Insurance Carrier UBI and Telematics Vehicle Tracking Conference

TeleMaticsInsurers interested in promoting driver safety by telematics vehicle tracking, and UBI styled programs participated in a conference hosted by SafetyFirst Systems on November 6, 2014 in Morristown, NJ. Driver safety online courses and related topics were also addressed.

For more details — visit http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/11/prweb12321887.htm (will open in a new window/tab)

Large_Trucks_Cover_Front-300x28730,000 road deaths from motor vehicle crashes annually is unacceptable. Insurers agree that preventing injuries and damages that result from commercial vehicle crashes is a priority.

Unfortunately, about 75% of all insured fleets operate without the benefits of telematics vehicle tracking, driver safety online course, hotline stickers or other critical fleet safety mechanisms. Of the fleets with telemtatics vehicle tracking systems, many struggle to find ways to translate mountains of data into urgently actionable follow ups with their affected drivers.

On Thursday, November 6, 2014, SafetyFirst hosted a conference in Morristown, NJ for representatives from fifteen insurers gathered from across the country. The group Quoteable quotediscussed barriers which prevent many commercial fleets from adopting telematics vehicle tracking, and what could be done to get a system installed in many more fleets to increase fuel efficiency, decrease carbon emissions, increase safety results and decrease the likelihood of injuries due to crashes.

Current estimates suggest that 75% of commercial fleet policyholders do not use telematics vehicle tracking in their safety program efforts, and are unable to monitor driver redlight cam picturebehaviors that lead to crashes such as driving excessively fast, tailgating and weaving through traffic. A greater adoption rate of this critical safety tool could save lives immediately. Insurers, as trusted advisers, have the ability to properly and professionally influence the adoption of this technology to reduce injury-producing crashes. SafetyFirst, as a supplier-partner to more than 75 insurance providers, offers a best-in-class solution that fits fleets of all types and sizes.

While not discussing any proprietary or sensitive strategies related to insurance carrier operations, the program facilitated discussion around ways to promote SafetyFirst’s telematics vehicle tracking to more commercial fleet operators in a reasonable and affordable fashion.

Comments from the audience included:

…received a clear definition of facts versus typical marketing hype about device capabilities and reporting options. The data set produced by the GO7 is very detailed if not a little overwhelming. With the help of SafetyFirst and Verisk Analytics, the underwriting team has begun to tackle the challenge of how to use the collected data within our organization… – VP Underwriting

A great crowd of expertise represented…provided good food for thought as our organization moves forward on strategy around telematics offerings” – Loss Control Manager

“Outstanding session!  Exactly what I was looking for today” – Chief Underwriting Officer

About SafetyFirst — Dedicated to reducing the likelihood of commercial vehicle crashes and the costs associated with them, we provide a complete range of driver safety services to the insurance industry for the benefit of their respective policyholders. Programs include training, hotline reporting, DOT compliance, automated MVR profiling, and more.

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Commercial Vehicle Insurance

SafetyFirstAn interesting article titled “Insurance: You Can’t Avoid Risk” appears in the September 2014 issue of FleetOwner.

This article caught my attention at the second paragraph:

Crashes involving trucks and the resulting insurance claims can grab quite a chunk from the bottom line of any motor carrier [or any company operating a fleet of vehicles – SF]. According to data compiled several years ago by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the cost of a crash involving one Class 8 tractor pulling a single 53-ft. trailer runs to $172,292.  If just one person gets injured in such a crash, the average cost balloons to $334,892.  And if a fatality occurs in such a crash, the average cost skyrockets to over $7.6 million.

The article also comments that insurance costs to cover premiums and out of pocket costs can be as much as 4% of the total cost of operation (TCO).

PoliceFleets looking to reduce their costs can ask for discounts and creative payment plans, but in order to materially reduce insurance expense, the only long-term solution is to earnestly work to reduce their risk of loss through aggressive and tailored crash-avoidance strategies.

Naturally, we can’t control how the general public drives on any given day, but as transportation safety professionals, fleet management teams can work with their commercial drivers, insurers, and current safety vendors to increase results.

Ideas to consider:

  1. Smash through the most common barrier to results: complacency. Many fleet teams think they’ve done all that they can and sometimes it can be hard to re-evaluate and re-tool programs to get better results.  “We’ve always done it this way” and “don’t fix what isn’t broken” are dangerous phrases if you’re sincere about enhancing risk results. It’s easy to assume that everything is working well and focus on trying “new stuff” just because it’s new and trendy, but sometimes it’s the underlying (un-sexy) tasks that are slipping through the cracks.  Be honest in evaluating what’s working and what could work better.
  2. Increase vigilance and safety awareness – just as consciously scanning the road ahead for possible hazards and motorists who may cut off trucks is critical to safe driving, management teams also have a responsibility to forecast ways to increase safety in their operations and processes.  Careful analysis of past crashes and understanding what might have contributed to them happening from a process and systems standpoint may uncover opportunities to improve your management strategy.
  3. Develop an even stronger communication strategy with drivers – not just talking at them or demanding more from them, but also learning to listen carefully to their feedback about what’s working and what’s failing to work as well as it could or should. Understanding what processes and systems keep drivers from excelling at their job and helping them with appropriate assistance could be an area to leverage.
  4. Integrate technology where it will help the most.  Technology can be applied in most fleet operations to help deliver insights into ways to increase efficiency or improve safety factors.  The trouble is that for most fleets technology can be disruptive as well. There’s a learning curve to adopting new systems and there must be vigilance in translating these data packets into meaningful management action.  If the follow up isn’t helpful to drivers or other team members, then it may not be worth the effort. One example could be adopting an online education program to refresh drivers on basic safety issues.  If the program is difficult to access, or the videos are tedious, too long, boring or poorly executed then drivers won’t pay attention or change habits.  Investing in a system that is easy to use and has interesting, short programs may be a better course of action.
  5. Actively monitor / manage your CSA scores.  While the CSA score isn’t the best indicator of operational excellence, your team shouldn’t ignore this score, either.  The Bookend BASICS have been discussed elsewhere on this blog — Unsafe Driving and Crash Rate.  When the bookends are firmly managed, the stuff in the middle tends to sort itself out, too.
  6. Don’t be shy in asking for help from your insurer.  Most insurers offer loss control support in various ways — consultants, technical bulletins, and other resources are available but only if you ask for them.  Agents can review your current policies to make sure you have appropriate coverage, and help you navigate the service offerings that come with your policy to be certain you’re getting the maximum benefit for the cost you’ve already agreed to pay.
  7. Leverage your existing safety vendor relationships. Many fleets already work with safety support vendors on issue ranging from log auditing to DQF maintenance.
    1. Are you using the most current service offering from each vendor?
    2. Are there new benefits or features that you could be using?
    3. Does your vendor offer a support network, webinars, or other meetings that could introduce new ideas or help you network with peers in order to increase safety results?
  8. Join, and participate in, a vehicle safety networking group.  Hearing about other peer’s experiences can help you save time, get to decisions more quickly and leverage other professionals learning lessons (why make the same mistake, or why not benefit if they’ve already proven something works well?)  Of course, this commitment works best when you’re an active participant – sharing with the group your own experiences.  It won’t work as well if you join and then lurk in the shadows quietly.

Managing insurance costs is important.  You want to have the right coverage for when things go wrong unexpectedly, but you also want to do whatever is practical to avoid claims or keep their costs as low as possible.

There are many safety articles at this blog site to give you more ideas on ways to prevent crashes.

Let us know what you do that works well at your fleet!

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Risks of Driving On Borrowed Time (Recalls)

car recallsA recent article summed up a growing problem in the USA — millions of vehicles have been recalled, but drivers are not getting to the dealer to have essential repairs done.

In fact, about a third of all recalled cars and trucks don’t get repaired, and estimates place about 36 million defect-laden vehicles in operation right now.

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There are several reasons to account for these alarming numbers:

  • Many disregard notices in the mail, assuming that the letter is an advertisement or other form of “junk mail”
  • Some never receive the notice since they’ve moved since purchasing the vehicle, and no longer have forwarding services for mail.
  • Some bought the car used from another private person, and are not in the recall notification system files
  • Some drivers know about the recall and simply disregard the risk of continued operation (perhaps figuring that it doesn’t sound very serious, they just don’t have the time, etc.)  The article included a quote from a driver in this category — “…I’m well aware of the potential problem,but I’m the kind of person who doesn’t get scared by the headlines. I can assess the real risk and I’ve driven a lot of miles with no issues. I don’t expect it to happen in the next month.”
  • Some drivers are concerned about getting stuck with additional repairs at the dealership that they didn’t budget for and are not covered by the recall.

The consequences can be significant depending on the system(s) affected.  From the article:

Donna Voag’s 20-year-old son, Christopher, was driving his 2001 Hyundai Elantra to the gas station from their home in Bethlehem, Pa., late one evening last August when the front suspension collapsed. He had no idea the vehicle had been recalled four years earlier [emphasis added] for that defect, she said.  “Thank God he was going slow and decided to go to the gas station first, or otherwise he’d have been on the highway,” said Voag, 54, who manages a family shoe store. “He was very upset when he came home. He said. ‘Something really bad happened to my car.’ It was very dangerous.”

safercar govIf you’re concerned that you might miss a recall notice for your (light duty) vehicle(s) you can visit safercar.gov to proactively search current safety issues, OR sign up for email notifications tied to your make and model year (http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/subscriptions)

At that same page, you can sign up for notifications about child restraints (car seats); tires; motorcycles/helmets/related equipment and even school bus recalls!

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Telematics in Non-Trucking Markets

The use of telematics to help manage fleet operations has been growing over the past thirty years for several reasons:

  1. The cost of the systems has been decreasing
  2. Long term contracts have given way to month-to-month packages (allowing easier upgrade paths as technology improves)
  3. The amount of valuable data developed by the “typical” system has been increasing
  4. Early adopters (aka “pioneers”) have worked out the “snafus” and overcome initial obstacles thru trial and error
  5. Case studies have evolved from “sales pitch stories” to helpful, detailed accounts of how peer fleets are using the data to modify their operations for improved efficiency and effectiveness
  6. Management reporting has evolved from simple “data dumps” to dashboards and metrics that help managers understand the trends more clearly
  7. Specialty applications for targeted niche markets are becoming affordable as simple “add-ons” instead of fully customized adventures
  8. More industry segments that use “wheels” in their daily operations are identifying ways that telematics packages can help them streamline and enhance their daily practices.

While Over-The-Road truckers were the main group of early adopters, many other types of commercial fleets are expected to eclipse this segment in the next five to ten years:

  • Municipalities (to track completed operations like plowing, salting, trash collection, etc)
  • Taxi/Limo/Bus operations (to integrate into consumer apps that enable automated pick up requests, routing, peak equipment utilization, etc.)
  • Construction fleets (to locate equipment and manage the distribution from job site to job site, etc.)
  • Local delivery operations (to take advantage of the pioneering work of the long-haul fleet experience)
  • Service Industries (to keep consumers happy with on-time arrivals, updates on wait times, etc.)

Even school bus fleets are seeing tremendous benefits for issues like accounting for student pickups and drop offs, bus ETA, wait times, etc.

It can be difficult to accurately estimate the number of fleets using telematics as there are different ways to count “active use” — it could mean “has a fleet ever installed a single unit”? Or it could mean “has a fleet installed a test group of units”?

Regardless, most estimates place 1 in 5 fleets having tested or deployed telematics in some format (whether testing of a handful of units or something greater).

The benefits and applications of telematics are many.  To summarize these efficiently, we echo the “four pillar” concept that we’ve learned from GeoTab:

  1. Compliance – telematics can provide electronic logging of hours of service, and can prove your fleet’s movements with accurate time/location mapping (and we can integrate data into our E-DriverFile platform for efficient data management, too)
  2. Fleet – fuel economy, idle reduction, remote diagnosis of engine details, and equipment utilization are key to most operations
  3. Safety – driver behaviors in the form of aggressive driving and overt risk taking can be monitored and used to trigger appropriate coaching and educational programs (and our integration of Training and MVR solutions can maximize the GPS data value in both identifying and addressing risky behaviors)
  4. Productivity – knowing when your drivers go off route, backtrack to missed stops or simply dawdle at lunch time can increase your productivity immediately.

From the earliest satellite platforms that cost thousands of dollars per truck to implement and maintain to today’s “plug and play” packages that start around $35-$40 per vehicle per month, your fleet can benefit from telematics applications.

The key concerns are typically identified as cost, ease of installation, ease of use, driver acceptance, quality of reporting and avoiding “hidden charges”, but all of that comes from selecting a partner who provides trustworthy service, supports your team, helps with analysis and can integrate your data into additional portals for enhanced reporting.

SafetyFirst has decades of experience in driver safety programming, and we’ve been integrating telematics data into our existing programs since 2001 as a data aggregator for enhanced reporting.  We have the “know how” and the “can-do” attitude to support your expansion into telematics.

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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Driver Safety Hotline – Dealing with Reports

cropped-decal-ate-truck.jpgOne of the most often asked questions from safety managers is “what am I supposed to do with a driver who has received a Motorist Observation Report?”

Blended Risk ScoreFor many, the assumption is that a report = disciplinary action, blame setting, arguments and confrontations that lead to sulky drivers and higher turnover.

However, that’s never what we had in mind (despite our competitors ingraining that ‘mentality’ into their fleet customers over the past three decades)….

The goal of a safety hotline is to increase safety results, not punish drivers.  

Unfortunately, many supervisors have never had training or education on “how to coach/counsel” for improved habits and to motivate drivers to seek a better level of safety awareness.  The other issue is often a lack of tools in the tool kit to help drivers.

Another traffic picFor example, when we send a report we not only provide as much detail as possible (taking a paragraph or two to describe what happened) but we also use a tactic called “polite interrogation” of the motorist.  This sounds horrible, but we’re working on behalf of the commercial driver, not the caller.  Therefore, we ask open ended questions instead of trying to simply fill out a checklist.  We have a few other tricks of the trade to help vet these calls, but a good artist never reveals all of their secrets.

Next, we have our computer system attach one-page safety fact sheets to reports which match the specific habit types listed on the report (i.e. tailgating, swerving in traffic, running red lights, etc.)  The driver reads these sheets and signs/dates the bottom of the form to document at least minimal training has been provided.

We send a link to a supervisory video program on how to conduct proactive, cooperative coaching sessions.  This includes role play scenarios on the most common issues presented by drivers.

Additionally, our reports “recommend” specific 5 to 7 minute remedial, online, interactive training courses with “one-click” ordering of multiple courses (one course for each key habit issue) so that drivers get the training they need the most based on actual observations.  Some vendors limit you to picking the most egregious habit (can only assign one course—and their courses average 37 to 42 minutes long apiece—YIKES, talk about mind-numbing disrespect of a professional driver and a waste of time, energy and resource)

Driver Safety Cycles

Summary

Our program isn’t about pointing fingers, setting blame or yelling at drivers.

Our program is a DRIVER EDUCATION program that happens to use stickers as a triggering agent to identify who needs the MOST URGENT attention on SPECIFIC TOPICS, right now, BEFORE a crash or moving violation happen.

Our goal is to help supervisors focus on the few drivers who just need a little “course correction” before they’re off the rails.  This is prevention at it’s best. 

Other food for thought from very recent client case studies (past two years)…..

  • One of our clients operates 12,000 trucks.  They installed GPS.  Their GPS provider had no mechanism for them to translate the data into actionable follow ups with individual drivers.  During the second year, all excessive speed alerts (driving more than a set maximum threshold) came to us to be processed as Motorist Observation Reports (to use our coaching process.)  Since the rule was that none of these could be deleted, each incident must end up with coaching offered to the driver.  Net results?  By the end of the second year, they had decreased GPS speed alerts by 600% (From 1700 down to 174).  This was by “no-fault” coaching instead of discipline and termination – result was curbing behavior while increasing tenure.
  • Another client with 450 tractor trailers (over the road trucking) has GPS.  They got 470 hotline calls (motorist observation reports) in the first year on the program (more than one per tractor!) – out of these, ONLY five were ‘inaccurate” based on GPS readings for location/speed at time of report – that’s only 1% considered inaccurate and all remaining reports were used for coaching.  Their accident frequency has stayed about the same; however, severity per claim is “significantly lower” than the prior year and they believe it’s due to the drivers being aware of their surroundings and using the training we’ve provided to modify their habits.

SafetyFirst

A New Approach to Traffic Safety Culture?

SafetyFirstSome traffic safety professionals monitor the actions and activities of their peers around the world — to see what’s working, what new problems are emerging and to collaborate wherever possible.

SafetyFirst’s team has worked with colleagues in roughly 40+ countries around the world by email, making presentations at International Road Safety conferences, and webinars.

NZ video captureRecently, we were amazed by a fresh approach to getting motorist’s attention about the issue of speeding and common traffic mistakes that tragically lead to injuries and deaths.

In New Zealand, they are trying to get people to recognize their own contribution to crashes instead of assuming “it’s the other guy who doesn’t know how to drive” AND that these seemingly small mistakes add up to very horrible results (emphasizing the personal cost of the crash).

Cosider the impact of reading the following paragraph versus watching a 1-Minute video to convey the same idea:

Most road users recognise the risks of driving at speed and support police enforcement of the speed limit. But these statistics show that drivers don’t always practice this when driving: speed is still a contributing factor in 20% of all fatal and serious injury crashes on New Zealand roads.

Now, take a moment to watch this embedded video, below.

What do you think of this approach (the video) to get people thinking about their own choices?

The NZ Transport Agency offers this discussion about their choice to go in this direction:

Our approach

Previous campaigns have shown that the faster you go the less time you have to react, the longer it takes to stop and the bigger the mess when you do stop. But people still deny this truth or think it doesn’t apply to them. Their speed may be over the limit but it is minimal, e.g. 107 km/h in a 100 km/h area. In their minds they’re not ‘speeding’, but driving comfortably, and they feel in control.

This campaign aims to reframe the way that people look at their speed when they’re driving. A person may be a good driver but they can’t deny that people do make mistakes – after all, to err is only human. And in life, mistakes are made often. We usually get to learn from our mistakes; but not when driving – the road is an exception. Even the smallest of mistakes on the road can cost us our life, or someone else’s.

In a Safe System no one should pay for a mistake with their life. When we drive, we share the road with others so the speed a person chooses to travel at needs to leave room for any potential error – whether it is theirs or someone else’s. At speed, there is less opportunity for a driver to react to a mistake and recover, and this is the key message for this campaign.

The target audience

Our new campaign targets competent drivers who regularly drive and put the ‘Ks’ in. These people drive ‘comfortably’ fast; typically a bit faster than the posted speed limit or other traffic. But they don’t consider it to be wrong or anti-social because it’s not really ‘speeding’ in their minds. They feel competent and in control of their vehicle.

Join our discussion at our Linked In Group, Facebook page, or leave a comment here if you like or dislike this approach to getting people to check their own choices.