4 principles for measuring, reporting and presenting driver behaviour

Why superficial measurements and ineffective labels won’t make a difference

The Brightmile app is more than the sum of its parts. Yes, there are impressive algorithms at play, but over the past few years, we have spent a huge amount of time trying to perfect the best way to communicate driver behaviour to drivers themselves and, where necessary, to their managers. 

Along the way, we have conducted a huge number of trials, user interviews and product development stages. This has allowed us to crystallise the approach we take with our partners and it means we have established strong principles on how we believe driver behaviour should be captured and presented to have the biggest positive impact. 

I’ve written previously about the 5 pillars of driver behaviour, but in this article, I wanted to look at how we present this information to have the biggest positive impact on the driver in terms of being easily understood and subsequently leading to positive improvement. 

Here are our four principles for improving driver behaviour:

  1. Avoid arbitrary scores for measuring behaviour

“You are 65/100.” This is fairly meaningless. How is a driver supposed to make sense of this kind of superficial measurement? It is far too abstract and gives no indication of how someone could improve their driving. 

What happens if two drivers get the same 65/100 score, do they have identical faults? One might need to improve their awareness of speed limits while the other needs to use their phone less while driving.

Our approach is to provide an actual measurement across each safety pillar (i.e. you are speeding 3.5% of the time). This allows drivers to clearly understand their trends on each of the pillars and understand, for example, a week with a high Eco score, where they might have been driving aggressively, versus a week with higher fatigue rating where they took too many long journeys without breaks.

One justification often used for the single score is to make it easier to understand positive and negative trends in behaviour. However, this overlooks the fact that in the example above you might think looking at your score you have had two similar weeks when in fact the feedback for each of the weeks on how to improve is very different. 

  1. Don’t label drivers as good, average or poor

Labelling someone's performance is a sure way to disengage a driver who is new to the programme or, alternatively, to make them defensive about their performance. Furthermore, what ‘good’ means is open to wide interpretation. 

We work with customers around the world and every region, customer (and even team) has their own unique set of challenges. These may be influenced by the infrastructure in which they drive, cultural influences or pressure from the roles they perform, to name but a few.

At Brightmile, we do give drivers an overall assessment of the safety level of each of their trips by displaying the proportion of miles driven that are ‘brightmiles’. However, the worst thing you can do in Week 1 of a new safety programme is to ostracise the drivers that need the most help by hitting them with a poor generic overall score. Instead, the key is to give an indication of ‘what is good and expected’ by showing performance in the context of the rest of the team/fleet for each of the driving-performance measures. 

It is not uncommon for entire teams and organisations to need to make improvements in their driving behaviour and so our programmes work with our customers to baseline their performance on each of our five behaviour pillars. This helps people to understand team differences and define realistic and approachable targets for improvement based on each of the five pillars. 

  1. Avoid league tables for measuring and rewarding drivers

The league table approach is widespread in driver-safety programmes. We like to call it the ‘Mount Everest’ challenge. The ones we’re trying to help the most are those at the foot of the table. Our main job isn’t to celebrate those at the pinnacle. Contrary to popular belief, simply avoiding being last in the league isn't much of a motivation. Users who find themselves at the bottom of a publicly available league table will, in many instances, disengage and become defensive and even disruptive.

At Brightmile, we focus on reducing the size of the mountain by talking about performance against the team average. It's a much smaller hill to climb and if everyone is striving to reach the average you have a naturally evolving target that moves towards improvement over time. We aren’t going to turn everyone into perfect drivers, but everyone can improve and reduce their overall risk on the road. 

We do still give our fleets the tools to recognise their top performers and to understand those who need a little extra help through our simple-to-use tools that help them identify fleet or team outliers for each of our five pillars. Along with the outliers, we also help fleets understand how the fleet is distributed. For example, is everyone speeding around 15% of the time, or is there a broad range from 1% to 30% of speeding in the fleet? This allows us to achieve all the positive aspects of a league table but with a more inclusive approach. 

  1. Focus on trends and systematic behaviour patterns

We believe in reporting trends and behaviour over time, as opposed to single infringements. Can you imagine the frustration of being pinged for every minor infringement? Our belief is even the best drivers on the road will have a bad trip, even a bad day. So, our focus is never on a single trip or a single infringement or event. 

Instead, we look at behaviour and trends over time. How have I been performing over the past 14 days? And, if I can see things going in the wrong direction, can I jump in and analyse my individual trips to see which pillars I need to work on?

With Brightmile, the answer is yes. 

As a final point, readers should note that Brightmile works with large and multinational enterprises across more than 70 countries, and we know that many companies have certain requirements and constraints around the reporting of driver behaviour data. As such, we are not dogmatic in our approach and the Brightmile team is always happy, in addition to the data presentation methods outlined above, to prepare reports in our customers’ required format (even a league table – although this will be delivered with the caveats set out above!) to ensure we check all boxes and deliver value seamlessly.

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