Keeping Track of Your Fleet: How to Assess Driver Performance

Nov 11, 2020 | Business Insurance

If you are in charge of a fleet, then you know that measuring fleet performance comes with the territory—and it’s critical to staying in business. With 66% of fleet managers saying that their fleets lack fuel efficiency, it’s clear that more can be done to build effective fleet management.

You need to have some checks in place to make certain that drivers are performing at their best. Plus you need to track maintenance reports, look at insurance expenses, comply with regulations, and do this across many vehicles.

With so many balls in the air, it’s easy to feel swamped. Knowing how to assess driver performance in the most efficient way possible will save you time and money.

Keep reading to learn how you can track your drivers and improve your fleet!

What Should a Fleet Manager Do?

Fleet managers oversee the productivity and safety of their fleets. You’ll track vehicles from their initial purchase to retirement or resale. You’ll hire staff and manage the budget, as well as work with maintenance and determine whether your fleet is complying with all safety regulations.

There’s a lot to track financially. And you’ll be responsible for tracking things like insurance costs, which will vary depending on how many drivers and vehicles you have—and the region where they are driving.

Your drivers are the core employees that make your fleet go. Developing a way to check their performance and encourage improvement is closely tied to your success. It needs to be a priority from the moment you hire someone.

Having a concise guide is key. Establish a driver policy handbook where you outline expectations for the job.

Some key points are difficult to track and measure in drivers (unless you have dash cams in your fleet), so highlight policies on cell phone use and seat-belt use. Tell your drivers that aggressive driving will not be tolerated.

Your drivers should know that even though it’s not always possible to offer oversight on these issues, they need to comply with the law, avoid road rage, and eliminate phone use while driving.

Proving a driver policy handbook will ensure that everyone is on the same page, and it can come in handy if you need to take any disciplinary action. Be sure to communicate the policies clearly and review them with your drivers from time to time. And don’t forget to update the content when necessary.

A good handbook lays out the rules, but when it comes to the actual assessment, you may find more help with an electronic system.

Keep Track of Data When Assessing Driver Performance

How do you keep track of all the data needed to make proper assessments? Driver management systems are the answer.

They offer a clean and organized way to keep track of data related to your drivers. No need for old-fashioned binders and hand-written notes! You can use metrics (sometimes 20 or more) measured digitally when it comes to assessing driver performance and efficiency.

A driver management system will allow you to track everything with clear graphics that are easy to read for both you and your drivers. This will speed up the assessment process if your fleet has a lot of employees.

Using a system builds accountability and helps you see areas that could benefit from revisions. You can track routes to see which ones are the most cost-effective. You also can make route revisions on the fly if needed.

Many driver management systems will generate reports so that you can see the data and make comparisons among drivers in your fleet.

Some systems even assign scores to drivers based on their personal data, and this feedback can help drivers want to improve. As one more perk, you can customize the metrics so that they focus on specific issues with a given driver.

When choosing a management system and making sure other protective measures are in place, aim to use reputable companies that will keep your business running smoothly. Do the research and know what kinds of metrics you’ll get, and how the payment plan works.

Assessing driver performance is an important element of your fleet management plan. Some management systems even have ways to incentivize improvement among drivers. Since you want to minimize turnover among your drivers, look into this feature as a way to build improvement.

Review Accident and Safety Reports

Driver safety needs to be a big point of emphasis within your fleet culture. The better the safety track record, the more efficient the fleet. And the better the track record, the lower the costs to keep your fleet running (make sure your insurance is up to date, too).

The Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) of your drivers and vehicles should be checked annually, if not more often. The MVR contains any documented vehicle issues or accidents. Think of it as a report that grades your employees on their driving history.

You can use a driver’s MVR at the hiring stage, too. You want to know what kind of driver—aggressive or free of violations—you’re getting before any contracts are issued, right? Most states hold onto this information for individual drivers for a few years if not a decade, so you shouldn’t have much trouble digging up this info.

While accident reports could place the driver at fault, understand that having many drivers with poor accident records on your employee roster could indicate poor training. If the accidents are on the record since the employees were hired, take note.

Look for trends—if many drivers are making the same mistakes, it could be time to revise your training program!

Track Speeding and GPS Data

Many fleet management systems will let you analyze GPS data to catch lead-foot drivers. With speeding on the rise among fleet drivers, this issue is important to address before it turns disastrous.

If your drivers are hauling a lot of weight, then speeding only worsens their traction on the roads. It’s also harder to stop the momentum of a large, speeding vehicle! This, of course, could mean bad news for their safety record.

Encourage your drivers to build awareness of their speed. They might want to get to their destinations quickly, but it’s not worth the safety concerns, damage to the vehicle, or lack of fuel economy. Driving through mountainous regions or in bad weather intensify the levels of danger on the roadways.

Not to mention, the Department of Transportation could conduct an audit of your fleet at some point. Keeping tabs on any speeding violations will mean that you are prepared if you have to hand over your data.

The opposite issue also can be problematic for your bottom line. That issue? Not going anywhere while the engine is running.

Too much idling has a negative impact on fuel consumption and productivity. Look at the GPS data and talk with your driver about idling if the mileage and time don’t quite add up.

Sometimes a quick explanation is enough to show your drivers that it’s better to turn off the engine than it is to keep it running while not moving. You can also detail this information in your driver handbook and ask your driver to review it.

Look at Maintenance Logs

Proper maintenance keeps your fleet in strong shape for many miles of travel. Since the responsibility of tracking any changes in a vehicle’s behavior falls on the shoulders of your drivers, ask them to keep a maintenance log.

Drivers will be able to note any unusual changes that need attention, and it will create a sense that they are responsible for their vehicle. As a fleet manager, you’ll be able to check the log, too. If everything has been documented carefully, you’ll know that your driver is taking their job seriously.

You can keep a log the old-fashioned way with pen and paper, but keeping the log digitally can make the review process easier. You can see how frequently vehicles are stuck in the repair shop and know when it’s time to look into a replacement. In many instances, you and your drivers can enter information through a digital management system.

And remember to consider other variables like the age of the vehicle. A driver stuck with an older vehicle will simply have more repairs to deal with. Repairs can chew up 10% of a vehicle’s annual budget, so make sure your fleet is current with all maintenance.

Evaluate Driver Fuel Consumption

Fuel consumption relates to both the fuel economy in each vehicle as well as fuel theft.

If your driver is racking up speeding violations, this can hurt your fuel economy. Even worse, thieves can skim fuel cards and steal your company’s data any time your driver fuels up. And worse yet, if your driver is stealing fuel, you have an unethical employee on your hands.

Fuel theft is on the rise among American fleets, so it’s critical that your drivers know this and take precautions. If you have preventative measures in place and a solid driver management system, you can assess your drivers’ performance based on how well they comply.

It’s also important that you make your drivers aware that internal fuel theft will not be tolerated. This can include using the company card for personal purchases or adding bladder fuel tanks to take company fuel for personal use. While you may want to believe that your drivers would never do any of this, it’s better to err on the safe side.

Using PIN fuel cards is one way to track fuel consumption by your drivers. If each driver has a card with a specific PIN number, the fleet manager can keep tabs on who used the card to refuel and when. You can place limits, too, on how many times drivers can purchase fuel in a given timeframe.

The average cost to operate a truck is around $180,000. Fuel is one critical component of this number. Anything you can do to trim costs will help keep this overall cost down.

Communicate With Your Drivers

Even with so many forms of technology to gather data and provide insight into driver performance, don’t forget about having regular conversations with your fleet drivers. Make sure to set aside time to interact with your drivers outside of the digital management system.

While not numerical and measurable, you or another manager can track impressions, concerns, or positive news that arises from an employee review. Relying on intuition to read each driver’s behavior doesn’t hurt, either. If you sense that a driver is unhappy or falling behind, it could be that personal problems are affecting performance.

Using electronic communication is fast and efficient for work orders or route changes. Occasional face-to-face interaction from you or another subordinate shows genuine interest and concern on your end.

Take action quickly, too, if you notice any problems. One of the worst things to do is ignore problems that can grow and hurt your performance as a company. You might need to ride with your driver to see how they handle certain driving situations, suspend the driver, or even terminate them.

The Bottom Line on Driver Performance

Fleet managers are responsible for keeping fleets running smoothly. While the job responsibilities can seem overwhelming, it is possible to streamline the process and track employees with accuracy and care.

From fuel efficiency to repairs to speed, there are many metrics that can help you measure driver performance. Look into fleet management systems and communicate clearly so your employees know you care.

If you’re looking for help with fleet management and want to make sure you covered your insurance costs, contact us and we will gladly help!