Congratulations to Chris L’Ecluse, our Solutions Specialist and a driver behaviour expert, who has just won the Outstanding Commitment to Road Safety Award at the Australasian Fleet Safety Awards 2019, organised by Brake Charity.
During his career, Chris L’Ecluse has amassed a range of safe driving and teaching skills, and a deep understanding of driver behaviour and the importance of driver education. He has used his body of knowledge, experience and passion to speak to people within all levels of business and the industry. He’s also reached a wider audience by engaging with secondary school students and giving interviews to media outlets in both New Zealand and Australia.
In this blog, we take a look at his career and his work alongside drivers to change unsafe driver behaviour.
Facing the Reality of Road Trauma
After joining the police force in the late 1980s, Chris was put on traffic duty to learn the ropes. This involved the usual – pulling over vehicles and handing out tickets for illegal behaviour. “Very early on, I realised that the penalty system was necessary, but it wasn’t enough. People get angry and sometimes they drive off even more dangerously”, he says. “When I actually talked to people, it became clear that often they didn’t know they were doing anything wrong. Maybe they weren’t aware of a rule, or they panicked in an unpredictable situation. I realised, why don’t we try and educate people instead?”
After many different roles in the police force, Chris moved into crash investigation. “That’s where it really hit home”, he says. After years working with the perpetrators of traffic infringements, suddenly he was faced with the victims, who were often seriously or fatally injured.
“I started to think – how can we allow innocent people, just going about their ordinary business, to be killed in this way? And it reinforced my resolve to educate people about road safety.”
Paving a Road to Driver Education
Working in dignitary protection for then-Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, Chris found himself driving back to the office late at night, after completing his duties – and was the only protection officer still pulling drivers over for traffic infringements. He knew then that educating drivers was a life-long mission.
Moving into Advanced Defensive Driving training, Chris consulted with businesses in the mining and resources sector. It was here that he was introduced to the role of telematics in their fleet, and the ability of the technology to improve safety.
His work at Teletrac Navman now combines his passion for education with his experience in law enforcement, allowing him to interpret the legislation and work with businesses to meet their compliance requirements by analysing their telematics data.
While compliance is often the main objective for businesses when it comes to improving behaviour on the road, Chris says they’re approaching it from the wrong angle. “I look at it as: how do we make drivers safer for their own sake, as well as everyone on the road. In turn, that will ensure they’re compliant.”
A close partnership with drivers is at the core of his role. “In the past, the industry has been focused on giving executives the tools to identify dangerous driving behaviours. What’s been missing is the interaction with drivers. It’s become apparent to me that most people really believe they’re good drivers. They simply don’t know about their risky habits because no one has ever presented them with the data.” He now works directly with both drivers and management to teach them how to make sense of the information and provide solutions on adjusting their behaviour.
Sharing the Driver Safety Message
Chris brings this unique approach and skillset into conference presentations and media interviews across both NZ and Australia. His experience in law enforcement and work with businesses on their driver policies, operating procedures and risk assessments provides listeners with a stack of insider industry knowledge.
The realities of fatigue, speeding and other risky driver behaviours don’t become clear until it’s too late. With the help of driver safety technology, fleet managers and business owners can take a step toward protecting their employees and, ultimately, make the roads safer for all New Zealanders.