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Driver Scorecards: Should You Implement Them?

Max Freedman
Max Freedman

Driver scorecards keep your fleet safe, fuel efficient, and high performing while reducing wear and tear, accident expenses, and other costs.

  • Driver scorecards reflect the extent to which a driver is adhering to standard safety protocols.
  • Driver scorecards keep your fleet safe, fuel efficient, and high performing while reducing wear and tear, accidents, and maintenance costs.
  • Driver scorecards should include dozens of safety, fleet optimization, and productivity metrics, and you can add as many more as you need.
  • This article is for freight and transportation company owners who are thinking of implementing driver scorecards.

Among the biggest challenges of fleet management is, unlike with traditional office jobs, you'll rarely be able to observe employees and shape their performance. This distance can feel especially concerning in a line of work with as many potential safety hazards as freight and transportation. You can regain some control over this challenge with driver scorecards, which you can learn about below.

What are driver scorecards?

Driver scorecards are documents specific to one driver that fleet and safety managers can view to evaluate that driver's performance. Driver scorecards typically pertain to safety, rather than the need to meet some sort of delivery or transportation efficiency requirement.

If your company implements driver scorecards, you'll measure the statistics they reflect through your telematics or GPS fleet tracking system. And if you're in the market for a new GPS fleet-tracking system, read our GPS fleet-tracking reviews to find the right brand for your needs.

Did you know?Did you know? Driver scorecards are driver-specific documents that detail how well the driver in question is following basic safety protocol.

Why are driver scorecards important?

Driver scorecards show you which drivers are being unsafe on the road. Perhaps more importantly, you can see the exact ways in which your drivers are being unsafe. If you see a certain unsafe behavior recurring among several drivers, you'll know you need to coach them on how to avoid this behavior in your training sessions.

Editor's note: Looking for the right GPS fleet tracking system for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

Of course, driver safety is fundamental to any good fleet management operation, but it's not the only front on which driver scorecards can help. Safe driving can reduce or slow wear and tear on vehicles, and it can lower the total number of accidents (and thus the amount you spend on repairs and workers' comp). Proper driving safety also increases your fleet's miles per gallon, which saves you money on fuel.

Driver scorecards also have the potential to affect drivers' behavior. If you explain to unsafe drivers that their unsafe behaviors are unacceptable, you may see these drivers take safety more seriously.

TipTip: You can use your driver scorecards to identify your safest drivers and reward them. This incentive can compel other drivers to prioritize safety before issues even emerge.

What metrics should be tracked in driver scorecards?

Driver scorecards typically display dozens of metrics, which you can sort into a few groups to make your scorecards appear less overwhelming. Below, we've listed several metrics and groups you could include in your driver scorecards, though this list isn't comprehensive.

Safety

Your driver scorecards should include the below safety metrics and anything else you see fit:

  • Speeding. Perhaps the most important aspect of driver safety, the speeding metric tells you how often your drivers are moving at dangerously high speeds. There are two types of speeding that your driver scorecards should contain:
    • Speeding over posted speed limits. Although it's not uncommon for every vehicle on a stretch of highway to exceed the speed limit, doing so is especially dangerous for freight trucks. That's why you should track every time that your drivers surpass the legal speed limit.

    • Speeding over company guidelines. It's common for freight companies to set their own maximum speed limits for drivers. You should include a separate metric for flagging violations of this limit as well.

  • Acceleration. It's one thing for a driver to gradually increase their speed to keep up with the traffic around them. It's another if they step on the gas excessively or forcefully. Doing so can lead to a loss of control, making acceleration an important safety metric to track.

  • Braking. Since much of fleet transportation involves highway driving, your drivers shouldn't brake excessively or strongly. Doing so can lead to the sort of highway pile-ons that lead to standstill traffic and, worse yet, injuries.

  • Cornering. Off the highway, turning trucks around perpendicular corners is among the biggest challenges of commercial driving. Tracking your drivers' performance on this front can help ensure that neither your driver, nor anyone else near your vehicles, is hurt during cornering.

  • Driving after hours. Although cars can theoretically be on the road at any time of day, it's best practice to keep freight vehicles off the road late at night and in the early morning. Despite this guideline, it's not uncommon for drivers to hit the road well after sunset or long before sunrise. You should track this behavior to keep your fleet and other drivers as safe as possible. 

  • Reversing. Backing up in a vehicle as large as a tractor-trailer is inherently dangerous. By having your telematics or GPS fleet tracking system monitor this behavior, you can identify drivers who are reversing unsafely and retrain them.

  • Seatbelt use. Buckling up is the law – it's a key safety practice no matter where your drivers go. In tracking seatbelt use, you can identify drivers who aren't wearing their seatbelts and are thus putting themselves and potentially others at risk.

Fleet optimization

Alongside safety measures, you should track several fleet optimization measures that also keep your drivers and vehicles safe. These include:

  • Engine abuse and faults. As a fleet manager, you know that engine abuse spells danger. It should thus come as no surprise that this metric is key to include on all driver scorecards. More importantly, though, your GPS fleet-tracking system should alert you to these events in real time. This way, you can work to minimize these concerning occurrences.

  • Engine light on. Given their long routes and serious commitments, your drivers may feel compelled to keep going even if their engine light is on. Doing so is ill-advised, given the repair needs that engine lights signify. If you see that your drivers are letting their engine lights remain on for extended periods, you'll know you need to act.

  • Fuel consumption. Your fleet's fuel efficiency is a matter of both efficiency and eco-friendliness. Be sure to track this metric so you can teach your drivers how to use less fuel, keep your fuel costs low and emit less carbon dioxide per mile.

  • Idling. Speaking of fuel consumption, keeping the engine running while not in motion is a surefire way to waste gas. In tracking your vehicles' idling time, you can increase the amount of engine-on time during which your fleet is actually traveling.

Productivity

While safety should always come first in freight and transportation, you still need a productive team. Ensure that your team is remaining efficient with the following metrics:

  • Driving time versus customer time. Even though it's difficult for transportation companies to be fully customer-centric businesses, your drivers will likely interact with customers at some point. You've likely designed your drivers' routes to achieve a business-friendly balance of driving and customer time, so you should track this ratio.

  • Engine-on time. If you see that your drivers' engines aren't on at times of the day when you expect your fleet to be on the road, you can easily identify inefficiencies. You can then plan training sessions to reduce these inefficiencies in the near future.

  • Late starts. Since drivers travel extremely long distances, even a slightly late start can hamper your operations. In tracking your drivers' late starts, you can better ensure that future operations will remain on track.

As mentioned earlier, this list of driver scorecard metrics isn't comprehensive. You can add additional metrics that pertain to your fleet or company's specific goals or conditions, though you shouldn't remove any of the above metrics. With all of these parts in place, your driver scorecards will be primed to keep your drivers safe – and your processes high performing.

Image Credit: 1933bkk / Getty Images
Max Freedman
Max Freedman
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Max Freedman is a content writer who has written hundreds of articles about small business strategy and operations, with a focus on finance and HR topics. He's also published articles on payroll, small business funding, and content marketing. In addition to covering these business fundamentals, Max also writes about improving company culture, optimizing business social media pages, and choosing appropriate organizational structures for small businesses.