There’s a big problem with this whole field of driver behaviour: it’s polarised. On one side you’ve got the academic researchers; on the other side the commercial suppliers.
The people who want to be able to manage driver behaviour in their businesses—people like you—sit between these two poles, unable to make much sense of what one lot say and afraid of being led up the garden path by the other lot. One lot make it all seem so complicated while the other lot make it appear to be much too simple.
I sit in the middle too, so we have something in common. The difference is that I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on in both camps.
There are plenty of academic researchers who know a heck of a lot about driver behaviour. But that doesn’t necessarily help you. I’ve studied with some of the best of these researchers and I’m familiar with the work of many others. And I think you may find it more useful to listen to me than to the academics, for three reasons:
- While most academics learn more and more about one narrow part of the field, I’ve explored the whole field of driver behaviour and well beyond, looking for anything that might prove to be useful or applicable. Inevitably that’s lead me up many a blind alley but it’s also allowed me to adopt perspectives that are unlikely to be adopted by academics.
- I don’t sit inside an academic ivory tower so I’m not afraid to be critical of the ivory tower.
- I fervently believe that unless you can express ideas in plain English so that those who would benefit from those ideas can understand them, they’re pretty useless ideas.
Looking at the commercial suppliers on the other side, for as long as I can remember I’ve been frustrated by the lack of effectiveness of much of what they provide, and even more so by their refusal to recognise that fact. (I could give numerous references to support this claim; this report from the Transport Research Laboratory summarises most of them.) In many ways the commercial sector is as stuck in well-worn ruts as government bureaucracy, and that’s quite an achievement.
I’ll tell you what you need to know about the offerings from the commercial suppliers rather than what the suppliers want to tell you.
For example, they want to tell you about apparent successes and won’t mention failures. I say apparent successes because, when you analyse what actions were taken, you often find that much of the success could be attributed to supplementary and complementary interventions rather than the widget or standardised service alone. You may also find that an intervention only appeared to produce successful results because the model of measurement (e.g. cost-benefit analysis) was incomplete (I address this on pages 24–26 of How to Manage Driver Behaviour and Not Get Taken for a Ride: Costs, Causes, Dead Ends, and What Works).
Please note that I’m not saying that commercial products and services are worthless. Far from it; many of those on offer can be very effective. Often, it’s not what’s on offer that’s ineffective but rather how it’s used.
You have to know how to optimise the applications of these products and services to get the best results… How to target them on the right people and in the right places… How to combine products and services synergistically—stuff from two different suppliers combined may work far better than either supplier’s offering alone, but neither supplier is likely to tell you that.
I’m not claiming to offer any startlingly original nuggets of information. What I aim to present on this website and in my professional advice, coaching, training and educational resources is an easy-to-digest synthesis of the knowledge contained in my driver behaviour library of hundreds of books, study courses, technical journals, research papers and reports, combined with over thirty years of working in the field and masters-level academic study.
In learning this stuff and assembling this body of knowledge I’ve had to spend tens of thousands of hours and a small fortune. Now I’m sharing what I know so you don’t have to make that sort of investment.
If you think I might be worth listening to, perhaps you’d like to consider setting up a no-obligation initial strategy session in which we can discuss managing driver behaviour in your business.