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Dr. Lisa Dorn FAQ Transcript

What is the Driver Risk Index and what does it do?

The Driver Risk Index is an instrument that has been developed and validated over a number of years. The purpose of the instrument is to assess driver behavior and we do this by asking people what they think, what they feel and how they behave when they’re driving.

How many years of development has gone into the Driver Risk Index?

The development of the Driver Risk Index started in 1988 with my PhD — a long time ago! Since then the Driver Risk Index has grown and grown in terms of the research programmes associated with it and now it’s an ongoing project.

Is the Driver Risk Index’s global benchmarking unique in the field?

One of the unique aspects of the Driver Risk Index is that it has a global benchmark which is entirely unique. This means that we can administer the DRI to many countries at the same time.

What specific outcomes can companies expect if they adopt DriverMetrics?

As part of DriverMetrics we implement many hundreds of fleet risk management programmes. What companies can expect is that they will see a reduction in the number of people being involved in crashes which affects their bottom line and also, of course, affects the human aspects of driving for work.

What evidence is there that DriverMetrics works?

We have seen a number of very positive outcomes of implementing the DriverMetrics approach. Most obviously we see reduction in the numbers of crashes taking place, but we also see other positive benefits such as job satisfaction, lower turnover and less absenteeism, because generally the way in which it works is that drivers feel that they are being taken care of when they are driving for work.

Can you explain the claim that the Driver Risk Index is the most scientifically validated and globally benchmarked driver risk assessment in the world?

The Driver Risk Index is the only commercially available, globally benchmarked assessment of driver behavior available in the world. What’s unique about DriverMetrics is that we pioneered the use of a wholly research-based instrument and made it available commercially for companies.

What is the scientific basis of the DriverMetrics e-learning programme?

There are many different facets to the evidence base for the development of the e-learning programme. Some of the evidence that we have exploited in the design of the learning is on hazard perception training, ensuring that drivers who are driving for work have a good visual search strategy.

Secondly we’ve designed modules that will be scenarios based so that people can put themselves in the position of the driver depicted in the module and then interact with the content to understand more about their strengths and weaknesses as a driver.

Finally we’ve incorporated behavioural change techniques within the modules. There are actually dozens of different behavioural change techniques that are available that we know, from all the evidence, actually leads to people taking a different course of action.

What is the scientific basis of the DriverMetrics coaching programme?

There is a competency framework for drivers referred to as the Goals for Driver Education (GDE) matrix. Within the matrix there are what are called higher levels that drivers need to understand to be able to be safe drivers. So within the coaching program what we do is to ensure that these higher levels are addressed by getting people to develop their ability to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses drivers.

What is the scientific basis of the DriverMetrics workshops programme?

The scientific basis for DriverMetrics workshops is the use of the group discussion method. Within the group discussion method what we do is to facilitate conversations around what are the likely problems that drivers are going to encounter as they’re driving for work and what needs to be done to overcome those problems.

Many of the new experts in driver behaviour do not have a background in behavioural psychology. What makes DriverMetrics different?

DriverMetrics was a pioneer in the use of behavioural safety when it comes to driving for work. One of the things that has become clear over the years that we’ve been in operation is that there are quite a lot of people who claim to be driver behaviour experts but actually when you look at their background it’s usually just a very short course that they’ve attended. In contrast we’ve been working in this field for decades and we have our finger on the pulse when it comes to the research.

What is the difference between driver behaviour and driver skill?  

Driver skill refers to the mechanical skills of driving a vehicle: manoeuvering it around in space whilst also being cognisant of the hazards around you . But driver behaviour refers to the lifestyles, the motives, the attitudes, the beliefs, the thought processes, the biases that individuals have that might actually impact on the decisions they make as a driver.

Why do the driver behaviour vs driver skill distinctions matter?

When it comes to driver skill, it’s critical that you know how to drive a vehicle safely. However what we know from the research is that often when drivers have acquired that skill they then going to use that skill inappropriately, and that’s where the driver behavioural elements kick in; when people use skills in a way that actually is not safe.

What are the three key factors in understanding and changing driver behaviour?

In order to change driver behaviour, you have to look at the way in which driver thinks because the way in which they think will affect the way in which they feel, and the way in which they think and feel will affect their behaviour. So when we come to look at how to change driver behaviour we focus on that element: the thought processes and the feelings and also their motivations, i.e. how committed they are to make a change.

What are the most influential behavioural factors that determine driver risk?

There are lots of different behaviours that can contribute to whether or not somebody is involved in a crash, but what our research has done is to look at some of the key factors. Some of those key behavioural factors are driving behaviour, when you’re feeling angry, when you have thrill-seeking tendencies, when you’re not looking properly and also when you’re using ineffective coping strategies for managing the stress and demands of driver work.

How many different driver profile types are there and how does the Driver Risk Index determine what they are?

There are up to a million-and-a-half different profiles that can be generated when a driver completes the online assessment. From there we can look at some general tendencies so we know for example that certain factors are not likely to be associated with each other so someone

who is an anxious driver isn’t often also an aggressive driver so those dimensions tend to be independent.

What role do line managers play in supporting a behaviour-based programme?

To ensure that any fleet risk management programme is implemented to the maximum benefit, it’s critical that line managers get on board and make the programme work. So having them champion the programmes, leading the safety message and cascading down what needs to happen is crucial to the outcome of the programme.

How often should drivers be reassessed?

Typically the wisdom around reassessment of drivers is that it should be every three years. However there are many drivers that may have undergone some traumatic incident during that time or may have been involved in a crash. They may have had a lifestyle change, may have a lot of stress and no jobs and so on, that can actually have a negative impact on the way which they drive. So having a blanket view that all drivers need to be assessed every three years may not be the best approach for your organisation.

One of the best methods is to have a phased approach where all drivers are regularly updated on what they need to do to be safe when driving for work.

Is there evidence to support the notion that more continual engagement with drivers is better than “one-off” assessments?

It would be unreasonable to expect that at the end of one half-day session with a driver trainer or coach that behaviour will change for the rest of their lives. What would be reasonable is to have a more regular phased approach of interventions to ensure that the driver understands all the risks when driving for work over the course of the year so for that reason we advocate a more drip-fed approach to make sure that the message is understood.

How are telematic used in managing the risks of driving to work?

Telematics is a great way of monitoring your fleet on a daily basis. However what telematics does is to only measure specific elements of driver behaviour such as speed or harsh braking. What we need to be able to do is to understand why people are speeding and this is where DriverMetrics comes in, because what the DriverMetrics profile will give you is an understanding of why people are speeding such as, is it because they’re thrill-seeking? Is it because they’re running late?

By understanding the DriverMetrics profile you can then interpret why people are speeding based on that profile. So if you have a driver who has thrill-seeking tendencies who tends to drive at risk when they’re running late it gives you some clues as to what you need to do to develop a bespoke driver education intervention.

In what other industries could the behavioural profiling you’ve developed at DriverMetrics be used?

Behaviour is key to all safety related industries whether it being construction on all platforms whether it be in hazardous environments like the rail there are lots of different elements to behaviour in those kind of settings in safety related industries the behaviour of the person at work is critical so the application of profiling of that behaviour is relevant to all types of safety related industries like oil platforms working in rail working in hazardous environment what kind of behaviour tends to lead to incidents and that could be profiled.

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