Coping Strategies and Fleet Driver Safety

We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have emotions. When we identify that we are driving under the influence of what could be described as negative emotions, our choice of coping strategy is a behavioural outcome that can make the difference between a safe and an unsafe journey. On-going research at DriverMetrics® and Cranfield University focuses on six major dimensions of coping when assessing fleet driver risks and are among the factors assessed by the Driver Risk Index™. Some of these coping strategies are ineffective whilst others are beneficial from a safety perspective.

Ineffective strategies include:

  • Work Related Risk characterised by excessive risk taking to meet work demands under time pressure;
  • Confrontive Coping in which drivers use self-assertion and get into conflict with other road users to relieve stress;
  • Emotion Focus Coping whereby drivers tend to self criticise and focus concerns on their own shortcomings as a driver, which can lead to further performance impairments;
  • Avoidance Coping, in which drivers mentally detach from the stressful situation and refuse to acknowledge the problem.

The two effective approaches for dealing with emotions and the stress of driving are:

  • Task Focus Coping in which drivers increase concentration to deal with demands and;
  • Reappraisal  Coping whereby the driver learns from the problems they have encountered and the mistakes they’ve made and makes a conscious effort to improve.