Aware of the huge explosion in the use of social media, Reynolds Diplomat Coaches has hit upon a novel way of congratulating drivers who have achieved exemplary GreenRoad safety scores. It announces their success by posting on their individual Facebook pages as well as on the company’s own Facebook profile.
“Naturally we look at the weekly driver performance reports GreenRoad generates and take action accordingly, but we also sit down and work out which drivers are the safest on a monthly basis,” says Sue Reynolds, owner and manager of the UK-based company. “They have to have driven a minimum number of hours in the month concerned in order to qualify.
“At least 80% of our drivers are my Facebook friends, and I noticed that they regularly posted status updates about where they had driven in their buses that day and even went as far as to mention how happy they were with the job they had done cleaning the vehicle,” she says.
It was then that Sue realized that Facebook could be the way forward to engage with her team of drivers and to congratulate them on success. She had award ribbons ‘pictures’ designed for ‘Best Driver’, ‘Most Improved’ and ‘You Have Beaten Your Target’ and started posted them as photos on the drivers’ Facebook walls.
“It is an approach that works really well to communicate success to each driver’s community,” she continues. “As drivers’ friends and families, plus their colleagues, look at their Facebook walls, it acts as an incentive too. As each posting gets ‘likes’ and comments, the praise builds. And there are sometimes words of encouragement urging a friend to get to be the best driver.
“In addition, on the business side, our customers can look at our company Facebook page and see that we employ safe drivers.”
GreenRoad gives individual drivers instant feedback on their driving behavior thanks to a traffic-light-style green-yellow-red display installed in the cab. If they corner too quickly or accelerate too harshly, then the display goes red.
All instances of poor driving are recorded and can be downloaded and subsequently analyzed and discussed with the driver concerned. Each individual is given a safety score and encouraged to perform better.
What about the ones who miss out on medals? “Anybody who scores under 10* is told ‘Well done, absolutely brilliant, and next month we want you to be on that ,” she replies. And for those drivers not on Facebook, Sue still issues traditional certificates, which instill just as much pride as the virtual commendations do.
And those drivers who perform poorly? “I am happy to publicly praise, but not to publicly condemn,” she remarks.
Instead, they are provided with extra training: Both Reynolds and her husband are SAFED – Safe and Fuel Efficient Driving – trainers, and the firm is authorized to deliver driver Certificate of Professional Competence courses.
“I use them to provide our drivers with the training I think they need,” she says.
The couple founded the business 25 years ago and runs 25 coaches on a mixture of tour and excursion, private hire and school work.
Reynolds first looked at what GreenRoad has to offer back in 2009 at the suggestion of its insurance broker, Belmont International. “We were suffering from rather too many bits of bent metal and were looking for ways to persuade our drivers to calm down and give themselves and other road users a bit more space,” she recalls.
“I liked the GreenRoad concept but I wasn’t sure how well the drivers would receive it,” Reynolds continues. However she went ahead and had it installed it in every single one of the company’s vehicles. “Within days they were all on board,” she smiles.
“It has certainly resulted in a reduction in the number of minor shunts, and I’m sure it has given us fuel savings too,” Reynolds says.
The safety benefits of GreenRoad are useful when Reynolds Diplomat bids for school contracts. The GreenRoad mapping facility is also proving to be invaluable. “Satellite tracking allows us to see exactly where our drivers are without having to call them, and we can see how many more hours they are allowed to drive before they are required to take a break,” she explains.
“Furthermore, the Safety Heat Map, which allows us to identify areas that pose high accident risks, has enabled us to convince a school and its pupils’ parents that picking up children at a particular spot didn’t make sense from a road safety viewpoint,” she says.
“It clearly showed that it was not a subjective judgement on my part. The danger was real.”
* GreenRoad’s safety scoring system is as follows:
0-20 – green – denotes smooth, safe, fuel-efficient driving.
20-40 – yellow – indicates that improvements are required in the individual’s driving style so that less fuel is used and the risk of damage to the vehicle is minimized.
40+ – red – shows that the driver is burning far too much fuel and regularly engaging in risky behavior that could result in an accident.