Improving or Maintaining Solid CSA BASIC/SMS Scores

Recently a colleague shared an excellent reminder on how to maintain (or even rehabilitate) SMS/BASIC scores.  It comes from a blog written by Bob Holtzman at Western Truck Insurance.  Here is a LINK to the original article where you’ll find even more helpful suggestions and related articles that should prove interesting.

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  • Buckle Up – With long hours on the road it is tempting to leave that seatbelt unbuckled, but this is one easy way to protect yourself. Buckle up as soon as you get into the truck. Make it a habit.
  • Motor Carriers Guide to ImprovingHang Up – Cell phone violations are a big deal. Make a commitment to not use your phone while driving. Instead focus on the road. You can check your text messages and make important phone calls when you come to your next stop.
  • Inspect Yourself – Don’t wait for violations to be discovered at an inspection; inspect yourself. Periodically give yourself a mental inspection and see how you’d do. Are you log books up to date? Is your truck in good repair? Are you speeding? Finding your potential problems before an inspection will give you time to make the needed adjustments and become a safer driver.
  • Check Your Data – When was the last time you used DataQs to check your safety data? Just like you should regularly check your credit score, you should check your Large_Trucks_Cover_Front-300x287safety scores for errors too. If you find any inaccurate information, get it checked and amended. 
  • Educate Yourself – Even the safest drivers can use a little reminder now and then. The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has created an online resource that commercial drivers can use toimprove safety practices. Common driving errors are discussed with tips for improvement. Short video clips are available to further teach Another example of a blended scoreand train. This is a great resource for any commercial driver.
  • Make Safety a Priority – Inspections might catch violations, but if you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do these violations will be few and far between. Focus on safety, not on your scores. When you institute safe driving practices the scores will follow. Safety should be your first priority. It’s more important than getting a load to its destination on time or squeezing in a few extra miles in the day.

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Study: Increased Risk of Problem Births for Pregnant Women involved in Crashes

mvr crash sceneA new study looked at records for 878,546 pregnant women, aged 16–46 years, who delivered a singleton infant in North Carolina from 2001 to 2008.  The study’s goal was to look for trends or patterns in the data.

Among the findings:

  • Women involved in a crash while pregnant had elevated rates of preterm birth, placental abruption and premature rupture of the membranes, compared to pregnant women who were not involved in a crash.
  • Pregnant women who were not using a safety belt at the time of the crash were nearly 3 times more likely to have a stillbirth than those who were buckled up.
  • The risk of any adverse outcome increased if multiple crashes occurred during the pregnancy.

Researchers said that more research is necessary to further study how multiple crashes and vehicle safety features influence the outcomes of pregnancies.

The study was published online Oct. 8 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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Do you have an unsafe driving remediation plan?

Motor Carriers Guide to ImprovingUnsafe driving includes risky behavior such as speeding, improper lane change, aggressive driving, and other types of  dangerous activity.

Recently, a motor carrier was placed out of service due to a range of reasons (Click Here for Article), but one of those reasons that caught my eye was “Widespread instances of drivers operating commercial passenger vehicles at speeds in excess of posted speed limits.

This made me wonder how the auditors arrived at this conclusion.

  • Toll receipt auditing?
  • GPS records review through “e-discovery”?
  • EOBR records or driver logs that showed getting from point “A” to point “B” in far less time than would be considered reasonable?

Unsafe CSA sheetRegardless of the mechanism to arrive at this conclusion, the immediate defense by the carrier should be to explain how they monitor and “control” drivers to avoid unsafe behavior or risk taking while behind the wheel.  Additionally, if those controls are deemed inadequate by the auditor, the fleet should be ready to prepare a remediation plan to curb the aggressive driving and keep it under control going forward.

If you use GPS or other systems that capture unsafe driving events (i.e. camera recorders, etc.) how do you measure performance violation rates?

  • What’s an acceptable level of speeding, hard braking, rough cornering, number of recordings per week per driver, etc?
  • How do you benchmark that against other operators to see if you’re above or below the norm for your type of operation?
  • Is your rate going up or down?
  • Do you have a plan to coach or re-train drivers when they exceed thresholds?
  • Is that documented and is it followed (how would you prove that it’s followed?)
  • Does your vendor help you solve these issues with reporting from their system and bench-marking against other clients?

At SafetyFirst we help our clients understand the metrics of our unsafe driver identification and coaching-remediation program.  We provide:

  1. live, statistically relevant bench-marking by SIC code,
  2. training for BOTH the supervisor and the driver (one on how to coach/counsel and the other on the consequences of risk taking while behind the wheel)
  3. The industry’s ONLY driver training program for excessive speed (GPS alerts)
  4. “paper trails and/or electronic confirmation” of activity in case of audits, and
  5. these capabilities for about 1/100th of the cost of the GPS or camera systems.

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Resources

smc 1The Safety Management Cycle (SMC) for the Unsafe Driving Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) helps carriers (and drivers!) evaluate existing processes over six areas including:

  1. Policies and Procedures
  2. Roles and Responsibilities, 
  3. Qualification and Hiring,
  4. Training and Communication, 
  5. Monitoring and Tracking, and
  6. Meaningful Action

By reviewing each of these areas, a fleet operator has the chance to spot gaps in management practices, shore up communications plans with drivers and test to make sure that policies are being followed and enforced.

We recommend you investigate these FREE resources from FMCSA for developing a plan to address unsafe driving before an audit team considers your operation for review:

Much of safety work is mundane and un-glamorous, but when executed consistently, can be highly effective at minimizing injuries, fines and violations.  Similarly, it can help bolster up-time, productivity and profitability.

Safer driving starts with a safety-aware, safety-vigilant driver, and this comes from managers who will compassionately intervene when performance issues arise.  Coaching shows concern when it’s focused as a “conversation about safety” instead of a head-butting “confrontation about blame/fault“.  At least that’s our opinion – how about you?

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How IS my driving?

UNFI on the roadBased on industry estimates there are several million commercial vehicles (ranging in size/type from SUVs/Vans and Pickups thru tri-axle dumps and tractor trailers) using some sort of “how’s my driving” placard system.

Some of these are internally developed and executed hotlines — where the observer is actually calling the fleet operation directly.

However, most of these hotlines are through a third-party specialist organization that handles all of the administration of:

  • Processing calls on a 24/7/365 basis (instead of dealing with voice mail during “off hours”)
  • Dispatching reports on a timely basis to the correct location supervisor so that he/she can coach the driver promptly
  • Delivering professional driver training materials to help in the coaching process — to focus on a safety “conversation” instead of a disciplinary or fault finding “confrontation”
  • Providing training to supervisors on “how to coach” productively (the goal is to influence drivers to look at their own behaviors and want to be safer tomorrow, not “prove” someone did something wrong)
  • Supporting a “close the loop” process — to track the status of each and every report
  • Providing simple, but valuable management reporting proactively BY EMAIL
  • Providing supplemental driver training modules for the benefit of ALL your drivers (keep them all safety minded).

Did You Know?

  • Eighty percent of all drivers NEVER get a complaint call report during their career?
    • Further, of the twenty percent who do get reports — half get ONLY one and NEVER get another.
    • However, the final group of drivers get call after call after call.
  • Typically these multiple reports focus on common themes — tailgating, following too closely, space management issues, speeding, aggressive driving, etc.
  • Often, the issues raised in the call reports mirror the past violations on the MVR of the affected driver.
  • Sometimes, the call reports actually forecast an imminent collision — in other words, ignore the report and waiting will result in either a violation or preventable crash.

Aren’t these just crank calls?  Motorists with an ax to grind?

  • Our clients investigate each report — even if it’s on a “star” driver or an unusual situation.  They find that only one or two reports out of every hundred are unable to be validated or were not helpful to their own investigation and coaching process.
  • If the reports were from crank callers, the callers would be picking trucks randomly out of the crowd.  The call statistics don’t show a random distribution of calls.  We see 80% of the drivers NEVER get a call, 10% get one (and never another) and 10% get multiples.  So if it’s all made up, why do some drivers get almost all of the reports?
  • Interestingly, the drivers who get multiple call reports have the same sticker as all their peers.
    • Their sticker isn’t larger or bright neon green or offering to pay a bounty for anyone who calls — so why do they get more reports than their peers?
    • Behavior, habits, risk taking, complacency…..call it what you may, but this represents a chance to HELP this driver avoid any future tickets, fines, or crashes.
    • All it takes is a management team willing to have a conversation, sit him/her down for some training, and keep an eye on them in case the training was ignored.

Isn’t this “old fashioned” and being replaced by Hi-Tech?

  • Just because something’s been proven effective and has been around for thirty years doesn’t mean it stops working.
    • Pizza has been on menus for much longer, but it’s still popular.
    • Baseball and Football have been around much longer and they’re still popular — why would something become ineffective just because it’s been around?
  • It is true that there are hi-tech toys and gizmos out there to monitor drivers.
    • They focus on location, idle time, on/off route, raw speed, harsh braking, harsh cornering, aggressive swerving, and harsh acceleration.
    • ultratrack_1_smThese systems can never detect running a red light, speeding through a school zone when children are present, passing a stopped school bus, discourtesy to other drivers, littering, speeding based on “at the moment” conditions of weather, traffic, etc. (and more).
    • They’re good at what they offer and may provide a fleet with great data; however, separating the mountains of “background noise” data from the “urgently actionable” issues requires a full time analyst who is not provided with the system.
    • We already incorporate telematics alerts into our coaching system.  One client recognized a 600% reduction in speeding behaviors by linking the two systems! (Click HERE)
    • These systems are roughly 100 times more expensive than “how’s my driving?”

Capturing Near Miss Data

People who call in a report about risk taking behavior typically do so because they were frightened or angered by what they saw.  Think about your own experience on the highways — you’ve seen risky behavior, but what would motivate you to actually place a call report (hands free!)?  Something that was “almost” a crash, but was, instead, a “near-miss”.

Rarely do we receive calls about trivial situations — typical calls deal with high speed merges, tailgating, weaving in traffic, and other situations that could lead to crashes featuring bodily injuries (not just physical damage).

Because our system self-selects the most egregious behaviors for reports, the number of reports is quite low — only two or three reports per month (per 100 vehicles).  However, the importance of each report is very high.  This is the opposite of telematics systems that produce mountains of paperwork and you’ve got to locate the needle in the haystack.

Here’s another way to look at this approach:

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Closing the Loop

Our clients have an aggregate close out rate of 80% — that means almost every report is investigated to the point that a definitive management action has been instituted.

Another example of a blended scoreFurther, several studies have conclusively shown that this coaching process (without video training or online training) has been the key to unlocking significant crash reduction results (10–30% fewer crashes than without the hotline program in place.)

So, now that we’ve been producing brief (5-7 minute) reminder videos for our online Learning Management System (LMS) we expect even stronger loss reduction results.

The first five remedial/refresher videos were produced in both English and Spanish (for use with non‐regulated fleets), and cover the following topics:

  1. Tailgating
  2. Improper Lane Change
  3. Honoring the Right of Way
  4. Driving Too Fast for Conditions
  5. Running Red Lights / Stop Signs

These five topics cover roughly 80% of all Motorist Observation Reports (MORs) generated at SafetyFirst, and a similar emphasis on moving violations.

We are in the process of releasing additional topics based on MOR trends, client recommendations and the level of enthusiastic adoption of the videos within our client base.

As of September 1, 2013:

  1. Exceeding the Speed Limit (dealing with GPS alerts!)
  2. Aggressive Driving
  3. Distracted Driving (Cell Phone/Text)
  4. Drowsy Driving
  5. Faulty Equipment
  6. Drug/Alcohol Use
  7. Driving Too Slowly for Conditions (Impeding Traffic)

Summary

Driving Too Fast PPTWhether a regulated fleet or not, our program offers a range of benefits worth considering — it’s very low cost, includes a monthly training package, urgent alerts about near miss events, coaching and re-training emphasis (instead of fault finding or blaming) and the ability to run your drivers through very brief, but highly motivational online training modules.

We’re already the industry leader in driver safety programs for:  Arborists/GreenCare, Social Service Providers, Municipalities, Pest Control, HVAC, Electrical Contractors, Beverage Delivery, Telecommunications, Food Processing and Distribution, Specialty Contractors, Construction, Auto Parts Wholesale and Retail, Retail (Direct Delivery) and more!

Why not check us out?

1-888-603-6987

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Profiling Driver Event History

All motor fleet operations generate or collect various data on their driver’s performance:

  • Violations/Tickets
  • How’s My Driving Alerts
  • Crashes (at-fault, preventable, etc.)
  • Telematics (GPS, EOBR)
  • Driver Logs
  • Toll Receipts (EZ Pass, etc.)
  • Automated enforcement violations (which come direct, not through MVR data)

Additionally, fleets track information about other types of driver “events”:

  • Completion of training classes (online, classroom, tailgate talks, etc.)
  • Completion of year or years with no crashes (ie. Awards)
  • Internal Company Violations
  • Customer Complaints
  • Supervisory Observation Reports

Historically, each of these data sources have been in their own “silo” or “compartment” — but what if we could get all of this data together in one spot?  We could:

  • Another example of a blended scoresegment all drivers by relative risk taking behaviors
  • segment all drivers by crash risk
  • segment all drivers by age, tenure, training completed and then compare their crash histories to build a profile
  • determine which factors precede a collision (i.e. how many incidents, which types of incidents, etc.)
  • assign a predictability score to each driver based on actual data trends and schedule them for additional coaching or training to modify their habits and risk taking.

More simply put, we’re trying to leverage data to build awareness and reduce crash likelihood.

Fantasy?  Millions of dollars needed?  Nope. It’s real, and it’s happening right now among some of the nations largest fleet operators.

Imagine searching through 6500 driver records to find the “at-risk” needles in the haystack. Now imagine doing that with the push of one button.

One of several SafetyFirst clients implemented our E-DriverFile system three years ago on a pilot basis, but then rolled it out to their entire corporation.  This enabled them to cut the number of “at-risk” drivers in half within the first year simply by targeting their current training and supervisory resources on those people at greatest risk of becoming involved in a collision?

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Further, our new, online safety training modules are laser cut to fit specific issues surfaced by our How’s My Driving Hotline and our E-DriverFile profiling system.  These modules zero in on those risk taking habits, and remind drivers that there are serious consequences to the choices they make when behind the wheel.

At five to seven minutes each, they represent the next generation of online learning — focused, sharp, brief, emotive and able to convince drivers to “internalize” the need and desire to driver more safely — to make wiser choices — to take fewer risks.

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To learn more, call us toll free at 1-888-603-6987

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Large Truck & Bus Crash Facts – 2011

LTBCS 2011The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has just released the “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2011” report which examines statistics about fatal, injury, and property damage only crashes involving large trucks and buses that occurred during 2011.

This is an annual publication and it is organized into four key chapters:

  1. Trends (compare 2011 against other time periods),
  2. Crashes (counts number of incidents),
  3. Vehicles (counts vehicles in crashes — single versus multiples, etc.), and
  4. People (counts persons of all types (passengers, pedestrians, etc.) involved in crashes).

Highlights from Trends:

  • In 2011, 3,608 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes, a 3-percent increase from 2010. However, from 2008 through 2011 the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes declined by 12 percent. The number of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes declined by 13 percent over the same period.
  • Over the past 10 years (2001 through 2011):
    • The number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes decreased from 4,823 to 3,608, a drop of 25 percent.
    • The number of large trucks involved in injury crashes decreased from 90,000 to 63,000, a drop of 30 percent.
    • The number of large trucks involved in property damage only crashes decreased from 335,000 to 221,000, a drop of 34 percent.

Highlights from Crashes:

  • Of the 273,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks in 2011, 3,341 (1 percent) resulted in at least one fatality, and 60,000 (22 percent) resulted in at least one nonfatal injury.
  • mvr crash sceneSingle-vehicle crashes made up 22 percent of all fatal crashes, 13 percent of all injury crashes, and 21 percent of all property damage only crashes involving large trucks in 2011.
  • Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred on rural roads, and about one-fourth (25 percent) occurred on rural and urban Interstate highways.
  • Thirty-four percent of all fatal crashes, 22 percent of all injury crashes, and 17 percent of all property damage only crashes involving large trucks occurred at night (6:00 pm to 6:00 am).
  • The vast majority of fatal crashes (85 percent) and nonfatal crashes (89 percent) involving large trucks occurred on weekdays (Monday through Friday).

Highlights from Vehicles:

  • Large_Trucks_Cover_Front-300x287Singles (truck tractors pulling a single semi-trailer) accounted for 61 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2011; doubles (tractors pulling two trailers) made up 3 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes; and triples (tractors pulling three trailers) accounted for 0.1 percent of all large trucks involved in fatal crashes.
  • Vehicle-related crash factors were coded for 4 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes and 3 percent of the passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes. Tires was the vehicle-related factor most often coded for both vehicle types.

Highlights from People:

  • Of the 3,757 drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes, 199 (6 percent) were 25 years of age or younger, and 175 (5 percent) were 66 years of age or older. In comparison, 5 (2 percent) of the 232 drivers of buses in fatal crashes were 25 years of age or younger, and 19 (8 percent) were 66 years of age or older.
  • Of the 3,757 drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes, 341 (10 percent) were not wearing a safety belt at the time of the crash; of those, 29 percent were completely or partially ejected from the vehicle. 
  • One or more driver-related factors were recorded for 56 percent of the drivers of Another example of a blended scorelarge trucks involved in single-vehicle fatal crashes and for 29 percent of the drivers of large trucks involved in multiple-vehicle fatal crashes. In comparison, at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 76 percent of the drivers of passenger vehicles (cars, vans, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles) involved in single-vehicle crashes and 52 percent of the passenger vehicle drivers in multiple-vehicle crashes. Speeding was the most often coded driver-related factor for both vehicle types; distraction/inattention was the second most common for large truck drivers, and impairment (fatigue, alcohol, drugs, illness) was the second most common for passenger vehicle drivers

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October 20-26, 2013

“Operation Safe Driver Mobilization Week” has been set for October 20-26, 2013.  This effort takes aim at distracted driving and driving safely around trucks & buses.

From their press release:

Nearly 4,000 people are killed and 100,000 others are injured in large truck and bus crashes each year on the highways. Many are the direct consequence of aggressive and unsafe driving by truck and bus drivers, as well as the passenger car drivers operating unsafely around them. This fatality figure equates to more deaths than a 737 airplane crashing every two weeks for a year.

During the week of October 20-26, 2013, law enforcement agencies across North America will engage in stepped up traffic safety enforcement aimed at unsafe driving behaviors, particularly distracted driving by both commercial motor vehicle and passenger vehicle drivers as part of “Operation Safe Driver,” a program sponsored by CVSA, in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and support from a number of other organizations, including FedEx Corporation.

Last year during this week-long mobilization effort, law enforcement officials engaged with more than 40,000 commercial and passenger vehicle drivers at 1,245 locations across the United States and Canada. This year’s enforcement blitz will be comparable.

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About Operation Safe Driver

Operation Safe Driver was launched in 2007 by CVSA, in partnership with the FMCSA, to address the problem of improving the behavior of all drivers operating in an unsafe manner—either by, or around, commercial vehicles—and to initiate educational and enforcement strategies to address those exhibiting high risk behaviors. For more information about CVSA’s education and outreach programs for drivers, including three educational programs and the “Curbing Distracted Driving” young/teen driver training DVD, which was released in May 2013, visithttp://www.operationsafedriver.org.

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About CVSA

CVSA is an international not-for-profit organization composed of local, state, provincial, territorial and federal motor carrier safety officials and industry representatives from the United States, Canada and Mexico. Our mission is to promote commercial motor vehicle safety and security by providing leadership to enforcement, industry and policy makers. In addition, CVSA has several hundred associate members who are committed to helping the Alliance achieve its goals, uniformity, compatibility and reciprocity of commercial vehicle inspections, and enforcement activities throughout North America by individuals dedicated to highway safety and security. http://www.cvsa.org

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Five oft-overlooked driver distractions…

Automotive Fleet Magazine offered a brief article on five key distractions that can lead to crashes, but don’t receive nearly as much publicity as texting and hand-held phones.

Here are some selective quotes from their article (whcih can be accessed by this link — http://www.automotive-fleet.com/channel/safety-accident-management/article/story/2013/10/5-forgotten-driver-distractions-to-wreck-ognize.aspx):

1. Eating Causes Driver Mistakes 
Eating while driving is riskier than talking/listening to a handheld device, according to NHTSA. After reviewing a 2006 crash-risk analysis, NHTSA found that the extended glance length of eating while driving caused a 1.57:1 crash-risk ratio while talking/listening to a handheld device while driving caused a 1.29:1 crash-risk ratio.

2. Don’t Resist a Rest
Drowsy driving reduces response time, which increases the crash risk ratio 4.24:1, according to NHTSA. Drowsiness typically has more to do with time-of-day rather than time-on-task.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) reported that drowsy driving is two times more likely to occur during the first hour of a work shift, because drivers are not fully refreshed and awake when they begin their day.

3. Living in a Dream World 
In 2013, Erie Insurance Company released its Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which reviewed nationwide crash data between 2010 and 2011. According to the data, police listed drivers as “lost in thought” 62 percent of the time as the cause of vehicle collisions.

4. Limit In-Car Entertainment
Controls, displays, and driver aids are standard driving tools today. After observing drivers who were instructed to perform radio tuning, NHTSA recorded that crash-risk increased after the driver’s eyes left the road for more than 2 seconds. Furthermore, NHTSA research noted that a task should not take longer than 12 seconds.

5. Put a Lid on Sightseeing
Drivers should constantly scan the road, but should not fixate on objects surrounding the road. According to the FMCSA, drivers who fixate on external objects — e.g., people, billboards, and landmarks — are likely to enter into a blind gaze where they are not paying attention to the road.

Older Driver Safety Awareness Week (December 2–6, 2013)

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) recognizes and wants to promote an understanding of the how important it is for older citizens to have mobility and transportation options.  This is critical to ensuring that older adults remain active in their local community—shopping, working or volunteering—with the confidence that transportation will not be the barrier to strand them at home.

Older-Driver-revised-banner-v2Throughout the week of December 2nd thru 6th, AOTA will bring attention to different aspects of older driver safety:

  • Monday: Identifying Changes That Can Affect Driving
  • Tuesday: Family Conversations
  • Wednesday: Screening and Evaluations
  • Thursday: Equipment That Can Empower Drivers
  • Friday: Taking Changes in Stride

See more at: http://www.aota.org/Conference-Events/Older-Driver-Safety-Awareness-Week.aspx

Tips for older drivers can also be found at the Mayo Clinic web site — http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/senior-health/HA00042

No. 1: Stay physically active

Staying physically active improves your strength and flexibility. In turn, physical activity can improve driver safety by making it easier to turn the steering wheel, look over your shoulder and make other movements while driving and parking. Look for ways to include physical activity in your daily routine. Walking is a great choice for many people. Stretching and strength training exercises are helpful for older drivers, too. If you’ve been sedentary, get your doctor’s OK before increasing your activity level.

No. 2: Schedule regular vision and hearing tests

Senses such as hearing and vision tend to decline with age. Impaired hearing can be a concern for older drivers by limiting the ability to hear an approaching emergency vehicle or train. And common age-related vision problems — such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration — can make it difficult to see clearly or drive at night.

Ask your doctor how often to schedule vision and hearing tests. Even if you think your hearing and vision are fine, stick to your doctor’s recommended exam schedule. Problems may be easier to correct if caught early.

No. 3: Manage any chronic conditions

Work with your doctor to manage any chronic conditions — especially those that might impact driver safety, such as diabetes or seizures. Follow your doctor’s instructions for managing your condition and staying safe behind the wheel. This might include adjusting your treatment plan or restricting your driving.

Of course, it’s equally important to know your medications. Many drugs can affect driver safety, even when you’re feeling fine. Read your medication labels so that you know what to expect from each one. Don’t drive if you’ve taken medication that causes drowsiness or dizziness. If you’re concerned about side effects or the impact on driver safety, consult your doctor.

No. 4: Understand your limitations

Consider your physical limitations and make any necessary adjustments. For example, if your hands hurt when gripping the steering wheel, use a steering wheel cover that makes holding and turning the wheel more comfortable. You might ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist, who can offer assistive devices to help you drive or suggest specific exercises to help you overcome your limitations.

You might also adjust your vehicle or choose a different vehicle to better meet your needs. For example, many older drivers find it easier to step into and out of a bigger car. Vehicles that feature larger, easier-to-read dials on the dashboard are often popular with older drivers. Features such as large mirrors and power windows and door locks can be helpful, too.

No. 5: Drive under optimal conditions

You can improve driver safety by driving during the daytime, in good weather, on quiet roads and in familiar areas. Plan your route to avoid rush-hour traffic. Delay your trip if the visibility is poor. Beyond road conditions, make sure you’re in optimal condition to drive. Don’t drive if you’re tired or angry — and never drive after drinking alcohol.

No. 6: Plan ahead

When you get in your vehicle, be prepared to drive. Plan your route ahead of time so that you don’t find yourself trying to read a map or printed directions while driving. If you use a GPS device, enter your destination before you start driving. If necessary, call ahead for directions or major landmarks, such as water towers, schools or other prominent buildings. While you’re driving, don’t do anything that takes your focus from the road — such as eating, using a cell phone or adjusting the radio.

No. 7: Update your driving skills

Consider taking a refresher course for older drivers. Updating your driving skills might even earn you a discount on your car insurance, depending on your policy. Look for courses through a community education program or local organizations that serve older adults.

In addition, know when it’s time to consider other alternatives. If you become confused while you’re driving or you’re concerned about your ability to drive safely — or loved ones or others have expressed concern — it might be best to stop driving. Consider taking the bus, using a van service, hiring a driver or taking advantage of other local transportation options. Giving up your car keys doesn’t need to end your independence. Instead, consider it a way to keep yourself and others safe on the road.

Everyone is a Pedestrian

Whether “my other car is a Mack Truck” or something a bit smaller, we all spend time walking from place to place, too.  Pedestrian safety is a big issue since vehicles and pedestrians interact at intersections, crosswalks and other places.

The term “pedestrian” actually includes more than just people walking along the road — according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), A pedestrian is 490x300-peds…any person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting or lying down who is involved in a motor vehicle traffic crash.

NHTSA recently released a revised Traffic Safety Fact sheet on Pedestrians, and launched a new web site to help educate about the opportunity to prevent injuries (http://www.nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/everyoneisapedestrian/index.html)

Consider that:

In 2011, 4,432 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 69,000 were injured in
traffic crashes in the United States. On average, a pedestrian was killed every two
hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic crashes.  (Traffic Safety Facts: Pedestrians, August, 2013)

Clearly, we have a responsibility to raise our collective awareness of the issues that lead to these injuries and deaths in order to prevent them.

Interesting factoids about pedestrian collisions recorded during 2011 (most recent complete year of stats available):

  • PEDESTRIAN-SIGN2Pedestrian deaths accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities
  • Almost three-fourths (73%) of pedestrian fatalities occurred in an urban setting versus a rural setting.
  • Over two-thirds (70%) of pedestrian fatalities occurred at non-intersections versus at intersections.
  • Eighty-eight percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred during normal weather conditions (clear/cloudy), compared to rain, snow and foggy conditions.
  • A majority of the pedestrian fatalities, 70 percent, occurred during the nighttime (6 p.m. – 5:59 a.m.)
  • The 4,432 pedestrian fatalities in 2011 were an increase of 3 percent from 2010
  • Older pedestrians (age 65+) accounted for 19 percent (844) of all pedestrian fatalities and an estimated 10 percent (7,000) of all pedestrians injured
  • The fatality rate for older pedestrians (age 65+) was 2.04 per 100,000 population – higher than the rate for all the other ages
  • Over one-fifth (21%) of all children between the ages of 10 and 15 who were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians.
  • Children age 15 and younger accounted for 6 percent of the pedestrian fatalities in 2011 and 19 percent of all pedestrians injured in traffic crashes
  • Thirty-two percent of the pedestrian fatalities occurred in crashes between 8 p.m. and 11:59 p.m.
  • The highest percentage of weekday and weekend fatalities also occurred between 8 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. (27% and 39%, respectively).

What can we do to prevent injuries and fatalities?

NHTSA offers a series of recommendations:

For Pedestrians:

  • Walk on a sidewalk or path whenever they are available.
  • If there is no sidewalk or path available, walk facing traffic (on the left side of the road) on the shoulder, as far away from traffic as possible. Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices, including radios, smart phones and other devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road environment.
  • Be cautious night and day when sharing the road with vehicles. Never assume a driver sees you (he or she could be distracted, under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or just not seeing you). Try to make eye contact with drivers as they approach you to make sure you are seen.
  • Be predictable as a pedestrian. Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections whenever possible. This is where drivers expect pedestrians.
  • If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area, wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
  • Stay off of freeways, restricted-access highways and other pedestrian-prohibited roadways.
  • Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flash light at night.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and judgment too.

For Drivers:

  • Look out for pedestrians everywhere, at all times. Very often pedestrians are not walking where they should be.
  • Be especially vigilant for pedestrians in hard-to-see conditions, such as nighttime or in bad weather.
  • Slowdown and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
  • Always stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop too.
  • Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. They are stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the street.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Follow the speed limit, especially around pedestrians.
  • Follow slower speed limits in school zones and in neighborhoods where there are children present. 

Did you know that fact sheets on other topics are available from the National Center for Statistics and Analysis?  Topics cover issues like: Alcohol-Impaired Driving, Bicyclists and Other Cyclists, Children, Large Trucks, Motorcycles, Occupant Protection, Older Population, Rural/Urban Comparisons, School Transportation-Related Crashes, Speeding, State Alcohol Estimates, State Traffic Data, and Young Drivers.

Detailed data on motor vehicle traffic crashes are published annually in Traffic Safety Facts: A Compilation of Motor Vehicle Crash Data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the General Estimates System.

The fact sheets and annual Traffic Safety Facts report can be accessed online at www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/CATS/index.aspx.