Insurance Carrier UBI and Telematics Vehicle Tracking Conference

TeleMaticsInsurers interested in promoting driver safety by telematics vehicle tracking, and UBI styled programs participated in a conference hosted by SafetyFirst Systems on November 6, 2014 in Morristown, NJ. Driver safety online courses and related topics were also addressed.

For more details — visit http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/11/prweb12321887.htm (will open in a new window/tab)

Large_Trucks_Cover_Front-300x28730,000 road deaths from motor vehicle crashes annually is unacceptable. Insurers agree that preventing injuries and damages that result from commercial vehicle crashes is a priority.

Unfortunately, about 75% of all insured fleets operate without the benefits of telematics vehicle tracking, driver safety online course, hotline stickers or other critical fleet safety mechanisms. Of the fleets with telemtatics vehicle tracking systems, many struggle to find ways to translate mountains of data into urgently actionable follow ups with their affected drivers.

On Thursday, November 6, 2014, SafetyFirst hosted a conference in Morristown, NJ for representatives from fifteen insurers gathered from across the country. The group Quoteable quotediscussed barriers which prevent many commercial fleets from adopting telematics vehicle tracking, and what could be done to get a system installed in many more fleets to increase fuel efficiency, decrease carbon emissions, increase safety results and decrease the likelihood of injuries due to crashes.

Current estimates suggest that 75% of commercial fleet policyholders do not use telematics vehicle tracking in their safety program efforts, and are unable to monitor driver redlight cam picturebehaviors that lead to crashes such as driving excessively fast, tailgating and weaving through traffic. A greater adoption rate of this critical safety tool could save lives immediately. Insurers, as trusted advisers, have the ability to properly and professionally influence the adoption of this technology to reduce injury-producing crashes. SafetyFirst, as a supplier-partner to more than 75 insurance providers, offers a best-in-class solution that fits fleets of all types and sizes.

While not discussing any proprietary or sensitive strategies related to insurance carrier operations, the program facilitated discussion around ways to promote SafetyFirst’s telematics vehicle tracking to more commercial fleet operators in a reasonable and affordable fashion.

Comments from the audience included:

…received a clear definition of facts versus typical marketing hype about device capabilities and reporting options. The data set produced by the GO7 is very detailed if not a little overwhelming. With the help of SafetyFirst and Verisk Analytics, the underwriting team has begun to tackle the challenge of how to use the collected data within our organization… – VP Underwriting

A great crowd of expertise represented…provided good food for thought as our organization moves forward on strategy around telematics offerings” – Loss Control Manager

“Outstanding session!  Exactly what I was looking for today” – Chief Underwriting Officer

About SafetyFirst — Dedicated to reducing the likelihood of commercial vehicle crashes and the costs associated with them, we provide a complete range of driver safety services to the insurance industry for the benefit of their respective policyholders. Programs include training, hotline reporting, DOT compliance, automated MVR profiling, and more.

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Drowsy Driving Update 2014

National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week runs November 2-9, 2014. Highlighting the need for drivers and safety teams to focus on drowsy driving, the AAA AAFTS Drowsy DrivingFoundation for Traffic Safety has issued a new research report which states that 21% (one in five) fatal crashes involved driver fatigue. Further, the report summary indicates that:

  • 6% of all crashes in which a vehicle was towed from the scene,
  • 7% of crashes in which a person received treatment for injuries sustained in the crash,
  • 13% of crashes in which a person was hospitalized, and
  • 21% of crashes in which a person was killed involved a drowsy driver.

How did we miss the scope of these crashes?  AAAFTS suggests that National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics “are widely regarded as substantial underestimates of the true magnitude of the problem.”  Why?

The statistics reported by the NHTSA are based on data compiled from reports completed by police officers investigating the scenes of motor vehicle crashes. However, unlike impairment by alcohol, impairment by sleepiness, drowsiness, or fatigue does not leave behind physical evidence, and it may be difficult or impossible for the police to ascertain in the event that a driver is reluctant to
admit to the police that he or she had fallen asleep, if the driver does not realize or remember that his or her performance was impaired due to fatigue, or if the driver is
incapacitated or deceased and thus unable to convey information regarding his level of alertness prior to the crash. This inherent limitation is further compounded by the design of the forms that police officers complete when investigating crashes, which in many cases obfuscate the distinction between whether a driver was known not to have been asleep or fatigued versus whether a driver’s level of alertness or fatigue was unknown.

Based on these concerns, many experts have concluded that the NHTSA data was merely indicating the tip of a large iceberg of hidden or mis-coded results.  Compounding this opinion were results from other studies, including naturalistic (camera in cabin, continuously recording) studies showing a much higher rate of drowsy driving related events.

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Of course, this study makes several assumptions and may not present a perfect picture of drowsy driving in the USA.  However, it is reasonable to assertively promote tactics to avoid drowsy driving situations based on the following:

  • drivers are unable to prevent micronapping from occuring – the fatigued body will overpower their mind’s alertness
  • Poor diet, lack of exercise, frequently interrupted sleep periods, lack of consistent sleep cycles all contribute to weak health and drowsiness.
  • Many “home remedies” for drowsy driving may work for a few minutes, but can’t be relied upon for a real solution — many drivers who’ve turned on the air conditioning or turned up the radio still had crashes happen.

Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is quoted as saying;

Despite the fact that 95 percent of Americans deem it ‘unacceptable’ to drive when they are so tired that they have a hard time keeping their eyes open, more than 28 percent admit to doing so in the last month,”…“Like other impairments, driving while drowsy is not without risk.”

AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds sums it up nicely;

Unfortunately many drivers underestimate the risk of driving while tired, and overestimate their ability to deal with it.

Find other articles on drowsy driving at https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/?s=drowsy%20driving

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Searching for answers on distraction

dis-enf-10-ever-officials_lo_res-post-72-enThe Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently published a Status Update titled “Searching for answers on distraction.”

This Status Update sheds new light on our evolving understanding of distracted driving, it’s contributing factors and compounding factors.

The article begins with a clear admonition followed by the conclusion of this most recent study:

Using a cellphone while driving is risky and can lead to crashes. Making or taking calls, texting, or interacting with an electronic device in any way can take your eyes off the road at a critical moment…

…A new study by IIHS in partnership with Virginia Tech helps clarify the risk of cellphone use behind the wheel and offers insight into other distracting things drivers do when they aren’t using cellphones. The research points to the need for a broader strategy to deal with the ways that drivers can be distracted.

It seems that as soon as this study and it’s summaries were released, critics came shouting that the study undermines the need to be vigilant in discouraging cell phone use of any type. However, the article makes it plainly clear that cell use isn’t the only issue we need to consider (yes, avoid cells, but no, don’t myopically focus on cells as the sole problem source)

Here’s the rub.  While cell use has skyrocketed, during the same time period, overall crash rates have plummeted.

drop in crashes over time

What does that mean?  From the study:

This doesn’t mean phone use behind the wheel is harmless. Numerous experimental studies have shown that talking on a cellphone reduces a driver’s reaction time, potentially increasing crash risk. Cellphone use also affects how drivers scan and process information from the roadway. The cognitive distractions associated with cellphone use can lead to so-called inattention blindness in which drivers fail to comprehend or process information from objects in the road even if they are looking at them. Studies also have found negative effects of texting on driving performance. The research is still unfolding, but there is a basic conundrum: Why is a distracting behavior not increasing crash rates?

The studies suggest a link between compounding behaviors and crash risk – when distracted in different ways or by more than one type of distraction, crash risk seems to go up.  So “multitasking” while driving = you’re not really driving, you’re busy being productive at your day job instead. Plus, some other behaviors seem to be even more problematic than talking on your phone.

Cell Phone Distraction VTTI IIHS 2014

This simply means we need to work at getting drivers to become more vigilant in their driving duties regardless of the nature or source of their distraction — indeed, put down the phone, but also stop the other distractions, too!

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Near Miss Reporting for Fleets

Featured Image -- 1451Every day drivers operate their vehicles amidst the chaos of growing congestion caused by stressed-out and distracted drivers.  Vehicles drift out of lanes as drivers distract themselves with gadgets or texting. Other drivers mindlessly tailgate with the mistaken belief that by driving close to the vehicle in front they’ll somehow arrive sooner.

When two (or more) vehicles almost collide, but don’t, many motorists might utter some exclamation, shake their head about how bad the other driver is and continue on their way.  Many safety professionals would label the incident as a “near miss”1,2 – as in “it was nearly a collision but we missed”.

dis-enf-10-ever-officials_lo_res-post-72-enCollecting data on near miss incidents in the workplace is an emerging part of many safety professional’s jobs:  they have the advantage of making direct observations of the workplace, soliciting feedback from employees and even building a culture of self reporting of near misses.

The driver safety specialist has a harder time obtaining near miss data since drivers are not likely to self report near misses as they happen, make detailed observations of all circumstances, or remember details from an early morning incident at the end of their day.

If there were convenient mechanisms enabling us to collect and analyze near miss data, it would help us:

  • Address flawed processes and procedures (i.e. scheduling, routing, dispatch, etc.)
  • Investigate enhancements to equipment (i.e. mirrors, steps, rails, etc.)
  • Adjust educational programs for content, length, periodicity, etc.
  • Cross reference this new data against historical information (i.e. crashes, violations)
  • Tailor our finite attention and resources where it can have strongest and most immediate impact.

Most importantly, it would give us an opportunity to hit the “pause button” on life and compassionately intervene with our operators – perhaps before a “real” collision actually happens, injuries are incurred or violations are issued.

Don’t we already accomplish this with historical data?

Near Miss Article sidebar 1Fleet safety professionals have tirelessly identified drivers who may be “at-risk” of becoming involved in a collision by looking at historical data.  The phrase “historical data” is often interchangeably called “lagging data” since the information lags behind the actual incidents that we aim to avoid.

The difficulty with depending on lagging indicators of performance is that the driver must “suffer” the consequences in order to appear on the safety professional’s reporting matrix.

How would a driver “suffer” negative consequences?  Getting cited by a police officer would typically result in:

  • Policea fine paid out of pocket by the driver,
  • lost employment time if the driver must appear in court,
  • increased personal car insurance for the driver, his/her spouse and any other drivers (i.e. teens) in their household
  • decreased employability of the affected driver due to a littered MVR/Abstract which is reviewed by prospective employers as part of their hiring/screening process

Near Miss Article sidebar 2Further, for some drivers with extreme violations or a history of violations, it may mean:

  • possible loss of driving privileges, suspension or revocation of license
  • possible loss of employment

In short, lagging indicators provide very valuable insights, but come at a very real cost to the organization and the employee.  Leading indicators of performance, while harder to pinpoint, chart the way forward towards prevention and avoidance.

The comparison of leading vs. lagging indicators led one commentator to ask the provocative question; “Are your managers operating as company doctors or coroners?”7 Put another way, is the focus of your effort principally to increase wellness, or does it feel like you’re spending most of your time doing “post-mortem” examinations?

To be very clear, the MVR/Abstract review process and post-crash investigations, et.al. are vital safety tools and shouldn’t be abandoned; however, it is clear that it would benefit the driver and the employer to find ways to identify “at-risk” drivers before they receive violations or get into crashes.

The identification and inclusion of “leading indicators” (indicators of “at-risk” performance, habits or behaviors prior violations or crashes) would make a significant difference.  Near miss reporting would be one set of leading indicators that could help.

How might we get this data? 

There are a number of resources available that provide insight into “near miss” events – those events that would have been collisions – IF – conditions had been slightly different, or reports of habits/behaviors that if left unchecked will likely lead to collisions or violations.  I’d like to offer a short list of some examples:

  • Near Miss Article sidebar 3Commentary Drives and Supervisor “Ride-Alongs”
  • Driver Safety Hotlines (aka “How’s My Driving?”)
  • Tachographs, Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBR), “Telematics” devices

During commentary drives, near misses may occur which provide the opportunity for immediate “no-fault” training and coaching. This approach is highly proactive, but requires a tremendous amount of resource time to ride with 100% of drivers.  Some fleets use this method with all drivers on a periodic basis (once every X years) and others use it when drivers have been identified as needing help through lagging or other leading indicators. This second approach (selectively using commentary drives) reduces the number of drive events to effectively coach those drivers who may be at greatest risk.

Another efficient resource for near miss and behavioral data is the humble and sometimes misunderstood Driver Safety Hotline.  Sometimes called a “How’s My Driving?” program, it is designed to solicit feedback on behavior – praiseworthy or risky – from other motorists.  Safety Hotlines have been repeatedly studied by groups large and small to see what effect the program has on crash rates:  these studies provide compelling testimony that the data leads behavior and management intervention reduces crashes by 10-30% in most cases. These studies were conducted in a manner that is similar to studies validating most technology platforms, and in one case included three and a half years of data derived from 30,000 power units in varied industries from among 200 fleets.  This provides much richer statistical data than many technology studies that were limited to “test pilots” of 25 to 50 vehicles in one or two fleets for time periods of less than a year.

The secret of the success of this program has been:

  1. Using the reports as a springboard for “no-fault” refresher training instead of blame setting9
  2. Incorporating the reporting as a positive element of safety cultures and behavior safety programs10,11
  3. Managers who will discuss the report with the driver to set individual safety goals for modified behavior.12

On-Board recording devices generate specific data sets on vehicle performance and by extrapolation, driver behavior.  Data sets typically include vehicle location through the course of the day, speed, harsh acceleration, harsh braking, swaying and sudden shocks or bumps.  Most systems report this data to a central reporting hub and management can review the historical data for exceptional events.  Some systems provide immediate feedback to the driver as events occur:  either through a flashing light or some sort of sound making device.

The successes of most on-board devices has been clearly documented in fuel savings, idle-time reductions, man power resource tailoring from routing efficiency and other “operations” metrics.  These benefits are significant, but don’t directly impact the reduction of crashes by themselves.  The challenge to most managers is finding the best way to translate volumes of data into enhanced behaviors.

You see, telematics data may be generated in a very different manner than a How’s My Driving report or commentary drive, but the application of that data to affect driver change can be as poorly executed or as brilliantly managed in any of these programs.

Telematics data showing speeding events can be hotly denied by drivers who’ll come up with clever (and often accurate) responses – locations are often “estimated” by satellite triangulation, and sometimes speeds are misread based on locations at crossroads or underpasses, etc.  After managing the data from both telematics and safety hotline programs (our clients have begun sending their telematics data to SafetyFirst for enhanced reporting and better training options), we have found that drivers are actually more inclined to deny the telematics alerts than the how’s my driving reports!

Additionally, the amount of data from some telematics programs can become overwhelming.  I’ve heard safety managers say that “there’s probably a lot of really good information buried somewhere in the pile of reporting”, but they can’t manage it on a daily basis.  If you call it “information overload”, “background noise” or even “dial tone” then you’re likely to move on to other priorities or return to only working with lagging indicators.

Our own firm’s experience is that there are clever and easy ways to avoid information overload and get traction in translating the data into a well crafted coaching session.

By sorting the urgently actionable items from the background noise and then leveraging the coaching processes pioneered and perfecting in the safety hotline program, our hybrid approach managed to reduce excessive speeding by 600% in one year at a major fleet operation. (Click HERE)

Fortunately, in the case of commentary drives and driver safety hotlines, the amount of data is self-prioritizing.  The ride-along supervisor can prioritize in real time as the drive continues, and most fleets using hotlines only get reporting on about 2% to 3% of their drivers in any given month (focused on the most egregious behaviors seen on the highway – motorists are not motivated to report trivial issues).

Dealing with Data Organizationally

Dealing with raw data, whether we call it a near miss report, motorist observation report or telematics alert, presents opportunities and concerns:

  1. We ought to be respectful of drivers and their privacy – no one wants to see their personal data on the company bulletin board as an “example to others” (i.e. share the lesson to be learned, but don’t embarrass the operator). Near miss reporting programs can be most productive when conducted in an atmosphere of trust and proactive goal setting rather than couched in threats and blame.
  2. We need a system to hold and correlate the data – to provide meaningful management reporting that can distinguish patterns and trends that may signal a larger policy/procedure or system issue13
  3. We need access to urgently actionable data in a timely fashion – to coach drivers while the event is still fresh in their mind14 while suppressing “background noise” data15
  4. We need to have a data retention plan in place to either preserve data from spoliation or to properly dispose of old records when the data is no longer relevant to our near miss program16
  5. Coaching Tips TitleWe need to develop policies and procedures that create a uniform method to dealing with the data — that it needs to be used to educate and redirect behavior – not as a blame setting tool. Playing the “GOTCHA” game with drivers isn’t likely to improve results or encourage them to embrace the technology that is “getting them in trouble”.   Working with an individual driver to set personal and professional goals related to changing habits can be challenging, but also lifesaving (or injury/violation avoiding) at the same time.

Driver Attitudes vs. Manager Attitudes

When capturing near miss data, drivers and managers may argue about data quality or what should be done with the data that is acquired.

  • In the past, we’ve met professionals who used to argue about “crank calls” on hotlines as a reason to ignore the data; however, 98% of hotline reports are confirmed accurate by safety managers who actually investigate each report and talk with their drivers.  The 2% of reporting that is discarded or deleted comes mainly from transcription errors (i.e. transposed vehicle numbers, etc.) 
  • Even commentary drives are susceptible to data quality errors: no two driver supervisors will share the same biases or spot all the possible hazards given the same route, same vehicle and same day.
  • Telematics data, while “scientifically” obtained can also be erroneous and a source of contention for drivers if they feel threatened by its “alerts”.

CoachingMy point?  Any near miss or leading indicator program could become a source of arguments and negotiations, or become a proactive “game changer” in terms of safety results.  It’s really up to the management team to decide if they’re going to help drivers improve through a positive coaching and training program or merely spin the revolving door of driver turnover by using data merely for discipline.  Unfortunately, it’s often easier to play the “gotcha” game of confrontation over alerts than to actually make the time to have an eye-to-eye, “no-fault” coaching session about improving habits to be safer while behind the wheel.

The first step is training supervisors on how to use the data to get a positive change.

SafetyFirst, in close cooperation with its own clients, has produced a supervisory training program called “Coaching Drivers – Conversations That Make a Difference”.  This program helps managers to make coaching sessions a positive experience by keeping focused on the safety lessons to be learned without getting sidetracked into confrontations over blame and who was right or wrong.

Without a consistent coaching process in place, the most accurate leading indicator, or near miss data, will not be effective in getting drivers to change habits.

This isn’t just a good idea – it’s been studied. Researcher Sunil Lakhiani of the University of Wisconsin-Madison presented findings from a study on near-miss reporting systems to the American Institute of Chemical Engineers at the 7th Global Congress on Process Safety in Chicago in March 2011. Lakhiani reported that a positive management culture towards safety made a significant difference in the employee’s participation in near miss programs.

ALERT CSARecently, one of our larger clients inadvertently proved the coaching point as well.  They had installed telematics devices in several thousand vehicles for dispatch, routing, and related reasons.  During the first full year using the system, they also accumulated 1700+ excessive speed alerts (above 80 mph for a minute or more), but had no mechanism to push the alerts out to the drivers for coaching.  We worked with their telematics provider to have the alerts sent to our safety hotline where we treated the alerts like a motorist’s call-in observation.  The net change was dramatic.  By sending training materials, requiring the location manager to coach the driver and return the completed report showing goals discussed, training completed and corrective actions taken, they dropped the number of alerts to under 200 in the subsequent year.  Coaching makes a difference regardless of the data source if it’s handled in an atmosphere of trust and prevention.

What about driver education as a leading indicator?

Some safety professionals have considered driver education (its frequency and aggregate duration) to be a possible leading indicator of performance.  Let’s briefly consider the case for and against this conclusion.

Driver education can be used to introduce new skills or remind drivers of practices and procedures that they should already know due to previous educational experience.  In the case of new skills, many safety professionals may argue that habits not a lack of driving skills are the predominate cause of (arguably) 90% of all motor vehicle crashes.17 Therefore, the use of education programs to:

  • Remind operators of key safety policies affecting their daily activities, and to
  • Increase situational awareness and the rapid recognition of hazards while driving

is an ideal practice to help reduce the likelihood of future collisions.  Additionally, the assumption that an increase in education events (frequency/periodicity) or the overall number of hours of training (duration/aggregate) can reduce collision rates seems highly reasonable.

While we’ve characterized commentary drives as a near miss reporting platform, they were initially introduced as a method of driver education.  In this regard, they may be part of a leading indicator measurement system, too.

Individual fleets may set driver education as a leading indicator to be verified in hindsight (did crashes go down during the year we increased our education efforts?)  Indeed, firms who introduce the varied near miss reporting systems already discussed will likely increase their education efforts as they conduct refresher sessions with drivers who participate in commentary drives, get telematics alerts or safety hotline observations.

Unfortunately, this author has not located many detailed studies published on the links between driver education and crash results other than the ATRI study conducted in 2008 titled; “A Technical Analysis of Driver Training Impacts on Safety18 In this study, 17,000+ driver records were studied to examine correlations between training and collisions/violations:

“The total “contact hours” or hours of interaction provided by training programs vary greatly from 88 hours to 272 hours. In addition to identifying the total contact hours a student is exposed to in a training program, participating training institutions provided details on the number of training hours that occurred within various training environments, such as the classroom, in-truck, behind-the-wheel and using a simulator. These environments vary between programs, with programs weighting and emphasizing classroom and in-truck training differently. Additional information was collected on the type of instruction that takes place within each training environment.”

The report’s conclusions included:

“…the analysis finds little variation among driver safety performance that can be explained by training program duration within the range of 88 to 272 hours.”

“…the lack of a safety improvement trend line towards the longer duration programs does not provide the researchers with a basis for this conclusion.” [that more training would necessarily result in greater safety results]

To be very clear, this author is not suggesting that driver education is any less valuable or critical to a firm’s safety program.  In fact, it is crucial.  It may be especially valuable when used to focus resources on those individuals deemed “at-risk” by the near miss system.  As a leading indicator, it may be more valuable when blended with near miss reporting or other elements of an existing driver safety program.

Setting a strategy for success

Hopefully you are feeling encouraged that driver safety programs can greatly benefit from incorporating near miss reports into their existing safety program.  Near miss reporting serves as a leading indicator to help balance your “scorecard” of valuable lagging indicators such as historical crash reports and MVR/Abstract profiling.

Each organization endeavoring to launch a near miss program should make a plan on how to incorporate this new data into their current safety program:

  • Outline where data will come from and how it may be used (i.e. will it be used for education only, or can it be used for discipline, if so, under what circumstances?)
  • Develop a process to deal with system faults or physical hazards (i.e. dispatch errors, maintenance items, equipment issues, loading processes, etc.)
  • Review historical crash and/or violation data (lagging indicators) and compare to near miss data for trends (i.e. prior to all preventable crashes, these types of near miss reports or leading indicators were present; therefore, if we see these near misses or leading indicators, we need to respond urgently to prevent a crash)
  • Have a clear process or procedure – who will be responsible to collect and distribute data?
  • Develop a coaching process to interact with affected drivers to affect a change in habits
  • Develop a process to track the success of the program (i.e. are collisions decreasing, are police citations/violations decreasing?)
  • Celebrate the progress with all affected employees – include them in the results as well as the coaching sessions

Summary

Near miss reporting is a valuable tool.  It requires a strong, consistent commitment from the management team at all levels to use the data to compassionately intervene with drivers in a trusting manner.  Building trust will take time, but it pays huge dividends in safety results for both drivers and management teams.  Coaching and education are two sides of the same coin, and each has it’s own supporting role to play.  If you want to get on the leading indicator side of the driver safety equation (while not abandoning lagging indicators), then near miss reporting may be the place to start.

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Feedback?

During my safety career, I’ve learned that despite all of the networking, conferences and research, I know I don’t have all the answers. I also know that together we can each contribute pieces of the puzzle to get to a better understanding of most any safety issue.  I’d love to learn about your experiences with near miss reporting in fleet operations, and hear about your concerns about leading indicators, too.  How do you currently identify drivers who may be “at-risk” of becoming involved in a collision?  Do you incorporate leading indicators into your driver risk profile, or just lagging indicators?  Do you want to launch a leading indicator or “near miss” program, but aren’t sure where to start?

Many safety professionals are active on social networking sites like LinkedIn and share comments and questions through discussion groups.  Would you be willing to discuss this article online?  If that’s too “public” of an environment, I’d be very happy to talk with you directly, too (1-888-603-6987 toll free).

END NOTES:

1http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_miss_(safety)

2http://www.toolboxtopics.com/Gen%20Industry/Near%20Miss%20-%20The%20One%20That%20Almost%20Happened.htm

3http://www.atri-online.org/research/results/One-Pager%20CMVE.pdf

4http://www.atri-online.org/research/results/ATRI_Crash_Predictor_One_Pg_Summary_Apr_2011.pdf

5http://www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov/Pages/default.aspx

6http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/about/basics.aspx

7http://www.bptrends.com/publicationfiles/TWO%2003-09-ART-Leading%20vs%20Lagging-Gotts-final.doc.pdf “Leading Indicators vs. Lagging Indicators” by Ian Gotts, March 2009, BP Trends

8http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_commentary_driving

9https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/recent-news-articles-on-safety-hotlines/

10http://my.safetyfirst.com/newsfart/ISA%20December%202009.pdf – “Changing Unsafe Behavior Using Activators and Consequences” by Andrew Salvadore, December 2009, Arborist News

11http://www.treecareindustry.org/pdfs/EXPO/ABCsOfHumanBehavior.pdf – “ABCs of Human Behavior” by Andrew Salvadore, TCIA Expo presentation

12http://vimeopro.com/safetyfirst/safetyfirst-coaching-tutorial/video/30495547 “Coaching Drivers – Conversations that make a difference” by SafetyFirst Systems, December 2011

13http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/reports/2000/HAR0001.pdf NTSB Highway Accident Report conclusion; “…policy of disregarding anonymous calls to 1-800-SAFEBUS prevents the company from identifying patterns of unsafe driving practices by particular drivers or on particular runs and diminishes the potential safety oversight benefits of this program. Including all complaints in driver personnel files would enable [company] to better detect an operator problem and act to eliminate it before an accident occurs.” [italics added for emphasis]

14http://www.virtualriskmanager.net/main/aboutus/niosh/t1-2_paul-farrell.ppt “Negligent Entrustment – When is a license check not enough?” by Paul Farrell, International Conference on Road Safety at Work, February 2009

15 – A technology vendor’s presentation states (about their own system) “There are many reasons why a device might trigger:  Pot holes; Unpaved roads; Railroad tracks; Turning hard in a large vehicle; Rocking an unloaded tractor-trailer; Waste truck throwing a trash bin into the vehicle hard; Jack-rabbit start; Vehicle Maintenance; Defensive Driving/Evasive Maneuver…” excerpted from http://mcsac.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/June2010/DriveCam%20presentation.pdf

16http://www.atla.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/14259.htm “Danger On The Road – The mighty trucking case” by Jeanmarie Whalen, Trial Magazine (American Association for Justice), February 2011, Vol. 47, No. 02

17http://www.virtualriskmanager.net/main/aboutus/niosh/t2-3_lynn-berberich.ppt#18 “Crash Analysis and Benchmarking as Tools to Improve Fleet Safety – or – What Metrics Should I Use and How Should I use Them?” by Lynn Berberich, International Conference on Road Safety at Work, February 2009

18http://www.atri-online.org/research/results/driver_training_impacts_on_safety2.pdf “A Technical Analysis of Driver Training Impacts on Safety” by ATRI, May 2008

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Alternative Compliance Strategies for Motor Carriers

smc 1According to an article in the October 6th online issue of Fleet Owner (click here), the FMCSA is considering comments on whether to construct a plan for alternative compliance strategies for regulated motor carriers.

The article’s tag line sums it up nicely: “Agency to look into whether carriers should get credit for adopting technologies or advanced safety programs

Based on comments from Jack Van Steenburg, Fleet Owner reports an agency interest in “…recognizing carriers for steps they take to increase safety that aren’t required by regulation. Alternative compliance might involve use of safety technologies or perhaps safety management practices – driver health and wellness programs, fatigue management programs or use of the Pre-employment Screening Program – that go beyond what is required.

Simply put, if a carrier goes well beyond the minimums and invests in safety (i.e. wellness, crash reduction, etc.) then their improvement in their Bookend BASICs (Unsafe Driving and Crash Rate) ought to reduce their likelihood of audits or interventions by FMCSA.

Large_Trucks_Cover_Front-300x287Central to this issue is the determination of what sorts of programs would potentially qualify carriers to get relaxed scrutiny?  If select technologies or products are highlighted, it could be boon to those manufacturers or resellers.

Countering this idea is the notion that fleets who already go beyond the minimum standards in their quest to reduce crashes also already benefit from lower SMS Scores and would fare well under the newly proposed Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rule which would assign an “absolute rating to each carrier, not a relative score as seen today under [the present] CSA [program]”

I would suggest to FMCSA to consider the value of setting up a voluntary certification program (either self-certification through an online application and validation process or one administered by a third party agency such as CVSA, et.al.)

The Transportation Research Board produced a Commercial Truck and Bus Safety synthesis (#12) on “Commercial Motor Vehicle Carrier Safety Management Certification” waaay back in 2007.  We would expect that the article’s findings should remain reasonably consistent over time.

The stated objective of this synthesis report is:

…to (1) document current information on existing commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safety certification, self-evaluation, benchmarking, and best practices programs, (2) identify major common elements and protocols, and (3) critically assess evidence for the crash-reduction effectiveness of the programs….One of the potential applications of safety management certification and self-evaluation programs is as a supplement or alternative to governmental regulatory approaches to carrier safety management. The synthesis specifically examines the possible relationships between (a) results of certification and self-evaluation programs and (b) the more conventional compliance programs.

Synthesis 12Based on these comments, I would think that the entire document would be very pertinent to this present-day discussion.

When I first read this Synthesis article back in 2007, I investigated several of their recommended sources for certification.  Of most interest were the International Organization of Standards (ISO) 9000 certification and the Canadian Standards Association Safety Management System’s standards (“B619-00
Carrier Safety Management Systems”) (Click HERE).

Interestingly, the Minnesota DOT had produced a report as early as 2003 praising ISO 9000’s effects on accident reduction (CLICK HERE).

Trucksafe1Also noted in the original Synthesis report was the Australian Trucking Association’s accreditation program “TruckSafe” (Click HERE) which (as of 2002) had documented that participating, accredited members were “… involved in 40% fewer accidents than non-participating carriers and that participation is also associated with lower worker compensation and maintenance costs

Admittedly, certification programs are not a panacea to permanently solve a fleet’s crash problems. Clearly, a fleet’s management team that becomes dedicated to meeting a higher minimum standard will go through many steps to increase management oversight and control. That stair step improvement process alone would reduce crashes, but could that improved level of performance be sustained indefinitely by merely becoming certified? That’s a good question to ask, but a poor reason to ignore the immediate benefits of certification as a possible mechanism to provide “alternative compliance” with the FMCSRs.

If you are involved with fleet safety, fleet insurance or fleet risk management, I’d urge you to consider the benefit of investigating certification programs — voluntary, self-directed or as part of an association or official standards program.

53 foot trailer

Preventing the tragic consequences of unsecured loads – Department of Transportation

Yesterday (10/7/2014), the Department of Transportation posted a blog article that was very interesting.  Here is a link to the source document — Preventing the tragic consequences of unsecured loads – Department of Transportation.

SafetyFirst has previously published “ten-minute training topics” on load securement and on dealing with “road debris” crashes.  While most commercial drivers are well trained and experienced in securing the cargo they carry, some drivers may be in a rush or may make risky assumptions:

  • “it’s a short trip – nothing will go wrong”
  • “this junk is pretty heavy — it’ll stay put without moving around”
  • “I don’t think we need to use a tarp — this stuff won’t fly out at road speeds, besides we won’t be going that fast”

Many drivers do take chances, and tragically it can lead to crashes, damages, or injuries.  Take a look at this short video from the Washington State Patrol:

MVR as Medical Cert?

Did you realize that individual state governments are in process of holding the details of FMCSA regulated drivers’ medical records?  And that these details will be provided through enhanced MVR reports?

Heavy Duty Trucking provided an excellent overview of this new approach in a recent article (click HERE)

E-DriverFileOur E-DriverFile program was modified and tested to receive the new medical details two years ago!  We’re ready to pass this information as individual states complete their processes to collect and distribute this sensitive information to regulated motor carriers.

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Is Speeding a Serious Safety Issue?

The most recent NHTSA study on crashes in the USA analyzed data from 2010. The results were published in May 2014. From that study:

In 2010, there were 32,999 people killed, 3.9 million were injured, and 24 million vehicles were damaged in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. The economic costs of these crashes totaled $277 billion. Included in these losses are lost productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency service costs (EMS), insurance administration costs, congestion costs, property damage, and workplace losses. 

Key findings included:

  • Alcohol-involved crashes resulted in 13,323 fatalities, 430,000 nonfatal injuries, and $59.4 billion in economic costs in 2010, accounting for 21 percent of all crash costs.
  • Speed-related crashes (where at least one driver was exceeding the posted limit OR driving too fast for conditions) were connected to 10,536 fatalities (another third of the total for the year). This represents 32 percent of all fatalities; 20 percent of all nonfatal injuries, and 16 percent of all property-damage-only crashes.
  • Seat belt non-use represents an enormous lost opportunity for injury prevention. In 2010 alone, over 3,350 people were killed and 54,300 were seriously injured unnecessarily because they failed to wear their seat belts
  • Crashes in which at least one driver was identified as being distracted resulted in 3,267 fatalities…

As a nation of drivers, we continue to struggle with key behavior related issues like drinking and driving, speeding, failure to use seat belts and distracted driving.  Our response to these issues over the years has been to target education and enforcement campaigns to try and convince drivers to change their habits voluntarily.

Social norming” to get behavior change tends to be a very slow process and seems to have hit a plateau — we’ve made great gains in select areas since the 1970s — reducing impaired driving deaths from 50% of the annual total to 30%; increasing seat belt usage to an all-time high of roughly 84% (national average — some states are individually higher).

Unfortunately, we’ve slipped backwards on speeding with the removal of the national speed limit of 55 MPH previously established between 1974 and 1995.  Further, the widespread use of electronic devices has contributed to a new group of crashes caused by driver inattention.

Over the past decade, much legislative and media attention has been devoted to “Distracted Driving” but not nearly as much to other (pardon the pun) ‘drivers’ (factors) of fatal crashes.

Consider society’s view of speeding in contrast to distracted driving.  Most motorists look at speeding as a “non-issue” and not a “big deal” from a safety standpoint (AAFTS traffic safety culture surveys have documented a “prevailing attitude of “Do as I say, not as I do” on the part of American motorists”).

Recently a columnist participated in a “press drive” — a marketing opportunity hosted by a car manufacturer to let journalists test drive new or special edition models out on public roads. While each journalist was admonished to obey all traffic laws, this particular journalist was amazed at the power and acceleration of the test car and wound up getting clocked by police radar at 93 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. (To see his whole article about his speeding incident and subsequent three days in jail, click HERE)

Consider his reaction to the incident:

When I was pulled over during a press drive earlier this summer, I had been living in Washington D.C. for about a year and a half. In that time, I had been warned repeatedly — by ex-Virginia resident Matt Hardigree, by many of our readers, and by a host of other people — that you don’t ever speed in Virginia. But I had no clue just how serious the consequences would be. Maybe “serious” isn’t the right word. After everything that happened, “ridiculous” seems a little more accurate.[emphasis added]

I should probably explain why going into Virginia to have fun in a car is a bad idea in the first place. See, they’re crazy about speeding there. Really, really crazy. Speed limits are set absurdly low, 45 mph on some highways. [Virginia presumably follows the same federally recommended standards, or a derivative of those engineering practices when setting limits on roads based on design, traffic volume, etc.] Radar detectors are illegal, and cops have devices to detect them. And if you get caught going over 80 mph at all, that’s automatically a reckless driving charge.

Reckless driving is not a traffic citation, it’s a criminal charge, and a Class One misdemeanor at that. That means it’s the highest level of misdemeanor you can be charged with in Virginia, right below a felony. The maximum penalty for a reckless driving conviction is a $2,500 fine, a six month driver’s license suspension, and up to a year in jail.

See what I mean when I told you it’s serious? They hand it out like it’s Halloween candy, too. You drive 20 mph over the limit, it’s reckless driving. They even charge you with it for failing to properly signal, or when you’re found to be at fault in a car wreck. I’ve heard of some cases where people get 30 days in jail if they speed over 100 mph.

Other Class One misdemeanors in Virginia include animal cruelty, sexual battery, and aiming a firearm at someone. This is how the state regards people who drive over 80 mph.

I do think Virginia’s speed laws are absurdly harsh, especially as a native of Texas where 80 mph is an almost universally accepted highway speed by most drivers and where a toll road just outside of Austin lets you go 85 mph. There, this probably would have been a really expensive speeding ticket; maybe even one I could get dismissed with defensive driving.[emphasis added] I covered the courts for a long time when I was a newspaper reporter in Austin, and I was floored to learn Virginia actually sends people to jail just for speeding.

But that doesn’t excuse what I did. I came into Virginia and broke their laws; I drove way too fast. This is my fault and no one else’s. (Well, maybe the ZL1’s.) This wasn’t one of those moments where I got nailed going 5 mph over in some ridiculously low section of a county designed only for revenue collection; how could I justify going 93 in a 55 when I went to court, I wondered?

So, the driver hired an attorney to broker a plea deal with the court.

The best plea deal I got was a fine of about $400 with court costs, a 10-day suspension of my license in Virginia, and three days in jail. The judge has an option of giving one day in jail for every mile an hour over 90 mph, and he would exercise it here.

So I took the plea, but I was pretty despondent over the outcome for weeks. The fees and license suspension weren’t a big deal, but I was alternately livid and depressed that I’d be going to jail, even for a short stay. I didn’t hurt anyone, or kill anyone, or sell drugs, or drive drunk, or beat my wife, or steal; I was going to jail because I drove too fast in a car.

The best news of all this was that I wasn’t fired. Matt said the last thing you’ll ever get fired for at Jalopnik is speeding. It’s just an occupational hazard for us. And when I emailed Gawker’s editorial director Joel Johnson to apologize, he replied saying, “I don’t give a f**k,” and added that he found the matter “hilarious.”

Would this story have been different if the citation were for texting while driving instead of speeding?  Would the editorial director have had the nerve to consider the situation “hilarious”?

From the recent NTHSA study:

The fact that a vehicle was exceeding the speed limit does not necessarily mean that this was the cause of the crash, but the probability of avoiding the crash would likely be greater had the driver or drivers been traveling at slower speeds. A speed-related crash is defined as any crash in which the police indicate that one or more drivers involved was exceeding the posted speed limit, driving too fast for conditions, driving at a speed greater than reasonable or prudent, exceeding a special speed limit or zone, or racing.

As long as we consider speeding to be our right, speed limits to be merely suggestions, and tickets as only a way for states to make revenue over a non-issue, we will continue to have a plateau in our traffic safety results.  Things can not improve (i.e. people will not stop dying) until this nation breaks it’s obsession with speeding as an acceptable practice for motorists.

What do you think?  IS speeding a non-issue?  Or is it a deathly serious issue?

If your friends think getting a speeding ticket or spending three days in jail for speeding is “hilarious” then consider some of these Public Service Ads from countries that are more progressive in their safety attitude than the USA….

Australian PSA on how reducing speed (even by only 5 KPH) can save lives

Rushing = letting emotions control our better judgement when driving (Australian PSA)

Speeding – is it a ‘mistake’? New Zealand PSA

Irish PSA on speeding “you can’t control the consequences of speeding”

Use Personal Car on Company Business?

Keven Moore regularly authors articles on insurance and safety matters, and he’s come up with another brilliant summary of the sticky issue of using your personal vehicle for company business.

His original article can be found by clicking HERE.

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Suppose your teenaged son or daughter wanted to deliver pizzas in his/her spare time to earn some cash towards their own car or reimbursing you for the gas they spend from your tank (I can dream, can’t I?)  They get a job, but have a fender bender on their third week of working.

  • Surprise #1 = the pizza chain’s insurance is excess after your family coverage is exhausted.
  • Surprise #2 = your personal auto policy may specifically exclude any/all work related travel (other than commuting to an office or job location)
  • Surprise #3 = you’re now covering the whole claim out of pocket – not just your deductible. Ouch! (OK, I’m exaggerating — the employer’s coverage ought to kick in if they’ve got “non-owned auto” coverage and have listed the delivery driver’s vehicles, but…what if it didn’t?)

As Keven points out in his article;

…many auto insurance carriers exclude business use of personal vehicles, such as for delivering pizzas, flowers, sub sandwiches and groceries. As a result, there are tens of thousands of part-time delivery drivers riding around your streets today without coverage because of this exclusion on their auto insurance policy…Pizzerias that deliver are not going to come out and tell you that your auto insurance carrier will probably exclude you from their policy and that you are delivering pizzas without any insurance coverage. So it’s up to you to call your insurance agent to verify coverage.

Keven also offers some good reminders:

  • If you plan to use your personal auto on company business, inform your agent ahead of time and confirm that your policy will cover you in the event of a crash.
  • If you get a ticket on company business, it will still post to your personal MVR record (affecting your personal insurance rates and future employ-ability rating)
  • Many employers that require you to use your own vehicle will ask for proof that you have personal auto coverage, and what limits you carry.  This helps them manage their risk that your coverage would be exhausted and their coverage would have to kick in to pay the claims.
  • Especially tragic crashes may go into litigation, and if the employer’s policy limits are exhausted in settling the claim, your personal assets could become a target to satisfy the judgement.

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As employers, it’s important to make sure your drivers have adequate coverage if their operating their vehicles on the company’s behalf.  As drivers, it’s also important to verify that you have sufficient coverage on your own car and that it covers business trips adequately.

SafetyFirst isn’t in the insurance business, but we work with a network of 75+ insurance providers.  We also have employers who use our online services to help keep track of the insurance coverage of drivers who use their own cars on company business (while also looking at their MVR records, offering supplementary driver training, etc.)  If you’re an employer who is struggling with record keeping issues related to driver safety and risk management, give us a call or check out our web site!

http://www.safetyfirst.com/e-driverfile.php

E-DriverFile

Learning from Crash Events

There’s a lot being reported about the crash on the New Jersey Turnpike which involved a Tractor Trailer and a chauffeured limousine-van transporting comedian Tracy Morgan. Tragically, several people were injured and one passenger died.

Some of the clear facts include:

  • The tractor trailer was traveling above the posted (construction zone) limit of 45 MPH.
  • The event occurred during the early morning hours when visibility is reduced and all drivers are more prone to drowsiness.
  • The tractor trailer operator had been on duty for most of his allotted-by-regulation time (suggesting fatigue as a possible contributing factor).

According to other reports (Star Ledger, et.al.):

  • The tractor trailer “…was equipped with sophisticated collision-avoidance systems that included forward-looking radar with interactive cruise control — all designed to begin automatically braking the big truck when it sensed traffic slowing down. It was programmed to notify the driver of any vehicles stopped ahead in the roadway. There was an on-board computer, blind spot sensors, and electronic controls limiting its top speed to 65 miles per hour.”
  • ATA executive vice president David Osiecki was quoted as saying that speeding is “the highest cause and contributing factor” in most crashes.  Further, “We want to return to a national maximum speed limit. Some states are at 80. Some at 75. That’s the biggest safety problem on the highways.”

So what can we conclude — how do we learn from this to prevent similar tragedies in the future?  The National Transportation Safety Board and the NJ State Police are actively investigating to follow up on questions like:

  • Did the on-board collision warning and avoidance system fail to function correctly?
  • While the tractor trailer driver was within his regulated allotment of duty/driving hours, should the regulations be modified further?
  • Was a lack of enforcement of speed limits in a construction zone play some role in creating a culture of speeding on that highway?
  • Were seatbelts in the limo adequate to prevent further/greater injuries or could their design be improved, too?

All road deaths and injury producing crashes are tragic, and we need to learn from each occurrence to determine ways to prevent future events.

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