One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is “just how do those safety hotline programs work?” Followed by “do they really produce a meaningful result?”
Let’s address results first, and then look at the mechanics of a strong program.
Safety hotlines really do work to help fleets cut crashes and spot drivers who may be “at-risk” of becoming involved in a crash or getting a police-issued violation.
A Safety Hotline is different from a “how’s my driving” program in that Safety Hotlines are really training programs that use a sticker to bring certain drivers “to the front of the line” to get urgent assistance from management in “no-fault training“.
How’s my driving systems get drivers fired or punished and are often poorly supported by the vendor — allowing crank calls because their call center handles magazine subscriptions, sales calls, and all sorts of in-bound and out-bound marketing in addition to taking safety calls.
SafetyFirst was the first to change this approach from “complaints” to “training” and others have tried to mimic our approach, but have never come close to our crash reduction results (even in head-to-head comparison tests!)
- About a dozen insurance carrier studies have been done between 1995 and 2010 validating the results consistently from independent study to independent study.
- Insurance carrier studies are helpful since they average out variances from fleet to fleet and cut across industry lines to pick up a diverse crowd of participants
- Insurer studies (done by their own safety teams) show a range of results from 22% to as high as 38% — with the stronger results being reported most recently as we continue to apply past learning to make the program more effective.
- At least as many safety directors of larger fleets have done their own studies, too.
- One involved 16,000 vehicles and documented a 24% reduction in claim count and a 25% reduction in claim costs – the study was done by a past chapter president of the American Society of Safety Engineers (he knew what he was measuring and how to do it!)
- Another involved 3000 telecom-infrastructure vehicles (pickups and vans) and documented a three-year cumulative reduction of 54%
- On the flip side, safety directors also looked at the relationship of reports to specific drivers found that the risk of collisions went up almost exponentially as one driver received a second, third, fourth observation report while other drivers (with the same vehicle and route complexity) got zero reports.
- Safety directors confirm that reports are not random results of crank calls – 98-99% of all reports were confirmed valid upon investigation and 80% of all drivers NEVER get a single complaint (typically those drivers with CLEAR MVRs), but 10% get multiple complaints (typically those drivers with questionable MVRs)
So how does it really work?
Initial Set Up
A participating fleet supplies a vehicle list and matches the largest possible decal to each vehicle type. This helps the decal be noticed and makes it easier for motorists to call in reports (hands-free!).
The decal includes a short slogan (which is there as an “icon” not something meant to be read by the motorist – they recognize the decal design) a specific identifying number and a toll free call in number (using all digits and no letters since hands free dialing is much easier with all digits – we were the first to go all digits in our industry recognizing the additional safety benefits to hands-free callers)
Motorists who observe truly egregious behavior on the road may choose to file a report by calling (hands-free) to our 24/7/365 call center and talking to a live operator who will move them through a concise interview to grab details about the situation. Our goal is to get the maximum amount of information in the shortest time possible and get the motorist off of their phone. Many times, motorists have already found a safe parking place to make their call.
Typical fleets get only two to three reports per 100 vehicles per month. There are factors which can swing that “norm” up or down, but it’s not a lot to review in order to stem off 20-30% of your crashes!
Report Transmitted to Client
The report is typed into a database, sent to a supervisor for review/audit and then our computer system attaches the appropriate training sheets (based on the categories of behavior noted in the report). This package is emailed to the location supervisor who controls that vehicle. The report may also be copied to their regional, divisional or corporate safety directors (and even their insurance carrier if designated).
The supervisor confirms who was driving the vehicle and schedules and interview with that driver. We provide a full training program for supervisors on how to prepare for, set up and conduct effective, no-fault coaching sessions.
Coaching – What Happens to the Driver?
During the coaching session, the supervisor will review the details of the report with the affected commercial driver and provide the training sheets to that driver. This opportunity for on-the-spot training shifts the focus of the meeting away from “blaming” and on to “training” for improved performance. Many supervisors also work with the driver to set personal goals for monitoring and checking “risky” habits that could lead to a ticket or crash.
If the supervisor feels that it is warranted, he/she may assign additional “online, interactive” training modules as they are closing out the report in our database. In that event, multiple (but short) reminder training modules can be emailed to the driver to take at home, from a kiosk, or even on their smart device such as an i-Pad during their downtime.
Where most online training programs average out to 37.5 minutes each, ours never exceed four minutes duration. We figure that if it takes almost forty minutes to explain why you should be using your signals, as a trainer, you’re “doing it wrong” and have probably lost your learner to boredom and information fatigue.
Most drivers NEVER get a report – in fact, 80% go without a report during their entire career. 10% get one report and never get another. 10% get multiple reports about risk taking while behind the wheel. It’s not a random chance that one driver gets a call and not another – it’s all about behavior.
Closeouts and Monthly Reporting
Each report gets closed out in our database. This accomplishes several important tasks:
- it shows a paper trail response to each report
- it builds a database of who was driving during each event (especially important for fleets who don’t permanently assign drivers to specific vehicles)
- it enables us to help corporate managers see how location supervisors respond to these reports and differentiate location by location loss performance
- it helps us build a benchmarking database by industry SIC classification
- it enables us to send monthly reporting of activity that is valuable and helpful in adjusting your existing safety tools and programs to become more effective.
Once a month we send an email with a series of links to reporting designed by our clients to be simple, helpful and informative. You don’t need to remember to come to our site and download things, and you don’t need to remember your ID and Password like our competitors programs (that don’t feature automated reporting). However, if you do keep your ID and Password handy, you can access a treasure trove of fleet safety and driver safety resources.
We maintain one of the largest libraries of fleet safety and driver safety materials on the internet. It’s only accessible by current clients and is updated four times a year with articles, presentation files, training packages for drivers and much more.
Monthly Training Topics for ALL Drivers
Even if you don’t access the library frequently, we automatically send out a monthly “Ten-Minute Training Topic” for you to use with your employees and their immediate families as you see fit.
The package includes a driver handout, manager’s supplemental report (about setting, reviewing or revising your company policies on that issue) and a pair of electronic slideshows. A different topic comes out each month, and can be used with any type of vehicle.
Each company uses the documents in slightly different ways – from classroom talks with on-screen presentations to payroll stuffers that go home in the pay checks. A new topic is sent each month and the archive of older topics has grown to more than 80+
Online, Interactive Training
Our learning management system enables our clients to upload their entire driver list, and bulk assign training modules with minimal mouse clicks. If your drivers have email addresses, it’s almost automatic, but if they don’t we can generate a PDF document with each driver’s log in credentials and a “how to” paragraph to get them started with ease.
Each course is related to various “real world” scenarios and issues. The onscreen content includes a mix of broadcast quality (HD) video, text, On Camera Host, and even computer animations to illustrate concepts. This mix of formats is highly engaging and represents the reality that adult attention spans (for better or worse) have been decreasing steadily.
The average television commercial is now 15 seconds long. Forty-minute+ training modules are dying dinosaurs and disrespect your driver’s professionalism by dragging along at such a plodding pace.
Since 2001, SafetyFirst has been integrating telematics data alerts into E-DriverFile and working with fleets on specialized reporting. Regardless of the hardware platform, you can leverage our data platform to accomplish multiple goals:
- Use our coaching system to translate GPS data into a behavioral safety outcome (one fleet did this and saw a 600% reduction in excessive speed alerts within 12 months time)
- Combine alerts with MVR data or other data points to spot drivers who may be “at-risk” of becoming hurt or driving up your CSA BASIC scores.
- Simply get more from your solution like “cell control” to block cell phone use without the hassles of competing systems
Last, But Not Least
The final step in our closeout process for those customers participating in our E-DriverFile suite is to post each “Safety Hotline” report to their driver risk profile. The driver risk profile is an extra-expense report that enables managers to develop their own “blended” score of MVR violations, Preventable Crashes, Telematics Alerts, and How’s My Driving notices. The driver risk profile helps validate the effectiveness of each of those programs and serves as an early warning indicator (by mixing leading and lagging indicators) that particular drivers need to be “brought to the front of the line” to get immediate help from their managers before a violation, or worse.
Safety Hotlines have come a long way in a short time. They’ve been repeatedly proven effective, and are very simple to use. They cost far less than other systems and provide a real value by becoming an extra layer to your safety processes. They do not need to alienate drivers any more than GPS, telematics, or camera systems might. The data captured has been validated by the safety supervisors, and these supervisors have used our training on “how to coach effectively” to host meaningful conversations about safety instead of letting these turn into confrontations about policies.
If you’ve never tried OUR program, you really can’t compare it to anything like you’ve used before — our approach is part of the success criteria of the program. Consider a fresh start and test our program — you’ll see the differences immediately — we know that driving safely is every driver’s responsibility.