Set SMART Goals for Truck Driver Success

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Motor carriers are required to conduct an annual inquiry and review of a driver’s overall driving record to comply with the requirements of 29 CFR Part 391.25. Typically, this annual task consists of reviewing all known moving violations and motor vehicle accidents. This is a good start, but employers can go a lot further to invest in a driver’s success.

Sitting a driver down to review their entire performance over the past year is a great opportunity to provide invaluable feedback, praise the good things the driver is doing and call attention to the areas needing improvement. From roadside inspections and fuel mileage to customer service and training, there are several metrics that can help paint an accurate picture of the driver’s overall performance beyond a simple MVR check.

After reviewing the past year, driver managers can use this opportunity to discuss individual goals for the year ahead. One way to do this is by using the SMART model for goal setting. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. By using this model, performance goals become less nebulous and drivers will have clear guidance on expectations.

The SMART model



Goals should state in clear terms the desired end. When developing a goal, consider what you want the driver to achieve in both the short term and long term.


Measurable goals allow you to track the driver’s progress and ultimately determine whether they achieved their goal. The FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) and Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse are two tools that can help in this area.


Goals should be realistic and set the driver up for success. For example, the driver will attend at least three quarterly safety meetings. Be mindful that unattainable expectations can actually hurt the driver’s productivity and morale.


To be effective, a goal should relate to what is within the scope of the driver’s responsibilities and control. In addition, the goal should relate to company results and add value to the organization.


Lastly, set a deadline for attaining the goal and perhaps a date for a mid-year review to check the driver’s progress.

Note: These lists are not intended to be all-inclusive.


  • Conduct an annual review with drivers, and evaluate their overall performance. 
  • Use the SMART method to help drivers ser performance goals for the year ahead. 
  • Regularly monitor the driver's progress and conduct informal updates.


The information in this article is provided as a courtesy of Great West Casualty Company and is part of the Value-Driven® Company program. Value-Driven Company was created to help educate and inform insureds so they can make better decisions, build a culture that values safety, and manage risk more effectively. To see what additional resources Great West Casualty Company can provide for its insureds, please contact your safety representative, or click below to find an agent.

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