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How to Start a Truck Driver Safety Incentive Program
14 mins read

A driver incentive program is a way to recognize drivers that have a record of safe driving practices. By rewarding these drivers, you are not only helping to retain your best truckers, but you are also helping attract additional safe drivers. Interestingly enough, retaining current drivers and cultivating a good relationship with them is key to promoting safety, as new drivers are statistically more likely to be involved in accidents. So, by keeping your experienced drivers happy with better incentives, you are actually further promoting safety.

New Webinar: The Rise of Surprise Safety Events

Although a lot of trucking companies have repercussions for drivers who violate safety regulations, positive reinforcement may be more successful in helping drivers consistently prioritize safety on the road. While punishing drivers for bad road performance can make drivers feel like they are under scrutiny, a safety incentive program makes good drivers feel like they are constantly being appreciated.

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Why Promoting Safety Matters

Promoting safety among truck drivers on the road is important for many reasons. The most obvious reason is that it protects your truck drivers. It also protects those around them which protects your company from liability.

With a safety incentive plan for truck drivers, you are also helping reduce the risks of expensive and avoidable accidents. Even if no one is hurt in an accident, the cost of any repairs or replacements that need to happen can be quite large. With injuries, the cost goes way up and if there’s a fatality, you could have to pay millions.  You’ll also have to worry about worker’s comp and higher insurance premiums. With all of this in mind, you can’t afford not to reward safety.

Drivers that are not following safety protocols may create compliance issues – which could damage your CSA score and put you at higher risk of an audit.

Setting Up a Driver Rewards Program

There’s quite a bit that goes into creating a driver incentive program template to make it as successful as possible! Here are some of the biggest factors to consider.

How Much Will It Cost?

Before you do anything with your truck driver bonus program, you’ll need to determine a budget. But don’t think of it as just an expense – it’s an investment in talent, safety, and limited turnover. All of these are positive things that can actually save your company money.

What Metrics Will You Measure?

Some of the most common metrics you might want to monitor and measure include:

  • Speeding
  • Near misses
  • Idling
  • Use of safety equipment like seatbelts
  • Cleanliness of driving record

You’re likely already collecting all this data and using it to coach your drivers to better performance. The difference is that you’ll now start issues rewards based on the data. Usually, the metrics are plugged into some kind of scorecard to determine who is being a safe driver and when they should be rewarded.

Keep in mind that while you want drivers to be as safe as possible, it’s important for the driving records that earn rewards to be reasonably achievable, not impossible. After all, if they are impossible, it won’t take long for drivers to realize that they won’t ever be rewarded for their efforts and they may stop trying. Of course, you don’t want them to be too easy either. Finding the right balance is always crucial!

New Webinar: The Rise of Surprise Safety Events

How Long Will You Track These Metrics?

Not only do you need to determine what metrics will be measured, but you also need to determine an appropriate timeframe over which they will be tracked. Again, you have to strike the right balance here because you want to reward drivers frequently enough to promote consistent safe driving practices, but rewards that are too frequent will be difficult to keep up with. In addition, going too long without a reward makes drivers more apathetic toward the rewards. One driver incentive program example would be rewarding safe drivers with bonus checks quarterly as well as annually.

Another consideration when it comes to timeframe is whether you’d like rewards to remain the same over time or if you’d prefer to make them progressive. For example, one month of safe driving could qualify drivers for a certificate. The second month of safe driving could get them invited to a special picnic for safe drivers. The third month could earn them a high-end watch. By gradually increasing the value of the reward, you’re helping keep drivers engaged in the program and continually motivated.

Meeting more safety milestones should mean greater rewards. If you’re going to reward a driver for going 10,000 accident-free miles, the reward should not be nearly as valuable as someone who has driven 100,000 miles accident-free.

While the “miles accident-free” may seem like the most obvious way to go about rewarding drivers, it’s not necessarily the safest or most efficient. It could actually lead to drivers taking on more miles than they can handle, causing fatigue and unnecessary risks.

What Rewards Are Best for Truck Driver Incentive Programs?

Bonus Checks

Of course, you can’t have any kind of incentive program without determining what rewards you’ll have for drivers with a proven record of safety. Rewards should be something that drivers will actually want. The number-one thing? Money. Since compensation is often the reason truck drivers leave the industry, this is something you can do to keep your best drivers.

Other Rewards

While bonus checks are probably the most obvious way to motivate drivers to road safety, it’s not the only way to incentivize. Some other ideas to consider might be:

  • Gift cards to local restaurants or other businesses
  • Electronics
  • Event tickets
  • Home goods

Rather than material possessions, many drivers will love being rewarded with experiences for driving safely. You might throw a barbeque, picnic, or pancake breakfast for the drivers who have a proven record of safety. You could also take drivers on a little “field trip” by treating them to a steak dinner when the time comes for their rewards.

Sometimes people are also motivated by public displays of recognition. For example, you could start giving out safe driving plaques, trophies, or certificates.

One other trend in driver incentive programs is a safe driver catalog. The catalog may include company apparel, watches, plaques, and more. This allows drivers to actually choose their rewards. If you develop a points system, you could allow drivers to redeem points at their leisure. This allows drivers who are frequently recognized for safety to save up their points and redeem them for big-ticket items, motivating them to maintain a safe driving record.

Still Not Sure?

If you’re not sure about what rewards will be most effective, go straight to the source. Conduct a survey with drivers or driver reps to see what they are interested in receiving for safety. This way you know that what you are using to motivate them is truly motivating them!

Who Is in Charge of the Truck Driver Safety Incentive Program?

You also have to determine who will be overseeing the program. Of course, you want to develop a system that is unbiased in who it rewards. This is why the data needs to be the focus. The data doesn’t lie! You just have to figure out who will be the best at supervising the program to make sure drivers are properly rewarded at the appropriate intervals.

One of the challenges to consider when creating a driver incentive program is that you don’t want to be emphasizing safety so much that it actually comes at the expense of productivity. This is why you probably want to make sure supervisors are collaborating with operational managers when deciding on incentives.

How Will You Let Drivers Know About the Program?

Another crucial aspect of your program is how you communicate it to your drivers. The program won’t work if it’s not well-known among drivers or if the rules are unclear. Let everyone know what metrics you’ll be using to determine safety, what the ideal “score” for safety will be, what rewards they will qualify for, and what the goals of the program are. Post the rules for the program in a place that’s clearly accessible to all drivers. Some kind of manual or handbook is also a great idea to make sure all the bases are really covered. Make sure drivers know who they need to talk to or where they should go if they have questions about how things work or how they are performing.

The way you communicate the program is also important. Don’t frame it as a way to call out unsafe drivers. Get excited about it and let drivers know you care about their hard work and want to reward those that have been working hard while keeping roadways safe. Of course, you also want to actually follow through with your driver rewards program to cultivate trust with drivers. Nobody wants to work for a company that only gives empty promises.

It’s also important to make it easy for drivers to access their safety records. They won’t necessarily know what areas they need to improve on unless they can see those records for themselves.

You should also never start monitoring safety performance to reward drivers until after you have communicated the program to everyone. Only at that point should the data collection go toward rewarding drivers.

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Are Safety Incentive Programs Effective?

Driver safety programs are also something you will want to advertise to show the public how much you value safety. In this way, safety incentive programs are not only good for your drivers but also for your company as a whole. They may give you a competitive edge.

These programs also place the proper emphasis on what actually matters to your company: safety. Rather than simply rewarding miles driven which could motivate drivers to push themselves too far, you’re rewarding the safety of your drivers.

Keep in mind that you don’t want your safety incentive program to be the only way that you recognize your truck drivers for their safety. But it should be one way you consistently show your appreciation and provide a tangible reward.

One final thing to remember is that your program probably won’t be perfect right away. You may need to go through a little trial and error at first. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments as needed to improve rewards, increase motivation, or even make goals more attainable.

Experience the Rewards of a Driver Safety Incentive Program

Truck drivers are any trucking company’s number one resource. You want to keep them safe and happy so they can continue to be an asset to your fleet.

Although there is a cost to starting a truck driver safety incentive program, we believe that the possibility for return is too great to ignore. To promote safety, reward your best drivers, attract new talent, and reduce turnover, you should start a safety incentive program today!

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