NY State DMV Records

E-DriverFileAccording to a recent article in Heavy Duty Trucking (click HERE), the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles is making additional information available to prosecutors about a driver’s ticket history.

Specifically:

The information will be available for tickets issued during the past 10 years when the original charge was a point bearing violation, a drug or alcohol related offense, or was for aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Currently, only data on convictions is available to prosecutors.

The article in HDT offers this explanation of why this is important:

Many times when a motorist goes to court, the original ticket is pled down to a lesser charge, according to a release. Often this is done because the prosecutor or the Another example of a blended scorecourt is not aware that the driver has a pattern of dangerous driving behaviors. As an example, it is common practice for courts and prosecutors to allow motorists charged with speeding offenses to plead those charges down to lesser offenses such as parking violations.

“By giving prosecutors a more complete story of a person’s driving history, they can make informed decisions and help ensure that potentially dangerous drivers no longer fall through the cracks,” Gov. Cuomo.

In 2010, in town, village, city and district courts, 129,628 speeding charges were pled down from a speeding violation to “parking on pavement.” In 2011, 112,996 such pleas were accepted. Speeding convictions result in anywhere from 3 to 11 points being placed on a license, depending on the miles per hour over the speed limit. If a motorist acquires 11 or more points within 18 months, their license may be suspended by the DMV. However, there are no points associated with a parking on the pavement charge.

Accident AnalysisOften following a tragic crash involving one or more fatalities, the prosecutor’s office may file criminal charges against the commercial operator.  Under this new process, the prosecutors might have more information about the driver’s history of violation activity than the safety director; therefore, it will become more important than ever before for commercial fleet operations to maintain excellent records on their drivers.

FredPoust School bus crashIn the case of Frederick Poust, a commercial school bus driver from Pennsylvania who was convicted of causing a fatality (after being video recorded missing ten stop signs and using both cellphone and MP3 player during the morning trip prior to the crash) the Pennsylvania DMV changed its policies about older violation records which might have prevented the school district from qualifying him as fit to drive (he had a prior fatal crash that did not get reported on his MVR). (Click HERE for article)  The state Representative pushing the change was quoted as saying:

“…if you do a simple Google search you could find out more about what Poust allegedly had done than what you could find out with PennDOT’s record”

Now PA will provide the entire (lifetime) history of violations for school bus drivers so that employers will be better equipped to qualify, train and monitor their drivers.

SUMMARY

Our chief concern, and what was not immediately made clear by the article in HDT, is whether both the fleet manager and the prosecutor’s office will receive the exact same data when an MVR (motor vehicle record) is pulled.

  • If the answer is YES, it would be fair and may actually help prevent crashes by making a more complete picture of past behaviors available to safety directors.  
  • If the answer is NO, then why should employers be “kept in the dark” about events that may be used against employee drivers?

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Diversion Programs and Violation Masking

If you get pulled over for speeding in Minnesota, it’s increasingly likely the police officer will give you a choice: Pay the ticket, or take a safe driving class.

The classes usually cost less than the ticket, and the violation doesn’t go on your driving record.

More cities and counties are offering “diversion programs” because they keep cases from entering the court system. One state auditor’s report, though, says there’s a problem with these programs: They’re illegal.

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/11/14/news/driver-safety-class

PoliceIf you get pulled over for speeding in Minnesota, it’s increasingly likely the police officer will give you a choice: Pay the ticket, or take a safe driving class.

This legal tactic, known as “diversion” enables offenders to avoid prosecution (and resulting criminal record) in exchange for alternative outcomes like:

  • Education aimed at preventing future offenses by the offender (i.e. Traffic School in lieu of Moving Violations)
  • Completion of community service hours
  • Avoiding situations for a specified period in the future that may lead to committing another such offense

According to a wikipedia article on diversion programs:

Some jurisdictions in the United States, such as those in California, may impose the completion of DUI programs as punishment for drunk driving in the United States. One such program is the Victim Impact Panel (VIP). administered by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) since 1982. MADD typically charges a $25 “donation” (which is defined as voluntary), even for court-mandated attendance; MADD reported $2,657,293 one year for such donations on its nonprofit tax exempt returns.[11]

EdiscoverySome safety professionals do not like diversion programs since they tend to “mask” behaviors or habits that might otherwise be indicators of a deeper risk-taking mentality.  For example, suppose a chronic speeder relies on diversion programs to mask their speeding problem — ultimately, they may become involved in a fatal crash since their MVR (report of prior driving violations) didn’t signal the need for a stronger safety response.  Various reports have signaled that driver education programs often fail to reduce crash rates (click here) since:

  • Driver education does teach safety skills but students are not specially motivated to actually use them
  • Driver education could foster overconfidence
  • Driver education often fails to adequately address lifestyle issues
  • Driver education often fails to tailor content to student-specific needs

Further complicating matters is the fact that diversion programs are run locally — there’s no central reporting on who has participated and what the underlying cause may have been.  For corporate safety managers, that means giant holes in MVR reporting where all sorts of violations may have led to traffic stops, but there are no records to indicate an underlying issue with risk taking.

“We don’t want somebody with bad driving behaviors to be able to participate in diversion programs around the state and nobody knows how many they’ve participated in,” said [Minnesota] State Auditor Rebecca Otto. “If someone gets to participate in diversion in one county that’s doing this program, and then the next day they’re in a different city that has this program, their driving records are scattered all over.”

The view’s different, though, in sheriff’s offices and police departments across the state using diversion programs.

In Buffalo, Minn., the city started its Drive Smart program. Only people cited for minor moving violations — such as going 15 miles or less over the speed limit, running a red light, failing to yield – are eligible.  The number of programs like Drive Smart has nearly tripled over the last six years. More than 35 of them operate in cities and counties around the state.  [Unfortunately,]…There’s a range of fees. There’s a range of classes you get to take if you’re allowed to participate. One of them is an eight-minute online video that you watch.”

Motivating local departments and municipalities is the fact that generally a third of violation fines go to the state treasury, but diversion course fees largely stay local (a bigger cut of the pie stays at home).

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What do you think?  Should drivers be able to take an eight-minute online class and have a violation tossed as though it never happened?  In the end, would more drivers have more crashes if they have an underlying problem with risk taking while behind the wheel?  Is this all really about money in a tough economy?

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Benchmarking Violation Data

Atri 2011 coverIn 2005 and 2011, ATRI provided a ground-breaking study of the connection between violations and increased crash risk (Click Here).

Having studied more than a half-million driver records, the analysis was incontrovertible and carries powerful implications for driver safety supervisors, managers and directors.

In short, when a driver receives a violation, the likelihood of a crash also goes up by a specific factor.  

We’ve also seen a connection between tighter MVR profiles and decreased crash numbers:

“As recently reported at a fleet safety conference, two similar fleets had chosen to use the same standard for MVR review — exclude violations greater than 36 months old and allow for a combination of three violations and one preventable crash before suspending driving privileges.  One of these fleets tightened their standard to two violations and one crash during the most recent 24 months and saw a five point reduction in collisions (from 22% of their fleet vehicles involved in a crash per year to 17% of their vehicles involved in a crash) and $2 million in savings.”  (click here for full coverage)

Now our question to progressive fleet teams is this — are you benchmarking your driver profile results against national trends in violations to assess relative crash risk?

Violatios Table

Consider this table (above) and how your individual drivers stack up against national averages.  IF your drivers have a greater share of violations than the average, what would you do to step up your performance monitoring or refresher coaching?

  • Could this data be used against you in a Negligent Supervision lawsuit?
  • Is your defense going to be proactive and demonstrate that you actively monitor this data and assign coaching, education, monitoring resources or to claim “we didn’t know“? (not knowing is never a realistic defense)

If you’re using an automated MVR solution to pull in MVR data and profile it, you should be considering:

  1. whether the ACD code tables are up to date (many providers haven’t updated their code lists in years and can’t even post a texting violation properly!)
  2. whether your data can be exported to spreadsheet for analysis against national records like the table presented above, or whether your provider can automatically provide a comparison on a “driver-by-driver basis” against such public data
  3. whether your MVR profiling efforts should include other proactive, leading indicators of performance such as GPS alerts, how’s my driving alerts, or even camera in cabin video analysis.
  4. how you compare actual MVR results to your own loss data to validate the ATRI study and take action on “at-risk” drivers to reduce collisions
  5. how to link your MVR (ACD Codes) to refresher training modules to document immediate action taken on all drivers (who show a change in results) each time their MVR is obtained.

Of course, it may be easier to simply use our plug-n-play E-DriverFile system, Safety Hotline Program and “SafetyZone” LMS to handle these issues for you.  We work with the nation’s largest fleets (of CMVs and non-regulated vehicles, too!) to help manage risk, safety and results.  We also maintain an “in-network” system of relationships with more than 75 insurance providers who use our services with their select, targeted clients.

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Do you have an unsafe driving remediation plan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Profiling Driver Event History

All motor fleet operations generate or collect various data on their driver’s performance:

  • Violations/Tickets
  • How’s My Driving Alerts
  • Crashes (at-fault, preventable, etc.)
  • Telematics (GPS, EOBR)
  • Driver Logs
  • Toll Receipts (EZ Pass, etc.)
  • Automated enforcement violations (which come direct, not through MVR data)

Additionally, fleets track information about other types of driver “events”:

  • Completion of training classes (online, classroom, tailgate talks, etc.)
  • Completion of year or years with no crashes (ie. Awards)
  • Internal Company Violations
  • Customer Complaints
  • Supervisory Observation Reports

Historically, each of these data sources have been in their own “silo” or “compartment” — but what if we could get all of this data together in one spot?  We could:

  • Another example of a blended scoresegment all drivers by relative risk taking behaviors
  • segment all drivers by crash risk
  • segment all drivers by age, tenure, training completed and then compare their crash histories to build a profile
  • determine which factors precede a collision (i.e. how many incidents, which types of incidents, etc.)
  • assign a predictability score to each driver based on actual data trends and schedule them for additional coaching or training to modify their habits and risk taking.

More simply put, we’re trying to leverage data to build awareness and reduce crash likelihood.

Fantasy?  Millions of dollars needed?  Nope. It’s real, and it’s happening right now among some of the nations largest fleet operators.

Imagine searching through 6500 driver records to find the “at-risk” needles in the haystack. Now imagine doing that with the push of one button.

One of several SafetyFirst clients implemented our E-DriverFile system three years ago on a pilot basis, but then rolled it out to their entire corporation.  This enabled them to cut the number of “at-risk” drivers in half within the first year simply by targeting their current training and supervisory resources on those people at greatest risk of becoming involved in a collision?

Pyramid 2011 for blog

Further, our new, online safety training modules are laser cut to fit specific issues surfaced by our How’s My Driving Hotline and our E-DriverFile profiling system.  These modules zero in on those risk taking habits, and remind drivers that there are serious consequences to the choices they make when behind the wheel.

At five to seven minutes each, they represent the next generation of online learning — focused, sharp, brief, emotive and able to convince drivers to “internalize” the need and desire to driver more safely — to make wiser choices — to take fewer risks.

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To learn more, call us toll free at 1-888-603-6987

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What’s It Like to be Audited by FMCSA?

smc 1Recently, a California-based fleet manager documented his personal experience with a random-selection compliance review through a series of four blog articles.

His candid insights help paint a picture of what the process could be like for a fleet that has never gone through a compliance review.

Here are links to his four articles:

Part 1: http://blogs.lctmag.com/lctblog/archive/2013/04/10/JIM-LUFF-The-FEDs-Are-Coming.aspx
Part 2: http://blogs.lctmag.com/lctblog/archive/2013/04/17/JIM-LUFF-Feds-Occupy-My-Biz-House.aspx
Part 3: http://blogs.lctmag.com/lctblog/archive/2013/04/24/JIM-LUFF-DOT-Audit-Gets-Down-N-Dirty.aspx
Part 4: http://blogs.lctmag.com/lctblog/archive/2013/05/01/JIM-LUFF-D.O.T.-Audit-Drives-Me-To-Drink.aspx

E-DriverFile is our program that helps fleets consolidate their records, streamline their processes and deliver helpful management reporting.  The system is specifically designed to help larger fleets with multiple terminals and scattered locations.  The program can be tailored to meet your needs, company culture and even existing forms and processes.  We specialize in alternative fleets (i.e. regulated, but not over-the-road trucking operations in the typical TL marketplace — utilities, telecom, coach operations, inter-modal, et.al.)

We also offer a “lite” version for non-regulated fleets who need to manage their driver safety policies in a uniform manner across multiple locations, decentralized management or other complex arrangements.

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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.

Webinar: Motivating Drivers to Make Safer Decisions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goal Alignment, Mixed Signals, Crossed Purposes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time For A Change

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

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

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

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

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Summary

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

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

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

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Webinar: Out of Time? Out of Compliance? NOT out of Options!

To support our clients, USI and AIG, SafetyFirst led a webinar targeting smaller fleet operators (those with under 500 power units).

cropped-truck-traffic.jpgRegulated fleets all have to comply with the same set of ever-changing regulations; however, larger fleets can dedicate specialist resources to handling the paperwork and smaller fleets may be limited to a proverbial crew of three — “Me, Myself and I”.  Further, this team of “three” may have many other job duties beyond compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, too.

The focus of the webinar included the following learning points:

  • Identify the principal areas of driver safety regulation
  • Identify educational resources for managers
  • Identify how to use Federal resources to monitor their compliance status
  • Determine a mechanism to set a rational focus on key tactics.

While it’s beyond the scope of this blog article to cover all the points of the webinar, we’ll try to offer some of the highlights.

First, we made it a priority to share as many links to free, federal resources as possible — the goal of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to reduce crashes and injuries; therefore, they are stepping up to provide strategies and tactics that motor carriers can employ to that end result.  It all starts with the main web site — http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov

Motor Carriers Guide to ImprovingAnother resource was “A Motor Carrier’s Guide to Improving Highway Safety” which doesn’t serve as a replacement for the FMSCRs, but helps provide a “plain English” version of what motor carriers should be working on to be safe and compliant.  This can be downloaded from http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/eta/index.htm

We also encouraged the participants to regularly visit http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov to get the latest tips and fact sheets on the CSA program.

The CSA program changes how FMCSA conducts audits and gives them flexibility to target more carriers for specific issues using different means of intervention (i.e. such as sending an inquiry on a highlighted issue by mail).  It doesn’t add to the regulations – it just addresses how FMCSA measures safety performance, evaluates the need to intervene, and then responds to potential problems.

CSA ToolkitsWe walked through the Bookend BASICs concept (covered on this blog site and in articles published by NATMI, et.al.) and how fleets can prioritize their response to keeping BASIC scores as low as possible.

The Safety Management Cycle, as a risk management model, was used in a practical exercise to demonstrate it’s utility to motor carriers.

We also highlighted the newest fact sheet releases, the motor carrier tool kit, and the driver tool kit which are found at the CSA site.

Summary

We dealt with a half-dozen specific questions from the audience (submitted through the web-ex environment) and there was some thoughtful discussion to wrap up the session.  We reminded the participants of the following ideas:

  • Compliance is about doing the “boring/tedious” stuff consistently
  • There are a lot of resources available to help you comply that cost nothing 
  • The FMCSA keeps data on your fleet to decide if they should intervene – you should monitor your scores at their site
  • If the FMCSA sends you a letter, call them and talk to them IMMEDIATELY. Tell them that Safety & Compliance are serious subjects and you want to improve your score.
  • Use the online resources to craft your response to them, and KEEP IT SIMPLE – no need to be fancy or commit to things you can’t afford or complete.
  • They will want to see that you did what you said you would. Not more or less. You need to put the plan into effect!

SafetyFirst is a fleet safety solutions provider, working through insurance carriers and directly with fleet clients throughout North America.

A copy of the slideshow will be distributed to participants in the webinar experience, and will be posted at our client-only (*log in required) web site.

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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