Is Speeding a Serious Safety Issue?

The most recent NHTSA study on crashes in the USA analyzed data from 2010. The results were published in May 2014. From that study:

In 2010, there were 32,999 people killed, 3.9 million were injured, and 24 million vehicles were damaged in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. The economic costs of these crashes totaled $277 billion. Included in these losses are lost productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency service costs (EMS), insurance administration costs, congestion costs, property damage, and workplace losses. 

Key findings included:

  • Alcohol-involved crashes resulted in 13,323 fatalities, 430,000 nonfatal injuries, and $59.4 billion in economic costs in 2010, accounting for 21 percent of all crash costs.
  • Speed-related crashes (where at least one driver was exceeding the posted limit OR driving too fast for conditions) were connected to 10,536 fatalities (another third of the total for the year). This represents 32 percent of all fatalities; 20 percent of all nonfatal injuries, and 16 percent of all property-damage-only crashes.
  • Seat belt non-use represents an enormous lost opportunity for injury prevention. In 2010 alone, over 3,350 people were killed and 54,300 were seriously injured unnecessarily because they failed to wear their seat belts
  • Crashes in which at least one driver was identified as being distracted resulted in 3,267 fatalities…

As a nation of drivers, we continue to struggle with key behavior related issues like drinking and driving, speeding, failure to use seat belts and distracted driving.  Our response to these issues over the years has been to target education and enforcement campaigns to try and convince drivers to change their habits voluntarily.

Social norming” to get behavior change tends to be a very slow process and seems to have hit a plateau — we’ve made great gains in select areas since the 1970s — reducing impaired driving deaths from 50% of the annual total to 30%; increasing seat belt usage to an all-time high of roughly 84% (national average — some states are individually higher).

Unfortunately, we’ve slipped backwards on speeding with the removal of the national speed limit of 55 MPH previously established between 1974 and 1995.  Further, the widespread use of electronic devices has contributed to a new group of crashes caused by driver inattention.

Over the past decade, much legislative and media attention has been devoted to “Distracted Driving” but not nearly as much to other (pardon the pun) ‘drivers’ (factors) of fatal crashes.

Consider society’s view of speeding in contrast to distracted driving.  Most motorists look at speeding as a “non-issue” and not a “big deal” from a safety standpoint (AAFTS traffic safety culture surveys have documented a “prevailing attitude of “Do as I say, not as I do” on the part of American motorists”).

Recently a columnist participated in a “press drive” — a marketing opportunity hosted by a car manufacturer to let journalists test drive new or special edition models out on public roads. While each journalist was admonished to obey all traffic laws, this particular journalist was amazed at the power and acceleration of the test car and wound up getting clocked by police radar at 93 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. (To see his whole article about his speeding incident and subsequent three days in jail, click HERE)

Consider his reaction to the incident:

When I was pulled over during a press drive earlier this summer, I had been living in Washington D.C. for about a year and a half. In that time, I had been warned repeatedly — by ex-Virginia resident Matt Hardigree, by many of our readers, and by a host of other people — that you don’t ever speed in Virginia. But I had no clue just how serious the consequences would be. Maybe “serious” isn’t the right word. After everything that happened, “ridiculous” seems a little more accurate.[emphasis added]

I should probably explain why going into Virginia to have fun in a car is a bad idea in the first place. See, they’re crazy about speeding there. Really, really crazy. Speed limits are set absurdly low, 45 mph on some highways. [Virginia presumably follows the same federally recommended standards, or a derivative of those engineering practices when setting limits on roads based on design, traffic volume, etc.] Radar detectors are illegal, and cops have devices to detect them. And if you get caught going over 80 mph at all, that’s automatically a reckless driving charge.

Reckless driving is not a traffic citation, it’s a criminal charge, and a Class One misdemeanor at that. That means it’s the highest level of misdemeanor you can be charged with in Virginia, right below a felony. The maximum penalty for a reckless driving conviction is a $2,500 fine, a six month driver’s license suspension, and up to a year in jail.

See what I mean when I told you it’s serious? They hand it out like it’s Halloween candy, too. You drive 20 mph over the limit, it’s reckless driving. They even charge you with it for failing to properly signal, or when you’re found to be at fault in a car wreck. I’ve heard of some cases where people get 30 days in jail if they speed over 100 mph.

Other Class One misdemeanors in Virginia include animal cruelty, sexual battery, and aiming a firearm at someone. This is how the state regards people who drive over 80 mph.

I do think Virginia’s speed laws are absurdly harsh, especially as a native of Texas where 80 mph is an almost universally accepted highway speed by most drivers and where a toll road just outside of Austin lets you go 85 mph. There, this probably would have been a really expensive speeding ticket; maybe even one I could get dismissed with defensive driving.[emphasis added] I covered the courts for a long time when I was a newspaper reporter in Austin, and I was floored to learn Virginia actually sends people to jail just for speeding.

But that doesn’t excuse what I did. I came into Virginia and broke their laws; I drove way too fast. This is my fault and no one else’s. (Well, maybe the ZL1’s.) This wasn’t one of those moments where I got nailed going 5 mph over in some ridiculously low section of a county designed only for revenue collection; how could I justify going 93 in a 55 when I went to court, I wondered?

So, the driver hired an attorney to broker a plea deal with the court.

The best plea deal I got was a fine of about $400 with court costs, a 10-day suspension of my license in Virginia, and three days in jail. The judge has an option of giving one day in jail for every mile an hour over 90 mph, and he would exercise it here.

So I took the plea, but I was pretty despondent over the outcome for weeks. The fees and license suspension weren’t a big deal, but I was alternately livid and depressed that I’d be going to jail, even for a short stay. I didn’t hurt anyone, or kill anyone, or sell drugs, or drive drunk, or beat my wife, or steal; I was going to jail because I drove too fast in a car.

The best news of all this was that I wasn’t fired. Matt said the last thing you’ll ever get fired for at Jalopnik is speeding. It’s just an occupational hazard for us. And when I emailed Gawker’s editorial director Joel Johnson to apologize, he replied saying, “I don’t give a f**k,” and added that he found the matter “hilarious.”

Would this story have been different if the citation were for texting while driving instead of speeding?  Would the editorial director have had the nerve to consider the situation “hilarious”?

From the recent NTHSA study:

The fact that a vehicle was exceeding the speed limit does not necessarily mean that this was the cause of the crash, but the probability of avoiding the crash would likely be greater had the driver or drivers been traveling at slower speeds. A speed-related crash is defined as any crash in which the police indicate that one or more drivers involved was exceeding the posted speed limit, driving too fast for conditions, driving at a speed greater than reasonable or prudent, exceeding a special speed limit or zone, or racing.

As long as we consider speeding to be our right, speed limits to be merely suggestions, and tickets as only a way for states to make revenue over a non-issue, we will continue to have a plateau in our traffic safety results.  Things can not improve (i.e. people will not stop dying) until this nation breaks it’s obsession with speeding as an acceptable practice for motorists.

What do you think?  IS speeding a non-issue?  Or is it a deathly serious issue?

If your friends think getting a speeding ticket or spending three days in jail for speeding is “hilarious” then consider some of these Public Service Ads from countries that are more progressive in their safety attitude than the USA….

Australian PSA on how reducing speed (even by only 5 KPH) can save lives

Rushing = letting emotions control our better judgement when driving (Australian PSA)

Speeding – is it a ‘mistake’? New Zealand PSA

Irish PSA on speeding “you can’t control the consequences of speeding”

2014 Ten-Minute Training Topic Calendar

SafetyZone-Safety GoalDriver education takes many forms in many companies.  A variety of methods used frequently helps assure that drivers receive the message that’s being sent by the management team.

We recognize that there are many really wonderful driver “training” programs out on the market, but many approach the educational program by making the driver sit in a class or in front of a computer for more than an hour at a time.  This cuts into their productivity and may become “mind-numbing” after the first 12 to 15 minutes – especially if they’ve already been through this topic in the recent past.

We’ve built two different systems to deliver “reminder” or “refresher” programs to supplement our driver coaching program.  Both approaches are designed to remind drivers of what they should already know and be practicing on a regular basis.  Both feature module duration at the 5 to 10 minute time span to respect your driver’s professionalism and to get them to actually listen!

What’s the difference between systems?

  1. SafetyZone-Safety GoalOur Ten-Minute Training Topic series is delivered monthly by email to each location manager.  This package can be used or delivered to drivers in many different ways — a classroom talk, a tailgate discussion, a payroll stuffer or anything that works for your company culture.  The manager’s supplement provides a little extra information to help the supervisor address these issues from a policy standpoint and the driver handouts provide practical tips that address safer driving.
  2. SafetyZone-LMSOur Learning Management System (LMS) is set up to offer “stand-alone” course assignment or to “integrate” automatically with either our Hotline (get a Motorist Observation Report, then assign training modules matched to the reported behavior) OR our E-DriverFile platform (get a new MVR showing fresh activity, then get modules automatically assigned based on violation codes) OR our telematics platform (get a series of alerts, then get modules specifically published for dealing with GPS alerts)

SafetyFirstEach year we publish a new calendar for our popular Ten-Minute Training Topic series.  These driver training packages are included in our very popular “driver safety hotline” program that some firms continue to call a “how’s my driving” program.

This article is focused mainly on our Ten-Minute Training Topic series that is included with our hotline program.

The monthly training package for drivers includes:

  1. A driver handout with statistics about the issue, a description of why they should care and tips to consider about their driving habits.
  2. A manager’s supplement report that includes current news stories about that month’s topic, links to web sites with additional resources and a discussion of how the month’s topic relates to company policies and procedures.
  3. A pair of power point presentations — one for easy copying/printing and one with full graphics and images to help drivers relate to the message at hand.

The very first Ten-Minute Training Topic was published way back in May of 2003 — long before any other vendors had ever considered breaking driver safety down into simple, focused modules.  We’ve been publishing a new or re-written topic each month since then — building an archive of over 120+ topics at our customer website.

During 2014, we will be publishing several interesting topics based on client requests and feedback:

  • January – “Surviving Winter Weather“
  • February – “Check Your Vehicle“
  • March – “Driving Safely Near Motorcycles“
  • April – “Backing“ (April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month so you may supplement with additional “distracted driving” modules from our library)
  • May – “Red Lights“
  • June – “Intersection Collisions“
  • July – “ROW On-Ramp Collisions“
  • August – “School Zones“
  • September – “Tailgating – Following Too Closely“
  • October – “Tires“
  • November – “Roadside Hazards and Debris“ (November is Drowsy Driving Awareness Month so you may want to supplement from our library)
  • December – “Poor Visibility“

In the past, we’ve published topics on many other pertinent and timely issues related to driver safety.  Current clients may substitute older issues for current issues by going to our site and downloading the older topics as they see fit.

TeleMaticsIn addition to providing these topics as a benefit of participating in the “driver safety hotline” program, some clients subscribe to the training topics as a stand alone program — separate from the hotline program.

We base most of the topics on suggestions we receive from current clients and their insurance carrier support teams.  If you have a topic of interest, please let us know and we will see what we can do for you.

If you have an interest in receiving a courtesy copy of one of our monthly programs, let me know!  Additionally, if you’d like to see a preview of our supervisory training programs, or our interactive training programs, we can arrange a web cast.

E-DriverFile

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

 

Spoliation of Evidence Following a Crash

EdiscoveryAlthough SafetyFirst has authored articles about spoliation over the past several years (Here) and (Here), this topic has been making the rounds of insurance carrier discussions lately. 

Spoliation of evidence is a fancy term for failing to safeguard information, documents, electronic data or other evidence that would (or could) be material to a lawsuit. 

For example, you are suing a manufacturer for a defective product that injured you.  They have “misplaced” or “lost” key quality control documents, inspection records and data on how the product had been tested to minimize those safety issues that might have prevented your injury.  You don’t know if they purposely destroyed the documents to cover up their own negligence or if they just made mistakes with their own document retention policy.  In court, a claim that they mis-handled the evidence, especially after becoming aware of your injury and/or lawsuit, could lead to serious consequences.  The judge could order any prospective jurors to assume the worst — that the missing evidence was damning to their case and would have proven our case that the injury was the fault of the defective product. 

In this recent article — Risk Managers: Spoliation Prevention has Insurance Underwriting Implications, too! (LINK) the author asserts that companies with strong record retention policies and well-defined filing programs can help build a strong defense when claims arise.  It’s better (in most cases) to argue the claim from a factual basis — knowing all of the relevant facts instead of trying to dispose of data (electronic or paper).

From the article:

Dollars are dollars, and they can balloon an account’s loss ratio if the company must spend an inordinate amount of money because it is unprepared for electronic discovery, or has spoliation of evidence issues posed against it. These dollars can balloon an account’s loss ratio which, in turn, may impact the availability and pricing of financial protection in the form of product liability insurance. [or other forms of liability insurance like Commercial Vehicle coverage, too]

The takeaway, therefore, is that companies with strong e-discovery, document- and evidence retention systems represent better risks. They have their proverbial “act together,” to put it in street lingo.

One way to do this is to strengthen the company’s document preservation and spoliation prevention systems and to be able to present a compelling case to insurance underwriters that the risk manager’s company is a sound risk for the underwriter and insurance company. Underwriters are the gatekeepers who determine whether or not a company represents an acceptable risk and at what price.

Thus, we can increasingly expect insurers to probe and ask about systems that facilitate efficient e-discovery, thwart spoliation and maximize retention of evidence.

This will be part of any insurance company’s due diligence process in assessing the fitness and desirability of an account for insurance placement or renewal. Questions about document preservation systems and e-discovery preparedness could be on the insurance application, could surface in pre-underwriting reviews, or arise during discussions with underwriters.

The very best defense against lawsuits is to avoid crashes and injuries in the first place.  Unfortunately, and despite everyone’s best intentions, crashes may occur.  In that event, preserving relevant data about the driver’s qualifications, regulatory compliance status, moving violations and crash history (among other things) may be critical to mounting an appropriate good faith defense. 

Check with your attorney, claims team, or insurance safety professional to learn more about how to protect your company’s specific interests.

Disclaimer:  SafetyFirst and the author of this article are not legal specialists or experts.  We are not attorneys and can not offer legal advice.  This article (or any associated/referenced articles by SafetyFirst and it’s staff) merely discusses a general topic and is not intended as specific advice on how to prepare for litigation or any other purpose.

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.

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ATRI: Drivers & carriers asked to weigh in on Navigation Systems

ATRI has launched a new survey that explores the use of navigation systems by commercial drivers. This brief online survey, seeks both commercial driver and motor carrier input, and will capture information on the attitudes of both groups toward navigation systems including perceived benefits and risks.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ATRI PAGE AND TAKE SURVEY (opens a new window) [http://atri-online.org/2012/10/24/methods-for-providing-directions-to-drivers-survey/]

From an ATRI Press Release:

“While navigation systems are becoming increasingly commonplace in the nation’s commercial vehicles, the impact that these devices have on driver behavior, decision making and safety is not fully understood.  There is mounting anecdotal evidence that GPS navigation units are being blamed for large truck crashes where “bridge strikes” and other crashes in which the truck driver was using a navigation system designed for passenger vehicles have been high profile events.”

It seems like a very valuable survey based on recent (and not so recent) crash reports.  Perhaps it would be very wise to participate so that you can contribute to their research so that their findings include your perspective/experience!

Telematics: It is 10 AM, do you know who is driving your vehicle?

SafetyFirst has been helping fleets with telematics (tracking specific data about vehicle location and performance) since 2002.  At that time, we initiated a relationship with a local firm that handles hardware design and manufacturing of advanced telematics units.  Over the past ten years, we’ve seen a lot of changes in the industry, and we have worked hard to stay current on the latest trends.

Recently, I was talking with a colleague about telematics he was surprised to learn that one of the “hidden” challenges of systems is connecting data back to the driver from the vehicle.

I pointed out that most telematics devices are tied to the vehicle, not the driver.  This is a management reporting obstacle for fleets that don’t assign particular drivers to specific vehicles.  In our Safety Is My Goal hotline program, very few of our clients make such assignments:  most drivers swap vehicles from day to day.

In fleets whose drivers do operate the same vehicle day in and day out, it is straightforward to link the vehicle data to the driver since they operate as an integrated pairing.

Unfortunately, those fleets whose drivers exchange vehicles periodically must find a way to connect performance data to the appropriate driver.  A failure in this area could lead to mistakenly crediting John’s risky driving to Sally’s record.

Once management negatively impacts a driver by using someone else’s data to coach/counsel them (or discipline them for breaking rules), the system’s credibility is going to be suspect in many of the driver’s eyes.  After all, if we make the mistake once, could we make it again?

Tying data from the vehicle to the driver takes an additional logistical step (or two or three).

There are a number of approaches to linking drivers to data from the simple/mundane (maintaining a database of who was dispatched on each vehicle each day, etc.) to something more “automatic” and self-administrating such as electronic interfaces.

Naturally, as we add complexity to the process, there are additional “failure” points possible.  Drivers may forget to punch in their ID code, swipe a card, insert a key device, or whatever method is needed to “link” the driver to the vehicle electronically.  It would be possible for a driver to “code in” on Monday and forget to “code out” and so on.  Algorithims can cap off some of this forgetfulness, but it is likely that these processes will require the cooperation of the individuals to monitor and correct data errors on a daily/weekly basis.  Unfortunately, this administration takes productivity time away from supervisory staff, but is needed in order to assure data quality and reporting value.

Ultimately, I would speculate that there may be a shift (in the next several months or years) away from simply hardwiring the vehicle to acquire data towards using “apps” downloaded to smart devices such as tablets or phones that stay with the driver and link him/her to the vehicle via some “over the airwaves”.  Perhaps a link via “WIFI” or a “Bluetooth-type” interface could be used to create a hybrid situation between on-board hardware and floating devices which stay with the driver.

It is especially vital to tie safety performance to the driver since personal habits and behaviors generate the exceptional data.  Traditionally, data about speed, sway, harsh braking and heavy acceleration are monitored.  These indicators represent only a fraction of the total driver safety picture which is a mosaic of many tiles or data points (i.e. telematics doesn’t tell us about running red lights, load securement issues, failure to use or improper use of turn signals, and so on).

A balanced program includes layers of programming such as MVR profiling, “Safety Is My Goal” Hotlines, driver risk profiling and so on.  Such a layered approach to driver safety programming can fill in gaps and provide a greater, clearer “big picture” of needs and results.

While telematics data can be a very valuable tile in the mosaic picture, it would be easy to overwhelm a constituent with raw telematics data.  This flood of data, if unfiltered, could make it difficult to differentiate the “urgently actionable” from the “background noise” without hiring additional data analysts.  To the greatest extent possible, information should be self-selecting and self-prioritizing through appropriately tested filters to float the cream to the top of the bucket.  This is one of the areas that SafetyFirst has been helping clients transform their data pile into scoring and results tied to particular operators.

Finally, telematics (or any other data pile) is only going to be useful if it is translated into management action — if actual behavior isn’t changed, then the data’s intrinsic value diminishes.  Ultimately, a translation of engineering derived data to soft skills communication such as practical coaching and education must happen for the various system goals to be met.  Otherwise, we may be banking on an expectation that drivers would self-correct merely for fear of sanction, and such a system would be hard pressed to provide long term or sustainable results.

So use your telematics system wisely:

  • Make certain that you can tie your data back to specific drivers with certainty.
  • Be prepared to filter your data from a “pile” into a workable set of key performance indicators. 
  • Create a game plan to translate “engineering data” into a “person friendly” coaching experience so that individual drivers may receive a compassionate intervention. 

The goal should be sustainable, enhanced performance, not contrived short term gains.

SafetyFirst specializes in driver safety results.  We are the preferred “in-network” choice of commercial insurers and fleet operators throughout North America.  Let us help you overcome your driver safety challenges.

Our programs include: telematics solutions; training/education; consultancy; FMCSR/DQF solutions; MVR ordering and profiling; Driver and Asset Risk Management Information Systems and much more.

The Vulnerability of Telematics as a “Stand Alone” Driver Safety Solution

Telematics, specifically, the use of automatic vehicle location services (commonly referred to as AVLS or GPS systems) offers incredibly helpful data to fleet managers.

The combination of onboard recorders and telemetry (communication of the data back to a central web site as it happens) can provide timely identification of vehicles with exceptional attributes: excessive idle time; significant deviations from planned route; stationary for unusual periods of time; traveling at excessive velocities; swerving and swaying through traffic lanes; etc.

The principal benefit of this information is to enhance fleet efficiency by providing the operations team with tools to dispatch effectively, reduce fuel waste, and hold drivers accountable for productivity metrics.

A secondary benefit has been promoted by telematic program supporters – improving driver safety.

There’s no question that telematic programs can provide information about speed, hard braking, heavy acceleration and even sway/swerve. Unfortunately, the best data in the world will be ineffectual unless:

  1. it is conveyed to the driver in a meaningful way so that the driver actually changes their own behavior while they are “behind-the-wheel” of their vehicle, and
  2. behaviors are affected proactively enough to actually prevent collisions from happening.

Fortunately, SafetyFirst provides the “integration” of information management, supervisory coaching and driver training resources your team needs to translate raw data into results. Let me give you the “big picture”.

One of our clients has used our SafetyFirst behavioral program for many years. They later added telematics for the “operations team” and found great success in improving dispatch and fuel savings. However, driver safety was not the primary goal of implementing the system. During the first year, they amassed 1700 excessive speed reports. The telematics program delivered the data efficiently, but (based on our understanding) provided no mechanism to follow up with individual drivers at various locations. It became clear that behaviors were not being addressed and the trend suggested that the behavior would continue.

Our client asked SafetyFirst to receive all subsequent excessive speed alerts and treat the alerts as though they were a concerned motorist making an observation report. This accomplished several important steps:

  1. Our database could match the truck to the location and send the report to the supervisor of the affected driver promptly.
  2. In addition to sending the report, our system automatically attached pertinent training materials to use with the affected driver (the report and training materials were merged into the same email).
  3. The supervisors have been trained to use our behavioral coaching process to help assure that the affected driver understands why his/her behaviors on the road place them “at-risk” of becoming involved in a collision. This includes training tied to the issues reported in each type of incident.
  4. The report must be closed out in our database showing the results of the supervisory investigation and coaching process. This includes signatures of the supervisor and affected driver.
  5. The driver’s behavior is logged for future reference and comparison to MVR data and other profile factors (we can supply MVR data in real time and profile it based on the client’s own matrix).
  6. Drivers with repeated instances of aggressive driving reports can be targeted for more intensive training and coaching per client’s own specifications.
  7. Monthly, topical training packages are sent to help ALL drivers stay on the right road.
  8. Managers get streamlined summary reporting on a monthly basis to note trends/patterns in supervisory responses and driver responses.

In the first year of having us manage their telematics data for safety issues, the client dropped the excessive speed alerts by 600% (went from 1700 to less than 200 alerts).

What really changed?   The telematics system worked perfectly – it supplied data.  Our system worked perfectly – it got supervisors to talk to drivers about the data in a way that modified behavior.

Think about it….Behavioral safety programs depend on performance feedback, delivered in a timely manner, about specific habits and actions.  Reinforcing the right/desired behaviors or outcomes and illustrating why the inappropriate behaviors present a risk to the operator in such a way that the operator would value “getting it right” tomorrow.  Driver Safety Hotlines follow this process (person to person communication).  Telematics providers, generally, do not (so much data that it becomes difficult to distinguish the “urgently actionable” from the “background noise”).

Is this a recommendation of one type of program over the other? Not at all – it’s making the case that they work better together! Safety results don’t come from an “either this or that, but not both” mindset – it comes from leveraging the individual strengths of multiple programs. Just as MVR screening, driver training, driver safety hotlines, post-crash investigation, and other safety elements must work together to get optimized results, telematics isn’t an effective “one-man-band” that can replace these other elements.

There’s no question that telematics have a role to play in the future of most commercial fleets, but telematics isn’t a silver bullet solution by itself. SafetyFirst provides the “integration” of information management, supervisory coaching and driver training resources your team needs to translate data into results.