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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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  • 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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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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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Joe Zingale Joins SafetyFirst Team

PARSIPPANY, NJ; July 19, 2011 – SafetyFirst Systems, provider of various driver safety and fleet safety programs, has named Joe Zingale as its new Vice President of Business Development.

Mr. Zingale, who had been Vice President of Sales at Driver’s Alert, will be in charge of increasing SafetyFirst’s core business while expanding into other markets and offering additional programs through key partner relationships.

“Our company’s core mission is to meet the needs of our customers by offering ways for them to reduce the likelihood of commercial vehicle collisions,” noted Dan Lessnau, President of Sales at SafetyFirst. “Joe’s extensive network of relationships with insurance personnel, safety managers, risk managers and innovative vendors will help us expand product offerings and grow our client base.”

Before joining SafetyFirst, Mr. Zingale spent 17 years at Driver’s Alert in a variety of roles with a special focus on developing relationships with fleet managers, safety directors, and insurance industry professionals from carriers, agencies and brokers.  “If you ask me what I do, I’d have to say ‘find out what clients want and then make it happen!’’ said Mr. Zingale.  “By teaming up with SafetyFirst, I feel empowered to deliver a higher level of customer service and custom program elements than ever before in my career.”

His passion for living comes from his interest in health and fitness as a personal trainer.  Mr. Zingale has pursued outdoor activities and team sports ranging from his involvement in high school and collegiate football as well as active participation in the Boy Scouts of America’s youth leadership program.

Driver-Management Communications Plans (Part 2)

Part Two – Translating Ideas into Practical Steps

I’d imagine that everyone has some form of communication plan that they practice with their drivers. Even if the plan is informal and limited to essential messages, I believe that minor changes could help attain better results. There are a series of “diagnostic questions” that can be asked to help uncover areas that need attention.

The first question is; “How much of your company’s dreams (aka “Goals” or “Expectations”) are shared with drivers?For instance, do you routinely share your company’s:

  • Mission Statement
  • Safety, Quality, Business Goals
  • General Expectations & Disappointments (in the company’s results, not individual driver performance)

 If drivers don’t know your company goals/expectations, they can hardly be expected to help you achieve them by doing anything more than their specific job duties (i.e. merely driving from point A to point B). 

For instance, if your quality team is struggling to reduce shipper complaints, drivers need to understand why that’s important and how they can directly help achieve the goal. Keeping them updated on improvements is one way to involve them further and to recognize their assistance.

The second question is directed at dispatchers, supervisors and administration personnel who deal with drivers on a daily basis. That question is; “How would you complete the following sentence: ‘If there was one thing I wish my drivers would do to help our company, it would be…’” It’s important to stress “our company” and not let them change the sentence to “how can they help ME” (which could be an additional diagnostic question). I am always amazed at how staff members complete that sentence.  In most cases, it uncovers some of the issues that cause tension or friction between “management” and “drivers”.  Equally amazing is the discussion that follows my question; “How many times and how many ways have you mentioned this to the drivers so that they understand how their help would help the company succeed?

The third diagnostic question for the management team is; “Do you know your driver’s expectations or goals?” If you’re assuming you know, you may be sabotaging your results.

The best way to address this is to make the time to talk with drivers one-on-one. A survey may provide a quicker result, but it is impersonal and could mask their real interests. It will take time to get drivers to open up, but it can make a tremendous difference in results.

One way to get your drivers to open up is to ask them to complete the following sentence; “If there was one thing I wish the management team would realize it would be…” Variations work equally well (i.e. “If there were one thing the company could do to really help me be more productive, it would be…” etc.)

As you collect information from drivers you’ll want to see if there are similarities or “shared dreams/concerns/hopes”. When you find patterns, it will help you to address these common concerns openly and with urgency.

Finally, the manner in which drivers relate their expectations and past disappointments will help surface any communication failures or gaps: are they angry and upset or depressed and defeated? If they are expressing anger and frustration, an apology may be part of getting them to listen to your message (i.e. I am sorry that you feel so frustrated, and let me assure you that we are listening). If they are depressed, they may need reassurance to believe that “this time will actually be different”.

Ways to Listen & Be Heard

Getting insight into your company’s perceptions and the driver’s perceptions gives you something to do and talk about that really matters. Structuring opportunities to discuss these issues and attempt to improve operations can be a big task.  

The question you must answer to yourself is; “Am I really better off NOT knowing what’s going on with my drivers, or is the potential reward worth putting in the effort needed to carry off this plan?”  Be honest with yourself – if you’re not going to carry through, you may be better off not starting a plan that will further disappoint your drivers.

Some tips from our clients on getting started:

  • The best communication is face to face, but may not be practical unless the message is URGENT. Scheduling meetings with drivers may be part of the plan, but don’t waste anyone’s time by being ill-prepared.
  • The Orientation/On-Boarding process may present an opportunity to communicate the company mission and goals. It’s also a time to ask questions about their concerns starting at a new company and what they would have changed (if they could have) about their last job.  Just remember, a new hire’s concerns may be very different than those expressed by a driver who has been with your firm for ten or twenty years.
  • Safety training sessions are focused on training, but there may be an opportunity at the start of the session to have a senior manager make introductions and reinforce the company goals and how things are progressing. This can be done in ten minutes or less.
  • Some companies start with a small group of drivers as an informal “committee” to test these ideas and get feedback without involving all drivers initially. Of course, it would be important to set clear expectations that the “group” isn’t setting policy (i.e. acting as management team) but merely offering recommendations
  • Sometimes communication is used to “maintain” relationships: to build on existing messages; to build consistency in message (repeat, repeat, repeat); and to catch message “errors” (misperceptions, misunderstandings) before they spread out to the entire team.
  • Scheduled letter to drivers about progress towards goals (dream fulfillment)
  • Take time to solicit feedback and actually consider the feedback when provided (be sincere). The time you put into listening will encourage drivers.

Topics to Cover?

Once you’ve invested the time to talk with your drivers and learned about their concerns, dreams and goals, you’ll have plenty to talk about. The key is to maintain a balance between talking about your goals (the company’s needs and concerns) and the hopes of the drivers.

Some of the most common topics we’ve heard that combine the concerns of both the company and the drivers:

  • Learning from losses to prevent future ones – expressing compassion towards driver welfare, and highlighting concerns about company costs/disruptions
  • Learning from customer complaints — drivers don’t want to be held responsible for anything out of their control so sharing feedback may lead to creative solutions and ways to satisfy customers. C
  • Compliance with regulations – it is everyone’s responsibility to do their part to comply with DOT, but sometimes each group forgets how they have to work together to schedule medical reviews in a timely fashion, or how roadside inspections are driving the company’s BASICs under CSA.
  • Achieving annual revenue goal – the company must grow to be able to grant raises in rates to drivers, but drivers often hold the key to attracting/retaining profitable customers
  • Upgrading fleet equipment – better equipment can cut maintenance and fuel costs, but drivers may need to help “make things work” with the older equipment before the company can upgrade.

 Summary

Implementing a communications plan isn’t necessarily about publishing a company newsletter or emailing updates to drivers once a quarter (although those may become part of a larger plan).

A communications plan that helps you achieve goals starts with asking questions and sharing expectations. The plan comes into full effect when both groups decide to work together to achieve these goals by working together, and sharing progress updates on a regular basis.

Remember to keep communications clear and to the point. No one has a lot of time to write or read lengthy articles, and it’s important to “keep it simple” – make the point and move on.

Your drivers represent a tremendous resource. They can help your firm achieve its goals or merely collect a check. You have to decide whether to enlist their help to grow your business.

SafetyFirst Systems, LLC specializes in driver/fleet safety issues.  We work with more than 75 insurance providers and most of the Nation’s top fleet operations in a wide range of industries.  We provide monthly driver training packages to our clients and help them reduce their unsafe driving metrics in a measurable, tangible way.  Call or email us to learn how we can help your fleet, too! 1-888-603-6987 or www.safetyfirst.com (“Contact Us” button).