An analysis of Lytx data has shown that drivers cited for seat belt violations are 3.4 times more likely to have a collision than the average driver. With such a notable stat, we spoke to two successful driver coaches at different waste companies to learn more about how they tackle the hallmark of collision risk — known simply as Driver Unbelted. With creative approaches that include airing videos of life-saving seat belt use, these coaches are driving home the point they want their team, their most precious asset, to remember: Seat belts save lives.
Creative Approaches to Coaching Through the Driver Safety Program
At Custom Ecology, Inc. (CEI), a 720-vehicle fleet outside Atlanta, Ga., where drivers are required to wear seat belts at all times, safety managers have gotten creative in their approach to coaching Driver Unbelted, and it’s paid off.
“To get the point across to a driver not wearing his seat belt, we show video of collisions where the driver had his seat belt on and it saved his life,” said John Cudziol, corporate safety and compliance director for CEI.
Cudziol will be showing video of one of his own drivers soon enough. One of them recently jackknifed on a Louisiana road when the drive shaft fell out. Fortunately, the driver was wearing his seat belt; it saved his life. “There are no bells and whistles,” he said. He advises keeping the focus on helping drivers improve, not on chastising them.
“Show them, hey, I’m not here to tell you what to do. I’m here to coach you and help you get better,” he said. “Too many times when somebody is starting out as a driver coach, they come in with both guns blazing. That doesn’t work. You have to earn the respect of the drivers. Talk to them and they’ll be more responsive to what you’re saying.
“I try to show them,” he stressed, “it’s not just about a seat belt. It’s about your life.”
David Gerlach, safety manager for Recology’s South Bay Region of California, is particularly successful in coaching drivers who aren’t wearing their seat belts by taking a creative approach. While unbelted drivers used to be a problem for Recology’s South Bay Region, they’re not anymore. “From what I see, our seat belt issue is very minimal,” Gerlach said. “I think the word is out that we take seat belt use seriously, that seat belts save lives, so drivers have changed their behaviors.”
Gerlach’s success is linked to simply making it a focused conversation. “I ask to speak with them,” he said. “We go up to my office, close the door, sit down, and I talk with them. When you have a conversation with them about the importance of seat belt use, they take it more seriously.”
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