Fleet Safety Management: The Lame Mule Approach

Wake up and smell the coffee, folks! Your Commercial Vehicle Operators (CVOs) are your most valuable asset! Don’t you think that it’s about time that you started acting like it!?!

It’s 2016, not 1956 and we understand (or at least think that we do) a hell of a lot more about human behavior and operations management than we ever have.


As an industry, I think that we have moved beyond the days where CVOs were treated like family members rather than as a headache. There are so many instances of continued disrespect out there that anybody should be easily able to understand why this “driver shortage” exists.



If you want to end the driver shortage, stop treating your CVOs like simple gears in your transportation machine and start treating them like Kings and not kids.

Read more about my approach to Growing Your Trucking Business In 2016.

This is especially true when dealing with fleet safety and compliance management!


You have to move beyond the Carrot and Stick approach to fleet safety management. Yes, lives are literally at stake, but human beings and the transportation system in which they operate are much more complicated than a mule pulling a wagon.


I was approached to consult with a trucking company who recently underwent a full root canal DOT Compliance Review and was spit out the other side with a proposed Conditional safety rating. Without first really trying to examine and understand their issues and develop meaningful ways to address them, they went right for the stick with their CVOs.




Their “new” way of dealing with their Hours of Service issues was to start a discipline policy where their CVO with a log book issue would get a nice little letter that advises them that they know how to fill out a log and failure to do so correctly would to fines and then termination because of the impact that their actions had on the company’s safety scores.


Obviously, you could imagine the advice that I gave them regarding this proposed approach…


My point is simply that trucking company owners, managers and safety directors should go with the Stephen Covey tried and true “Seek first to understand and then to be understood” approach to working with their CVOs.


How could this trucking company (and so many others like them) feel that they had the answer to the problem that they believed they faced before really digging into the root causes of the matter and trying to understand before attempting to be understood.


Collectively, almost all of us have a listening problem.


We want to “help” and “correct issues” before we ever really think about trying to understand what the real issues may be. Rare is the time that we actually pause and listen intently before blurting out “advice” that has been passed through the lens of our own experience.

As a young CEO, I learn many things each day. My team members and business partners teach me more than any textbook ever has or probably ever will. One key lesson that must be learned early and quickly is that listening is the key that unlocks so many things.

In fact, if you don’t listen to your team members and business partners and truly try to understand their points of view and reasons for action or inaction then you could soon find yourself with no business to worry about.

So, please take a few minutes and really think about how you “listen” to your CVOs.


Could a simple seat belt compliance issue be related to the belts being so uncomfortable that it doesn’t fit the CVO’s body well? Seems much more likely that this would be the case rather than the CVO is stubborn and set in his ways.


In this case, equipment modification may be a much better (and less expensive) alternative to fines and other “discipline” that will eventually lead to the CVO having to be replaced.


Remember, lame mules eventually have to be shot!


Thanks for your time and attention!


If you’re interested in working with a fleet safety and compliance management firm who does listen and seeks first to understand, then give us a call at 1-855-211-5550 or email me at STucker@CarrierRiskSolutions.com. You can also check us out online at www.CarrierRiskSolutions.com, www.CarrierSafetySurvey.com or at www.MySafetyManager.com.


Please check out some of my other posts as well!