Left Lane Hog?

Speeding is always a bad idea since higher speeds:

  1. rob drivers of reaction time
  2. increase stopping distance
  3. reduce driver’s ability to steer or control the vehicle due to the increased energy contained in the moving vehicle
  4. greatly increase the risk of crashes producing injuries or fatalities during inclement weather because of road conditions, poorer visibility, etc.
  5. violate traffic law in most cases (depending on conditions, posted limits, etc.)

blog rainy traffic day 1A recent NHTSA study (click HERE) confirms that speeding contributes to about a third of all crashes each year.

Having said all of that (and meaning it) we wanted to take a moment to talk about driving too slowly.

Yes, too slowly.

Almost all states have laws against impeding traffic on multi-lane highways (and some restrict left lane use for only passing).  This is one of the rules of the road covered in driver manuals, but often misinterpreted on the highway once we’ve forgotten everything we learned in high school driver’s ed.

PoliceNaturally, we’re NOT making a defense of drivers who speed in the left lane; however, we are suggesting that it’s not another driver’s right or obligation to block the passing lane or drive precisely at the speed limit in the left lane with the purpose or intent of impeding traffic.

While the aggressive speeder may be in the wrong, we’ve often heard the cliche that two wrongs don’t make a right!  Use the left lane appropriately and when safe to move over towards the right, allow the left lane for others to pass.

A much longer article on this issue was recently posted on July 9th — http://www.vox.com/2014/6/16/5804590/why-you-shouldnt-drive-slowly-in-the-left-lane

This article includes links to tables and maps showing state-by-state rules and laws governing this particular issue:

Are You a Honkaholic?

Safeco insurance, a client of SafetyFirst’s services, recently published a study of “honking behavior” – check out this article and think about the connection between frustration, aggressive driving and crash rates on the increase….

Fox17

Courtesy: Tilson Public Relations

Do you have your beeping under control? According to a recent U.S. driving study from Safeco Insurance, 58 percent of drivers report honking behavior with 47 percent of respondents reporting they get honked at and 39 percent admitting to honking at other drivers.

What’s your honk style?

The survey identified the following three honk styles among U.S. drivers:

  • Quick Tapper (beep, beep!) – 54 percent
  • Moderate Honker (beeeep!) – 38 percent
  • Prolonged Beeper (beeeeeeeep!) – 8 percent

 

How the noise nonsense makes drivers feel?

  • Angry – 20 percent
  • Frustrated – 19 percent
  • Stressed – 18 percent

Tomorrow is Drive It Forward Friday (#DIFF), a movement to inspire positive driving actions and encourage drivers to put the brakes on aggressive driving. More than 72 percent of U.S. drivers are willing to change their driving discourtesy on Drive It Forward Fridays.

Here’s what you can do to make…

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New Video Releases (July 1, 2014)

SafetyZone-LMS

SafetyFirst’s Learning Management System (LMS) assigns focused training modules to individual drivers based on their risk taking behaviors such as weaving in traffic, excessive speeding or running stop signs.  These behaviors can be reported using our Motorist Observation Reports (MORs) SafetyFirst TeleMatic Alerts (TMAs), or Motor Vehicle Records (MVRs) from enforcement violations.

Our LMS is designed with the flexibility to function as a stand alone product offering, or to work seamlessly with our other driver safety programs (i.e. Safety Hotline System, E-DriverFile, MVR services, etc.) so that when a driver’s individual risk score changes (due to a new violation, etc.) our system can automatically recommend/assign the right module.

Based on past experiences, we recognized that having “more titles” (that drivers don’t pay attention to) isn’t the goal when promoting a Learning Management System.  The best system is the one that gets used, and the one that drivers actually enjoy working with (i.e. current, captivating and concise content).

Looking to find that right balance between highly engaging content and covering the needed range of topics, we’re always working on new modules. We have several in post-production editing presently.  A preview trailer of these new topics is embedded, below.

Our approach to learning content is to keep it simple, make it personal, and ask the affected driver(s) for a commitment to drive differently tomorrow based on today’s message.

At 5 to 7 minutes in duration, our videos (and their respective 10-question quizzes) are highly engaging and deliver the key content without losing your driver’s attention.

Currently Available:

  1. Tailgating (English/Spanish)
  2. Improper Lane Change (English/Spanish)
  3. Honoring the Right of Way (English/Spanish)
  4. Driving Too Fast for Conditions (English/Spanish)
  5. Running Red Lights / Stop Signs (English/Spanish)
  6. Aggressive Driving
  7. Distracted Driving (Cell Phone/Text)
  8. Drug/Alcohol Use
  9. Drowsy Driving
  10. Faulty Equipment
  11. Driving Too Slowly for Conditions (Impeding Traffic)
  12. Exceeding the Speed Limit (supports GPS monitored fleets)

To be released July 1st, 2014:

  1. Rules of the Road
  2. Parking Lot Risks
  3. The “Other” Driver
  4. Hydroplaning
  5. Distracted Driving (all sources)
  6. Intersection Collisions

To learn more about our online program, please visit http://www.safetyfirst.com/interactive-training-modules.php

SafetyZone-Safety Goal

Intersections and Crash Risk

sideswipe illustration FHWADriving is, arguably, the most complex task that most people handle on a daily basis.  We interact with other vehicles, struggling to identify all potential hazards in front, to the side, and behind us.

In a idealized, fantasy world, we’d be the only vehicle and driver on the road, but that’s just not reality.

One of the most challenging interactions on the road is dealing with intersections.  These crossroads provide multiple points of conflict with cyclists, pedestrians and other vehicles. Whether going straight, turning right or left, we have to follow the rules and watch out for others who may not follow the rules.  Signals and signs help, but oddly intersecting roads, multiple driveways and alleys can combine to make a very dangerous environment where drivers could become confused (even if they’re not texting and driving).

SafetyZone-Safety GoalThis month’s Ten-Minute Training Topic deals with “Avoiding Intersection Crashes” and includes:

  • Driver Handouts
  • Slide shows
  • Mini-poster to reinforce key points
  • Manager’s supplemental report with talking points, news articles and insights into policy development

One of the trendy recommendations affecting road design is to move away from traditional intersections towards modern roundabouts.  Here are two videos about the benefits of roundabouts:

AND

Traffic safety has to begin within each and every driver – you and me.  Only when we personalize the need to be safe will we talk to our family and friends about “stepping up” to drive consistently according to the rules of the road.

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Incremental Gains Add Up Over Time

The Tortoise and the Hare is one of Aesop’s Fables.

The story concerns a Hare who ridicules a slow-moving Tortoise and is challenged by the tortoise to a race. The hare soon leaves the tortoise behind and, confident of winning, takes a nap midway through the course. When the Hare awakes however, he finds that his competitor, crawling slowly but steadily, has arrived before him. (Summary from Wikipedia)

“Slow and steady wins the race” is how I’ve heard the moral of the story expressed.  It’s a simple concept for leaders to embrace.   Incremental gains in effectiveness and efficiency may not seem all that important (or glamorous), but as long as you keep improving in small but very steady ways, you’ll soon leave the competition in the dust.

Consider this article titled; “What Would Happen If You improved Everything by 1%: The Science of Marginal Gains” (Click HERE).  The author, James Clear, paints the picture vividly by recalling the efforts of the British cycling team to win the Tour DeFrance:

No British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France, but as the new General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky (Great Britain’s professional cycling team), that’s what Brailsford was asked to do.

His approach was simple.

Brailsford believed in a concept that he referred to as the “aggregation of marginal gains.” He explained it as the “1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” His belief was that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.

They started by optimizing the things you might expect: the nutrition of riders, their weekly training program, the ergonomics of the bike seat, and the weight of the tires.

But Brailsford and his team didn’t stop there. They searched for 1 percent improvements in tiny areas that were overlooked by almost everyone else: discovering the pillow that offered the best sleep and taking it with them to hotels, testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. They searched for 1 percent improvements everywhere.

Brailsford believed that if they could successfully execute this strategy, then Team Sky would be in a position to win the Tour de France in five years time.

He was wrong. They won it in three years.

So in business, and in our personal life, small but deterministic changes can lead to bigger and better results.  I think this can be true in safety areas, too.

Large_Trucks_Cover_Front-300x287From the driver’s perspective, habits (productive or risky) develop over time from small choices made and small risks taken which are reinforced as acceptable (i.e. speeding daily without having a crash, using a hand held cell phone repeatedly without a crash, etc.)

These choices (good or bad) either take us to better performance (eating more healthy each day, getting more rest from a consistent sleep schedule, etc.) or lead us towards a bad outcome (crashes due to unchecked risk-taking.)  Driver coaching feedback should get drivers to incrementally change to conform to existing policy.  We’re not suggesting letting them break rules, but consistent monitoring and reinforcement of following the rules may work better than trying to get them to change overnight by means of hours of re-training, etc.

Driver Communication Plans foster two-way discussion about goals and outcomes (results) that can be a valuable tool in getting strong performance (https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/driver-management-communication-plans-part-1/)

smc 1Similarly, from a management standpoint, arriving at a poor BASIC score isn’t (typically) done overnight with one bad event, but over time with holes in the enforcement of policies designed to keep drivers safe, cargo secured, etc.

The discovery that a driver has become a chronic risk taker, or that a management team has developed inappropriate BASIC scores isn’t something that can be changed immediately.  Just as it took time to get to this point, it will take discipline and patience to get everything back on track.

marginal gains

Leveraging your current investment in safety programming (fine tuning for improved performance) is a great place to start.  Details like policy enforcement, training utilization, maximizing vendor relationships, fine tuning management reporting to identify key performance metrics may be mundane, but can yield significant dividends.

You might also consider setting highly tailored, short term objectives related to recent trends in loss (Crash/Injury) activity, and pushing for verified achievement before tackling additional areas of improvement (no one can easily win a wrestling match against an eight-armed octopus — focus and step-wise implementation are important).

TeleMaticsI recently attended a GPS conference where a very large delivery fleet (thousands of trucks ranging from class 3 thru class 8) talked about their success in rolling out telematics.

While they recognized that telematics could help them in hundreds of ways, they focused on one metric to start with and mastered that one thing, then moved on to another until it was mastered also.  Did they “leave money on the table” by not setting multiple goals in multiple areas?  They felt that if they had tried to tackle too many details all at once they might have failed in all areas.  By staying focused and working the incremental gain, they mastered their system and are getting amazing results (with plenty of ROI waiting in the wings, too.)

Communicating each “small win” to the team helps keep them motivated, too.

Slow and steady wins the race.

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Motorist Observation Reports – What’s the Point?

Another traffic picWhen a motorist calls a safety hotline reporting service, they usually call because they’re emotionally upset by what they’ve witnessed.

However, that statement doesn’t mean that the commercial driver “did something wrong” OR that the motorist “was just trying to get someone in trouble“.  Unfortunately, these assumptions lead to blame setting instead of no-fault coaching designed to reduce risk.

For instance, a motorist travelling in the middle lane (of three) is passed by a large commercial vehicle in the left lane.  The motorist looks at his or her speedometer and realizes they’re already five MPH above the posted limit of 65 (operating at 70 while being passed.)  The motorist is concerned since the commercial vehicle then begins to weave through traffic ahead of them without using signals.

  1. The call is made and the interview concludes with an estimate of the commercial vehicle’s speed being around 80 since they passed the motorist so quickly.  In ALERT CSAreality, the speed of the passing vehicle would be difficult to estimate, but since the motorist did check their own speedometer (at 70 MPH) it’s reasonable to estimate a speed in the 75-80 range.  
  2. In the process of making the report, the motorist is asked where this incident took place, and they cite a mile marker that they’ve just passed (even though the incident took place behind them, perhaps as much as 2-3 miles behind).
  3. Finally, the motorist is asked to leave a contact number and their name in case the safety manager would like to give them a call.  Having just seen a movie the night before about stalkers and such, the motorist is unwilling to give their name for fear that a driver might somehow get their information and harass them.

The report is filed with the motor carrier electronically, within an hour of the phone call.

  1. The motor carrier checks GPS records for the time of the incident and confirms that the vehicle was withing five to ten miles of the approximate location mentioned by the motorist; however,
  2. all of the trucks in that fleet are “governed” to a maximum speed of 70 MPH.  
  3. The manager sees that the report was filed anonymously. 

Critical decision time — is the point of the report to:

  1. set blame and initiate discipline for breach of a safety policy?
  2. offer “no-fault” coaching on safety practices to raise safety awareness, record the report in case subsequent reports are received on this same driver for similar situations?

If the goal is to set blame, then the report is a poor mechanism in this instance since there is an apparent conflict with the report of the speed and the “governor” settings (the manager could investigate to see if the settings have been altered), and the manager doesn’t like to deal with anonymous reports since he/she feels that there is a lack of credibility associated with the report.

However, if the goal is coaching/re-training, then the manager can:

  • have a face to face meeting about safety.  Even if the conversation is something as simple as:  “tire blowouts are caused by under-inflation and high speed operation which heats the sidewalls, tire blow outs are a primary contributor to truck rollovers, & truck rollovers are a key crash type that ends in fatalities not just simple injuries; therefore, you should be very careful to always check tire pressure and stay at or under the posted limit while not impeding traffic.  Additionally, signaling and proper passing technique is important to avoid side swipes and merge/pass collisions.  For CDL holders improper passing is also a disqualifying offense because it is such a serious safety issue”  This conversation would, naturally cover any specific company policies related to pre-trips, speeding and time management (not rushing due to poor planning, etc.)
  • schedule online refresher modules.  Many online programs are available that highlight risk-taking such as speeding, weaving in traffic, etc.  Our programs are focused on the possible consequences of such behavior which doesn’t focus on blame setting, just awareness by asking for a renewed commitment to drive professionally.  Our programs are also kept to 5 to 7 minutes out of respect for your driver and the need to be productive, too.
  • Another example of a blended scorekeep the report on file in case of subsequent reports for similar situations in the future.  Maintaining a file doesn’t have to imply punitive action against the driver, but without records, we’d never know if the driver may be slipping into a repeated pattern of habits.  
  • connect this report with the affected driver’s history of violations and past collisions. This report may be another piece of a complex puzzle indicating a need for management’s compassionate intervention.

Coaching Tips TitleTo ignore the report or delete the report shows the least care and concern for the professional driver — it says that we don’t care enough to offer safety coaching to help minimize the chances of becoming involved in a collision — preferring to wait for a violation (affecting their personal insurance rates, out of pocket fines, etc.) or waiting for an actual crash event to recognize the need to intervene.

Large_Trucks_Cover_Front-300x287The National Transportation Safety Board has previously issued written recommendations over this issue of deleting all anonymous reports.  The NTSB offered their opinion that while the individual report credibility may be called suspect, if subsequent reports of similar nature (anonymous or not) were later received about this same driver for the same (or similar) described habits, then there’s ample justification to provide “no fault” re-training in order to preserve the highest regard and practice of safety awareness within the professional driver population.

Other food for thought from very recent client case studies (past two years)…..

  • One of our clients operates 12,000 trucks.  They installed GPS.  They ignored the GPS alerts about speeding for the first year.  During the second year, all speed alerts (driving more than 80 MPH) came to us to be processed as MOR – none could be deleted, all must end up with coaching offered to the driver.  By the end of the second year, they had decreased GPS speed alerts by 600% (From 1700 down to 174).  This was by “no-fault” coaching instead of discipline and termination.
  • Another client with 450 tractor trailers (over the road trucking) has GPS.  They got 470 reports in the first year on the program (more than one per tractor!) – out of these only five were ‘inaccurate” based on GPS readings for location/speed at time of report – that’s 1% considered inaccurate and all remaining reports were used for coaching.  Their accident frequency has not changed, but severity per claim is “significantly lower” than the prior year and they believe it’s due to the drivers being aware of their surroundings and using the training we’ve provided to modify their habits. Further, the number of reports per month is dropping steadily as drivers modify their habits to be less aggressive as they maintain their productivity through careful route planning and time management.

These are just some of the tips and techniques that we provide to our clients, and the examples above are highly abbreviated versions of what we actually share.

So how about you?  Do you see a Motorist’s Observation as a chance to help a driver be safe or merely a punitive exercise?  

We think that it’s akin to a “near miss” report that’s actionable from a prevention standpoint that helps the driver avoid collisions and stay productive.  

This is based on a dozen+ studies conducted by both fleet managers and insurers who provide the hotline (and monitor the reporting over the shoulder of the enrolled fleet).  Those studies showed 20-35% reductions in frequency and larger savings from severity reductions.  When coupled with automated MVR profiling, GPS alerts and Online Training, the improvements increase.

www.safetyismygoal.com

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Driver Safety Hotline – Dealing with Reports

cropped-decal-ate-truck.jpgOne of the most often asked questions from safety managers is “what am I supposed to do with a driver who has received a Motorist Observation Report?”

Blended Risk ScoreFor many, the assumption is that a report = disciplinary action, blame setting, arguments and confrontations that lead to sulky drivers and higher turnover.

However, that’s never what we had in mind (despite our competitors ingraining that ‘mentality’ into their fleet customers over the past three decades)….

The goal of a safety hotline is to increase safety results, not punish drivers.  

Unfortunately, many supervisors have never had training or education on “how to coach/counsel” for improved habits and to motivate drivers to seek a better level of safety awareness.  The other issue is often a lack of tools in the tool kit to help drivers.

Another traffic picFor example, when we send a report we not only provide as much detail as possible (taking a paragraph or two to describe what happened) but we also use a tactic called “polite interrogation” of the motorist.  This sounds horrible, but we’re working on behalf of the commercial driver, not the caller.  Therefore, we ask open ended questions instead of trying to simply fill out a checklist.  We have a few other tricks of the trade to help vet these calls, but a good artist never reveals all of their secrets.

Next, we have our computer system attach one-page safety fact sheets to reports which match the specific habit types listed on the report (i.e. tailgating, swerving in traffic, running red lights, etc.)  The driver reads these sheets and signs/dates the bottom of the form to document at least minimal training has been provided.

We send a link to a supervisory video program on how to conduct proactive, cooperative coaching sessions.  This includes role play scenarios on the most common issues presented by drivers.

Additionally, our reports “recommend” specific 5 to 7 minute remedial, online, interactive training courses with “one-click” ordering of multiple courses (one course for each key habit issue) so that drivers get the training they need the most based on actual observations.  Some vendors limit you to picking the most egregious habit (can only assign one course—and their courses average 37 to 42 minutes long apiece—YIKES, talk about mind-numbing disrespect of a professional driver and a waste of time, energy and resource)

Driver Safety Cycles

Summary

Our program isn’t about pointing fingers, setting blame or yelling at drivers.

Our program is a DRIVER EDUCATION program that happens to use stickers as a triggering agent to identify who needs the MOST URGENT attention on SPECIFIC TOPICS, right now, BEFORE a crash or moving violation happen.

Our goal is to help supervisors focus on the few drivers who just need a little “course correction” before they’re off the rails.  This is prevention at it’s best. 

Other food for thought from very recent client case studies (past two years)…..

  • One of our clients operates 12,000 trucks.  They installed GPS.  Their GPS provider had no mechanism for them to translate the data into actionable follow ups with individual drivers.  During the second year, all excessive speed alerts (driving more than a set maximum threshold) came to us to be processed as Motorist Observation Reports (to use our coaching process.)  Since the rule was that none of these could be deleted, each incident must end up with coaching offered to the driver.  Net results?  By the end of the second year, they had decreased GPS speed alerts by 600% (From 1700 down to 174).  This was by “no-fault” coaching instead of discipline and termination – result was curbing behavior while increasing tenure.
  • Another client with 450 tractor trailers (over the road trucking) has GPS.  They got 470 hotline calls (motorist observation reports) in the first year on the program (more than one per tractor!) – out of these, ONLY five were ‘inaccurate” based on GPS readings for location/speed at time of report – that’s only 1% considered inaccurate and all remaining reports were used for coaching.  Their accident frequency has stayed about the same; however, severity per claim is “significantly lower” than the prior year and they believe it’s due to the drivers being aware of their surroundings and using the training we’ve provided to modify their habits.

SafetyFirst