Ever wonder about that limo driver who is ferrying you from the airport to that important business meeting? Is he a professional whose first goal is your safety or is he a risk-taker who just wants to dump you as quickly as possible so he can move on to the next assignment...at the doughnut shop?
These days, executive transport -- commonly known as "the limousine business" -- has become much more professional. And while accidents still happen, the best companies are making extraordinary efforts to guarantee your safety. Of course, no business ever grew larger by killing its customers, plus, by limiting accidents executive transportation companies also limit their insurance, downtime and repair expenses.
Now one company, New York-based Valera Global, has adopted a unique approach to protecting the safety of its passengers and chauffeurs, and it has an unusual twist. While many transportation companies focus only on penalizing drivers with a less than perfect history, Valera Global's focus is on rewarding its safest chauffeurs. The cumulative effects of these combined efforts have had positive results. The company now enjoys one of the best safety records in the industry, and having safer chauffeurs has yielded an added bonus: increased customer satisfaction.
The driver-safety program is pervasive and impressive. It includes implementing the latest technologies and state-of-the-art safety features, an intensive pre-screening process for prospective chauffeurs, defensive driving and training seminars for new and previously-hired chauffeurs, compensating chauffeurs for excellence, and an annual awards dinner that recognizes and rewards the chauffeurs with the best safety record. The company has a full-time certified driving instruction on staff, and it conducts ongoing performance evaluations via DriveCam, an in-vehicle device that monitors the driving habits of chauffeurs.
"During the four years since we implemented the DriveCam system, we have seen a 20 percent drop in the number of incidents," said Valera Global Training Director Tony Notaristefano. "But the camera does not do this alone. We believe these drops are a direct result of our entire safety program, which also includes one-on-one counseling and defensive-driving instruction."
On January 12th, Valera Global held its eighth annual awards dinner, recognizing driver safety and other achievements. Categories included: Accident-Free Recognition Awards, Rookie of the Year, Most-Improved Chauffeur, Best-Kept Vehicles, Best-Dressed Chauffeurs, Top-Earning Chauffeurs and Chauffeur of the Year, among others.
"Everyone at Valera Global looks forward to the awards ceremony each year. It's become a very competitive event, and you need to be among the best to win," said Notaristefano. "Not everyone goes home with an award, but I assure you that all of our chauffeurs take the issue of driver safety very seriously, and they are all winners as far as I am concerned."
Based in Cleveland, Driving Today Contributing Editor Luigi Fraschini writes frequently about auto safety issues.