Merging at Ramps

junction13Accessing a highway can present several challenges to drivers – whether novice or experienced: poor weather, low light levels, road design and the discourtesy of other drivers can each contribute factors that increase our risk of a crash while merging at ramps.

In a perfect driving world, we’d be the only operator and vehicle on the road; however, that’s just not possible.  We face congestion, road work, and delays each day as we go from site to site.  Merging adds stress since we have to cope with limited visibility areas (aka “blind spots”) and finding that gap in traffic flow where we can “squeeze in” to our spot with all the other vehicles.

SafetyZone-Safety GoalJuly’s Ten-Minute Training Topic provides drivers and their supervisors with insights and discussion about merging at ramps.  The driver handout refreshes operators on common problems encountered, and offers reminders about traffic, ramp metering and even wrong-way crashes that happen when a confused (or impaired) motorist manages to take the wrong ramp and rushes head-long into oncoming traffic.  The slideshows also help to illustrate these issues and aids for drivers.

Automotive Fleet Magazine recently posted a nice article and video to promote safe merging at on ramps.  To view these click HERE.

ramp collisions

Hidden Liabilities for Fleets

Wayne Smolda, President of CEI, offered the following provocative thoughts on his blog (bold added by us for emphasis):

On balance, technological advances are proving to be beneficial to fleets. Vehicles Ediscoveryare safer than ever before and get better fuel economy. When used properly, wireless communications are also helping fleets and their drivers to be more productive in such ways as plotting more efficient routes and enabling drivers to stay in closer touch with their organizations and customers. But there are two applications of wireless communications in the realm of traffic safety that I believe are having a potentially very nasty unintended consequence.

The applications are telematics and traffic cameras, and the unintended consequence is an all-but invisible increase in fleet liability…such systems are also capturing data that could reveal that some drivers are habitually speeding…the data being captured makes it possible for fleets to identify high-risk drivers. Yet, how many fleets are actually converting that data into actionable information…? I submit that many are not – even though the data resides in their computer systems.

A similar challenge comes from the proliferation of traffic safety cameras. Camera-redlight cam pictureissued tickets are sent to the registered owner of the vehicle, but in most cases that is the fleet, not the driver. That means that most of the violations don’t get recorded on one of the major tools fleets use for identifying high-risk drivers, their motor vehicle records. Unless fleets find a way to connect traffic camera violations to the drivers responsible, they are missing another opportunity to use the data they have to identify drivers they ought to reconsider trusting to operate a motor vehicle.

The very real gap in data leading to “compassionate interventions” to address safety issues can be easily overcome by using SafetyFirst’s “Safety Hotline” program and our “E-Another example of a blended scoreDriverFile” system.  Both programs capture telematics alerts AND automated traffic enforcement violations to present on a BLENDED RISK SCORE REPORT.

In fact, we’ve previously published an article showing a one-year decline in GPS speed alerts of 600% based on using our coaching processes to curb the risk taking behavior BEFORE it led to bigger problems.

YOU set the time frames and the score weighting for your own fleet operation, and you can also generate “violation only” scores versus “blended scores” — where one can be used to assign non-punitive training (via our new “SAFETY ZONE” learning management system with the industry’s newest, most provocative refresher modules, and the other can be used for Human Resources (i.e. disciplinary) purposes.

Copy of Copy of EDF LOGO (final)

Summer Driving

summer traffic 1Over the past twenty-five years of my safety career, I’ve seen countless videos, bulletins and articles highlighting tips and advice to drivers on coping with the savage conditions of “Winter Driving”.  Without a doubt, the winter season can bring unpredictable weather (depending on where you live and drive) ranging from snow, sleet, rain, fog, etc.  Additionally, low sun angles make dawn and dusk glare difficult to see other vehicles.

One of our clients asked — “why so little attention given to summer driving?”  It wasn’t an easy question to address initially and I wondered the same thing — why don’t we see more published about summer driving?  Most of what I’ve found on this topic deals with motorists heading out on vacation — dealing with congestion, unexpected breakdowns, overheated cars and tempers, etc.

Still, one point was inescapable — summertime deaths on the road are just as tragic, and depending on your source statistics, more numerous than in the winter.

National Safety Council, among others, have coined the term “The 100 Deadliest Days of Summer” as those days between Memorial Day (the final Monday of May in the USA) and Labor Day (First Monday in September) where road deaths are higher than any other time of the year.  In fact, it has been suggested that the sheer number of fatalities on 4th of July exceed those associated with the New Year’s holiday in January.

Contributing factors may include:

  • Increased motor vehicle activity —
    • more drivers in more vehicles on the road at the same time (i.e. adding vacationers to the “normal” levels of commuters, delivery and commercial drivers)
    • Longer days means more driving over the course of more hours
  • Vacationers heading out on long-distance trips fall victim to drowsy driving (pushing to make it further to avoid mid-trip layovers) and speed-aggravated collisions.
  • Increased congestion breeds fender-benders
  • Generally more drinking and driving by vacationers and holiday partiers
  • More late night traffic to avoid day-time congestion
  • More construction zones with merge points, little respect for construction zone speed limits (aggravating crashes at merge points)
  • Distracted driving “may” be greater due to popularity of social media (i.e. posting updates from vacation trip, checking work emails from the road at a red light, etc.)
  • Sudden rainstorms (depending on geographic location) may lead to more hydroplanning when downpours provide excessive rain that won’t drain from the roadway surface quickly.
  • Impaired driving from OTC or prescription meds for allergies, sunburns, etc.

cropped-thanksgiving-traffic.jpg

What can drivers do to prepare for summer driving hazards?

  • Expect Heavy Traffic:  Traffic delays on a Friday start earlier than any other day of the week, particularly when it’s sunny.  Typical delays begin at about 1pm and continue into the usual rush hour. Fender benders, lost drivers and heavy merging at on ramps can clog major roads – especially in urban centers where commuters and through traffic mix.
  • Stay Healthy:  Remember to keep hydrated but avoid any heavy meals to prevent drowsiness. Get consistent and quality rest at scheduled times. Eat a balanced diet.  Avoid adding to your stress levels.  Wear your seatbelt at all times when in your vehicle. 
  • Pack Smart: Keep a basic emergency kit stocked in the event of a breakdown. Key components may include a cell phone charger, water, snacks, necessary medications, first aid supplies and portable cooling devices, such as battery-powered fans.
  • Avoid distractions: There is no room for multi-tasking while driving because “driving is multitasking.” Driving involves a million small tasks, including watching the road, minding your speed, and being wary of other drivers. Distractions have no place in this demanding activity. Distractions don’t just mean cell phone or electronics use. Distractions can include everything from difficult passengers to talk radio programs that get you angry about social, political or religious hot topics. Keep your focus on the road — if you can’t, then pull over in a safe area for a break.
  • Slow down in rainstorms:  Hydroplaning is common in the summer with sudden downpours from thunder showers very typical in many parts of the country. You will need tires with plenty of tread depth to resist hydroplaning. So, if your current tires are nearly worn-out, get them replaced.  Increased levels of rain leave water on the road, which may cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles and hydroplane. The rain also erodes rock and dirt, destabilizing shoulders.
  • Don’t drive drowsy: Long drives, congestion, afternoon heat, prescription or OTC medications (for allergies, etc.), and “highway hypnosis” can all be causes of drowsiness. If your medication makes you drowsy or limits your concentration, plan your trips accordingly. It doesn’t make sense to take good care of your physical health while putting yourself and others in danger on the road. Also, if you feel yourself getting tired on the road, for whatever reason, rolling down your windows and blasting the radio is not enough. Get a drink of water, take a short nap (after finding an appropriate, safe place to park), or walk around outside of your vehicle to stimulate your body through exercise.  Many people will drive home on Sunday after a busy weekend without realizing how tired they have become. These drivers become a hazard to themselves and others on the road – watch out for vehicles unable to stay in their lane, drifting onto the shoulder, unable to maintain a consistent speed (slowing down and speeding up) – these drivers may be on the verge of falling asleep.
  • Take care of your vehicle:  Mechanical errors account for a small minority of car crashes, but it is still important to make sure that your vehicle is in good shape to avoid unexpected breakdowns.
    • Tires:
      • When roads get hot tires suffer; heat aggravates any existing problems with the rubber. Under-inflation causes friction and even more heat which will have an effect on any weak spots and causes punctures and blow-outs. Therefore, check your tire pressure regularly. Keeping your tires properly inflated can help improve gas mileage up to three percent. Be sure to check your tire pressure before you begin driving for the day. This allows you to get a cold pressure reading (the number commonly referenced in your owner’s manual).
      • One of the most common, but unexpected breakdowns is from flat tires.  If you attempt to change it yourself be very careful where you pull over. Make sure you are well away from on-coming traffic as you may not be visible if crouched down beside your wheel.
      • Tires with irregular wear or very low tread depths can contribute to problems in handling, stopping, steering and hydroplaning (skidding on top of standing rain water). Rotating tires regularly helps promote even wear and will help to spot troubles early.
    • Fluids:
      • Check your windshield wipers and wiper fluid: The combination of bad wipers and a summer downpour can leave you with no view of the road. Be sure you have plenty of wiper fluid to help keep your windshield clear of dirt and debris.
      • Change your motor oil regularly: Regular oil changes with the correct grade of motor oil can improve gas mileage up to two percent. Synthetic oils are best for high temperature driving conditions and for added protection when towing.
      • Clean your fuel system: This helps improve fuel economy and maximize engine performance by removing dirt and deposits from the fuel system.
      • Check your cooling system (radiator): It protects your engine from overheating in hot summer conditions. Follow your owner’s manual for regular maintenance.
    • Batteries: Batteries are more heavily stressed in cold AND hot weather.  Weak, older batteries may have trouble providing full charge and can crack or explode.
  • Fill the Tank: A well-fueled vehicle will keep you from being stranded with an empty tank on a hot day.
  • Increase your visibility:  Many collisions are caused by the glare on windshields caused by the sun, particularly at dawn or dusk. It’s also important to keep your windshield clean both inside and outside.  Dirt, grime and dead bug smears can obstruct your view so make sure there is plenty of fluid for your washers.  Since wiper blades last about a year so replace your wipers if necessary, both front and back (if applies).
  • Don’t overload your vehicle: Under-inflation of tires and/or overloading the vehicle will place added stress on your tires in the form of excessive heat build-up. Both of these conditions can adversely affect the vehicle’s handling and fuel economy. Visually inspect your tires. Look for abnormal signs of irregular wear around and across the tire tread area, and check the sidewalls for cuts and bulges. Irregular wear may be a sign of suspension misalignment. If you see any abnormalities in the tires, have the car and tires checked by a service professional. Don’t risk a blowout on the road, which at best can be inconvenient. At worst, it can upset handling and risk a dangerous situation.
  • Never Drink and Drive:  Hydrate with water – avoid sugary drinks and never drink alcohol before driving.

Summary

Summer driving is typically more pleasant and less stressful than winter driving since the roads are clear and (typically) dry.  However, the increased congestion and road construction present a different set of challenges.  Keep your cool, stay hydrated, be patient, plan alternate routes and make sure your vehicle is in top condition and you’ll be well on your way to a better trip than if you fail to plan ahead.  

Another traffic picSafetyFirst has prepared a full “Ten-Minute Training Topic” for this issue which include driver handouts, and presentations for your drivers.  It’s a “special edition” that is not included in our normal monthly calendar — so give us a call or email if you’d like us to send you the kit. 

SafetyFirst works with 3,800+ active clients in all SIC Divisions, and 75+ insurance providers to supply leading edge driver safety programs.

Digging into the MVR – For Stronger Results

LINK — Digging into the MVR – All That’s Trucking – TruckingInfo.com.

There’s no question that fleets need to review driver abstracts (or Motor Vehicle Reports – MVRs) on their drivers to identify any trend or pattern in past moving violations.  The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has connected the links between receiving a violation and increased risk of subsequent collision in two studies that were reported on this blog in the past – HERE.

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 priviledges.  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.

Since not all violations represent the same level of risk taking, targeting specific types of violations would be expected to further enhance the results.  The ATRI study showed that the occurrence of JUST one of the following moving violations dramatically increased the likelihood of becoming involved in a crash by the following amount:

  • Failure to use or improper turn signal: 96%

  • Improper passing: 88%

  • Improper turn: 84%

  • Improper or erratic lane change: 80%

In comparison, speeding more than 15 mph over the speed limit — which most safety mangers would likely target as a clear indicator of a risky driver — increased the overall crash risk by only 67%.

Our E-DriverFile platform can instantly risk score and rank your fleet of drivers based on multiple data points — telematics alert history, violation history, crash history, automated enforcement violations, and even positives such as recently completed training or other factors that might tend to reduce the risk of becoming involved in a collision.

If you’re still ordering MVRs manually, or have a vendor that can’t do bulk orders, or must manually re-score each driver’s data points, consider our system’s capabilities.

In addition to MVRs, we can expand the program to cover crash reporting, DQ File maintenance, non-regulated driver policy compliance, online storage and completion of forms/files and even provide refresher training in the form of five minute, laser-focused topics that remind drivers of what they should already know and be doing.

Our system was initially deployed in May 2000, a full two years prior to any other driver risk management system on the internet.  Additionally, our program always included vehicle files in addition to driver files — no additional cost!

Our typical client has between 2,500 and 10,000 drivers, but we’ve worked with clients that have as few as several hundred drivers, too.  We work with motor coach operators, intermodal trucking companies, telecom, power generation and distribution, food and beverage, non-profit agencies, retail store chains and wholesale suppliers.

Contact us, toll free, at 1-888-603-6987 for an info packet or a demonstration.

Can we be overwhelmed by technology?

Digital Trends recently published an interesting article (click here to see it) titled “Driving under the influence: Why car safety tech might actually be making us more dangerous behind the wheel”

The article thoughtfully examines how we drive, what happens when we get too comfortable in our cabin on “auto pilot” and what factors may be compounding the issue.  For instance, when we first started driving, we had a higher anxiety level — everything was new and we focused on judging the space around our car.  Learning to drive a manual transmission would also keep a young driver focused on “driving” and because they’re busy using their hands and feet to shift, they’re less likely to be using their thumbs to text while driving (interesting? check out this study — click here)

However, over the years, we get complacent for a variety of reasons:  we’re comfortable operating our vehicle, we’re familiar with the roads near where we live and typically drive, and we’ve learned that traction control, electronic stability control, ABS braking, airbags and such will protect us “if” we have a problem that is truly unexpected.

On this issue the article introduces an interesting concept:

A number of studies have already examined how humans react to different levels of stimulus while performing a task. The first is what is known as the Yerkes-Dodson law, which predates the mass adoption of the automobile but is still extremely relevant. Developed by psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson in 1908, the law basically states that the amount of stimulus offered by a given task is directly related to how much attention we will give it. Too much stimuli will overwhelm us and too little will cause us to become bored, neither of which is ideal when it comes to devoting maximum attention to driving. Back in 1908, and for some years thereafter, operating an automobile would often send people into the stressed end of the spectrum, but these days it is boredom that poses the greater threat.

Yerkes-Dodson law graph

Overall, the article challenges us to re-think our assumptions about how we drive.  I know a lot of people identify with the concept of slipping into “auto pilot” mode when on longer trips, or cruising highways.  Maybe there’s something to using technology to engage us and keep us focused, but at the same time, too much information (overload) can have an equally damning effect.

A second part of the equation is offered this way:

But there is another factor at work here, one which is harder to see in action. Fred Mannering of Purdue University has called attention to the fact that, although things like anti-lock brakes and airbags should be making us safer, accident fatality rates have actually been increasing. He theorizes that people feel so much more protected by their cars, that they are more likely to engage in risky behavior. This is related to the psychological phenomenon known as the Peltzman effect, also more commonly known as risk compensation. Basically, it says we engage in riskier behavior the safer we feel. It has been applied to cars in past, for instance when talking about seat belts, but the effect was much less evident when the safety equipment was something so basic. Features such as stability control are said not to have caused an increase in risky driving, since the effect only happens when the driver is aware of what the safety equipment is doing. But technologies like adaptive cruise control (to match the speed of the car in front of you) and lane departure warnings (audio visual cues given when you drift out of a marked lane) appear to have been designed specifically for those who would rather check their Facebook than their blind spot. [emphasis added]

Do you agree with the author’s assertion that we may be overconfident in our driving habits due to the newest advances in technology being applied to our cars and trucks?  I’ve heard this argument before, but I’m not sure whether I fully agree or not.

Take a second look at the source article and let us know your thoughts at our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/SafetyFirstSystems), Linked In group, or right here at our blog site.

We believe traffic safety results can be improved and that every driver bears a share of the responsibility to make things “safer”.

Greased Lightning vs. Driving Miss Daisy

The Great Safe Driver Debate
Browse more data visualization.
 

I enjoy interesting infographic displays — they tell a lot of data in a small space, but they don’t always tell the whole story (they’re not designed to!)

There are many layers of issues driving these statistics for each age band:

  • teens have less experience, take risks to impress friends and may not comprehend the power they wield in the car they drive
  • Seniors tend to be cautious drivers, chronological age is not a good predictor of ability (everyone’s body and mind age at different rates) and they often depend on their car to be able to look after themselves (car = lifeline to supplies, doctor, friends)

Traffic safety professionals continue to work on ways to educate, devise reasonable tests and lobby for enhanced legislation that provides results without unfair restriction on individual liberty.  The good news is that things are getting better, but we still read headlines about crashes every day.

Driver Safety is every person’s responsibility — whether buckling up, avoiding distraction, encouraging others to give up their keys, teaching teens to slow down, providing detailed reports on dangerous behavior to the appropriate authorities, restricting how many teen friends may ride along, or simply obeying the rules of the road consistently — when we each do our part, lives are saved.

Be safe this Labor Day weekend — don’t drink and drive, get plenty of rest (don’t drive drowsy) and try to stay calm as you idle in traffic and congestion on the way to the shore or mountains, etc.

MVRs as a Lifespan Predictor?

 Recently, LexisNexis and RGA Reinsurance Company completed a study of more than 7.4 million motor vehicle records (MVRs).  Among other observations, they found that:

  • Individuals with major violations, such as alcohol-related infractions and excess speeding, have all-cause mortality that is 70 percent higher than individuals who do not.
  • The presence of six or more driving violations on an MVR elevates an individual’s all-cause mortality by 80 percent.
  • Individuals with a high number of major driving violations represent the worst risks.

Interestingly this study was conducted to gain insights into how to more accurately gauge the right price for life insurance, and how to do so more efficiently than using current, conventional practices.  From their study:

For instance, a 45-year old male seeking a $250,000 policy may not appear to live a risky lifestyle and, based on medical and financial reports, may even qualify as a preferred risk. Yet, according to our research, men between the ages of 41-50 with multiple major violations on their MVRs have an all-mortality rate that is nearly twice that of a driver with a clean record. Based on this study, MVRs are a suitable indicator of all-cause mortality, and they offer positive protective value for all ages and genders.

How did we get here?

The study cross tabulated 7.4 million MVRs with 73,000 death reports from the Social Security Death Master File (SSDMF) and then normalized the data to compensate for potential under-reporting of deaths in the SSDMF.

Individuals were distinguished based on whether they had clean records, minor violations or major violations on their MVRs. To avoid bias, major violations were pre-defined by RGA, and include infractions such as alcohol- or substance related infractions, excess speeding, and reckless or negligent driving.

The study examined the relationship between all-cause mortality and MVRs according to three segmentations:

  • Results by MVR severity (On average, having a major violation elevated an individual’s all-cause mortality by 71 percent.)
  • Results by number of violations (It was found that the more violations on an individual’s MVR, the higher their relative mortality ratio. In particular, individuals with 2–5 violations  experienced 24 percent higher mortality, and those with six or more violations experienced 79 percent higher mortality ratios)
  • Results by number of major violations (Results showed that individuals with a high number of major driving violations represent the worst risks. Having just one major violation on an MVR elevates an individual’s all-cause mortality by 51 percent; with four or more violations, their mortality is more than twice that of individuals without major violations.)

 Can we project any further (if generalized and speculative) conclusions?

  • If MVR violation history is such an indicator of mortality, then would MVR data have a relationship to health care costs or the likelihood of being injured on or off of the job? 
  • Would Usage Based Insurance (using electronic reporting devices linked to your car or truck) be of similar value to rating your life insurance policy or helping you improve your healthcare deductible?
  • What’s the net effect of changing your behaviors through driver education and performance monitoring (i.e. use of UBI devices to modify your habits in order to obtain a lower rate on your car insurance – would this translate to leading a longer life than if you had not modified your lifestyle?)

If you’d like to review the source white paper, visit: http://lexisnexis.com/risk/downloads/whitepaper/MVR-mortality.pdf

If you’d like to learn more about our proprietary blended risk scoring that incorporates multiple data sources (i.e. MVR data from states/provinces; telematics; collision data; Motorist Observation Reports, et.al.) give us a call or send us an email!

Is Red Light Running A Serious Problem?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirms that road deaths soared during 1Q2012 (by 13.5%) (see our article) and it is doubtless that some portion of these fatalities occurred at traffic light controlled intersections.

According to a recent article published at EHS Today, red light running is a serious concern.  The “Safer Roads Report 2012” summarizes data collected from 1,240 red-light safety cameras in 18 states and 142 municipalities with a total population of over 18 million.  Some of the key findings included:

  • Over 2.34 million red-light violations were observed in 2011.
  • The most violations, 30.7%, occurred in the afternoon from 1-5 p.m.
  • The fewest violations, 9.75%, occurred late night from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Greater likelihood of finding a red-light violator on a Friday (16%) than on a Sunday (12%).
  • Christmas had a 40% lower violation rate than the average day while June 3 earned the prize for the worst day for red-light running
  • In terms of major travel periods, Memorial Day Weekend ranked the highest, with over 27% more red-light runners than on the average weekend; Independence Day, Labor Day and Halloween were right up there as well.

The NCSR report references a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistic in which intersection-related vehicle accidents were responsible for more than 8,500 deaths in 2011.

All the data point to a clear conclusion:  the odds of encountering a red-light violator are significant.  Automated enforcement alone will not eliminate the behavior of being in a hurry or racing to beat a “yellow light”.  All drivers need to modify their habits to respect traffic signals, and be on the look out for red-light violators.

This is the subject of two brand-new interactive training modules introduced by SafetyFirst for it’s enhanced service clients.  Presently available in English or Spanish, the training can be assigned through our website or when an online-MOR (Motorist Observation Report) recommends specific training modules from our growing library of titles.

In addition to the new, interactive training modules, we have published multiple “Ten-Minute Training Topic” packages for the benefit of client drivers and their supervisors.

If you’d like more information about our training packages, enhanced safety hotline program, MVR profiling or other services, please contact us (1-888-603-6987 toll-free)

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.

Crashes, Fatalities Tragically On the Increase for 1Q2012

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released preliminary data for the first Quarter of 2012. 

According to an Associated Press article;

“Traffic deaths soared 13.5 percent in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year, and the number of deaths per miles driven also rose significantly, according to preliminary government estimates released Friday.  An estimated 7,630 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first three months of 2012, up from 6,720 deaths in the first quarter of last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.”

“If the estimate holds true, it would be the second largest year-to-year quarterly increase since the government began recording traffic fatalities in 1975. It would also run counter to historic declines in deaths over the past four years.”

While NHTSA did not provide any evidence or opinions about the change in activity, many experts attribute it to the steadily recovering economy, an increase in mileage and congestion, and more people commuting longer distances to find employment.

The significant question is whether this reversal in trends will continue and what that will mean for employers whose operations depend on vehicles for deliveries, transporting passengers, getting crews to job sites, etc.

During the downturned economy, many firms reduced overhead by eliminating safety programs, training, and safety professionals from their payroll.  While as a nation, we’ve enjoyed four years of decreasing fatalities and crashes, now is the time for responsible management teams to shake off any reservations about re-investing in proven safety programs.  Safety complacency and increasing road congestion make an extremely bad combination.

What are you doing, personally or professionally (as an employer or employee-driver), to modify your driving tactics as congestion increases?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/traffic-deaths-soar-135-percent-in-1st-quarter-of-2012-as-motorists-increase-their-driving/2012/07/20/gJQAtuBPyW_story.html