Most fleet managers understand the value of driver coaching. Taking a proactive approach to the identification of risky driving behaviour can help reduce collision rates significantly, and the use of video footage makes it easy for drivers to recognise their own mistakes – a far more powerful training tool than any number of classroom-based courses.
While much of the world has been in lockdown because of the Covid-19 virus, with strict social distancing rules in place, managers have been obliged to move the entire process online, refining and adapting existing techniques in the process. The benefits of this approach have become increasingly apparent and now, as social distancing rules begin to relax, we are seeing many organisations take the decision to integrate internet-based sessions into their regular programmes. Remote coaching is here to stay.
So how do we coach remotely?
Coaching is all about discussion – helping a driver to understand where a small slip-up, or lapse in concentration, can be improved to reduce the likelihood of a risky event occurring. When telematics data is captured in-cab, analysis of the accompanying video footage is often central to the conversation between driver and coach.
All of these elements can be transferred online. In terms of the technology, it’s essential that the video footage be made easily viewable over a cellular connection and that it is adapted to any size of screen. With our own technology, we have adapted our system so that the driver and coach can log in wherever they are – whether that’s at home or in a roadside café, on a laptop or on a smartphone – and talk through an event together online. The video footage can be discussed in real time, as it would be if the driver and manager were physically together.
Another online option is self-coaching, which is also becoming more widespread. The telematics system will automatically identify an instance of risky behaviour and alert the driver, who can log on and review the footage independently without needing to wait for a formal coaching session to be scheduled. The immediacy of this avoids delays and makes the incident more likely to remain in the driver’s consciousness.
Flexibility and frequency
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of remote coaching is its flexibility. In a sector where the majority of the workforce is permanently out on the road, it’s a lot easier to organise coaching if two people do not need to be physically in the same room. When no particular location is required, scheduled sessions are far more likely to take place.
This also makes it easier to arrange shorter and more frequent sessions; smaller, incremental improvements can have a highly positive effect on long-term driver behaviour but are almost impossible to manage on an in-person basis. Finally, regular coaching also becomes possible for drivers who travel great distances regularly, operate internationally, or are part of fleets without a traditional depot. Add self-coaching to all of this and it’s easy to understand why the adoption of remote coaching is so widespread.
The future: a hybrid model?
Face-to-face coaching isn’t going away. Human interaction plays an important role in gathering a fuller understanding of the pressures a driver may be under, or in recognising factors that may not be apparent from footage alone. Nonetheless, we can be sure that it will no longer be the sole method of coaching.
Covid-19 has changed many things about the way we live and work, and throughout the lockdown commercial drivers have played a vital role in delivering vital goods. As the fleets have remained on the roads, we’ve adapted and learned new ways to help them stay safe that will remain long after the virus has departed. Remote coaching is one of them.
Damian Penney, Vice President Europe, Lytx