By: Peter Carr EROAD Director, Regulatory Market Development ANZ
If you run a transport company, then your drivers are your most critical asset.
Sure, a transport operation without vehicles isn’t a transport operation at all. But those vehicles need drivers.
More importantly, everything about the transport task funnels the consequences down to a single point where your driver and the choices he or she makes are critical to the successful completion of the job. And like managing anything, managing drivers involves a lot of different things and needs to align with a lot of other things too.
You have to fit the person to the job that needs doing, and they need to fit with the work and the people around them. That may mean making adjustments to the job, equipment, or how the current team behaves, but it also requires the new person getting up to speed and making an effort.
But if drivers are assets, they still aren’t equipment. They are living, breathing, thinking, feeling people. Still, a little ‘asset management’ style thinking is useful for framing some of the challenges, but there are also leadership challenges that must be acknowledged and addressed.
Viewed as an asset, your driver imposes a ‘whole-of-life’ cost, from their recruitment, through onboarding and operational work, their care (maintenance) and development, and ultimately their exit and replacement. Managing drivers lowers these costs by controlling risks and optimising productive time. But the human dimension means that leadership is the critical element in unlocking the added value that can be derived.
Driving is a judgement-based profession. Yes, learnable skills are involved. But doing the right thing, the right way at the right time, allowing for the specific circumstances and conditions, requires good, expert judgement and the confidence and initiative to act on it. Whether it is reporting a fault, avoiding an idiot on the road, recognising a break is needed ‘now’, or insisting on doing the right thing even under pressure to do otherwise, this judgement will only emerge and thrive when it is cultivated through leadership – setting high standards, enabling and monitoring how drivers meet them, and modelling them.
Your drivers are the brains behind the wheel, and that’s what makes them as asset.
About the author
Peter Carr is the Director Regulatory Market Development with EROAD Ltd, responsible for working with government policy agencies and regulators across Australia and New Zealand on road safety, funding and taxation matters. Prior to joining EROAD, Peter was responsible for advising the New Zealand government on: the operation and performance of the land transport revenue, funding and investment systems; the rates of Road User Charges and Fuel Excise Duty; the use of tolling, debt and public-private partnerships; and the regulatory settings for heavy vehicle dimensions, mass, and access.