Driver safety doesn’t just affect crews and passengers, it affects the entire community. With increased adrenalin, lights and sirens, and all the other distracted drivers on the road, the need for the appropriate assessment of driving performance in first responders is increasing.
Monitoring your agency’s driver performance regularly is key to creating a culture of safety within your organization. You need to address violations in a timely manner, but more importantly, understand the events surrounding the violation. It requires time and effort, often across multiple departments and amongst multiple employees.
Decide Who Should Monitor Driver Performance
Different job functions should also be responsible for monitoring different activities. For example:
Safety officer – If your organization has a Safety Officer or someone devoted to safety, they are in the ideal position to monitor driver performance as they have a vested interest in improving the culture of safety within your organization.
Fleet manager – Many people don’t realize that driver performance is directly related to vehicle maintenance. The more aggressive the driving, the more wear and tear on the vehicles.
Executives – As an executive in your organization you are responsible for the safety of employees and patients as well as the overall culture of safety of the organization.
Keep in mind, every agency is different, so this can vary based on the makeup of your agency.
Make a Plan to Reward, Not Reprimand Your EMS Crews
Before you begin monitoring driver performance you should have a plan in place on how you will manage issues related to driver performance. Many organizations find that rewarding staff for good driver performance and immediate coaching to address violations to be an effective method.
Use the data you collect to help your crew understand acceptable road safety habits and how they are performing. Although monitoring systems can create a “big brother” perception, once staff understand it’s for their own protection, they accept it.
Set Goals for Your Drivers
Now that we’ve gone through why you should monitor, who should do the monitoring, and some basics for rewarding good drivers, it’s time to determine next steps for your efforts. In anything you do, it’s important to set a goal for yourself, and monitoring driver performance should be no different.
Goals are great — they help us prove how effective we are, keep us focused, and push us to be better. Make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound (SMART). Goals are totally ineffective if they’re not grounded in reality. That’s why it’s critical to set SMART goals. If you don’t measure it, it does not get done!
Be Prepared – Look into More Robust Tools to Aid in Monitoring
It’s important to pre-determine what tools you plan to use to aid in your monitoring. Vehicle telematics with a real-time driver feedback system should be the minimum requirement if you are serious about safety and data. If your budget does not allow, consider the tactics below to monitor performance. Remember data drives decisions and you can’t improve what you don’t measure. That’s why a solution to provide robust data is key to a safe operating fleet.
• Peer feedback
• Patient experience surveys
• Driver safety apps
About the Author:
David R. McGowan
David McGowan, ASHM, has more than 35 years of experience in EMS serving as a clinician and administrator for fire and hospital-based services. He is an accomplished administrator in Operations, Communications, Marketing, Business Development and Systems Quality. McGowan is recognized nationally for his expertise in ambulance safety programs. He has had many speaking engagements at national EMS conferences and has authored numerous publications and papers. McGowan provides expert consultation for ambulance operators, manufacturers, educational institutions, government agencies and legal firms.
Mr. McGowan is highly regarded as an expert in safe ambulance operations with clients ranging from small to very large operations. His client list is a “who’s who” of Emergency Medical Services, not only here in the US but in Europe as well.
Before joining ACETECH, Mr. McGowan was employed by ZOLL Road Safety where he provided his clients with best practices in ambulance safety. His vast experience in EMS and vehicle telematics provides a unique approach to develop and enhance safety solutions.