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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Large Truck & Bus Crash Facts – 2011

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

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

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

Highlights from Trends:

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

Highlights from Crashes:

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

Highlights from Vehicles:

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

Highlights from People:

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

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No Excuse for Speeding

Most of us appreciate the humor of “top ten lists” and heading about the silly excuses people deliver to cover over their poor choices.  A recent article at consumerreports.com listed the top ten reasons people gave when pulled over for speeding.

It is funny to read these excuses (below), but we also recognize that speeding itself is never funny.

Sobering facts about speeding:

  1. Driving Too Fast PPTSpeeding is four times more likely to lead to a death than talking/texting with a hand-held cell phone.  
  2. Speeding reduces your time to react to unexpected situations
  3. Speeding reduces the effective control of your steering and braking systems — it takes more time to safely maneuver and/or stop.
  4. Speeding violations increase your personal insurance costs, decrease your future employ-ability, frustrate your employer and can have substantial fines associated.
  5. More ‘exceeding the speed limit’ crashes occur in home towns, on side streets and involve pedestrians, bikes and motorcycles than on the open highway.  
  6. There’s rarely a good excuse to speed.

So the results of a survey of 500 licensed drivers age 18 and over who reported using an excuse during a traffic stop include the following top 10 excuses:

10. My GPS said it was the right thing to do: 2.2 percent.
9. I was on my way to an emergency: 4 percent.
8. I didn’t do anything dangerous: 4.2 percent.
7. I had to go to the bathroom: 4.6 percent.
6. I missed my turn/exit: 4.8 percent.
5. I’m having an emergency situation in my car: 5.4 percent.
4. Everyone else was doing it: 6.4 percent.
3. I didn’t know I broke the speed limit: 12.4 percent.
2. I’m lost and unfamiliar with the roads: 15.6 percent.

And the number one reason…

1. I couldn’t see the sign telling me not to do it:  20.4 percent.

Summary

The common thread through these excuses is a combination of feigned ignorance of the law (or more simply, the rules of the road) and self-deception that the risk isn’t real (i.e. I’m a good driver, only other drivers actually crash because of their choices or “speeding isn’t dangerous”).

Some may argue that “having an emergency situation in my car” could be a legitimate concern, but since this is a summary of drivers who actually got ticketed, I have to wonder how serious the “emergency” was (the police took the time to issue the ticket and conduct the survey).

We all share a responsibility to each other, as drivers, to be safe and execute reasonable judgement while following the law.  Some drivers deceive themselves into believing that the law doesn’t apply to them (or their circumstance) or that they’re so skilled that they can  overcome any dangerous situation that may arise.  All they’re accomplishing is endangering themselves and the rest of us.

Take time to talk with your friends and family about driving safely — it starts within our immediate social circles and spreads out from there.  We can’t wait for someone else to step up and lead the discussion — it starts with you, today.  Be brave enough to have that conversation.

Webinar: Motivating Drivers to Make Safer Decisions

Everest National Insurance, together with Aspen Risk Management Group hosted a webinar today (4/23/2013) on the topic “Motivating Drivers to Make Safer Decisions“.   SafetyFirst’s CEO, Paul Farrell, was the presenter.

The topic is timely and vital to fleet operations regardless of their native industry type or business model” says Farrell.  “We’ve learned over the past thirty years that ninety percent of commercial vehicle collisions are due to driver’s attitudes, actions, choices, beliefs and assumptions about risk taking while driving.  If drivers operate in violation of safety policies,   and we can diagnose why this is happening, we’re on the path to getting their cooperation and compliance.

Dan Lessnau, VP of Sales at SafetyFirst contributed this thought; “While technology can play a very important role in enhancing both vehicle and driver safety results, the human factor can’t be underestimated.  When managers make time to self-audit their current practices, evaluate their successes and apparent failures, they’re enabling themselves to define a solid benchmark to build upon.”

While many drivers do operate their vehicle in compliance with company policy and state traffic laws, some violate these guidelines for various reasons.  Noncompliance can lead to traffic violations and crashes with damaged vehicles, injuries or even fatalities.  These negative outcomes influence business results, BASIC measures (in regulated fleets) and even insurance premiums when rated on a past-loss basis.

Of those drivers who are consistently non-compliant with company driving policies, there are four distinct populations of drivers:

  1. Those who are genuinely unaware of the nature of the risk or the policy which is in place to address that issue. (aka Training/Education Issue)
  2. Motivating Drivers to be saferThose who are aware that there is some degree of risk and/or that there is a policy in place to address this type of behavior, but there is also a genuine misunderstanding about the nature of the risk (consequences) or what the policy is communicating. (aka Communications Issue)
  3. Those who understand the nature of the risk and the intent of the policy very clearly, but fail to comply out of conflicting expectations from their own management team (i.e. “Hypocritical Enforcement or a “goal alignment issue” where the actual rewards and benefits for violating the policy (i.e. pay, productivity, etc.) may be greater for non-compliance than for compliance.) (aka Goal Alignment)
  4. Those who understand the nature of the risk and intent of the policy, but simply choose to violate the policy by sheer willful decision.  (aka Performance Issue)

Diagnosing why non-compliant drivers are violating policy based on the model described above is the starting point to improving results.  Questions like the ones below could be used to help diagnose why some drivers may not have been aware of the policy, or didn’t understand the policy fully enough to comply on a consistent basis:

  • Are all drivers fully aware of our expectations for their performance?
  • How have we communicated these expectations?
  • How do we know that the message was received and understood?
  • Did we take a “once and done” approach or have we used thoughtfully repetitive messaging to reinforce the communication effort?
  • Have we evaluated the simplicity of the wording used since legal teams often interject very precise wording that may be difficult to understand?
  • Did we use illustrative examples to clarify how the policy would be applied in realistic scenarios?

Drivers who heard the policy and understood the expectation may require additional information to translate their understanding into positive action.  For instance, going the extra step to explain why the policy is needed, what goals are being sought through the policy and “what’s in it for me, the driver?” could provide motivation for some to voluntarily comply on a consistent basis.

Other concerns include how the message gets delivered.  Some old-line managers valueYou tell his mommy the melodramatic message to shock people and use emotion to motivate compliance.  This image and message accomplishes that goal, but this approach can be overused and become ineffective for several reasons.

First, a steady bombardment of this type of heavy handed messaging may make drivers feel like they are villains or make them angry if there is hypocritical enforcement (i.e. managers breaking the same rules with impunity).  Secondly, youthful drivers have been raised on a steady diet of “just say NO” messaging or “this is your brain on drugs” messaging and they have become increasingly calloused towards the approach.  “Our caution is to evaluate the types of messaging being used and take great care to avoid over reliance on one type or style.  A great variety of messaging mechanisms keeps the information fresh and attractive.” commented Farrell.

Goal Alignment, Mixed Signals, Crossed Purposes

That segment of drivers who understand fully, but don’t comply by choice may be doing so for a range of reasons.

First, we must recognize that from the driver’s own perspective, rules such as state traffic laws or company policy can seem like suggestions:

  • compliance isn’t monitored or enforced with consistency
  • the consequences for non-compliance are not feared (i.e. seen either as trivial or unlikely to occur)
  • bigger reward for non-compliance than for compliance undermines value of adhering to policies
  • “just don’t care” factor (personal liberty is more valuable that potential consequences of non-compliance)

The “just don’t care” factor can be best illustrated in light of Virginia Technical Transportation Institute and Insurance Information for Highway Safety studies showing:

  • Policethe difference in compliance between companies with cell phone bans versus no policy at all = %17 (neither complied very well)
  • no measurable difference in early results between those states with a cell phone ban versus those with a strong ban in place.
  • crashes rose slightly in those states with a ban versus those without.

Dealing with this segment of the driver population (understands policy, but rejects compliance) may boil down to monitoring and enforcement actions, which will be discussed in the final segment of the article.

Next we must open our eyes to operations teams who reward productivity through bonuses, stronger pay raises, or management praise while sending signals to drivers that speeding, using hand-held cell phones while driving and other risky practices are worth broken rules if it means more revenue.   If drivers believe that the possible rewards gained by breaking the rules outweigh the risk of the potential, but likely consequences, they’ll continue to violate the policies.  

Some drivers break the rules because the management team encourages them to do so — for instance, no one is to use their cell while driving “UNLESS” it is their boss on the line demanding to speak with the driver immediately.  This sort of hypocritical enforcement adds to confusion about compliance and how to apply directions given by the management team.

Time For A Change

Weeding out “hypocritical enforcement” (however subtle) and making sure that manager’s goals/expectations are properly aligned with policy statements isn’t always easy, but it does help everyone in the organization focus on a common goal.  While we’ve previously done whole webinars on goal alignment for fleet safety results, our focus today was on ways management teams could monitor driver performance and increase the accountability of both managers and drivers in regards to policy compliance.

Some parallels worth examiningWe believe this monitoring and enforcement effort actually begins with candidate screening practices (i.e. “setting up for success”).  Some organizations use screening tools such as DISC or other behavior/motivational/skills based testing to find “rules compliant” applicants.  Others use revised interview questions and tactics to evaluate a candidate’s attention to details, listening skills and so on.  This is also a good time to begin sending the messages that safety is important and valued within your organization.

Other monitoring and enforcement mechanisms were covered during the webinar and ranged from How’s My Driving hotlines to MVR profiles to identify drivers who may be at-risk of becoming involved in a collision or may have broken a local regulation.  Technology such as on-board recorders, GPS systems and even Camera-in-Cabin systems were introduced with their respective pros and cons.

The group had a special interest for cell phone enforcement technology, and incentive programs which might be used to help spur compliance.  We discussed the emerging technology solutions around cell phone control, including pitfalls and ways to defeat the systems.  We also discussed why incentive programs can start strong and end in ashes if not carefully managed each step of the way.

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Summary

Drivers need clear communication of expectations which are consistently reinforced by their own management team.  Simple rules, thoroughly monitored and fairly/evenly enforced using technology and administrative programs can make a vast difference in safety results obtained.   Motivating drivers to make safer decisions while behind the wheel is one of the cornerstones of a solid driver safety program.

Current SafetyFirst clients and their respective insurers will have access to the slides at our website shortly.  If you’re not currently affiliated with SafetyFirst and would like to discuss this topic or get a copy of the slides and support materials, please contact us at support (at) safetyfirst (dot) com (providing your contact information and how we can assist you) or call us toll free at 1-888-603-6987

SafetyFirst provides driver safety services to a network of more than 75 insurance providers and 3,800+ active fleet clients throughout North America.  Driver Education, Online Interactive Modules, Driver Coaching, Hotlines, GPS and more are available through our consultative team of transportation, insurance and IT specialists.

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High Tech Fraud Detection (CDLs/Motorists/Company Car Drivers)

According to the Star Ledger, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) and the Division of Criminal Justice have been working on implementing new ways to detect fake drivers licenses.   Technologies such as facial recognition have been used to spot multiple licenses granted to people with different names but the same face!

Here are some of the details released this week:

“One trucker was able to get three commercial driver’s licenses under three names, despite his license being suspended 64 times and his six DUI convictions.  Another motorist was able to get a license to drive a bus by using the name of a dead man. Still another was a registered sex offender who got a license to drive tanker trucks under an alias despite his five DUI convictions, and another was an accused sex offender who was able to get a license to drive a truck despite his three DUI convictions.”

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 The State’s Attorney General noted that 9/11 terrorists had fake licenses issued from other states and that “…detecting people with false licenses, the facial recognition could potentially uncover identity theft, financial fraud or terrorism, in addition to getting unsafe drivers off the road.”  He went on to say that “…For someone who’s put his children on the school buses in New Jersey for a long time, when you hear about folks who have multiple DUI convictions, sex offenders who are able to get licenses to operate those school buses — and, quite frankly, licenses to continue to drive on our roads — it certainly is a stark reminder that this the kind of thing that we need to be putting assets in

All of this reminds us that MVR profiling remains a critical safety tool for many fleets around the country — whether they operate sales cars or tractor trailers (or anything in between).

How do you know if your driver holds multiple licenses or multiple identities?

It’s not something the average employer would be equipped to diagnose, but it is a way for a chronic “bad driver” to get around screening tools — only to be discovered much later by a plaintiff’s attorney following a tragic fatality or other horrendous crash.

The NJ Attorney General summed it up this way; “If you have somebody who has six DUI convictions, they have to be driving under the influence a lot of the time. And for them to be able to continue to get driver’s licenses to operate vehicles by trying to scam the system, it creates a real safety issue for all of us.

More coverage is available HERE.

In a related article published by Landline Magazine, the following details were added:

  • “New Jersey’s license investigation examined all 19 million identities listed in its photo record database to find duplicative photos and identities. The state found 600,000 matches attributed to administrative errors and customer fraud, and suspended 1,800 licenses until customers could re-verify their identities.   
  • “The investigation has also uncovered 20 to 40 potential fraudulent unemployment cases, 23 fraud cases investigated by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, three potential Medicaid fraud cases, eight fraudulent U.S. passports, five criminal arrests by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and four criminal fraud suspects identified by the Social Security Administration in connection with over $200,000 in suspected fraud.   
  • “New Jersey now performs a nightly scrub of all new photos submitted at its 39 agencies.”

SafetyFirst works with many larger employers (with 500 or more drivers) to set up pre-hire screening and post hire re-qualification systems including profiling for crash risk, integrated KPI dashboards and data transfers with Human Resource applications.  Having pulled more than 40,000 MVRs and being on track to triple that number during 2013, we continue to add employers to our “E-DriverFile” and “My Driver’s Data” platforms.  If you have a need to better manage your driver records — from sales fleets to DOT regulated fleets, give us a call!

Are your ACD Codes up to date?

When viewing state MVRs it quickly becomes obvious that each state has unique conviction reporting language and codes inherent to their motor vehicle statutes and specific violation language. Additionally, each state has its own point system that links to suspension of driving privileges.

Since states must communicate with one another and with the National Driver Register (NDR) regarding commercial drivers, problem drivers, and out-of state actions, the question is—how do states know what the conviction codes from other states mean and how do they translate this information into their own language and code set?  In short, how do they make sense of the data if there are fifty standards?

The answer is the states utilize the AAMVA Code Dictionary (ACD) as a translation table. The primary function of the ACD Codes is to enable to the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) to exchange convictions and withdrawals. Other applications use the codes, such as the Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS), knowing that the ACD Codes are defined for CDLIS.

Fleet managers, safety directors, and human resources teams depend on accurate reporting of MVR data tied to ACD codes.  This enables a fair evaluation of a driver’s history against a set standard within their organization.  This evaluation will typically lead to refresher training and could lead to discipline or removal of driving privileges. 

Because of the seriousness of this evaluation, it’s important that the process be consistent and fair.

The AAMVA periodically updates their ACD code listing to reflect changes in the traffic citation “marketplace” — for instance, “Texting While Driving” or “M85” was recently added to the dictionary of codes.

If your MVR scoring/evaluation system doesn’t tie directly to the master list of ACD codes, you may be missing or mis-classifying violations.  Worse, if you depend on a person* to “interpret” violations being posted back from the states and/or provinces, how do you know that they’re being coded correctly?  *(what about multiple service reps working on your account — does “Joe” interpret violations differently than “Sally”?)

Your drivers deserve every opportunity to receive training based on these codes since the codes are tied to specific behaviors.  When violations are coded improperly, you may be missing opportunities to help drivers correct their habits. 

On the other hand, when your MVR system is working well, you can influence the probability of preventing collisions or even getting additional violations. 

This can impact your BASICs for unsafe driving and crash rates if you’re a regulated carrier, or simply boost your profitability if you’re a non-regulated fleet.

There are many providers of MVR data out there.  If you’re checking MVRs to simply fulfill a policy or program statement (without considering the data quality, or without using the data to instigate corrective training), any provider will suffice.  If you’re interested in helping drivers become aware of potential habits that are leading them towards collisions, then data quality and reporting are critical to success.  Advanced systems that do more than deliver an MVR result may prove helpful — does your system also:

  • tag and remind you proactively when licenses are about to expire?
  • link driver evaluations to training systems?
  • link driver’s MVR data to preventable crash history, telematics alerts, motorist observation reports or other indicators for a blended risk score?
  • assist in complying with FMCSR if your fleet is regulated?
  • assist in tying varied company events to a blended score?
  • link data from automated enforcement agencies to your driver’s account?
  • reconcile and maintain your consent forms tied to each state and each driver account?
  • offer e-consent in those states which support e-consent?

If you’re interested in a system that does more than post back a data file (that may or may not be accurate), then check out E-DriverFile or give us a call at 1-888-603-6987.

Do You Know If Your Drivers Are Properly Licensed?

A recent study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAAFTS), titled “Unlicensed to Kill”, states that 18% of fatal crashes involved an improperly licensed or unlicensed driver.

Most companies who employ people to drive on the job obtain a “driver abstract” or “Motor Vehicle Report” (MVR) to verify that the employee is properly and currently licensed to operate a motor vehicle.

The report states; “crashes that involved a driver with an invalid license or no license resulted in 21,049 deaths, 18.7% of all deaths that occurred in motor vehicle crashes in theUnited Statesfrom 2007 through 2009.”

AAAFTS researchers defined “license status” as: valid, suspended, revoked, expired, cancelled, denied, or unlicensed.  They didn’t look at the characteristics of “valid” licenses to determine what factors (such as too many violations) may impact the likelihood of becoming involved in a fatal crash – only the frequency that fatal crashes involved drivers whose license was not valid (or was unlicensed at the time of the collision).  Additionally, the category “denied” indicates that the driver had attempted to obtain, extend, or renew his or her license but the driver’s request for the license, extension, or renewal was denied by the licensing agency.

The study also examined factors such as: driver age, sex, blood alcohol concentration; vehicle type, time of day and day of week of the crash, number of vehicles involved in the crash, and whether the driver remained at the scene of the crash or fled.

  • Age, as a factor, showed that youthful drivers were generally more likely to be unlicensed or suspended/revoked than older drivers. 
  • Large truck and bus drivers were highly unlikely to be driving without proper credentials, but operators of pickup trucks and light duty vehicles (i.e. SUV, van, et.al.) were more likely to drive without proper credentials. 
  • Additionally, in those fatal crashes where the operator wasn’t properly credentialed, they were more likely to flee the scene than to stay behind:
    • “An estimated 10.6% of drivers with suspended or revoked licenses who were involved in fatal crashes left the scene, as compared to only 1.7% of validly licensed drivers”
    • “Excluding drivers who were incapacitated or killed and thus were unlikely able to flee, 31.2% of fatal-crash involved drivers with suspended or revoked licenses, as compared to 3.7% of validly licensed drivers left the scene of the crash (not in table), indicating that among fatal-crash involved drivers who were not incapacitated or killed, drivers with a suspended or revoked license were 8.4 times as likely to have left the scene compared to validly licensed drivers.”

What Does This Mean for Most Fleets?

These factors and findings should give most risk managers and safety professionals pause to consider whether their current license validation system is performing for them on a consistent basis.  Not only do they need to verify each operator’s license status, they should have a mechanism to evaluate the content of each MVR.  Data quality, scoring mechanisms, and compliance with a growing number of regulations could undermine your program if you’re not managing it closely:

  • Are you getting the raw data posted from each state’s database, or a paper report that was generated by a vendor’s own system.
  • What is the data quality of your MVR reporting platform?
  • Does your vendor use encrypted XML posting to transfer data and protect your Personally Identifiable Information?
  • Is your scoring system adjust for each and every ACD code from the most current AAMVA data dictionary?
  • Can you defend your MVR system if called to the witness stand?
  • What about diversion agreements, plea bargains, events older than 36 months?
  • Are you (and your supplier) in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), and state statutes and regulations?
  • How often do you update records?  Is the periodicity linked to the number of existing violations (i.e. those drivers with more activity get monitored more frequently?)
  • Do you subscribe to any state sponsored (or vendor provided) alert programs which notify the employer when a change is posted to the operator’s MVR?  It costs extra, but may be a worthy investment in your risk management plan.

The prospect of a newspaper headline about an employee involved in a hit and run collision who doesn’t have a valid license presents a bleak public relations nightmare.  Worse, it could set up the employer for litigation based on a theory of negligent hiring, negligent supervision or negligent entrustment depending on the specifics of the tragic crash event.

What Can Be Done?

  1. If you don’t currently check MVRs for new hires and again on a periodic basis, you may want to start.  Studies show a direct correlation between violations and increased crash risk – the studies have been revalidated showing the benefits of monitoring MVR data — https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/predicting-truck-crash-involvement/
  2. If you already check MVRs annually, consider enrolling in a monitoring program.  Currently twelve states offer license monitoring to provide notification to employers about changes in license status during the course of the year.  While there are supplementary fees associated with monitoring, they may prove trivial in comparison to the costs of defending a horrible crash event.
  3. Investigate your current program and re-validate your program supplier’s credentials – are they compliant with the latest privacy regulations and are they able to deliver meaningful scorecards, reminder notices and automated profiling based on ACD codes from the AAMVA?  Perhaps this year is a good year to re-bid your business relationship and upgrade to a more robust solution?

E-DriverFile is our Risk Management Information System designed to track and manage many aspects of driver safety, including MVR reconciliation and monitoring.  We can design monitoring packages for all states – even if those states don’t currently offer MVR monitoring programs. 

To learn more about the study:

http://www.aaafoundation.org/pdf/2011Unlicensed2Kill.pdf

 To learn more about MVR programs:

To learn more about E-DriverFile:

http://www.edriverfile.com