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)

Do you have an unsafe driving remediation plan?

Motor Carriers Guide to ImprovingUnsafe driving includes risky behavior such as speeding, improper lane change, aggressive driving, and other types of  dangerous activity.

Recently, a motor carrier was placed out of service due to a range of reasons (Click Here for Article), but one of those reasons that caught my eye was “Widespread instances of drivers operating commercial passenger vehicles at speeds in excess of posted speed limits.

This made me wonder how the auditors arrived at this conclusion.

  • Toll receipt auditing?
  • GPS records review through “e-discovery”?
  • EOBR records or driver logs that showed getting from point “A” to point “B” in far less time than would be considered reasonable?

Unsafe CSA sheetRegardless of the mechanism to arrive at this conclusion, the immediate defense by the carrier should be to explain how they monitor and “control” drivers to avoid unsafe behavior or risk taking while behind the wheel.  Additionally, if those controls are deemed inadequate by the auditor, the fleet should be ready to prepare a remediation plan to curb the aggressive driving and keep it under control going forward.

If you use GPS or other systems that capture unsafe driving events (i.e. camera recorders, etc.) how do you measure performance violation rates?

  • What’s an acceptable level of speeding, hard braking, rough cornering, number of recordings per week per driver, etc?
  • How do you benchmark that against other operators to see if you’re above or below the norm for your type of operation?
  • Is your rate going up or down?
  • Do you have a plan to coach or re-train drivers when they exceed thresholds?
  • Is that documented and is it followed (how would you prove that it’s followed?)
  • Does your vendor help you solve these issues with reporting from their system and bench-marking against other clients?

At SafetyFirst we help our clients understand the metrics of our unsafe driver identification and coaching-remediation program.  We provide:

  1. live, statistically relevant bench-marking by SIC code,
  2. training for BOTH the supervisor and the driver (one on how to coach/counsel and the other on the consequences of risk taking while behind the wheel)
  3. The industry’s ONLY driver training program for excessive speed (GPS alerts)
  4. “paper trails and/or electronic confirmation” of activity in case of audits, and
  5. these capabilities for about 1/100th of the cost of the GPS or camera systems.

cropped-more-thanksgiving-traffic.jpg

Resources

smc 1The Safety Management Cycle (SMC) for the Unsafe Driving Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) helps carriers (and drivers!) evaluate existing processes over six areas including:

  1. Policies and Procedures
  2. Roles and Responsibilities, 
  3. Qualification and Hiring,
  4. Training and Communication, 
  5. Monitoring and Tracking, and
  6. Meaningful Action

By reviewing each of these areas, a fleet operator has the chance to spot gaps in management practices, shore up communications plans with drivers and test to make sure that policies are being followed and enforced.

We recommend you investigate these FREE resources from FMCSA for developing a plan to address unsafe driving before an audit team considers your operation for review:

Much of safety work is mundane and un-glamorous, but when executed consistently, can be highly effective at minimizing injuries, fines and violations.  Similarly, it can help bolster up-time, productivity and profitability.

Safer driving starts with a safety-aware, safety-vigilant driver, and this comes from managers who will compassionately intervene when performance issues arise.  Coaching shows concern when it’s focused as a “conversation about safety” instead of a head-butting “confrontation about blame/fault“.  At least that’s our opinion – how about you?

cropped-truck-traffic.jpg

How IS my driving?

UNFI on the roadBased on industry estimates there are several million commercial vehicles (ranging in size/type from SUVs/Vans and Pickups thru tri-axle dumps and tractor trailers) using some sort of “how’s my driving” placard system.

Some of these are internally developed and executed hotlines — where the observer is actually calling the fleet operation directly.

However, most of these hotlines are through a third-party specialist organization that handles all of the administration of:

  • Processing calls on a 24/7/365 basis (instead of dealing with voice mail during “off hours”)
  • Dispatching reports on a timely basis to the correct location supervisor so that he/she can coach the driver promptly
  • Delivering professional driver training materials to help in the coaching process — to focus on a safety “conversation” instead of a disciplinary or fault finding “confrontation”
  • Providing training to supervisors on “how to coach” productively (the goal is to influence drivers to look at their own behaviors and want to be safer tomorrow, not “prove” someone did something wrong)
  • Supporting a “close the loop” process — to track the status of each and every report
  • Providing simple, but valuable management reporting proactively BY EMAIL
  • Providing supplemental driver training modules for the benefit of ALL your drivers (keep them all safety minded).

Did You Know?

  • Eighty percent of all drivers NEVER get a complaint call report during their career?
    • Further, of the twenty percent who do get reports — half get ONLY one and NEVER get another.
    • However, the final group of drivers get call after call after call.
  • Typically these multiple reports focus on common themes — tailgating, following too closely, space management issues, speeding, aggressive driving, etc.
  • Often, the issues raised in the call reports mirror the past violations on the MVR of the affected driver.
  • Sometimes, the call reports actually forecast an imminent collision — in other words, ignore the report and waiting will result in either a violation or preventable crash.

Aren’t these just crank calls?  Motorists with an ax to grind?

  • Our clients investigate each report — even if it’s on a “star” driver or an unusual situation.  They find that only one or two reports out of every hundred are unable to be validated or were not helpful to their own investigation and coaching process.
  • If the reports were from crank callers, the callers would be picking trucks randomly out of the crowd.  The call statistics don’t show a random distribution of calls.  We see 80% of the drivers NEVER get a call, 10% get one (and never another) and 10% get multiples.  So if it’s all made up, why do some drivers get almost all of the reports?
  • Interestingly, the drivers who get multiple call reports have the same sticker as all their peers.
    • Their sticker isn’t larger or bright neon green or offering to pay a bounty for anyone who calls — so why do they get more reports than their peers?
    • Behavior, habits, risk taking, complacency…..call it what you may, but this represents a chance to HELP this driver avoid any future tickets, fines, or crashes.
    • All it takes is a management team willing to have a conversation, sit him/her down for some training, and keep an eye on them in case the training was ignored.

Isn’t this “old fashioned” and being replaced by Hi-Tech?

  • Just because something’s been proven effective and has been around for thirty years doesn’t mean it stops working.
    • Pizza has been on menus for much longer, but it’s still popular.
    • Baseball and Football have been around much longer and they’re still popular — why would something become ineffective just because it’s been around?
  • It is true that there are hi-tech toys and gizmos out there to monitor drivers.
    • They focus on location, idle time, on/off route, raw speed, harsh braking, harsh cornering, aggressive swerving, and harsh acceleration.
    • ultratrack_1_smThese systems can never detect running a red light, speeding through a school zone when children are present, passing a stopped school bus, discourtesy to other drivers, littering, speeding based on “at the moment” conditions of weather, traffic, etc. (and more).
    • They’re good at what they offer and may provide a fleet with great data; however, separating the mountains of “background noise” data from the “urgently actionable” issues requires a full time analyst who is not provided with the system.
    • We already incorporate telematics alerts into our coaching system.  One client recognized a 600% reduction in speeding behaviors by linking the two systems! (Click HERE)
    • These systems are roughly 100 times more expensive than “how’s my driving?”

Capturing Near Miss Data

People who call in a report about risk taking behavior typically do so because they were frightened or angered by what they saw.  Think about your own experience on the highways — you’ve seen risky behavior, but what would motivate you to actually place a call report (hands free!)?  Something that was “almost” a crash, but was, instead, a “near-miss”.

Rarely do we receive calls about trivial situations — typical calls deal with high speed merges, tailgating, weaving in traffic, and other situations that could lead to crashes featuring bodily injuries (not just physical damage).

Because our system self-selects the most egregious behaviors for reports, the number of reports is quite low — only two or three reports per month (per 100 vehicles).  However, the importance of each report is very high.  This is the opposite of telematics systems that produce mountains of paperwork and you’ve got to locate the needle in the haystack.

Here’s another way to look at this approach:

Pyramid 2011 for blog

 

Closing the Loop

Our clients have an aggregate close out rate of 80% — that means almost every report is investigated to the point that a definitive management action has been instituted.

Another example of a blended scoreFurther, several studies have conclusively shown that this coaching process (without video training or online training) has been the key to unlocking significant crash reduction results (10–30% fewer crashes than without the hotline program in place.)

So, now that we’ve been producing brief (5-7 minute) reminder videos for our online Learning Management System (LMS) we expect even stronger loss reduction results.

The first five remedial/refresher videos were produced in both English and Spanish (for use with non‐regulated fleets), and cover the following topics:

  1. Tailgating
  2. Improper Lane Change
  3. Honoring the Right of Way
  4. Driving Too Fast for Conditions
  5. Running Red Lights / Stop Signs

These five topics cover roughly 80% of all Motorist Observation Reports (MORs) generated at SafetyFirst, and a similar emphasis on moving violations.

We are in the process of releasing additional topics based on MOR trends, client recommendations and the level of enthusiastic adoption of the videos within our client base.

As of September 1, 2013:

  1. Exceeding the Speed Limit (dealing with GPS alerts!)
  2. Aggressive Driving
  3. Distracted Driving (Cell Phone/Text)
  4. Drowsy Driving
  5. Faulty Equipment
  6. Drug/Alcohol Use
  7. Driving Too Slowly for Conditions (Impeding Traffic)

Summary

Driving Too Fast PPTWhether a regulated fleet or not, our program offers a range of benefits worth considering — it’s very low cost, includes a monthly training package, urgent alerts about near miss events, coaching and re-training emphasis (instead of fault finding or blaming) and the ability to run your drivers through very brief, but highly motivational online training modules.

We’re already the industry leader in driver safety programs for:  Arborists/GreenCare, Social Service Providers, Municipalities, Pest Control, HVAC, Electrical Contractors, Beverage Delivery, Telecommunications, Food Processing and Distribution, Specialty Contractors, Construction, Auto Parts Wholesale and Retail, Retail (Direct Delivery) and more!

Why not check us out?

1-888-603-6987

NEw logo

 

Managing Risk Thru Driver Points

For many fleets, the MVR review process is a time consuming, energy draining project done annually.  The paper produced by the project can represent great insights or merely a pile of paper. 

Progressive fleets have been working over the past decade to streamline their process by moving from spreadsheets and PDF files to “granular data” on each driver that can be sorted, sliced and diced.  This granular data of violations can be matched to a point system, and even blended with other data such as historical crash data (preventables, at-faults, or all incidents), telematics alerts, How’s My Driving reports, or other indicators.

While fleets have collected this data in the past, collating it has been an uphill battle since data layouts were not compatible, or, in some cases, difficult to get from one system to another.

Another example of a blended scoreConsider the image at right.  This driver has a lot of data and a lot of activity. 

Initially, many would simply dismiss the driver outright, but upon closer examination, you can see some interesting patterns in the data. 

From 2005 to 2010, there are five speeding events in five years (although three occured in 2008).  In 2011, there were two motorist complaints about driving too fast, dishonoring the right of way and failure to stay in lane.  The next event to occur was a crash in August of 2011 when the driver hit another vehicle in the rear. 

Another crash happened in January 2012 (and was cited for careless driving on same date), then another complaint about lane change, signals and driving too fast for conditions in June of 2012. 

Management had indicators that this driver tends to rush. 

  • Was there any direct observation of the driver to determine whether they allow proper following distance? 
  • Was there remedial training provided and completed? 

The system that produced this report can be expanded to show the remediation events (and, in theory could provide negative points for successful training, etc.)

At issue isn’t just one particular driver, but locating those drivers who are most likely to be involved in collisions based on patterns of behavior, or who’ve had one crash already and may be ready to have a subsequent crash.

The National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) recently posted the following video about driver point systems:

SafetyFirst’s E-DriverFile program has been ordering and processing these reports for years for clients with as few as 40 drivers and as many as 7,500 drivers. The system does much more than report on these metrics and can even help those fleets who are regulated by FMCSR.

How does your organization handle MVR point systems?  Do you have a database program?  Is it largely manual?  Can it automatically order fresh MVRs on higher than average risk drivers quarterly?  Would you save time if all this data was in a single spot?

Can we show you how our program works for larger, multiple location fleets?

CSA Operation Quick Strike – Who’s Next?

Motor Carriers Guide to ImprovingFollowing a series of tragic, high-profile motor coach crashes, the CSA set out to target the passenger carrying industry with a “quick strike” round of targeted audits.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made this announcement back in February, summarizing their intent to intervene with “high risk” bus companies as part of a “national safety sweep”.

Teams of auditors were specially trained by early April and out on the roads visiting carriers whose scores indicated a potential safety threat to the public.

A May 3rd press release states:

“Bus companies across the U.S. should know that if they put the traveling public at risk, we will put them out of business,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We will not tolerate bus companies disregarding safety regulations that protect the traveling public from harm.”

Today’s action marks the fifth shutdown of a passenger carrier following the deployment earlier this month of more than 50 specially trained safety investigators targeting high-risk passenger carriers. In the past ten days, FMCSA investigators have shut down bus companies in the District of Columbia, Georgia, Ohio and New York. Since the beginning of 2013, FMCSA has shut down a total of 12 bus companies and seven trucking companies. The agency has also declared three commercial driver’s license holders as imminent hazards, blocking them from operating in interstate commerce.

This is good news.  The CSA is putting teeth into enforcing its rules against those carriers that amount to scofflaws — ignoring their responsibilities to adhere to minimum standards of safety performance.

ALERT CSAIn a recent article by Overdriveonline.com, they quote an FMCSA official speaking on background who noted “…that truck fleets could be certain that lessons learned from the experience also would be applied to them – and sooner than later.

Further, the article states:

Agency Transportation Specialist Courtney Stevenson outlined the parameters that define “high-risk” carriers relative to the Compliance, Safety, Accountability compliance ranking system for attendees of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance workshop April 22 in Louisville, Ky. “FMCSA has a congressional mandate that we investigate high-risk motor carriers,” she said. A high-risk carrier is one “that has a Crash or Hours of Service or Unsafe Driving [Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category, or BASIC, ranking] greater than 85, plus another BASIC” above the intervention/alert threshold. And, she added, “any company with four or more BASICs” above threshold is also considered high-risk. Carriers that meet these standards, the agency says, show crash involvement rates double the national average…

A carrier is high-risk if

  1. Its ranking in the Unsafe Driving, Hours of Service Compliance or Crash Indicator BASIC exceeds 85 and
  2. It has a ranking above intervention/ alert threshold in one other BASIC.

Or…

  • It has rankings above intervention/ alert threshold in four or more SMS BASICs.

A link to the full overdriveonline article can be found HERE.

Summary

All regulated fleets should be monitoring their CSA BASICs on a consistent basis — challenging any incorrect data and working closely with their operators to minimize the number of violations received for either unsafe driving or vehicle deficiencies.

The use of performance monitoring systems like How’s My Driving, telematics, and camera systems can have a positive influence on violation rate and crash rates, but only if the data developed from those systems is taken seriously and used with urgency to coach drivers on their behaviors in a productive, compassionate manner.

Coaching programs are seldom supplied by technology providers since they are experts at engineering and electronics, but coaching requires a soft-skill connection to become effective.

Coaching Tips TitleTranslating data into behavior change doesn’t have to be difficult, and that’s why we have partnered with safety managers from our 3800 fleet customers to build a supervisory training program on how to conduct effective coaching sessions for our How’s My Driving program.  SafetyFirst’s training was the first developed back in 1998 and has been continuously revised each year since.  Available to current customers, the DVD and online, interactive versions have been extremely popular and effective.

SafetyFirst deals with operator safety programs:  accident reduction, telematics, safety hotlines, MVR profiling, DQF online systems and more.  “Best In Class” solution for the insurance industry with a network of more than 75 providers, and working with 3,800 active fleet clients in a variety of programs.

http://www.edriverfile.com

http://www.safetyfirst.com

1-888-603-6987 toll free

If you Celebrate, Stay Safe this Cinco de Mayo

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urges everyone to be extra careful this weekend as some folks like to celebrate “Cinco de Mayo” and that can often lead to “buzzed driving” which is in reality “drunk driving”.

We wanted to join NHTSA in reminding everyone that not only is it illegal to drink and drive, but the consequences can be disastrous, turning a fun celebration into a devastating night.

Sobering Facts from NHTSA:

  • Cinco08_Jail_72dpiFrom 2007 to 2011, 38 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities that occurred each year around May 5th involved alcohol-impaired drivers or motorcycle operators with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .08 and above, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • During the 2011 Cinco de Mayo holiday alone, 35 percent of motor vehicle fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver or motorcycle operator with a BAC of .08 and above. And unfortunately, 80 percent of the alcohol impaired fatalities involved a driver or motorcycle operator with nearly twice the legal limit of .15.
  • Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.  Law enforcement officers will be on high alert for drunk drivers during the Cinco de Mayo time period.
  • In 2011, more than 32,000 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the United States. Of those fatalities, 31 percent involved a driver or motorcycle operator that was alcohol-impaired.

  • Death and injuries are not the only consequences from impaired driving. Violators often face jail time, loss of their driver’s license and it could cost up to $10,000 in legal fees, fines, and result in higher insurance rates.

Tips from NHTSA — Plan Ahead to See Seis de Mayo:

  • If your Cinco de Mayo celebration includes alcohol, make a plan before the festivities begin to ensure you arrive home safely.
  • Designate your sober driver before the party begins.
  • If you’ve been drinking, never get behind the wheel. Use public transportation, call a cab or someone who can drive you
  • 230x150-mayo5If you know someone who is about to drive or ride with an impaired driver, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement—you could save a life.
  • By planning ahead, you will make sure you and others live to see, and enjoy, Seis de Mayo.

Pass the chips. Pass the tortillas. Pass your keys to a #DesignatedDriver before you start drinking. #CincodeMayo 

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.

cropped-trucks-highway.jpg

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.

cropped-decal-ate-truck.jpg

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