track towards safer and more compliant drivers.

Want to learn about a comprehensive driver safety program? Download our free ultimate guide to safety here.

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