Big Bus UAE leveraged GreenRoad’s friendly competition to transform Big Bus UAE’s safety culture.
Our main tactic was to take advantage of our drivers’ cometitive instincts. As soon as the Muscat drivers saw the tremendous gap between their scores and those of their colleagues, the culture changed dramatically – literally overnight.
Mike Lees, Manager, Big Bus Middle East
In contrast to its safety success in most of its operations, Big Bus found it difficult to improve its safety record in Muscat, Oman. The challenge was the local driving culture, as explained by Mike Lees, Big Bus’ Middle East manager:
Our Muscat employees were all what we would call ‘dangerous drivers’, some with risk scores that were well within the red zone. They were in denial, blaming their poor performance on the failure of the GreenRoad measurement tools. Meanwhile, our Abu Dhabi and Dubai drivers, who were also using the system, were improving their scores month by month, and were all – even those with the worst records – achieving excellent scores consistently. We were convinced that we could ‘win over’ the Muscat drivers – if we could just find the right approach.
After much thought and experimentation, Mike and his staff decided that ‘friendly competition’ was the right way to incentivise the desired change. As the basis for the competition, they chose GreenRoad’s Fleet Elite, a worldwide award programme that recognises exceptionally safe driving. To qualify for Fleet Elite, drivers must maintain a record of fewer than 5 incidents per 10 hours of driving for an entire year.
They set a challenging goal: transforming the Middle East into Big Bus’ first 100% Fleet Elite-certified region, with an emphasis on the Muscat drivers. To reach the goal, Muscat employees would have to reduce their safety events by more than 87% – an achievement that would require a sea-change in their attitude towards safety.
Our main tactic was to take advantage of our drivers’ competitive instincts,” continued Mike. “Since Abu Dhabi and Dubai were performing so well, we decided to try to establish an atmosphere of ‘team spirit’ and friendly competition between offices. We had the idea of signing all of our Middle East employees – administrative staff as well as drivers – to a special WhatsApp group where we would publish the Risk Scores of all of our drivers, week-by-week and month-by-month. As soon as the Muscat drivers saw the tremendous gap between their scores and those of their colleagues, the culture changed dramatically – literally overnight.
To encourage improvement, Mike assembled the Muscat team for a ‘pep talk’. “I said, ‘Come on, you can beat Dubai. If anyone has better driving skills, it’s you guys.’ So they got inspired, and the culture changed immediately, just like that. It was actually a shock – we didn’t expect such a dramatic change so fast.”
The change is clearly evident in the progression of the Risk Scores of two of Big BusMuscat employees before and after publishing them on the WhatsApp group.
“It got to the point where every driver was focused on becoming ‘Fleet Elite’-worthy – on getting that recognition. Ultimately, nobody likes to be second place. Even after earning ‘Fleet Elite’ status, drivers continued trying to improve their scores. Everyone takes pride in saying, ‘I am one of the safest bus drivers in the world – and I can prove it.”
Since the “WhatsApp Competition” began, Big Bus’ Middle East Region’s scores have continued to improve.
- 100% of its Abu Dhabi employees have achieved Fleet Elite status.
- 97% of its Dubai employees have achieved Fleet Elite status.
- 100% of its Muscat employees have achieved Fleet Elite status.
This was the first time that the Muscat team earned higher scores than Dubai
Currently, the ‘worst’ score in the region is 4 – meaning that the driver had an average of 4 safety events per 10 hours of driving. This compares with over 40 events per 10 hours of driving before starting the program. During the past 12 months, the Middle East Region has had 0 driver-caused incidents or collisions.
Management is aiming higher now, re-setting the goal to see who can achieve a perfect safety record for an entire year. Mike will continue to use the GreenRoad solution to help his drivers achieve this goal, reviewing individual driving histories to help pinpoint and then ‘train out’ unsafe behaviours such as speeding, cornering and accelerating.
At this point, all of our Middle East employees have become safe drivers, and the recognition we receive from GreenRoad has been an important motivating factor. When we get the official Fleet Elite letters and badges, we hand them out in an assembly with a handshake and a photograph, and then we take a group photo in front of a bus. We publish the photos in our newsletter and make as much noise as possible about our safety achievements. We’re very passionate about GreenRoad, and determined to remain a 100% Fleet Elite operation.