Fleet Safety During COVID-19: How DHL Delivered Their Annual Safety Rodeo, Virtually

August 31, 2020

Olivia Marcus

Manager, Content Marketing


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How can fleet managers prioritize driver safety and employee recognition—even during a global pandemic? The team at DHL, a global market leader in the logistics industry, has found a way to keep their safety culture thriving amidst the challenges of COVID-19.

This year, DHL held their fifth annual Driver Safety Rodeo, an event that delivers a healthy dose of competition by testing the safe driving skills of their courier workforce. It’s an event their drivers look forward to every year. So when COVID-19 happened, canceling the event was not an option.  

The DHL team rose to the challenge, turning the event entirely virtual, and working with Samsara to capture video footage from finalists’ vehicles during the final competition in early August. By partnering with Samsara, the judges could evaluate the finalists’ driving skills and crown a winner remotely. Keep reading to get a behind the scenes look at how DHL pulled off this year’s Rodeo virtually—and don’t miss our <a href="#video">highlight reel</a> below.

An annual tradition recognizing the ‘best of the best’

DHL Express’ Driver Safety Rodeo is a six-month safe driving competition that’s been held annually every year since 2016. 

“The Rodeo is part of our safety strategy and culture,” said Fred Matthews, Senior Manager of Safety. “We don’t take the old-fashioned ‘get as close as you can to a cone in a parking lot’ approach. With the Rodeo, we evaluate everyday driving behaviors.”

Nearly 400 couriers volunteered to be part of this year’s ongoing, real-time test of defensive driving skills, which began in March. In mid-July, after more than 16-weeks of on-road evaluation, 20 couriers with the best Safe Driver Scorecards were selected to participate in the final competition.

Getting innovative to go virtual

In previous years, DHL held their final competition in one central location. All of the finalists would come together to compete, with a recognition reception to crown the winner. When COVID-19 threatened to make gathering for the final competition impossible, the DHL team got creative to ensure the show could still go on.

“The pandemic posed a lot of challenges this year, but it was so important to us that the Rodeo continues,” said Matthews. “Our couriers do a fantastic job every single day, and they should be recognized for what they do.”

In early August, 20 finalists competed in this year’s first-ever fully remote final competition. As in previous years, each finalist followed a predetermined route. However, to keep everyone safe from COVID-19, each finalist started from his or her own service center (rather than having everyone drive together).

Finalists were scored based on four categories: city driving, freeway driving, vehicle inspections, and a final written exam. DHL partnered with the team at Smith System, leaders in driver safety training, to judge the final competition. But unlike previous years, the judges relied on video footage from Samsara to evaluate city and freeway driving skills and narrow it down to the top three.

“The equipment and support that Samsara provided was just absolutely amazing,” said Matthews. “This year, not only could we see what they went through inside their vehicles, but we could also do that remotely and virtually.”

This year’s Rodeo winner is now a two-time champion, having taken home the grand prize in 2016 as well. Chicago-based courier Roger McGowan was awarded $5,000 and recognized by DHL management during a virtual award ceremony.

“It's a great feeling to be recognized for your hard work and your commitment to safe driving,” said McGowan. His winning strategy? “The real key is to prepare. Make sure that you're really being detail-oriented and focused. Anyone can do it if they're willing to put the work in.”

<div id="video">Watch our highlight reel</div>

This year’s Rodeo is just one example of how DHL is putting driver safety and employee recognition first—leveraging innovative new technology to make it a success.

“DHL is paid to move things overnight, from one side of the world to the other—so we're very fast, and we want to work with like-minded partners,” said Matthews. “The partnership with Samsara was amazing. Samsara was able to keep up with us and help us accomplish our goal: our first-ever remote and virtual Rodeo.”

Check out our sizzle reel below to see highlights from the event.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>


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