What’s Next?

Last week I had the privilege to offer a presentation to a group of 200+ insurance professionals. 

The meeting, organized by the Central Ohio Insurance Education Day Committee, focused on “Emerging Trends Challenging Our Industry” and included presentations on a variety of topics ranging from the adequacy of fire fighting capacity (in an age of cutbacks) to the rise of social media as a way to discuss insurance issues with policyholders.

The meeting was interesting and everyone had a lot to consider — about how we traditionally handled issues, and how things are continuing to change in the world around us.

In terms of traffic safety, we know that some of the oldest issues — distracted driving, youthful drivers, the need to cut costs in our truck fleets — don’t really change, only our response to these issues.

We talked about what works, what doesn’t and why trying “new things” is important.  We need to test what works and what is losing it’s effectiveness.

The good news is that we continue to receive very compelling reports about the “Driver Safety Hotline” program’s success in highlighting driver behaviors.  Behaviors, that if left unchecked, would likely lead to a collision.  

A large tractor trailer fleet that recently installed our program reported a 23% decline in collisions — the only new safety practice they introduced was our program.  They investigated and closed out 100% of their reports in a timely fashion — they’re committed to safety and to helping their drivers stay safe.

Have you either made a call to a hotline, or investigated using our service if you have a fleet of vehicles?  If so, thanks!  If not, why not?

The More Things Change…

…The more they remain the same.  An old adage designed to remind us that the value of discipline and hard work (while tedious) will always win out over “easy, cure alls” and “the latest fad”.

Every new issue of a transportation magazine seems to tout the latest way to eliminate accidents by investing in some gizmo or gadget.  I’m not against technology — its great, when it works (have you ever had to reboot your computer?)

I think the broad appeal of technology in the safety world is that it looks so easy.  Stick a box with some wires into your vehicles and you have less crashes.  Neat-o!

I’ve heard the amazing testimonies of fleets who, during a pilot test, got a 50% reduction in crashes, but the details seem a little less than thrilling – it was a test of ten vehicles where there had been one crash the year before and during the test there were no crashes. 

Recently, the FMCSA gave a webinar on a “low cost” driver behavior system.  The two test fleets acknowledged a combination of driver sabotage and simple malfunctions that disabled about half of the little black boxes.  Imagine that — drivers who don’t like to be monitored, and technology that needed to be “rebooted” – go figure!  The more things change, the more they stay the same. 

It is my understanding that neither test fleet elected to continue with the program after the pilot. 

Forget the fancy statistics and charts — the users didn’t find it to be so easy upon actual implementation.  They actually abandoned the program since it was difficult to make work, and they needed to do much more than “plug in the box with wires” to affect drivers’ habits.

Does technology really work?  Probably, but it’s going to take some “people power” to get consistent results.  The gizmo will beep and spit out a report, but guess what — you still have to look the driver in the eye and talk to him or her about their risky driving manuevers if you’re really going to get them to change their habits.  And they are still going to complain about the system, and negotiate with you about why it’s not their fault that they speed (the more things change, the more they stay the same.)

Why not start with low-tech programs that cost about 100 times less, and require the same “face time” with your drivers?

Call me crazy, but if it worked yesterday, and it works today, maybe George Jetson should have a safety hotline sticker on his flying truck, too!  (Ok, if he really wants to spend the money, he can install a little black box with wires, too.)