The diagram here illustrates the above examples and the significance of the Hawthorne Effect on behavior, whether it is the behavior of a line worker in a factory with changing light levels or a professional driver operating a metro bus.
An antecedent such as a fleet manager instructing drivers to exercise safe driving habits precedes and influences behavior. Drivers respond to the antecedent with various degrees of compliance to the standards that have been set. However, if, by exception only, those circumstances where drivers do not comply with the safety standards are captured and reviewed by drivers and their supervisors, their behavior can have immediate and certain consequences.
Driver Risk Management solutions allow fleets to capture and observe actual behavior and then tie positive feedback (in the form of acknowledgement, dynamic pay, bonuses, etc.) to safe and desired driving behavior and negative consequences to unsafe or risky driving behavior. Ideally, the feedback should occur as close to the actual behavior as possible to reinforce that someone is noticing the fleet’s drivers and that the work they do — operating passenger buses safely — is important. By measuring behavior, fleets also can establish concrete goals that can be achieved and surpassed. When humans measure performance, they focus their energy on, and derive pleasure from, meeting or exceeding the measures set so that positive reinforcement itself becomes the drug that spurs on greater achievements. Once that self-reinforcing loop is established, those external motivations become internalized and when that intrinsic transformation happens, you get long-term sustainable behavior change because people now identify with and stand for something — in this case, they stand for being safe and responsible with the effect of saving lives.
Applying Driver Risk Management Solutions to Mass Transit
Think about all of the challenges and potential dangers your drivers encounter each day. Their vehicles are heavy, which makes them difficult to maneuver and stop quickly. They also are high profile, which makes them prone to rollovers. Drivers must make frequent stops (often in heavily trafficked areas), navigate busy, congested roadways that may be in a state of disrepair or under construction, anticipate and react to the erratic driving behavior of other motorists, address riders’ questions and concerns, and maintain a sense of order and calm amid the distraction of noisy, and sometimes rude and disrespectful, passengers.
Back-to-school season adds another element of risk and drivers must be extra vigilant as students take to the roadways en route to school. There is increased likelihood of an impetuous or distracted child darting into the street in front of the bus. Winter brings inclement weather concerns. There also is the danger of the “blank stare” among drivers who run the same routes each day. With little of interest to see outside the vehicle, it is easy for the mind to wander and for drivers to slip into a “blank stare” where the eyes are open, but the mind is somewhere else.
How safe is your fleet? Can you identify the drivers most likely to be involved in accidents that will jeopardize their safety, that of their passengers and put your organization at risk? Sure, you can point to the driver who has been involved in an accident in the past (if he is even still at your organization), but he certainly is not the only professional driver to have exhibited risky behavior. More likely than not, he just “got caught” in an accident that could have been prevented.
H.W. Heinrich studied workplace injuries in the 1930s and determined that for every 300 unsafe acts there are 29 minor injuries and 1 serious injury or fatality. Applied to driving, this means that most collisions are not one-time incidents or driver errors, but the consequence of repeated risky driving.
Dave Melton, director of transportation technology services at Liberty Mutual, reinforces Heinrich’s theory in comments he made in an article in Light & Medium Truck in November 2006: “Too many fleets wait for a crash to occur before looking into driver behaviors, when most likely they already have exhibited risky behaviors.”