Driver behaviour: how important is it within your business?

Driving is the most dangerous work activity that most people do. More people are killed or injured in at-work road accidents than in all other workplace accidents put together. Fleet safety is something that can’t be ignored.

Understanding how driver behaviour impacts on a business is crucial – it can affect reputation, costs, damage to vehicles and the efficiency of a company’s activities.

External influences often affect drivers when they least expect it. These factors can include what’s happening on the road, pressures from employers or home life, feelings about particular situations, beliefs or attitude to risk and authority.

Recognising when individuals are more likely to make poor driving decisions requires managers to understand the people in their workforce.12

Line managers should be alert to the precursors of poor decision making – the so-called Dirty Dozen:

  1. Fatigue – likely to be brought on by the likes of workload, home life and decisions made by management.
  2. Lack of communication – not effectively sharing company expectations or listening to drivers’ concerns.
  3. Complacency – the company’s ‘‘team’’ moving from the state of unconscious competence to unconscious incompetence within daily activities.
  4. Distraction – could include physical distractions, such as phones and external events, and physiological distractions, like reflecting on events and conversations that have taken place.
  5. Lack of teamwork – drivers believing they are isolated and not an important part of the team.
  6. Lack of resources – shortage of time or equipment, for example, which prevents optimum performance.
  7. Pressure – delivery times or deadlines that are difficult or unachievable.
  8. Stress – likely to follow a sustained period of pressure.
  9. Lack of awareness – not recognising what is happening, or is likely to happen, in the journey or environment when making decisions.
  10. Norms – the perceived accepted behaviour of drivers or managers.
  11. Lack of knowledge – not understanding the products or actions that affect decision making.
  12. Lack of assertiveness – not feeling in control.


Successful management of the precursors to poor decisions involves developing pre-rehearsed strategies to deal with the Dirty Dozen away from the task of driving, which allows the driver more choices when under pressure. Before using the rehearsed strategies employees/ drivers should be able to recognise the situations that trigger emotional stress by understanding how their thoughts and feelings affect their body. As soon as the first signs of the Dirty Dozen are recognised, the pre-rehearsed strategies can be used. If the strategies are well rehearsed, they are more likely to be employed.

Some of the techniques that could be used to develop strategies:

  • Peer checking: asking or discussing issues with others
  • Communication: having a robust ‘‘near miss reporting’’ culture helps identify events that may be common to all involved within the organisation. Highlighting events and discussing alternative actions helps when developing rehearsed strategies for future situations
  • Having a ‘‘questioning attitude’’: asking what could go wrong and what actions could be taken to prevent the perceived outcome.


Driver behaviour has traditionally been seen as a skills issue or only the driver’s responsibility. However, it has been recognised that organisational pressure has a huge impact on behaviour. Understanding what influences a driver’s decision-making helps improve that process and contributes to reducing occupational road risk.


The above post is taken from Care on the Road, RoSPA’s bi-monthly road safety magazine, it is despatched to RoSPA’s road safety members, RoADAR members and other subscribers.


RoSPA Fleet Safety are working to reduce occupational road risk using innovative, behaviour-based solutions. Our goal is to be the global leader in driver and fleet safety. 

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