Greased Lightning vs. Driving Miss Daisy

The Great Safe Driver Debate
Browse more data visualization.
 

I enjoy interesting infographic displays — they tell a lot of data in a small space, but they don’t always tell the whole story (they’re not designed to!)

There are many layers of issues driving these statistics for each age band:

  • teens have less experience, take risks to impress friends and may not comprehend the power they wield in the car they drive
  • Seniors tend to be cautious drivers, chronological age is not a good predictor of ability (everyone’s body and mind age at different rates) and they often depend on their car to be able to look after themselves (car = lifeline to supplies, doctor, friends)

Traffic safety professionals continue to work on ways to educate, devise reasonable tests and lobby for enhanced legislation that provides results without unfair restriction on individual liberty.  The good news is that things are getting better, but we still read headlines about crashes every day.

Driver Safety is every person’s responsibility — whether buckling up, avoiding distraction, encouraging others to give up their keys, teaching teens to slow down, providing detailed reports on dangerous behavior to the appropriate authorities, restricting how many teen friends may ride along, or simply obeying the rules of the road consistently — when we each do our part, lives are saved.

Be safe this Labor Day weekend — don’t drink and drive, get plenty of rest (don’t drive drowsy) and try to stay calm as you idle in traffic and congestion on the way to the shore or mountains, etc.

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MVRs as a Lifespan Predictor?

 Recently, LexisNexis and RGA Reinsurance Company completed a study of more than 7.4 million motor vehicle records (MVRs).  Among other observations, they found that:

  • Individuals with major violations, such as alcohol-related infractions and excess speeding, have all-cause mortality that is 70 percent higher than individuals who do not.
  • The presence of six or more driving violations on an MVR elevates an individual’s all-cause mortality by 80 percent.
  • Individuals with a high number of major driving violations represent the worst risks.

Interestingly this study was conducted to gain insights into how to more accurately gauge the right price for life insurance, and how to do so more efficiently than using current, conventional practices.  From their study:

For instance, a 45-year old male seeking a $250,000 policy may not appear to live a risky lifestyle and, based on medical and financial reports, may even qualify as a preferred risk. Yet, according to our research, men between the ages of 41-50 with multiple major violations on their MVRs have an all-mortality rate that is nearly twice that of a driver with a clean record. Based on this study, MVRs are a suitable indicator of all-cause mortality, and they offer positive protective value for all ages and genders.

How did we get here?

The study cross tabulated 7.4 million MVRs with 73,000 death reports from the Social Security Death Master File (SSDMF) and then normalized the data to compensate for potential under-reporting of deaths in the SSDMF.

Individuals were distinguished based on whether they had clean records, minor violations or major violations on their MVRs. To avoid bias, major violations were pre-defined by RGA, and include infractions such as alcohol- or substance related infractions, excess speeding, and reckless or negligent driving.

The study examined the relationship between all-cause mortality and MVRs according to three segmentations:

  • Results by MVR severity (On average, having a major violation elevated an individual’s all-cause mortality by 71 percent.)
  • Results by number of violations (It was found that the more violations on an individual’s MVR, the higher their relative mortality ratio. In particular, individuals with 2–5 violations  experienced 24 percent higher mortality, and those with six or more violations experienced 79 percent higher mortality ratios)
  • Results by number of major violations (Results showed that individuals with a high number of major driving violations represent the worst risks. Having just one major violation on an MVR elevates an individual’s all-cause mortality by 51 percent; with four or more violations, their mortality is more than twice that of individuals without major violations.)

 Can we project any further (if generalized and speculative) conclusions?

  • If MVR violation history is such an indicator of mortality, then would MVR data have a relationship to health care costs or the likelihood of being injured on or off of the job? 
  • Would Usage Based Insurance (using electronic reporting devices linked to your car or truck) be of similar value to rating your life insurance policy or helping you improve your healthcare deductible?
  • What’s the net effect of changing your behaviors through driver education and performance monitoring (i.e. use of UBI devices to modify your habits in order to obtain a lower rate on your car insurance – would this translate to leading a longer life than if you had not modified your lifestyle?)

If you’d like to review the source white paper, visit: http://lexisnexis.com/risk/downloads/whitepaper/MVR-mortality.pdf

If you’d like to learn more about our proprietary blended risk scoring that incorporates multiple data sources (i.e. MVR data from states/provinces; telematics; collision data; Motorist Observation Reports, et.al.) give us a call or send us an email!

OSHA Training and “Drivers” – are They “Invisible Employees?”

A colleague sent me a link to a blog article titled; “OSHA Training: The “Invisible” Employees”.  It got me wondering whether company drivers are so-called invisible employees when it comes to being included in all types of OSHA mandated training….

Here’s an excerpt of the original article:

Hello – can you see me? I must be invisible when it comes to OSHA training. Or maybe I am just exempt from all safety training regulations? Surely not!

I mean, if there was a fire or explosion in our building, I am curious to know what the company expects me to do. Is there some kind of alarm or signal to warn us to evacuate, or a place where I am expected to assemble? How would they know I got out safely? I wonder, but yet I have never been trained about this sort of thing.

And if a nearby co-worker suffered a heart attack or other serious medical emergency, I am not sure exactly how I should react. Does our company have a procedure in place? Maybe I just call an ambulance? Does anyone here know first aid or CPR? I have no idea, as our company’s safety manager never trained me about this sort of thing either. And while I’m at it, what am I supposed to do if a tornado is reported to be headed in our direction? Do I go get in my car and drive away? Or crawl under a table somewhere? I don’t know what the company expects of me, as I have never been instructed on what to do in this situation, either. I guess maybe I’m on my own.

The posting continues on offering additional scenarios covering potential injury/illness generators that may not be fully addressed unless “all” employees are fully trained on a regular basis.

So does the fact that most drivers stay out of the manufacturing plant (in, say, a private fleet operation), keep them from getting all the training that in-plant workers receive?  What if they have reason to transit the production floor to visit HR or attend a safety committee meeting?

Is Red Light Running A Serious Problem?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirms that road deaths soared during 1Q2012 (by 13.5%) (see our article) and it is doubtless that some portion of these fatalities occurred at traffic light controlled intersections.

According to a recent article published at EHS Today, red light running is a serious concern.  The “Safer Roads Report 2012” summarizes data collected from 1,240 red-light safety cameras in 18 states and 142 municipalities with a total population of over 18 million.  Some of the key findings included:

  • Over 2.34 million red-light violations were observed in 2011.
  • The most violations, 30.7%, occurred in the afternoon from 1-5 p.m.
  • The fewest violations, 9.75%, occurred late night from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Greater likelihood of finding a red-light violator on a Friday (16%) than on a Sunday (12%).
  • Christmas had a 40% lower violation rate than the average day while June 3 earned the prize for the worst day for red-light running
  • In terms of major travel periods, Memorial Day Weekend ranked the highest, with over 27% more red-light runners than on the average weekend; Independence Day, Labor Day and Halloween were right up there as well.

The NCSR report references a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistic in which intersection-related vehicle accidents were responsible for more than 8,500 deaths in 2011.

All the data point to a clear conclusion:  the odds of encountering a red-light violator are significant.  Automated enforcement alone will not eliminate the behavior of being in a hurry or racing to beat a “yellow light”.  All drivers need to modify their habits to respect traffic signals, and be on the look out for red-light violators.

This is the subject of two brand-new interactive training modules introduced by SafetyFirst for it’s enhanced service clients.  Presently available in English or Spanish, the training can be assigned through our website or when an online-MOR (Motorist Observation Report) recommends specific training modules from our growing library of titles.

In addition to the new, interactive training modules, we have published multiple “Ten-Minute Training Topic” packages for the benefit of client drivers and their supervisors.

If you’d like more information about our training packages, enhanced safety hotline program, MVR profiling or other services, please contact us (1-888-603-6987 toll-free)

FMCSA Seeks 183% Budget Hike to Increase CSA Enforcement – Market Trends – Automotive Fleet

As reported by Automotive Fleet magazine (see link — FMCSA Seeks 183% Budget Hike to Increase CSA Enforcement – Market Trends – Automotive Fleet.) “the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) can only audit about 2 percent of the nation’s truck fleets due to its finite resources”.

The article asserts that these few audits are focused on “high-risk fleets“, but many would counter that the program designed to spotlight those operators (CSA) is flawed and has never been fully validated (the use of all crash data, not only “at-fault” data to establish scores as one example).

To now propose a radical increase in budget to spike enforcements (and levy fines) using this unproven and critically attacked system is either genius or heinous.

On one hand, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) attempt to define the bare minimum safety standards that should universally apply to medium and heavy duty vehicles engaged in interstate commerce.  There are flagrant violators and there are also “gold medal” companies who go far above and far beyond these minimums. 

Unfortunately, the stellar performers get underbid on cargo shipments by the flagrant violators.  This vicious circle works against the promotion of safe driving at reasonable speeds — the motor carrier with the fastest transit times and most blatant disregard for “hours of service” rules (and lower than realistic bids) often edge out the carriers who do it right and bid it appropriately.

Regardless of all the bystander’s rantings about CSA, one thing is clear — FMCSA is signalling it’s intent to ramp up enforcement. 

Curbing unsafe driving, inspecting and repairing equipment, documenting driver qualifications and handling all recordkeeping consistently are more important than ever before.  And that’s not a bad thing, is it?