Based in Billerica, Massachusetts, Boyle Transportation's 110 drivers operate 65 tractors in teams, serving clients primarily in the defense and life science/healthcare sectors. While its freight focus and operational structure may be different from other fleets, Boyle's award-winning safety program is based on principles and practices that can be adopted by anyone.
Even before drivers get to orientation, Boyle starts the onboarding process by assigning mentors - wherever possible matching new hires to company veterans with similar backgrounds. Mentors are available for the first 3 months to answer questions and help wherever needed, but often stay in contact well after that.
The orientation itself lasts a full week, making it one of the longer programs in the industry. However, that week goes by fast, with a combination of classroom and online content, supplemented by hands on activities in the yard, and teambuilding meetings with management and office staff.
To ensure every new hire gets maximum value out of that orientation time, the week is customized for each driver, depending on their individual skills and needs. Gap areas are supplemented with additional online content through CarriersEdge, or practice in the yard as the situation warrants.
Orientation is also where all new hires are also issued a company mobile phone, complete with a corporate email account and custom apps. That helps streamline communication between drivers and their mentors and office staff, and also provides them the latest technology to improve efficiency on the road.
Once orientation is over and drivers are out on the road, a multi-pronged approach ensures that safety performance continues to improve.
Quarterly online training assignments are provided for all drivers, with specific selections depending on the season, or trends in the company or industry. The quarterly sessions are supplemented with situation-specific assignments, in cases where drivers need extra help, or are taking on new lanes or regions (e.g. heading into Canada).
While regular training is a core part of ongoing driver improvement, the company makes concerted effort to not overdo it. Assignments for the general driver pool are carefully selected and ample time is provided for everyone to complete them. More intense interventions are used only in the places where they're warranted - the company wants to make sure drivers see it as helpful and not as punishment.
When individual assistance is warranted, however, the company does a "deep dive" to see exactly where the problems lie, then develops an individualized, appropriate solution. That may involve training, but could also be coaching activities or a combination of both.
Ongoing monitoring of driver performance happens through scorecards and the Smartdrive camera system. Camera footage and critical events are monitored daily to identify areas of risk, allowing safety staff to respond quickly when problems start to emerge.
Boyle's guaranteed pay program also helps during the coaching and training sessions, compensating drivers at a daily rate for all non-driving activities. With that, drivers can devote their attention to developing their skills instead of worrying about lost miles.
Managing the Process
Developing a sophisticated safety program takes time, and it requires dedicated management to keep everything organized and continuously improving. To aid in those efforts, Boyle tracks all driver activities - even including the on-road coaching - so it has meaningful data to work with, and the tools to build reasonable action plans.
It also includes drivers in that process. An annual survey allows drivers to weigh in with their thoughts on what's happening in the company and provide feedback from a different perspective.
The survey data, plus the coaching, training, and driver scorecard data, gives Boyle management a clear picture of what's going on, and where to focus their efforts to continue growing in the future.
That effort is clearly paying off, with some stellar results in both safety and HR performance:
"Boyle Transport has clearly found a winning formula for managing and improving safety. By combining dashcams, online training, and personalized coaching, they've created an environment that allows management to focus attention exactly where and how it's needed, and allows drivers to continue developing their skills without having their time wasted. It's no wonder they have such spectacular safety numbers!"
View from the Edge is a bi-monthly review of best practices in risk management, driver development, and technology for the trucking industry, produced by CarriersEdge.
CarriersEdge provides interactive online driver training for the North American trucking industry. A comprehensive library of safety and compliance courses is supplemented with extensive content creation and customization options, full featured survey tools, detailed management reports, and the industry's first dedicated mobile app for driver training.