Together, we can discover workable solutions

Today, I was reading a blog post titled “Solid Reasons to Attend a Conference” over at DOT Compliance Help’s blog site. (http://dot-compliance-help.com/2014/11/05/4-solid-reasons-to-attend-a-conference/)

It got me thinking about all the great people I’ve met at or through conferences — whether I was speaking, attending or helping to coordinate the program event.

Whether your fleet is tiny or huge, made up of sedans or big rigs, you’d probably benefit from participating in a fleet safety conference.  The good news is that there are so many more venues to pick from these days — it used to be all focused on “over the road” trucking, but now there are programs for municipalities, sales fleets, local delivery, private distribution fleets, construction companies, and more.

I think the best parts of meeting professionals at conferences is realizing that:

  • I’m not alone
  • Other folks have equally challenging hurdles to overcome
  • Other folks are willing to help
  • Other folks are eager to hear my (your) ideas 
  • There’s a bunch of resources that I wasn’t fully aware of, or didn’t know how to access them
  • Networking goes on long after the session ends

So how to connect with a good conference or training event?  Here are a few that I’ve been involved with in the past and can recommend that you might investigate (in no particular order):

  • NAFA I&E 2015, Orlando, FL – http://www.nafainstitute.org/ (great for corporate fleets, sales fleets, light duty trucks, etc.)
  • Center for Professional Fleet Certification, Inc – http://www.fleetcertification.org/individual-certification/
  • North American Transportation Management Institute (NATMI) Courses – http://www.natmi.org/?35 (great for newly minted safety supervisors, location managers, or corporate teams who need to deal with “hands on” issues like accident investigation, setting up a new program from scratch, etc.
  • Safety 2015 – ASSE Expo – http://www.safety2015.org/ (great for companies with safety issues beyond fleet — dealing with all sorts of safety topics)
  • RIMS 2015 – https://www.rims.org/RIMS15/Pages/default.aspx (for large organizations with complex risk management needs)

Study: Increased Risk of Problem Births for Pregnant Women involved in Crashes

mvr crash sceneA new study looked at records for 878,546 pregnant women, aged 16–46 years, who delivered a singleton infant in North Carolina from 2001 to 2008.  The study’s goal was to look for trends or patterns in the data.

Among the findings:

  • Women involved in a crash while pregnant had elevated rates of preterm birth, placental abruption and premature rupture of the membranes, compared to pregnant women who were not involved in a crash.
  • Pregnant women who were not using a safety belt at the time of the crash were nearly 3 times more likely to have a stillbirth than those who were buckled up.
  • The risk of any adverse outcome increased if multiple crashes occurred during the pregnancy.

Researchers said that more research is necessary to further study how multiple crashes and vehicle safety features influence the outcomes of pregnancies.

The study was published online Oct. 8 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

blog rainy traffic day 1

Trailer Under-ride Guards (Don’t Lose Your Head in a Crash)

Though our headline/title may seem a like a very bad joke, we’re deadly serious.  Motorists who drive too fast, tailgate or drive “distracted” behind large tractor-trailer rigs are putting themselves in harm’s way — they could become decapitated if they crash into the rear corner of a trailer at speeds as low as 35 miles per hour.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducts many different kinds of crash testing. Recently (this March) they conducted crash testing of many different brands of trailers to see the effects on a 2010 Chevy Malibu and its crash-test-dummy occupants.  Only one brand of trailer saved the dummies in all three types of testing scenarios.  This was accomplished by using a different approach to the manufacturing of the under-ride guard.

Since most motorists won’t be able to pick and choose which type of trailer they crash into, they need to give tractor-trailer rigs a wide berth on the highway — stay out of their “no-zone” or blind areas, especially the area immediately behind the trailer.

To better illustrate the seriousness of the situation, please take a moment to watch this informative video from IIHS.

The Most Costly WC Claim?

mvr crash sceneAs employers, we pay a heavy price for each and every injury — for the affected employee (driver); their immediate passengers (if any); and the liability associated with the injuries of third parties (anyone our vehicle hit).

National Safety Council publishes an annual statistics book called “Injury Facts”.  In this great document, I found the following quote:

The most costly lost-time workers’ compensation claims by cause of injury, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance’s (NCCI’s) data, are for those resulting from motor vehicle crashes. These injuries averaged $65,875 per workers’ compensation claim.

Isn’t that an amazing (if tragic) fact?  I’ve heard many safety managers dispute this by arguing that “this or that” type of claim is more severe, but they sit down and look at their own data and come to the same conclusion…..at the end of the year, when all claims have been tallied, motor vehicle collisions are the most tenacious.

I did a little more digging at the NCCI web site and found this quote from December 2012:

…motor vehicle accidents are more severe than the average workers compensation claim; they impact a diverse range of occupations other than just truckers; top diagnoses include neck injuries; duration is more than a third longer; subrogation is significant, with traffic accident claims comprising more than half of all claims with subrogation; and attorney involvement is greater.

Wow, that’s a lot to take in, too.  When setting up a safety plan for the year, or a budget, it’s important to remember to count workers compensation claim costs into your fleet safety budgeting, too.  It’s not just a matter of fixing dents and repainting fenders — there’s third party liability costs, litigation costs, lost supervisory time for extended investigations, depositions, protection of evidence, and much more.  Just that one phrase “duration [of the MVC-related workers comp claim] is more than a third longer [than other work comp claims]” impacts your lost time calculations for OSHA and affects your experience modifier for setting insurance rates.

At safety conferences, I often ask participants the following question…

All workplace injuries should be prevented; however, does “driver safety” take a keystone priority to your company’s “safety program” if you operate any type of commercial vehicles?

Safety professionals make the connection between vehicle liability and workers comp costs, but not all fleet managers have access to the data to build the case for a stronger safety effort in the “wheeled world“.

CoachingWhen I worked in the insurance world, we covered a large baking operation.  They made nine inch fruit pies for restaurants.  The workers comp claim totals far eclipsed the commercial vehicle claims at first glance.  However, we isolated all of the workers comp costs by employee type and location and re-stacked the data — we found that if we took injuries related to driving, and making deliveries, and placed them in the same bucket as the commercial vehicle crashes, we had a clearer case to make to top management that they needed to put most of their safety efforts into the fleet operations, not the manufacturing plant.  They followed our lead an loss costs for the entire operation plummeted.

The ANSI Z15 standard (published by the American Society of Safety Engineers – http://www.asse.org) outlines many practical steps toward saving lives of employees who drive as part of their job. One element of that program is to monitor driver behaviors to provide coaching and re-training if hazardous habits are detected.  This is an area where our firm has excelled over the years.  Pyramid 2011 for blog

So if your workers compensation costs are high, your insurance program rates keep rising, or your experience modifier is creeping up, consider re-evaluating the factors that are contributing to the issue.  Maybe a stronger and more effective focus on “wheels” can help moderate your WC costs!

SafetyFirst works with a network of more than 75 insurance providers and serves an active customer base of more than 3,800 fleets around North America.  Since our company start in 1998 we’ve touched and managed more than a million drivers to cut crashes and avoid injuries.  blog rainy traffic day 1

 

Safety Hotlines – How do they work?

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is “just how do those safety hotline programs work?”  Followed by “do they really produce a meaningful result?

cropped-wb-banner-asp-trucks.jpgLet’s address results first, and then look at the mechanics of a strong program.

Safety hotlines really do work to help fleets cut crashes and spot drivers who may be “at-risk” of becoming involved in a crash or getting a police-issued violation.

A Safety Hotline is different from a “how’s my driving” program in that Safety Hotlines are really training programs that use a sticker to bring certain drivers “to the front of the line” to get urgent assistance from management in “no-fault training“.

How’s my driving systems get drivers fired or punished and are often poorly supported by the vendor — allowing crank calls because their call center handles magazine subscriptions, sales calls, and all sorts of in-bound and out-bound marketing in addition to taking safety calls.

SafetyFirst was the first to change this approach from “complaints” to “training” and others have tried to mimic our approach, but have never come close to our crash reduction results (even in head-to-head comparison tests!)

  • About a dozen insurance carrier studies have been done between 1995 and 2010 validating the results consistently from independent study to independent study.
    • Insurance carrier studies are helpful since they average out variances from fleet to fleet and cut across industry lines to pick up a diverse crowd of participants
    • Insurer studies (done by their own safety teams) show a range of results from 22% to as high as 38% — with the stronger results being reported most recently as we continue to apply past learning to make the program more effective.
  • At least as many safety directors of larger fleets have done their own studies, too.
    • One involved 16,000 vehicles and documented a 24% reduction in claim count and a 25% reduction in claim costs – the study was done by a past chapter president of the American Society of Safety Engineers (he knew what he was measuring and how to do it!)
    • Another involved 3000 telecom-infrastructure vehicles (pickups and vans) and documented a three-year cumulative reduction of 54%
    • On the flip side, safety directors also looked at the relationship of reports to specific drivers found that the risk of collisions went up almost exponentially as one driver received a second, third, fourth observation report while other drivers (with the same vehicle and route complexity) got zero reports.
    • Safety directors confirm that reports are not random results of crank calls – 98-99% of all reports were confirmed valid upon investigation and 80% of all drivers NEVER get a single complaint (typically those drivers with CLEAR MVRs), but 10% get multiple complaints (typically those drivers with questionable MVRs)

7X20 decal 7233So how does it really work?

Initial Set Up

A participating fleet supplies a vehicle list and matches the largest possible decal to each vehicle type.  This helps the decal be noticed and makes it easier for motorists to call in reports (hands-free!).

The decal includes a short slogan (which is there as an “icon” not something meant to be read by the motorist – they recognize the decal design) a specific identifying number and a toll free call in number (using all digits and no letters since hands free dialing is much easier with all digits – we were the first to go all digits in our industry recognizing the additional safety benefits to hands-free callers)

In Action

Motorists who observe truly egregious behavior on the road may choose to file a report by calling (hands-free) to our 24/7/365 call center and talking to a live operator who will move them through a concise interview to grab details about the situation.  Our goal is to get the maximum amount of information in the shortest time possible and get the motorist off of their phone.  Many times, motorists have already found a safe parking place to make their call.

Typical fleets get only two to three reports per 100 vehicles per month.  There are factors which can swing that “norm” up or down, but it’s not a lot to review in order to stem off 20-30% of your crashes!

drowsy drivingReport Transmitted to Client

The report is typed into a database, sent to a supervisor for review/audit and then our computer system attaches the appropriate training sheets (based on the categories of behavior noted in the report).  This package is emailed to the location supervisor who controls that vehicle.  The report may also be copied to their regional, divisional or corporate safety directors (and even their insurance carrier if designated).

The supervisor confirms who was driving the vehicle and schedules and interview with that driver.  We provide a full training program for supervisors on how to prepare for, set up and conduct effective, no-fault coaching sessions.

Coaching – What Happens to the Driver?

CoachingDuring the coaching session, the supervisor will review the details of the report with the affected commercial driver and provide the training sheets to that driver.  This opportunity for on-the-spot training shifts the focus of the meeting away from “blaming” and on to “training” for improved performance.  Many supervisors also work with the driver to set personal goals for monitoring and checking “risky” habits that could lead to a ticket or crash.

If the supervisor feels that it is warranted, he/she may assign additional “online, interactive” training modules as they are closing out the report in our database.  In that event, multiple (but short) reminder training modules can be emailed to the driver to take at home, from a kiosk, or even on their smart device such as an i-Pad during their downtime.

Coaching Tips TitleWhere most online training programs average out to 37.5 minutes each, ours never exceed four minutes duration.  We figure that if it takes almost forty minutes to explain why you should be using your signals, as a trainer, you’re “doing it wrong” and have probably lost your learner to boredom and information fatigue.

Most drivers NEVER get a report – in fact, 80% go without a report during their entire career.  10% get one report and never get another.  10% get multiple reports about risk taking while behind the wheel.  It’s not a random chance that one driver gets a call and not another – it’s all about behavior.

Closeouts and Monthly Reporting

Each report gets closed out in our database.  This accomplishes several important tasks:

  1. it shows a paper trail response to each report
  2. it builds a database of who was driving during each event (especially important for fleets who don’t permanently assign drivers to specific vehicles)
  3. it enables us to help corporate managers see how location supervisors respond to these reports and differentiate location by location loss performance
  4. it helps us build a benchmarking database by industry SIC classification
  5. it enables us to send monthly reporting of activity that is valuable and helpful in adjusting your existing safety tools and programs to become more effective.

Once a month we send an email with a series of links to reporting designed by our clients to be simple, helpful and informative.  You don’t need to remember to come to our site and download things, and you don’t need to remember your ID and Password like our competitors programs (that don’t feature automated reporting).  However, if you do keep your ID and Password handy, you can access a treasure trove of fleet safety and driver safety resources.

We maintain one of the largest libraries of fleet safety and driver safety materials on the internet.  It’s only accessible by current clients and is updated four times a year with articles, presentation files, training packages for drivers and much more.

Monthly Training Topics for ALL Drivers

Even if you don’t access the library frequently, we automatically send out a monthly “Ten-Minute Training Topic” for you to use with your employees and their immediate families as you see fit.

Driving Too Fast PPTThe package includes a driver handout, manager’s supplemental report (about setting, reviewing or revising your company policies on that issue) and a pair of electronic slideshows.  A different topic comes out each month, and can be used with any type of vehicle.

Each company uses the documents in slightly different ways – from classroom talks with on-screen presentations to payroll stuffers that go home in the pay checks.  A new topic is sent each month and the archive of older topics has grown to more than 80+

Online, Interactive Training

Our learning management system enables our clients to upload their entire driver list, and bulk assign training modules with minimal mouse clicks.  If your drivers have email addresses, it’s almost automatic, but if they don’t we can generate a PDF document with each driver’s log in credentials and a “how to” paragraph to get them started with ease.

Each course is related to various “real world” scenarios and issues.  The onscreen content includes a mix of broadcast quality (HD) video, text, On Camera Host, and even computer animations to illustrate concepts.  This mix of formats is highly engaging and represents the reality that adult attention spans (for better or worse) have been decreasing steadily.

The average television commercial is now 15 seconds long.  Forty-minute+ training modules are dying dinosaurs and disrespect your driver’s professionalism by dragging along at such a plodding pace.

GPS Anyone?

Since 2001, SafetyFirst has been integrating telematics data alerts into E-DriverFile and working with fleets on specialized reporting.  Regardless of the hardware platform, you can leverage our data platform to accomplish multiple goals:

  • Use our coaching system to translate GPS data into a behavioral safety outcome (one fleet did this and saw a 600% reduction in excessive speed alerts within 12 months time)
  • Combine alerts with MVR data or other data points to spot drivers who may be “at-risk” of becoming hurt or driving up your CSA BASIC scores.
  • Simply get more from your solution like “cell control” to block cell phone use without the hassles of competing systems

Last, But Not Least

Blended Risk ScoreThe final step in our closeout process for those customers participating in our E-DriverFile suite is to post each “Safety Hotline” report to their driver risk profile.  The driver risk profile is an extra-expense report that enables managers to develop their own “blended” score of MVR violations, Preventable Crashes, Telematics Alerts, and How’s My Driving notices.  The driver risk profile helps validate the effectiveness of each of those programs and serves as an early warning indicator (by mixing leading and lagging indicators) that particular drivers need to be “brought to the front of the line” to get immediate help from their managers before a violation, or worse.

Summary

Safety Hotlines have come a long way in a short time.  They’ve been repeatedly proven effective, and are very simple to use.  They cost far less than other systems and provide a real value by becoming an extra layer to your safety processes.  They do not need to alienate drivers any more than GPS, telematics, or camera systems might.  The data captured has been validated by the safety supervisors, and these supervisors have used our training on “how to coach effectively” to host meaningful conversations about safety instead of letting these turn into confrontations about policies.

If you’ve never tried OUR program, you really can’t compare it to anything like you’ve used before — our approach is part of the success criteria of the program.  Consider a fresh start and test our program — you’ll see the differences immediately — we know that driving safely is every driver’s responsibility.

cropped-trucks-highway.jpg

…but I got that ticket while in my personal car!

During my many years working in the field as a Loss Control Professional for the P&C insurance industry, I heard many employers (especially those who employed CDL license holders) asking about granting exceptions on MVR reviews when the driver had gotten a conviction while driving their own personal car “on the weekend”.

I was taught (in the insurance world) that it doesn’t matter what vehicle you were driving at the time of the violation — “behavior is behavior“.  If you speed on the weekend, you’ll probably speed on the weekdays, too.

PoliceA lot of managers pushed back on this notion by stating that people drive differently when behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound piece of steel.   That may be accurate, but learned and practiced behavior runs to the core of our personality and provides a strong governor of our actions.  When I learn to speed and roll through stop signs without getting caught for a long time, I take more risks and I learn to de-value the potential cost of risk taking.

Well, unfortunately for one driver (but perhaps an object lesson for others) the loss of a CDL has very publicly occured from personal driving violations.

According to published news reports,

“the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled Feb. 7 in the case of James Sondergaard v. the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation and Bureau of Driver Licensing, that Sondergaard’s CDL would be suspended for life.  According to court records, Sondergaard was convicted twice of DUI in 2010. Both arrests occurred while Sondergaard, a CDL holder, was driving his personal vehicle. The Pennsylvania Driver Licensing Bureau then suspended his CDL for life in August 2011.”

Arguing that state law was not clear, a series of court battles ensued, but culminated with the lifetime suspension of his CDL.

As pointed out in Land Line Magazine (Click Here to See Source Article);

“While the state law may not be straightforward, the federal regulations governing truckers is crystal clear.

The federal regulations outline varying durations of disqualifications under 383.51 The regulation spells out the various “major” and “serious” violations. The lengths of the various disqualification are a minimum standard set out to the states. States have the option of increasing the length of the suspensions if they so choose.

Federal regulation 383.51 states that the first conviction of being under the influence – even in a non-CMV – results in a one-year suspension. The second conviction is a lifetime suspension.

However, lifetime may not necessarily be lifetime. Reinstatement is possible after 10 years if that person has voluntarily entered and successfully completed an appropriate rehabilitation program approved by the state, according to 383.51(5).

Summary

So reviewing a driver’s MVR is important for a lot of reasons.  First, the employer should spot exceptions such as suspensions to protect their own legal interests.  Secondly, the employer should care enough about their operator to alert them that their continued aggregation of violations and convictions can lead to disaster — whether measured by collisions from risk taking habits OR loss of driving priviledges which affect employment.

Making exceptions or attempting to rationalize violations doesn’t do the driver or the employer any favors even though it may seem that way.  “Letting a violation slide” becomes an enabler of inappropriate (or at the very least, risky) habits.

If your current MVR review policy grants exceptions, please revisit that decision soon.  It’s possible that there may be certain situations where granting an exception could be justified, but it should be the true, rare exception rather the commonplace occurance.

Finally, remember that MVRs are vital, but not perfect.  There have been many situations documented by studies where violations and convictions are not reported, are masked, or have simply been lost when they “slipped through the cracks”. 

Additional Resources:

  1. Identifying drivers who may be at risk of becoming involved in a collsion:  MVR Analysis http://my.safetyfirst.com/newsfart/UnderwritingTrends8-2006(MVR).pdf
  2. Why Order & Review MVRs on Drivers? https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/why-order-review-mvrs-on-drivers/
  3. How to Use Individual Driver Motor Vehicle Records to Manage Risk  http://www.bbdetroit.com/news.php?id=166
  4. Do How’s My Driving? Programs Really Work? (See section titled “The MVR GAP”) http://www.fleet-central.com/resources/AF11supp_p22_25LR.pdf
  5. New MVR Ordering Features added to E-Driver File https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/new-mvr-reporting-features-added-to-e-driverfile/
  6. Deciphering MVR Profiling https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/deciphering-mvr-profiling/

ASSE PDC and Expo 2012 – Denver, CO

Greetings from lovely Denver, Colorado!  Several of our sales and marketing team are staffing a display booth at the annual American Society of Safety Engineers Expo.  We’re meeting hundreds of safety professionals in many different industries.

That first question of “What does SafetyFirst do?” is the toughest since we actually “do” a lot of interesting things to help keep drivers on the road to safety.  Many of these professionals are trying to figure out what “box” to put our company in so that they can figure out how they’d use our services.  As we start to describe our programs, the conversation typically goes like this….

Safety Pro: “So you’re a driver training firm?”

SafetyFirst; “Well, yes, but we do a lot more like run and profile MVRs”

Safety Pro: “So you’re a background check company?”

SafetyFirst: “Well, yes, but we also automate your driver and vehicle records with reminder notices about key anniversaries”

Safety Pro: “So you’re a compliance firm?”

SafetyFirst: “Well, yes, but we also provide telematics solutions”

Safety Pro: “So you’re a GPS firm?”

SafetyFirst: “Well, yes, since 2002 we’ve delivered AVLS systems, but we also have a supervisory coaching program built into our Safety Hotline program to convert that data into behavior based results”

Safety Pro: “So is that like a training program?”

SafetyFirst: “Sure, and it’s highly effective at getting the driver and supervisor on the same page with shared goals instead of confrontations over safety performance”

Safety Pro: “OK, so you are a driver training company — why didn’t you say so to start with?”

All humor aside, we’ve had very engaging conversations with these safety pros and found ways to help boost/strengthen different aspects of their current programs.

So if you’re looking for best-in-class results, we can offer driver training, safety hotlines, MVR profiling, telematics, coaching programs, crash reporting databases, or most any other aspect of driver safety, please talk with us to see how we can mesh our programs with your current vendors and practices to take results to a “new level” at your firm.

We are confident that you’ll decide that we’re the “Smart Choice” in driver safety.  We’re located in aisle 700 at booth 742.  (We’d love to show you our newest driver training videos, too!)