Do the right thing by those who do this demanding job

Definition: Compliance-types (n.) Person/s who have knowledge about road law and safety as it relates to the trucking industry in Australia. Can be prone to exaggeration, grandiose statements, and arrogance. Good examples can be hard to find.

The most common thing I do is educate drivers about compliance. In almost all cases, they’ve been given misinformation or sometimes, no information, to successfully do their jobs.

Truckies operate under more legislation than almost any other industry. Long work hours in changing environments can be mentally taxing, as is sharing the road with other road users that are often unskilled.

So why do we, the compliance-types, give drivers rubbish information? Or worse, no information at all?

I work with drivers who are confused because “My mate told me….” or “Our compliance-type said…”. I know drivers can look it up online, but why should they? Isn’t it our role to give them the best information possible?

My passion for this industry covers my entire life. With compliance, I’m more than a bit of a nerd, and I believe drivers should be properly informed and empowered to have successful careers.

Hence, my frustration. Our drivers deserve to be properly informed about matters that affect them and given tools to succeed. And I don’t mean the day-to-day delivering-the-freight type of information.

An example. An infringement is sent to a company, they nominate the driver. Sometime later, the driver receives the infringement in the mail. Did we let them know it was coming? Did we explain their options, or where to seek help? Do they know they can represent themselves in court at minimal cost?

What about Notice to Produce letters from Safe-T-Cam? Does a company let drivers know when their work diary pages have been sent to the NHVR? These are drivers’ documents; would you agree drivers should be told?

Does anyone tell drivers that the fault they reported last month has been repaired? If not, why? We should inform drivers their identified fault was addressed. Otherwise – why would they bother reporting faults?

At the very least, it’s disrespectful; at worst, negligent.

I’ve lost count of compliance-types who waffle on so much about their experience and knowledge, their self-importance takes over. They forget – their goal is to keep drivers safe and be properly informed, not give themselves a dopamine hit. They should always check what they think they know, and must communicate with evidence, not ego.

Do I get it right all the time? No. Do I check when I’m not sure? You bet I do. Do I talk with the driver about it and give them print outs from legislation with the relevant bits highlighted? Or links to websites and clear instructions that can help them? Abso-freakin’-lutely.

Drivers are the ones who go through checking stations, facing scrutiny of enforcement. Drivers are the ones who face the harsh glare of peers when something goes wrong. But it’s the compliance-types who must get it right, for drivers, in the first place. Not just guessing or believing or banging the desk with your fist – with clear, hard evidence, so drivers are properly informed.

Drivers, if your compliance-type says, “It’s the law,” or some other such phrase, your next five words must be, “Can you show me that?” Their willingness to show you will tell you if you’ve been properly informed.

Yes, I’m taking a swipe at those who do not have processes in place to ensure their drivers are well informed and educated about their rights and responsibilities. I’m pointing at those compliance-types who make grandiose statements and then wither when asked to prove it. Just stop it. Do the right thing by those who do this demanding job.

Compliance-types, if you don’t have evidence, find it. A week’s wages for a driver could depend on the information you’re giving them. Contact your member association or an industry expert who has runs on the board (and isn’t afraid to admit when they’re wrong…) to make sure information you’re giving drivers is accurate. Get it in writing. Share with drivers.

Drivers need trusting relationships with compliance-types. If you’re a compliance-type and this article causes you to get hot under the gills, well, perhaps that says something?

  • Jodie Broadbent is the founder of Know the Road, which provides consulting auditing and training services for road freight supply chain partners.

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