Drowsy Driving Update 2014

National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week runs November 2-9, 2014. Highlighting the need for drivers and safety teams to focus on drowsy driving, the AAA AAFTS Drowsy DrivingFoundation for Traffic Safety has issued a new research report which states that 21% (one in five) fatal crashes involved driver fatigue. Further, the report summary indicates that:

  • 6% of all crashes in which a vehicle was towed from the scene,
  • 7% of crashes in which a person received treatment for injuries sustained in the crash,
  • 13% of crashes in which a person was hospitalized, and
  • 21% of crashes in which a person was killed involved a drowsy driver.

How did we miss the scope of these crashes?  AAAFTS suggests that National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics “are widely regarded as substantial underestimates of the true magnitude of the problem.”  Why?

The statistics reported by the NHTSA are based on data compiled from reports completed by police officers investigating the scenes of motor vehicle crashes. However, unlike impairment by alcohol, impairment by sleepiness, drowsiness, or fatigue does not leave behind physical evidence, and it may be difficult or impossible for the police to ascertain in the event that a driver is reluctant to
admit to the police that he or she had fallen asleep, if the driver does not realize or remember that his or her performance was impaired due to fatigue, or if the driver is
incapacitated or deceased and thus unable to convey information regarding his level of alertness prior to the crash. This inherent limitation is further compounded by the design of the forms that police officers complete when investigating crashes, which in many cases obfuscate the distinction between whether a driver was known not to have been asleep or fatigued versus whether a driver’s level of alertness or fatigue was unknown.

Based on these concerns, many experts have concluded that the NHTSA data was merely indicating the tip of a large iceberg of hidden or mis-coded results.  Compounding this opinion were results from other studies, including naturalistic (camera in cabin, continuously recording) studies showing a much higher rate of drowsy driving related events.

cropped-drowsy-driving.jpg

Of course, this study makes several assumptions and may not present a perfect picture of drowsy driving in the USA.  However, it is reasonable to assertively promote tactics to avoid drowsy driving situations based on the following:

  • drivers are unable to prevent micronapping from occuring – the fatigued body will overpower their mind’s alertness
  • Poor diet, lack of exercise, frequently interrupted sleep periods, lack of consistent sleep cycles all contribute to weak health and drowsiness.
  • Many “home remedies” for drowsy driving may work for a few minutes, but can’t be relied upon for a real solution — many drivers who’ve turned on the air conditioning or turned up the radio still had crashes happen.

Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is quoted as saying;

Despite the fact that 95 percent of Americans deem it ‘unacceptable’ to drive when they are so tired that they have a hard time keeping their eyes open, more than 28 percent admit to doing so in the last month,”…“Like other impairments, driving while drowsy is not without risk.”

AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds sums it up nicely;

Unfortunately many drivers underestimate the risk of driving while tired, and overestimate their ability to deal with it.

Find other articles on drowsy driving at https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/?s=drowsy%20driving

cropped-more-thanksgiving-traffic.jpg

Advertisements

Alternative Compliance Strategies for Motor Carriers

smc 1According to an article in the October 6th online issue of Fleet Owner (click here), the FMCSA is considering comments on whether to construct a plan for alternative compliance strategies for regulated motor carriers.

The article’s tag line sums it up nicely: “Agency to look into whether carriers should get credit for adopting technologies or advanced safety programs

Based on comments from Jack Van Steenburg, Fleet Owner reports an agency interest in “…recognizing carriers for steps they take to increase safety that aren’t required by regulation. Alternative compliance might involve use of safety technologies or perhaps safety management practices – driver health and wellness programs, fatigue management programs or use of the Pre-employment Screening Program – that go beyond what is required.

Simply put, if a carrier goes well beyond the minimums and invests in safety (i.e. wellness, crash reduction, etc.) then their improvement in their Bookend BASICs (Unsafe Driving and Crash Rate) ought to reduce their likelihood of audits or interventions by FMCSA.

Large_Trucks_Cover_Front-300x287Central to this issue is the determination of what sorts of programs would potentially qualify carriers to get relaxed scrutiny?  If select technologies or products are highlighted, it could be boon to those manufacturers or resellers.

Countering this idea is the notion that fleets who already go beyond the minimum standards in their quest to reduce crashes also already benefit from lower SMS Scores and would fare well under the newly proposed Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rule which would assign an “absolute rating to each carrier, not a relative score as seen today under [the present] CSA [program]”

I would suggest to FMCSA to consider the value of setting up a voluntary certification program (either self-certification through an online application and validation process or one administered by a third party agency such as CVSA, et.al.)

The Transportation Research Board produced a Commercial Truck and Bus Safety synthesis (#12) on “Commercial Motor Vehicle Carrier Safety Management Certification” waaay back in 2007.  We would expect that the article’s findings should remain reasonably consistent over time.

The stated objective of this synthesis report is:

…to (1) document current information on existing commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safety certification, self-evaluation, benchmarking, and best practices programs, (2) identify major common elements and protocols, and (3) critically assess evidence for the crash-reduction effectiveness of the programs….One of the potential applications of safety management certification and self-evaluation programs is as a supplement or alternative to governmental regulatory approaches to carrier safety management. The synthesis specifically examines the possible relationships between (a) results of certification and self-evaluation programs and (b) the more conventional compliance programs.

Synthesis 12Based on these comments, I would think that the entire document would be very pertinent to this present-day discussion.

When I first read this Synthesis article back in 2007, I investigated several of their recommended sources for certification.  Of most interest were the International Organization of Standards (ISO) 9000 certification and the Canadian Standards Association Safety Management System’s standards (“B619-00
Carrier Safety Management Systems”) (Click HERE).

Interestingly, the Minnesota DOT had produced a report as early as 2003 praising ISO 9000’s effects on accident reduction (CLICK HERE).

Trucksafe1Also noted in the original Synthesis report was the Australian Trucking Association’s accreditation program “TruckSafe” (Click HERE) which (as of 2002) had documented that participating, accredited members were “… involved in 40% fewer accidents than non-participating carriers and that participation is also associated with lower worker compensation and maintenance costs

Admittedly, certification programs are not a panacea to permanently solve a fleet’s crash problems. Clearly, a fleet’s management team that becomes dedicated to meeting a higher minimum standard will go through many steps to increase management oversight and control. That stair step improvement process alone would reduce crashes, but could that improved level of performance be sustained indefinitely by merely becoming certified? That’s a good question to ask, but a poor reason to ignore the immediate benefits of certification as a possible mechanism to provide “alternative compliance” with the FMCSRs.

If you are involved with fleet safety, fleet insurance or fleet risk management, I’d urge you to consider the benefit of investigating certification programs — voluntary, self-directed or as part of an association or official standards program.

53 foot trailer

Bridging the Gap for Stronger, Consistent Results

I’ve read a LOT of “Driver Safety” or “Fleet Safety” articles over the course of my 27 year career. They all look the same, they all cover the “basics” or “essentials” in the same way.

And many of them miss the mark in the same way.

You see, they’re not bad articles and the tips are meaningful, but instead fall short in one key area: managing the performance of your fleet drivers on a day to day basis.

The articles typically follow the same outline (highlighting import and valuable steps in the process):

  1. Discuss the need fortop management supportfor the fleet safety program 
  2. Stress the need to have a written, enforced policy statement or handbook  
  3. Plead with the reader about recruiting properly, qualifying prospective hires thoroughly and thoughtfully – following any/all applicable regulations, checking MVRs against a standard criteria
  4. Emphasize the need to “train-train-train” the drivers (before they drive, as they drive and after they crash). 

Then, alarmingly, these authors jump to the end of the story and tell you how:

  1. Incentives may influence drivers to pay more attention to their driving
  2. Drivers need to report crashes,
  3. Supervisors need to investigate the incidents with great attention to detail
  4. Management teams ought to calculate their incident rates and benchmark against peers to see if they’re trending up or down.

Looking at this visually, this is the picture I see in my mind:

Banner Typical safety programMy concern is filling or bridging that gap between thorough qualification and orientation/training processes and calculating results or offering incentives.

There’s a huge gap between the initial approach and the off ramp in that visualization.
In between initial hire and final exit interview should be many years of productive activity; therefore, finding ways to actively manage a group relationship with the cadre of drivers during their tenure as a productive employees becomes critical to leveraging consistent results.

The question may be “so how do I do that?” It can be a huge challenge, especially when we recognize that the drivers are largely away from the office for most of their working day. Further, many technological monitoring tools are both expensive (when you multiply the per vehicle per month cost across a larger fleet of vehicles) and burdensome (separating the “urgently actionable” conclusions from the “background noise” of excessive data).

What’s available in the toolbox to monitor and manage driver relationships, combat safety complacency, and promote proper vigilance or awareness on a daily basis?

  1. Driver Communications Plans: Two-Way communication with drivers through posters, postcards, payroll stuffers, tailgate talks, surveys, polls, small group discussions, newsletters, tailored reminder training, targeted refresher training, etc. (see also – “Driver Communication Plans Part One“, “Driver Communication Plans Part Two“, “Motivating Drivers to Make Safer Choices“; “Holding onto the Best Drivers“; “Driver Incentives“)
  2. Driver observations: ride alongs; commentary drives, drive-behinds, how’s my driving alerts (run stop signs, run red lights, improper weaving/passing, etc.), camera-in-cab recordings (hitting things).
  3. Technology: EOBR, GPS, TeleMatics, ELDs for reporting on vehicle activity such as harsh braking, hard acceleration, swerving, speeding. See also “The Vulnerability of Telematics as a Stand Alone Safety Solution
  4. Periodic or targeted MVR monitoring: more states are providing dynamic (through the course of the year) updates to previously purchased MVRs enabling near-real-time updates of driver scores and status. Other systems enable your team to prioritize select drivers for annual, semi-annual, quarterly, or monthly updates based on risk score. See also “Why Order MVRs“; “Deciphering MVR Profiling“; “Digging into the MVR – For Stronger Results“; “MVRs and Risk Scores“; “Do you know if your drivers are properly licensed“; “Identifying Drivers Who May Be “At-Risk” of Becoming Involved in a Collision: MVR Analysis” (Page 8)

Some fleets pick one of these monitoring/managing practices and run with it. This is certainly better than running bare and hoping for the best, but I’d submit that relying on only one strategy presents a pretty wobbly bridge that sways and flexes a lot. Adding layers builds strength and predictability in the program by covering up gaps that any one program may lack.

For instance,

  • if I were to rely on GPS alone, I wouldn’t know about red light running unless the drivers were stopped and ticketed by the police. GPS systems are not equipped to detect red light running.
  • if I were to rely on camera-in-cabin videos alone, I’d only find out about actual collisions in most cases (most systems rely on a triggering event to save the short loop of video and most drivers realize that by hitting curbs during the “break in period” the management team will adjust the sensitivity to the point where the system becomes a post-incident-event-recorder). This does not invalidate the program nor am I trying to dissuade its use, but as a “stand alone” system it may have a vulnerability.
  • if I were to rely only on driver education without other systems to alert me to actual driver habits, I’d be asking drivers to give up productive drive time to train on topics that may not be a fit to each driver’s own habits.

By combining data inputs from how’s my driving, telematics, cameras, etc. I can tailor the coaching and education to accomplish more in less time: train the right drivers on the right topics at the right time (when they really need it).

Here’s how I see the fleet that prioritizes building layers to give a solid foundation to their fleet safety program:

Banner gap filled program

The other very real advantage to drivers is that by being a benevolent “big brother” the management team has the ability to help them modify habits before incurring violations (which are typically paid out of pocket, influence personal/family insurance costs, and negatively affect future employment prospects).

Most critically, when these layers appropriately target drivers who may be “at-risk” of becoming involved in a collision, there is a greater opportunity for a “compassionate intervention” by management that could prevent a collision with it’s potential for injuries or death.

The authors who’ve published the “high level overview” of fleet safety programs are brilliant professionals with many years of experience — I don’t doubt their knowledge, ability, experience or caring; however, I wonder why we keep seeing so many of the “same” articles that go on for pages about pre-qualification and on-boarding.

If the average tenure of a driver was under a month or two, it would make sense to constantly be replacing and training drivers as your primary day-to-day safety activity, but we know that’s not reality (or shouldn’t be).

Sure there’s turnover, but what are safety managers doing in between that initial driver training class and the next accident investigation?

It seems to me that if a realistic “driver management” program were in place (as suggested by ANSI Z15 and illustrated by the multi-layer program, above), then the safety manager would spend much of his/her time working that program to PREVENT collisions, injuries and moving violations.

Summary

Drivers are bright, caring people doing a difficult job in most circumstances. Likewise, safety managers genuinely care about helping drivers be safe.  We need to be vigilant in all areas of our driver safety programs to be effective.

The missing bridge between effective driver qualification and minimized crash events is an effective driver management program!  Layering multiple data inputs and washing them through a database to deliver “tip of the iceberg” conclusions helps managers focus their time and energy on those drivers who need the most urgent attention on specific topics. As you re-evaluate your current program, look for gaps in developing key data that would be useful in helping zero-in on select drivers for meaningful coaching interventions.

Similarly, ensure that your front line supervisors are versed in conducting positive coaching sessions designed to illustrate the cooperative nature of safety teamwork — drivers and managers working together to be safe instead of playing the “blame game”.

Coaching

CVSA Article on CSA’s “Safety Accomplishments”

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) publishes a periodical called “Guardian”.  In the most recent edition, there is a feature article titled “Three Years of CSA Brings Impressive Safety Accomplishments:  FMCSA Program Engages Stakeholders in Saving Lives”

The article, which can be found in it’s entirety by clicking HERE, lists a series of notable accomplishments:

  • “Data from roadside inspections show motor carriers and drivers have improved their safety compliance.  Additionally, vehicle and driver violations per roadside inspection are on the decline.
  • “…(FMCSA) shut down 52 bus companies and placed 340 operators out of service.  Inspectors targeted these carriers for investigation using the CSA prioritization protocols.
  • “CSA interventions range from warning letters for carriers with emerging problems to Onsite Comprehensive Investigations for carriers with serious compliance issues.
  • “…FMSCA has sent warning letters to more than 86,000 carriers, alerting them to safety performance problems”
  • “Motor carrier awareness is at an all-time high with 68 million visits to the CSA’s Safety Management System (SMS) site – 20 million over the year before and twice the number of visits [from] two years ago.
  • “…data from at least 3.5 million inspections and 130,000 Police Accident Reports fee into the SMS to identify noncompliant and at-risk carriers.

cropped-trucks-highway.jpg

What’s coming next?  The FMCSA is working on two new studies:  one to validate whether the current models are properly prioritizing the carriers with the highest risk to safety, and smc 1the other examines the effectiveness of current interventions — are the interventions having the right impact?  Also scheduled for later this year is the expectation that the Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rule will be published allowing more carriers to be targeted and removed from service.

From a carrier’s perspective, it’s important to be keenly aware of your present BASIC scores, and be working on ways to keep those scores as low as possible.  The Bookend BASICS are key to keeping everything under control (Unsafe Driving and monitoring your Crash Rates).  We’ve previously published articles on these “Bookend BASICs” at this site.

For a complete web site of “all things CSA” — click here — http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/default.aspx

cropped-truck-traffic.jpg

Improving or Maintaining Solid CSA BASIC/SMS Scores

Recently a colleague shared an excellent reminder on how to maintain (or even rehabilitate) SMS/BASIC scores.  It comes from a blog written by Bob Holtzman at Western Truck Insurance.  Here is a LINK to the original article where you’ll find even more helpful suggestions and related articles that should prove interesting.

cropped-trucks-highway.jpg

  • Buckle Up – With long hours on the road it is tempting to leave that seatbelt unbuckled, but this is one easy way to protect yourself. Buckle up as soon as you get into the truck. Make it a habit.
  • Motor Carriers Guide to ImprovingHang Up – Cell phone violations are a big deal. Make a commitment to not use your phone while driving. Instead focus on the road. You can check your text messages and make important phone calls when you come to your next stop.
  • Inspect Yourself – Don’t wait for violations to be discovered at an inspection; inspect yourself. Periodically give yourself a mental inspection and see how you’d do. Are you log books up to date? Is your truck in good repair? Are you speeding? Finding your potential problems before an inspection will give you time to make the needed adjustments and become a safer driver.
  • Check Your Data – When was the last time you used DataQs to check your safety data? Just like you should regularly check your credit score, you should check your Large_Trucks_Cover_Front-300x287safety scores for errors too. If you find any inaccurate information, get it checked and amended. 
  • Educate Yourself – Even the safest drivers can use a little reminder now and then. The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has created an online resource that commercial drivers can use toimprove safety practices. Common driving errors are discussed with tips for improvement. Short video clips are available to further teach Another example of a blended scoreand train. This is a great resource for any commercial driver.
  • Make Safety a Priority – Inspections might catch violations, but if you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do these violations will be few and far between. Focus on safety, not on your scores. When you institute safe driving practices the scores will follow. Safety should be your first priority. It’s more important than getting a load to its destination on time or squeezing in a few extra miles in the day.

cropped-truck-traffic.jpg

Large Truck & Bus Crash Facts – 2011

LTBCS 2011The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has just released the “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2011” report which examines statistics about fatal, injury, and property damage only crashes involving large trucks and buses that occurred during 2011.

This is an annual publication and it is organized into four key chapters:

  1. Trends (compare 2011 against other time periods),
  2. Crashes (counts number of incidents),
  3. Vehicles (counts vehicles in crashes — single versus multiples, etc.), and
  4. People (counts persons of all types (passengers, pedestrians, etc.) involved in crashes).

Highlights from Trends:

  • In 2011, 3,608 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes, a 3-percent increase from 2010. However, from 2008 through 2011 the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes declined by 12 percent. The number of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes declined by 13 percent over the same period.
  • Over the past 10 years (2001 through 2011):
    • The number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes decreased from 4,823 to 3,608, a drop of 25 percent.
    • The number of large trucks involved in injury crashes decreased from 90,000 to 63,000, a drop of 30 percent.
    • The number of large trucks involved in property damage only crashes decreased from 335,000 to 221,000, a drop of 34 percent.

Highlights from Crashes:

  • Of the 273,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks in 2011, 3,341 (1 percent) resulted in at least one fatality, and 60,000 (22 percent) resulted in at least one nonfatal injury.
  • mvr crash sceneSingle-vehicle crashes made up 22 percent of all fatal crashes, 13 percent of all injury crashes, and 21 percent of all property damage only crashes involving large trucks in 2011.
  • Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred on rural roads, and about one-fourth (25 percent) occurred on rural and urban Interstate highways.
  • Thirty-four percent of all fatal crashes, 22 percent of all injury crashes, and 17 percent of all property damage only crashes involving large trucks occurred at night (6:00 pm to 6:00 am).
  • The vast majority of fatal crashes (85 percent) and nonfatal crashes (89 percent) involving large trucks occurred on weekdays (Monday through Friday).

Highlights from Vehicles:

  • Large_Trucks_Cover_Front-300x287Singles (truck tractors pulling a single semi-trailer) accounted for 61 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2011; doubles (tractors pulling two trailers) made up 3 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes; and triples (tractors pulling three trailers) accounted for 0.1 percent of all large trucks involved in fatal crashes.
  • Vehicle-related crash factors were coded for 4 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes and 3 percent of the passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes. Tires was the vehicle-related factor most often coded for both vehicle types.

Highlights from People:

  • Of the 3,757 drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes, 199 (6 percent) were 25 years of age or younger, and 175 (5 percent) were 66 years of age or older. In comparison, 5 (2 percent) of the 232 drivers of buses in fatal crashes were 25 years of age or younger, and 19 (8 percent) were 66 years of age or older.
  • Of the 3,757 drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes, 341 (10 percent) were not wearing a safety belt at the time of the crash; of those, 29 percent were completely or partially ejected from the vehicle. 
  • One or more driver-related factors were recorded for 56 percent of the drivers of Another example of a blended scorelarge trucks involved in single-vehicle fatal crashes and for 29 percent of the drivers of large trucks involved in multiple-vehicle fatal crashes. In comparison, at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 76 percent of the drivers of passenger vehicles (cars, vans, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles) involved in single-vehicle crashes and 52 percent of the passenger vehicle drivers in multiple-vehicle crashes. Speeding was the most often coded driver-related factor for both vehicle types; distraction/inattention was the second most common for large truck drivers, and impairment (fatigue, alcohol, drugs, illness) was the second most common for passenger vehicle drivers

cropped-trucks-highway.jpg

Proposal To Eliminate DVIR when No Defects Discovered

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a press release today, August, 1st announcing a proposal to drastically cut the paperwork and record keeping burden of many motor carriers.  According to the release the proposed rule would maintain safety inspections while eliminating unneeded paperwork that merely documents that “no problems were discovered” during pre and post trip inspections of Commercial Motor Vehicles.

cropped-trucks-highway.jpg

Highlights from the release:

Current federal regulations require commercial truck drivers to conduct pre- and post-trip equipment inspections and file Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs) after each inspection, regardless of whether or not an issue requiring repairs is identified. DVIRs are the 19th-highest paperwork burden, based on the number of hours needed to comply, imposed across all federal agencies and only 5 percent of reports filed include defects.

Under the proposed change announced today, commercial truck drivers would continue conducting pre- and post-trip inspections. However, DVIRs would be required only if defects or deficiencies were discovered by or reported to the driver during the day’s operations.

“We can better focus on the 5 percent of problematic truck inspection reports by eliminating the 95 percent that report the status quo,” said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “Moving to a defect-only reporting system would reduce a significant paperwork burden facing truck drivers and save the industry billions without compromising safety.”

Federal regulations require that every commercial vehicle in the U.S. undergo a thorough annual safety inspection conducted by a certified commercial vehicle mechanic. In addition, state and federal inspectors conduct unannounced, random inspections of commercial vehicles at terminals, weigh stations, truck stops along the roadside and at destinations. Vehicles that fail random safety inspections are immediately placed out of service and not allowed to operate until the identified safety problems are addressed. In 2012, approximately 3.5 million random inspections were conducted.

The FMCSA will collect and review comments on the proposed rule, which is available at: www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/rulemakings/proposed/Driver-Vehicle-Inspection-Report-NPRM.pdf.  If you have an opinion on this proposed change, make sure to be heard!

cropped-truck-traffic.jpg