Coaching Corner: Handling Your Drivers’ Inattention

By Mike Hitchcock, Senior Safety Advisor

In reviewing hundreds of videos every day, ICSA’s safety consultants are seeing an increase in distracted/inattentive driving. In many, they see the driver talking on the phone, having the radio blaring, while going too fast for conditions. These distractions keep drivers from processing data fast enough to identify and react to sudden changes.

Despite all the safety features and equipment in newer trucks, crashes and fatalities continue to rise. From 2009 to 2019, truck crash fatalities rose by 48%. As an industry, we must do better. Your safety consulting team at ICSA is here to help you improve highway safety and reduce the chances of being in a serious crash.  

How do we do this? First, we respect professional drivers and acknowledge their skills. Secondly, we give you tips to create an open communication relationship with them that incorporates mutual trust and respect. Every experienced driver will tell you that once they learn the skills of operating their equipment, the next challenge is avoiding complacency. How can we help them?

Example: You just got a video of your driver (or yourself) running a stop sign. You think to yourself “Well it [a crash] hasn’t happened before. He is a safe driver. No need to worry about it.” Is that really the professional way to handle the safety violation or are WE being complacent?

Following up on inattention events is critically important and is the real solution to reducing crashes. We have to identify and understand the cause before we can find a solution. We must view it as much more serious than just running a stop sign. It is actually a crash that didn’t happen and a serious miscue by an otherwise professional driver. Identify the “why” and help the driver understand what to do next time.

  • Discuss what really happened.
  • Work to identify the cause. Ask why this happened 3 or 4 times and dig down to the root cause.
  • Identify the expectation and a solution. What is the smart thing to do next time this situation arises?
  • Commit to using this knowledge to eliminate a reoccurrence in the future.

If you aren’t able to convince yourself that the risk is eliminated, don’t settle. Reach out and consult with your safety consultant. We are always available to help you. Our consultants are well-trained in ways to help you coach your drivers into better safety behavior. We love talking to members about strategies that help drivers improve while maintaining respect and professionalism.  

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