Benchmarking Violation Data

Atri 2011 coverIn 2005 and 2011, ATRI provided a ground-breaking study of the connection between violations and increased crash risk (Click Here).

Having studied more than a half-million driver records, the analysis was incontrovertible and carries powerful implications for driver safety supervisors, managers and directors.

In short, when a driver receives a violation, the likelihood of a crash also goes up by a specific factor.  

We’ve also seen a connection between tighter MVR profiles and decreased crash numbers:

“As recently reported at a fleet safety conference, two similar fleets had chosen to use the same standard for MVR review — exclude violations greater than 36 months old and allow for a combination of three violations and one preventable crash before suspending driving privileges.  One of these fleets tightened their standard to two violations and one crash during the most recent 24 months and saw a five point reduction in collisions (from 22% of their fleet vehicles involved in a crash per year to 17% of their vehicles involved in a crash) and $2 million in savings.”  (click here for full coverage)

Now our question to progressive fleet teams is this — are you benchmarking your driver profile results against national trends in violations to assess relative crash risk?

Violatios Table

Consider this table (above) and how your individual drivers stack up against national averages.  IF your drivers have a greater share of violations than the average, what would you do to step up your performance monitoring or refresher coaching?

  • Could this data be used against you in a Negligent Supervision lawsuit?
  • Is your defense going to be proactive and demonstrate that you actively monitor this data and assign coaching, education, monitoring resources or to claim “we didn’t know“? (not knowing is never a realistic defense)

If you’re using an automated MVR solution to pull in MVR data and profile it, you should be considering:

  1. whether the ACD code tables are up to date (many providers haven’t updated their code lists in years and can’t even post a texting violation properly!)
  2. whether your data can be exported to spreadsheet for analysis against national records like the table presented above, or whether your provider can automatically provide a comparison on a “driver-by-driver basis” against such public data
  3. whether your MVR profiling efforts should include other proactive, leading indicators of performance such as GPS alerts, how’s my driving alerts, or even camera in cabin video analysis.
  4. how you compare actual MVR results to your own loss data to validate the ATRI study and take action on “at-risk” drivers to reduce collisions
  5. how to link your MVR (ACD Codes) to refresher training modules to document immediate action taken on all drivers (who show a change in results) each time their MVR is obtained.

Of course, it may be easier to simply use our plug-n-play E-DriverFile system, Safety Hotline Program and “SafetyZone” LMS to handle these issues for you.  We work with the nation’s largest fleets (of CMVs and non-regulated vehicles, too!) to help manage risk, safety and results.  We also maintain an “in-network” system of relationships with more than 75 insurance providers who use our services with their select, targeted clients.

Copy of Copy of EDF LOGO (final)

AAAFTS “2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index”

Founded in 1947, the AAA Foundation in Washington, D.C. is a not-for-profit, publicly supported charitable research and education organization dedicated to saving lives by preventing traffic crashes and reducing injuries when crashes occur.

Since 2008, AAAFTS (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety) publishes a traffic safety culture index report based on surveys of motorists.  This provides us with a benchmark of where people’s minds are at regarding their perceptions of safety and how Public Safety Ads, enforcement campaigns and other methods are working.

The full report can be found at this link –

This year’s report was titled “Distracted and Risk-Prone Drivers” since “…distracted driving remains a significant and high-profile traffic safety concern…”

Indeed, the opening of the report offers these interesting insights:

In the 2012 survey, more than two-thirds (68.9%) of licensed drivers* reported having talked on a cell phone while driving at least once within the previous 30 days, and nearly one-third (31.9%) said they had done so fairly often or regularly during this time.3 This is the case despite the fact that nearly nine-in-ten respondents (88.5%) said that drivers talking on cell phones were a somewhat or very serious threat to their safety.3  In August 2012, researchers at MIT published results from a study that found that drivers who frequently used cell phones behind the wheel were more likely than those who did so infrequently to report or be observed engaging in other risky behaviors, such as frequent lane changing, speeding, and hard acceleration.4 Based on the findings, the researchers suggested that cell phone use itself may not account for the entire crash risk increase associated with this behavior, and that drivers who used their phones were more likely to engage in a range of other relatively risky activities, as well.4

While, in the past we’ve used the phrase “at-risk” driver to mean a driver who is at higher than average risk of becoming involved in a collision (if their behavior/habits are not addressed), the AAAFTS report prefers to use the term “Risk Prone” driver.  Risk prone drivers engage in these types of behaviors (as defined by AAAFTS):

  • Driven 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway;
  • Driven 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street;
  • Read a text message or email while driving;
  • Typed or sent a text message or email while driving;
  • Driven without wearing a seatbelt;
  • Driven when so tired it was difficult to keep eyes open;
  • Driven through a light that had just turned red when it was possible to stop safely;
  • Checked social media while driving;
  • Used the internet while driving;
  • Talked on a cell phone while driving; and
  • Driven when BAC was close to or possibly over the legal limit.

What I find interesting is that these behaviors are quite serious and present situations far in excess of what is typically reported on a safety hotline program (giving you an earlier indicator to intervene before the situation gets even this far advanced).  In the AAAFTS survey, they asked drivers to self-report whether they engaged in these behaviors never, just once, rarely, fairly often, or regularly (within the past 30 days).

Their statements about risk prone drivers are interesting:

For all risky behaviors examined, respondents who reported a greater frequency of cell phone use while driving were more likely to report also having engaged in that behavior. For example, 65 percent of drivers who talked on a cell phone while driving fairly often or regularly within the past 30 days also reported driving 15 mph or more over the speed limit on a freeway at least once during this time. [emphasis added] In contrast, only 31 percent of drivers who reported never using a cell phone behind the wheel admitted to such speeding (Figure A).  This pattern was consistent across all behaviors. Nearly half (47%) of drivers who regularly talked on their phones also ran a red light, compared to just 25 percent of drivers who never used their phones (Figure B). Likewise, 44 percent of frequent cell phone users also admitted to drowsy driving, whereas only 14 percent of those who reported not talking on their phones while driving did so (Figure C).

What remains unclear is whether there’s a causal effect between using cell phones and engaging in other “at-risk” or “risk-prone” behaviors or if it is coincidence.  Regardless, its still best policy to discourage use of cells while driving, encourage proper driving tactics and monitor driver behavior with a view towards coaching to modify behaviors.

What are you doing in your fleet to monitor your driver’s “at-risk” behaviors and intervene compassionately to prevent collisions?

If you’re looking for a more pro-active approach, consider safety hotlines to get motorist observation reports on egregious risk taking behaviors — when coupled with coaching and training it has been shown to reduce collision rates by 10-30% and it requires far less data analysis than most telematic or video based systems which can be onerous for safety metrics (data overload leading to difficulty separating the urgently actionable from the background noise of data buzz).