The carrot and stick approach has long been used to illustrate different ways of changing behaviour.
It must be a dilemma for fleet operators when it comes to managing what drivers do when behind the wheel.
Selected vehicles used by company car drivers at Bauer Consumer Media have been fitted with vehicle tracking systems to monitor behaviour and measure a range of data.
They are based at a number of locations across the UK and have been monitored using equipment either from TomTom, Trimble and Traffilog.
The telematics equipment is broadly similar, and has allowed Bauer fleet manager Debbie Floyde to monitor vehicle status, position and speed.
Information collected has shown incidents where drivers have been speeding, or have been driving using harsh acceleration, braking or steering.
All of these have implications for safety and fuel economy and the data provides fleet operators with the ammunition they need to establish a need for changing behaviour as well as the ability to measure improvement.
But organisations then have two options when it comes to motivating a change in behaviour, those of rewarding good behaviour or penalising bad behaviour.
According to Giles Margerison, sales director UK and Ireland at TomTom Business Solutions, companies need to set out the positive results of improving driver behaviour.
“Companies should lead from the front and make themselves visible and their objectives clear,” he said. “Spelling out the benefits for the employee as well as for the business.
“Drivers need to be educated as to the reasons why. For example when speeding, highlighting the possible impact of breaking the law, and the health safety implications.
“Good behaviour can also reflect well on the company image, if the policy shows caring for employees and the environment by monitoring speed and fuel consumption, as well as helping save money.”
The telematics companies were broadly in agreement about how easy it could be to get drivers to accept improvement may be needed.
Andrew Yeoman, managing director of Trimble MRM said: “Most drivers are responsible and are open to wanting to change if it means making the environment cleaner and being safer on the roads, but benchmarking tools have often proved a great way to show drivers how they are performing
against colleagues and then rewarding those who perform best.
“The competitive spirit is in all of us and even more so if it’s for a good cause.
“Although many want to drive more efficiently, it can easily drop down the priority list as the day goes on, so if companies start genuinely rewarding their drivers for consistent efficient, eco-friendly behaviour, an improvement can undoubtedly be seen.
“In some companies, those who performed best were given vouchers, trips away or even the first choice of company car as incentives which over time started to ingrain eco driving across the organisation.”
According to Traffilog sales director Howard Young, there is plenty of evidence from the experience of other fleets that demonstrated the value of the carrot over the stick.
“Generally people take very seriously the way in which they are perceived as a driver and to appear anywhere other than at the top of a league table whether they admit it or not, can be wounding,” he said.
“Providing incentives however small, a meal for two, £25 shopping vouchers, or a bottle of wine, is often a great way of focusing individuals to improve their driving efficiency and can work alongside a league table providing a scoring according to improved performance.
“The incentive will encourage a positive environment for change and in particular a change in driving habits.”
Margerison added: “People get it if you explain properly, and they also really understand the economic arguments at the moment, with the effects of the recession coupled with price of fuel and rising unemployment.
"If drivers could contribute to protect their jobs in ways other than lay offs and pay cuts then they will.“
Young says fleets can become creative when it comes to organising incentives and they needn’t be particularly costly.
He said that he had seen one fleet where a nicer car is offered to the best driver with a less well specified model driven by the driver who has failed to improve.