PSP Use Affecting Crash Rates Among Regulated Fleets

LTBCS 2011The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a study in October which concluded; “…carriers using PSP reduced their crash and driver OOS rates over the general carrier population.

What is PSP?  The Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) was launched on May 11, 2010, and is a voluntary program that enables motor carriers to obtain five years of crash data and three years of inspection data on prospective new hires.  The system is specifically designed to help determine whether a driver applicant should be hired by the carrier.

So the question has lingered since the introduction of PSP — would its use make a difference in results?

From the study:

Since the mission of FMCSA is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and FMCSA data indicate that many crashes are due to driver error, the impacts PSP has on the safety performance of drivers and the motor carrier industry is of particular interest to the Agency.

The methodology examines crash rates and driver-related out-of-service (OOS) rates of the portion of the motor carrier population using PSP. Safety performance of these carriers is compared for a 12-month period prior to and 12 months after the start of using PSP. These data are then compared to a control group of motor carriers that did not use PSP.

FMCSA’s analysis determined that both the PSP group and the control group (non-PSP) experienced a decline in crashes in all size classes. However, the motor carriers using PSP witnessed a greater decline in crash rates over the non-PSP group in the four size classes. After adjusting the crash rate improvement of the PSP group by removing the control group effects, the PSP group still showed improvement in all four size classes (although statistical significance was shown in only two size classes). The overall adjusted improvement in the crash rates for the PSP group, across all size classes, was statistically significant (see Table 1). The PSP group also experienced a decrease in driver OOS rates in all size classes. When adjusted for control group effects, this improvement in driver OOS rates was still statistically significant in all size classes.

So the answer is, YES, carriers using PSP seem to have done a better job in qualifying and selecting candidates that perform better on the job.  Interestingly the use of PSP is steadily increasing, too.  “Currently, there are about 35,000 PSP users making about 70,000 requests per month.”

Accident Analysis

As reported in an article (click here) at truckinginfo.com, the specific results were impressive:

“The overall adjusted improvement in the crash rates for the PSP group, across all size classes, was statistically significant,” said the report.

Another example of a blended scoreIt also found those using PSP experienced a drop in driver out-of-service violations.

Overall it found crash rates declined 8% for carriers while driver OOS violations fell 17.2% for fleets using PSP, as opposed to those who haven’t

Declines in crash rates were even bigger for carriers who have between 6 and 20 drivers, falling 20.6%, and those with between 21-100 drivers, declining 21.1%.

FMCSA says the 12.4% decline in the crash rates with trucking operations that have 1 and 5 drivers, and a drop of 3.4%, for those with more than 100, are not statistically significant.

Declines in the driver OOS rates for carriers using PSP as opposed to those not using it, ranged between 10.1% for those with 21 to 100 drivers, to as much as 18.3% for those with between 1 and 5 drivers.

Most carriers use the system to verify or validate that the candidate accurately reports information about past OOS and crash data on their applications.  Some even use the data to help validate prior employer information and such.  Again, from the report:

  • The motor carriers that responded obtained a PSP report on every driver they
    hired. The most frequent use of the report, as described by the carriers FMCSA queried, is to assure that drivers are accurately reporting all information on their applications, and not omitting places of employment or crashes.
  • Violations in the PSP report for pre-trip inspections, logbooks, and speeding were high on the list of concerns and were generally believed to be a better indication of a driver’s safety performance rather than violations that the driver had little direct influence to avoid.
  • Motor carriers responded that they can also observe if drivers have worked for companies with poor safety ratings in the past.

smc 1All in all, the combination of screening and selection methods available to motor carriers seems to be enhanced greatly when using PSP consistently.  The combination of MVR, previous employer checks and PSP data can be insightful — SafetyFirst is able to provide PSP data and MVRs from all 50 states.  Let us know if you’d like more information on our driver risk profiling services, online training or GPS platforms.

The FMCSA report concludes with this observation:

“Anecdotally, companies that use PSP think the program has value, they use PSP for all of their hires, and they plan to continue using PSP. These companies tend to believe drivers with favorable PSP data are more in demand and, potentially, more marketable and valuable.”

A slide show summarizing the report is available by CLICKING HERE.

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More Drivers Testing Positive for Pot…

CDOT Drugged driving 1Several news reports have been published recently citing an apparent increase drivers testing positive for marijuana in Washington State since it was legalized in January.

According to Reuters:

In the first six months with pot legal in the state, 745 drivers stopped by police tested positive for the drug’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, in their blood, the data show.

Over half of those were over the state’s new legal limit of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.

By contrast, in each of the last two full years, about 1,000 drivers who were pulled over tested positive for THC.

The increase comes despite the fact that recreational-use pot stores will not open in Washington state until next year.

Washington State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins said the findings, while preliminary, indicate more people may be driving impaired than was the case before Washington and Colorado in January became the first states to legalize recreational use of the drug.

Whether people are driving under the influence of pot, alcohol or prescription drugs, Calkins said, “It all comes back to a bad decision to drive while impaired.”

Interestingly, the number of people pulled over by the State Patrol (on suspicion of driving under the influence of EITHER drugs or alcohol) during the same time period was roughly the same as each of two prior years (they’re not pulling more people over, but more have been testing positive).

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A New York Daily News article that covers the situation in Washington State mentioned the following:

Washington State Patrol says it found THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, in the bloodstream of 745 drivers pulled over this year.

That’s a nine percentage point increase from where we were last year at this time, Sgt. Jason Hicks explained.

“It was previously illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana and it remains illegal,” Mason Tvert, spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), told the Daily News.

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This Thanksgiving, Be Thankful for Your Seat Belt

NOTE: A special thank you to NHTSA for supplying this article as a free-use promotion of safe driving around the Thanksgiving holiday.

Another traffic pic“Thanksgiving is one of the great American holidays that involves a lot of travel. Family and friends from across the country or just across town take to the roads to visit together and celebrate, making it one of the busiest travel times of the year.

But the excitement and hustle and bustle of the holiday can be major distractions for those on the road, and all too often those distractions have deadly consequences.

That’s why it’s important to do the single most effective thing to save your life in the event of a traffic crash: wear a seat belt.

soc-07-thanks-buckle_turkey_lo-72-enThis Thanksgiving, SafetyFirst, highway safety advocates, insurers, and law enforcement officers across the country are spreading the message and  reminding travelers to always wear their seat belts with the Buckle Up America – Every Trip, Every Time campaign.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts saved almost 12,000 lives nationwide in 2011. In fact, research shows that with proper seat belt use, the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers is reduced by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by 50 percent.

Since such a simple step can be the difference between life and death, one would think everyone would always wear their seat belts while in a car. Yet that is not the case. Too many people still don’t use these lifesavers, and unfortunately, deaths which could have been prevented keep occurring every day.

In 2011, 52 percent of the people killed in all traffic crashes were NOT wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. During the 2011 Thanksgiving holiday weekend alone, 50 percent of those killed were unbelted at the time of the crash.

Nighttime is an especially dangerous time for deadly traffic crashes. Nationally in 2011, 62 percent of the 10,135 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in nighttime crashes were not wearing their seat belts, compared to 43 percent during the daytime hours. During the 2011 Thanksgiving holiday, 57 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants killed in nighttime crashes were unbelted, while only 40 percent of daytime fatalities were unbelted.

These deaths are unnecessary and preventable. Be careful on the roads and don’t let this Thanksgiving end in tragedy. Insist on proper seat belt use by everyone you travel with.

Remember: Buckle Up America – Every Trip, Every Time.

You’ll be thankful you did.

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Diversion Programs and Violation Masking

If you get pulled over for speeding in Minnesota, it’s increasingly likely the police officer will give you a choice: Pay the ticket, or take a safe driving class.

The classes usually cost less than the ticket, and the violation doesn’t go on your driving record.

More cities and counties are offering “diversion programs” because they keep cases from entering the court system. One state auditor’s report, though, says there’s a problem with these programs: They’re illegal.

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/11/14/news/driver-safety-class

PoliceIf you get pulled over for speeding in Minnesota, it’s increasingly likely the police officer will give you a choice: Pay the ticket, or take a safe driving class.

This legal tactic, known as “diversion” enables offenders to avoid prosecution (and resulting criminal record) in exchange for alternative outcomes like:

  • Education aimed at preventing future offenses by the offender (i.e. Traffic School in lieu of Moving Violations)
  • Completion of community service hours
  • Avoiding situations for a specified period in the future that may lead to committing another such offense

According to a wikipedia article on diversion programs:

Some jurisdictions in the United States, such as those in California, may impose the completion of DUI programs as punishment for drunk driving in the United States. One such program is the Victim Impact Panel (VIP). administered by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) since 1982. MADD typically charges a $25 “donation” (which is defined as voluntary), even for court-mandated attendance; MADD reported $2,657,293 one year for such donations on its nonprofit tax exempt returns.[11]

EdiscoverySome safety professionals do not like diversion programs since they tend to “mask” behaviors or habits that might otherwise be indicators of a deeper risk-taking mentality.  For example, suppose a chronic speeder relies on diversion programs to mask their speeding problem — ultimately, they may become involved in a fatal crash since their MVR (report of prior driving violations) didn’t signal the need for a stronger safety response.  Various reports have signaled that driver education programs often fail to reduce crash rates (click here) since:

  • Driver education does teach safety skills but students are not specially motivated to actually use them
  • Driver education could foster overconfidence
  • Driver education often fails to adequately address lifestyle issues
  • Driver education often fails to tailor content to student-specific needs

Further complicating matters is the fact that diversion programs are run locally — there’s no central reporting on who has participated and what the underlying cause may have been.  For corporate safety managers, that means giant holes in MVR reporting where all sorts of violations may have led to traffic stops, but there are no records to indicate an underlying issue with risk taking.

“We don’t want somebody with bad driving behaviors to be able to participate in diversion programs around the state and nobody knows how many they’ve participated in,” said [Minnesota] State Auditor Rebecca Otto. “If someone gets to participate in diversion in one county that’s doing this program, and then the next day they’re in a different city that has this program, their driving records are scattered all over.”

The view’s different, though, in sheriff’s offices and police departments across the state using diversion programs.

In Buffalo, Minn., the city started its Drive Smart program. Only people cited for minor moving violations — such as going 15 miles or less over the speed limit, running a red light, failing to yield – are eligible.  The number of programs like Drive Smart has nearly tripled over the last six years. More than 35 of them operate in cities and counties around the state.  [Unfortunately,]…There’s a range of fees. There’s a range of classes you get to take if you’re allowed to participate. One of them is an eight-minute online video that you watch.”

Motivating local departments and municipalities is the fact that generally a third of violation fines go to the state treasury, but diversion course fees largely stay local (a bigger cut of the pie stays at home).

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What do you think?  Should drivers be able to take an eight-minute online class and have a violation tossed as though it never happened?  In the end, would more drivers have more crashes if they have an underlying problem with risk taking while behind the wheel?  Is this all really about money in a tough economy?

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Update: “Google Glass”

Link — The Next Big Traffic Safety Debate: Google Glass.

While we’ve previously posted on the “Google Glass” device and whether it might pose a traffic safety distraction, here’s an update.

A driver from San Diego, California, has been ticketed for driving while wearing “Google Glass”.  The citation references CA Vehicle Code Section 27602 which says you can’t drive while some form of visual display is operating and is located in front of the driver’s seat or is otherwise visible to you while driving. Although mapping displays and GPS systems are allowed under that law, determining where wearing Google Glass fits in requires parsing a host of technicalities.

Other emerging technologies (like smartphones that get worn like a wrist watch) could open up interpretations of current law or trigger the creation of new regulations.

Regardless, our concern is with the level of distraction actually posed and whether it contributes to such a level of risk to warrant specific legislation such as texting while driving.

How National Income Predicts Traffic Safety

Link — How National Income Predicts Traffic Safety.

A recent article (link above) reminds us that road safety is often a factor of economics, not just engineering capabilities.  Countries with emerging economies often have individuals and businesses obtaining cars, trucks and buses before the infrastructure is really ready for the surge in traffic.

Here in the USA, we have topped the curve and see declines in traffic related fatalities due to advanced technology being steadily incorporated into new vehicles as “standard features”.

The article is worth investigating to provide context to our current traffic efforts.

Traffic Fatalities Increased In 2012

NHTSA 2012 OverviewWhile it’s tragic that deaths increased in 2012, we are glad that highway deaths over the past five years are at historic lows.  What’s strange was the sudden and unexpected rise in crash activity during the first two quarters of 2012 (the first quarter jump in activity was the largest spike in recorded NHTSA history.)

So here’s the latest from NHTSA:

  • …highway deaths increased to 33,561 in 2012, which is 1,082 more fatalities than in 2011. The majority of the increase in deaths, 72 percent, occurred in the first quarter of the year.
  • While Americans drove approximately the same amount of miles in 2012 as in the previous year, the new FARS data released today showed a 3.3 percent increase in fatalities from the previous year.
  • Fatalities in 2011 were at the lowest level since 1949 and even with this slight increase in 2012, we are still at the same level of fatalities as 1950. Early estimates on crash fatalities for the first half of 2013 indicate a decrease in deaths compared to the same timeframe in 2012.
  • Fatalities among pedestrians increased for the third consecutive year (6.4 percent increase over 2011). The data showed the large majority of pedestrian deaths occurred in urban areas, at non-intersections, at night and many involved alcohol.
  • Motorcycle rider fatalities increased for the third consecutive year (7.1 percent increase over 2011). Ten times as many riders died not wearing a helmet in states without a universal helmet law than in states with such laws.
  • Large-truck occupant fatalities increased for the third consecutive year (8.9 percent over 2011).
  • Deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers increased 4.6 percent in 2012, taking 10,322 lives compared to 9,865 in 2011. The majority of those crashes involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher – nearly double the legal limit.
  • The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328, while an estimated 421,000 people were injured, a 9 percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011. NHTSA is just beginning to identify distraction-related accidents, and is continuing work to improve the way it captures data to better quantify and identify potential trends in this area.
  • Nighttime seat belt use continues to be a challenge. In nighttime crashes in 2012, almost two-thirds of the people that died were unrestrained.

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NHTSA has prepared a summary of the 2012 data as a PDF which can be found HERE

Additionally, NHTSA has a preliminary look at 2013 available HERE

So if your fleet has seen an uptick in fender benders, consider a review of the many free articles offered at this blog site.  Further, if you need more specific help, call on us.

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