Benchmarking Violation Data

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

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

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

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

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

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

Violatios Table

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

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

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

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

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

Copy of Copy of EDF LOGO (final)

How IS my driving?

UNFI on the roadBased on industry estimates there are several million commercial vehicles (ranging in size/type from SUVs/Vans and Pickups thru tri-axle dumps and tractor trailers) using some sort of “how’s my driving” placard system.

Some of these are internally developed and executed hotlines — where the observer is actually calling the fleet operation directly.

However, most of these hotlines are through a third-party specialist organization that handles all of the administration of:

  • Processing calls on a 24/7/365 basis (instead of dealing with voice mail during “off hours”)
  • Dispatching reports on a timely basis to the correct location supervisor so that he/she can coach the driver promptly
  • Delivering professional driver training materials to help in the coaching process — to focus on a safety “conversation” instead of a disciplinary or fault finding “confrontation”
  • Providing training to supervisors on “how to coach” productively (the goal is to influence drivers to look at their own behaviors and want to be safer tomorrow, not “prove” someone did something wrong)
  • Supporting a “close the loop” process — to track the status of each and every report
  • Providing simple, but valuable management reporting proactively BY EMAIL
  • Providing supplemental driver training modules for the benefit of ALL your drivers (keep them all safety minded).

Did You Know?

  • Eighty percent of all drivers NEVER get a complaint call report during their career?
    • Further, of the twenty percent who do get reports — half get ONLY one and NEVER get another.
    • However, the final group of drivers get call after call after call.
  • Typically these multiple reports focus on common themes — tailgating, following too closely, space management issues, speeding, aggressive driving, etc.
  • Often, the issues raised in the call reports mirror the past violations on the MVR of the affected driver.
  • Sometimes, the call reports actually forecast an imminent collision — in other words, ignore the report and waiting will result in either a violation or preventable crash.

Aren’t these just crank calls?  Motorists with an ax to grind?

  • Our clients investigate each report — even if it’s on a “star” driver or an unusual situation.  They find that only one or two reports out of every hundred are unable to be validated or were not helpful to their own investigation and coaching process.
  • If the reports were from crank callers, the callers would be picking trucks randomly out of the crowd.  The call statistics don’t show a random distribution of calls.  We see 80% of the drivers NEVER get a call, 10% get one (and never another) and 10% get multiples.  So if it’s all made up, why do some drivers get almost all of the reports?
  • Interestingly, the drivers who get multiple call reports have the same sticker as all their peers.
    • Their sticker isn’t larger or bright neon green or offering to pay a bounty for anyone who calls — so why do they get more reports than their peers?
    • Behavior, habits, risk taking, complacency…..call it what you may, but this represents a chance to HELP this driver avoid any future tickets, fines, or crashes.
    • All it takes is a management team willing to have a conversation, sit him/her down for some training, and keep an eye on them in case the training was ignored.

Isn’t this “old fashioned” and being replaced by Hi-Tech?

  • Just because something’s been proven effective and has been around for thirty years doesn’t mean it stops working.
    • Pizza has been on menus for much longer, but it’s still popular.
    • Baseball and Football have been around much longer and they’re still popular — why would something become ineffective just because it’s been around?
  • It is true that there are hi-tech toys and gizmos out there to monitor drivers.
    • They focus on location, idle time, on/off route, raw speed, harsh braking, harsh cornering, aggressive swerving, and harsh acceleration.
    • ultratrack_1_smThese systems can never detect running a red light, speeding through a school zone when children are present, passing a stopped school bus, discourtesy to other drivers, littering, speeding based on “at the moment” conditions of weather, traffic, etc. (and more).
    • They’re good at what they offer and may provide a fleet with great data; however, separating the mountains of “background noise” data from the “urgently actionable” issues requires a full time analyst who is not provided with the system.
    • We already incorporate telematics alerts into our coaching system.  One client recognized a 600% reduction in speeding behaviors by linking the two systems! (Click HERE)
    • These systems are roughly 100 times more expensive than “how’s my driving?”

Capturing Near Miss Data

People who call in a report about risk taking behavior typically do so because they were frightened or angered by what they saw.  Think about your own experience on the highways — you’ve seen risky behavior, but what would motivate you to actually place a call report (hands free!)?  Something that was “almost” a crash, but was, instead, a “near-miss”.

Rarely do we receive calls about trivial situations — typical calls deal with high speed merges, tailgating, weaving in traffic, and other situations that could lead to crashes featuring bodily injuries (not just physical damage).

Because our system self-selects the most egregious behaviors for reports, the number of reports is quite low — only two or three reports per month (per 100 vehicles).  However, the importance of each report is very high.  This is the opposite of telematics systems that produce mountains of paperwork and you’ve got to locate the needle in the haystack.

Here’s another way to look at this approach:

Pyramid 2011 for blog

 

Closing the Loop

Our clients have an aggregate close out rate of 80% — that means almost every report is investigated to the point that a definitive management action has been instituted.

Another example of a blended scoreFurther, several studies have conclusively shown that this coaching process (without video training or online training) has been the key to unlocking significant crash reduction results (10–30% fewer crashes than without the hotline program in place.)

So, now that we’ve been producing brief (5-7 minute) reminder videos for our online Learning Management System (LMS) we expect even stronger loss reduction results.

The first five remedial/refresher videos were produced in both English and Spanish (for use with non‐regulated fleets), and cover the following topics:

  1. Tailgating
  2. Improper Lane Change
  3. Honoring the Right of Way
  4. Driving Too Fast for Conditions
  5. Running Red Lights / Stop Signs

These five topics cover roughly 80% of all Motorist Observation Reports (MORs) generated at SafetyFirst, and a similar emphasis on moving violations.

We are in the process of releasing additional topics based on MOR trends, client recommendations and the level of enthusiastic adoption of the videos within our client base.

As of September 1, 2013:

  1. Exceeding the Speed Limit (dealing with GPS alerts!)
  2. Aggressive Driving
  3. Distracted Driving (Cell Phone/Text)
  4. Drowsy Driving
  5. Faulty Equipment
  6. Drug/Alcohol Use
  7. Driving Too Slowly for Conditions (Impeding Traffic)

Summary

Driving Too Fast PPTWhether a regulated fleet or not, our program offers a range of benefits worth considering — it’s very low cost, includes a monthly training package, urgent alerts about near miss events, coaching and re-training emphasis (instead of fault finding or blaming) and the ability to run your drivers through very brief, but highly motivational online training modules.

We’re already the industry leader in driver safety programs for:  Arborists/GreenCare, Social Service Providers, Municipalities, Pest Control, HVAC, Electrical Contractors, Beverage Delivery, Telecommunications, Food Processing and Distribution, Specialty Contractors, Construction, Auto Parts Wholesale and Retail, Retail (Direct Delivery) and more!

Why not check us out?

1-888-603-6987

NEw logo

 

Digging into the MVR – For Stronger Results

LINK — Digging into the MVR – All That’s Trucking – TruckingInfo.com.

There’s no question that fleets need to review driver abstracts (or Motor Vehicle Reports – MVRs) on their drivers to identify any trend or pattern in past moving violations.  The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has connected the links between receiving a violation and increased risk of subsequent collision in two studies that were reported on this blog in the past – HERE.

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

Since not all violations represent the same level of risk taking, targeting specific types of violations would be expected to further enhance the results.  The ATRI study showed that the occurrence of JUST one of the following moving violations dramatically increased the likelihood of becoming involved in a crash by the following amount:

  • Failure to use or improper turn signal: 96%

  • Improper passing: 88%

  • Improper turn: 84%

  • Improper or erratic lane change: 80%

In comparison, speeding more than 15 mph over the speed limit — which most safety mangers would likely target as a clear indicator of a risky driver — increased the overall crash risk by only 67%.

Our E-DriverFile platform can instantly risk score and rank your fleet of drivers based on multiple data points — telematics alert history, violation history, crash history, automated enforcement violations, and even positives such as recently completed training or other factors that might tend to reduce the risk of becoming involved in a collision.

If you’re still ordering MVRs manually, or have a vendor that can’t do bulk orders, or must manually re-score each driver’s data points, consider our system’s capabilities.

In addition to MVRs, we can expand the program to cover crash reporting, DQ File maintenance, non-regulated driver policy compliance, online storage and completion of forms/files and even provide refresher training in the form of five minute, laser-focused topics that remind drivers of what they should already know and be doing.

Our system was initially deployed in May 2000, a full two years prior to any other driver risk management system on the internet.  Additionally, our program always included vehicle files in addition to driver files — no additional cost!

Our typical client has between 2,500 and 10,000 drivers, but we’ve worked with clients that have as few as several hundred drivers, too.  We work with motor coach operators, intermodal trucking companies, telecom, power generation and distribution, food and beverage, non-profit agencies, retail store chains and wholesale suppliers.

Contact us, toll free, at 1-888-603-6987 for an info packet or a demonstration.

CSA Operation Quick Strike – Who’s Next?

Motor Carriers Guide to ImprovingFollowing a series of tragic, high-profile motor coach crashes, the CSA set out to target the passenger carrying industry with a “quick strike” round of targeted audits.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made this announcement back in February, summarizing their intent to intervene with “high risk” bus companies as part of a “national safety sweep”.

Teams of auditors were specially trained by early April and out on the roads visiting carriers whose scores indicated a potential safety threat to the public.

A May 3rd press release states:

“Bus companies across the U.S. should know that if they put the traveling public at risk, we will put them out of business,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We will not tolerate bus companies disregarding safety regulations that protect the traveling public from harm.”

Today’s action marks the fifth shutdown of a passenger carrier following the deployment earlier this month of more than 50 specially trained safety investigators targeting high-risk passenger carriers. In the past ten days, FMCSA investigators have shut down bus companies in the District of Columbia, Georgia, Ohio and New York. Since the beginning of 2013, FMCSA has shut down a total of 12 bus companies and seven trucking companies. The agency has also declared three commercial driver’s license holders as imminent hazards, blocking them from operating in interstate commerce.

This is good news.  The CSA is putting teeth into enforcing its rules against those carriers that amount to scofflaws — ignoring their responsibilities to adhere to minimum standards of safety performance.

ALERT CSAIn a recent article by Overdriveonline.com, they quote an FMCSA official speaking on background who noted “…that truck fleets could be certain that lessons learned from the experience also would be applied to them – and sooner than later.

Further, the article states:

Agency Transportation Specialist Courtney Stevenson outlined the parameters that define “high-risk” carriers relative to the Compliance, Safety, Accountability compliance ranking system for attendees of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance workshop April 22 in Louisville, Ky. “FMCSA has a congressional mandate that we investigate high-risk motor carriers,” she said. A high-risk carrier is one “that has a Crash or Hours of Service or Unsafe Driving [Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category, or BASIC, ranking] greater than 85, plus another BASIC” above the intervention/alert threshold. And, she added, “any company with four or more BASICs” above threshold is also considered high-risk. Carriers that meet these standards, the agency says, show crash involvement rates double the national average…

A carrier is high-risk if

  1. Its ranking in the Unsafe Driving, Hours of Service Compliance or Crash Indicator BASIC exceeds 85 and
  2. It has a ranking above intervention/ alert threshold in one other BASIC.

Or…

  • It has rankings above intervention/ alert threshold in four or more SMS BASICs.

A link to the full overdriveonline article can be found HERE.

Summary

All regulated fleets should be monitoring their CSA BASICs on a consistent basis — challenging any incorrect data and working closely with their operators to minimize the number of violations received for either unsafe driving or vehicle deficiencies.

The use of performance monitoring systems like How’s My Driving, telematics, and camera systems can have a positive influence on violation rate and crash rates, but only if the data developed from those systems is taken seriously and used with urgency to coach drivers on their behaviors in a productive, compassionate manner.

Coaching programs are seldom supplied by technology providers since they are experts at engineering and electronics, but coaching requires a soft-skill connection to become effective.

Coaching Tips TitleTranslating data into behavior change doesn’t have to be difficult, and that’s why we have partnered with safety managers from our 3800 fleet customers to build a supervisory training program on how to conduct effective coaching sessions for our How’s My Driving program.  SafetyFirst’s training was the first developed back in 1998 and has been continuously revised each year since.  Available to current customers, the DVD and online, interactive versions have been extremely popular and effective.

SafetyFirst deals with operator safety programs:  accident reduction, telematics, safety hotlines, MVR profiling, DQF online systems and more.  “Best In Class” solution for the insurance industry with a network of more than 75 providers, and working with 3,800 active fleet clients in a variety of programs.

http://www.edriverfile.com

http://www.safetyfirst.com

1-888-603-6987 toll free

Why Order & Review MVRs on Drivers?

There are many reasons for employers and insurers to obtain the driving history of operators — called a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) by some or Driver’s Abstract by others — the history report summarizes recent violation activity, and confirms the current status of the license — valid, suspended or revoked (just because a license is revoked doesn’t mean that an operator won’t posses the physical license — while they should surrender the document, they might hold on to it for varied reasons).

An employer that permits operators to drive on company business without proper qualification of that operator’s skills and privilege status exposes themselves to various theories of legal liability in the event of a collision.  Negligent Entrustment, Negligent Supervision, Negligent Hiring, Vicarious Liability, and Respondeat Superior are just a few of the terms that could be tossed around following a crash depending on the specific circumstances. 

Many of these issues were covered in an article titled “Road Safety and the Law — When Is a License Check Not Enough?” Originally published by CPCU Society, theRoad Safety and The Law article gives a succinct review of legal theories and concerns for employers of drivers.  If you’d like to review the article, (click here).

Another great resource for “why to pull MVRs” can be found at the Insurance Services Office — (Click Here)

In addtion to those references, we wanted to call your attention to a recent study that was published by the California DMV.  The study provides a renewed perspective on the critical nature of simply validating that an operator has been licensed to drive (is NOT Un-Licensed) and that their credentials are not Suspended or Revoked (S/R). 

The study, entitled Fatal Crash Rates for Suspended/Revoked and Unlicensed Drivers, found that compared to licensed drivers, suspended/revoked and unlicensed drivers are nearly three times more likely to cause a fatal crash.  Additionally, unlicensed drivers tend to be more hazardous than suspended/revoked drivers.  Examining crash data over a 23-year period, the study found that the at-fault crash risk of suspended/revolved and unlicensed drivers has not decreased over time.

Among the Report’s Key Findings:

  • Compared to validly licensed drivers, suspended/revoked (S/R) and unlicensed drivers are 2.60 and 2.73 times more likely to cause a fatal crash relative to their exposure.
  • The study results provide strong evidence that S/R and unlicensed drivers are much more hazardous on the road than are validly licensed drivers. Compared to licensed drivers, those who drive without a valid license are nearly three times more likely to cause a fatal crash relative to their exposure.
  • Unlicensed drivers tend to be more hazardous than S/R drivers.
  • The at-fault overinvolvement rate for unlicensed drivers did not change systematically following enactment on January 1, 1994 of California Vehicle Code Section 12801.5, which prevents issuance of a driver license to individuals who cannot provide the required documentation to show that their presence in California is authorized under federal law.
  • The annual fatal crash involvement ratios range from 0.81 to 0.91 for validly licensed drivers, 1.44 to 4.29 for S/R drivers, and 1.60 to 3.50 for unlicensed drivers, respectively, over the 23-year time period studied. The fact that the rates for S/R and unlicensed drivers exceeded 1.0 in every year indicates that these drivers were consistently more likely to be at-fault than to be innocent in their crashes.
 
mvr crash sceneThe risks of crash involvement and subsequent litigation posed to an employer of operators who are either unlicensed or Suspended/Revoked are huge.  Requiring employees (and any other permitted drivers such as spouse, child, independent contractor using your vehicle) to supply a license and give consent to allow their MVR to be obtained/reviewed is a great step in reducing the potential for crashes. 
 
Once the MVRs are obtained showing the license status (i.e. valid, suspended, revoked, etc.) you may want to closely review the number, frequency and types of violations reported to see that some drivers have a greater tendency to receive violations than other drivers.  The relative risk of two drivers — both driving similar equipment on a similar number of miles — where one gets multiple violations over the course of time and the other receives none is less likely to do with luck than behavior/habits.  After all, driving faster than the speed limit is the number one cause of getting a speeding ticket! 

Many employers have devised a risk scoring system to evaluate the number of and “severity” of various violations.  Many hold drunk driving out as an example of egregious behavior while some permit multiple speeding tickets to accrue before refresher training is required.  What works at one employer may not be a fit for your firm depending on the specifics of your operation (i.e. cross-country trucking versus pest control services — each operates in different settings and may have different concerns).

Dump Paper Reporting — Consider A Managed Data System Instead

Traditionally, employers obtained paper reports on each driver — often with varied state Blended Risk Scorecodes, state violation descriptions and state-based “point systems”. 

This diversity of reporting made the analysis of driver records tedious and subject to errors by employers. 

To compare one driver’s history from Oregon to another based in Texas required translating the paper report into a consistent format for codes, descriptions and points. 

Very recently, managed solutions are being deployed to automate the process for employers.  These systems can:

  • Specialized reporting, including blended scoring using telematics data, how’s my driving data, preventable crashes, et.al.
  • prioritize the frequency of MVR orders based on driver risk score (more frequent MVRs for drivers with more activity)
  • Pre-Order “data scrubbing” to minimize “couldn’t complete request” charges from states (i.e. catch format issues, missing DOB, illegal punctuation marks, etc.)
  • driver renewables reporting (i.e. license renewal alerts, DOT qualifications such as medicals, refresher training certification alerts, etc.)
  • integration of state-driven, proactive reporting of alerts (i.e. California EPN, New York LENS, et.al.)
  • increase consistency in formatting, points, descriptions, et.al. (Up-to-date AAMVA ACD Coding for all 50 states, Canadian translation to ACD, etc.)
  • deliver faster results (*instant turnaround and scoring in many cases)
  • improve compliance with applicable state and federal regulations,
  • streamline mandatory (State driven) file audits
  • manage by exception and radically cut the administration burdens of your staff
  • set roles and responsibilities for management users — by territory, by job function
  • email alerts for exceptions
  • Integration with your HR platform for hires/fires updating automatically (available for larger employers)
  • Automate your orders, order one-by-one, or use our flexible batch/group ordering process to run hundreds at a time!

Unlike earlier “do it yourself” systems that only charge a transaction fee to connect to the state and obtain a paper report, the new systems which provide managed services support typically charge a database or services fee on a per driver basis in addition to the transaction fee.  Still, the ability to consolidate all the reporting and get consistently formated data sets make the investment highly worthwhile.

Summary

The risk of letting even one driver “fall through the cracks” of a paper based system put the public at risk of a preventable collision.  Obtaining an MVR used to be a tedious task, but a necessary one.  Now, with managed services, the system can be tailored to your own point system and incorporate additional data sources like telematics alerts, EOBR data, and more.  The real question isn’t should we, but can we afford not to subscribe to a managed service?

“E-DriverFile” and “My Driver’s Data” are two managed service programs provided by SafetyFirst Systems. 

Copy of Copy of EDF LOGO (final)E-DriverFile provides expanded solutions for crash reporting, training tracking, DOT compliance support and other features.  

The “My Driver’s Data” system is a bare bones approach to managed services for employers who “only want to do MVRs” and nothing else.  It provides a robust platform for delivering results without the added costs of the “full” E-DriverFile program.

If you’re struggling to manage your MVR program, want to explore what’s possible now with the new systems, or have a need to start building an MVR program from scratch, give us a call (@ 1-888-603-6987).  While most of our direct subscriber clients have more than 1000 MVR pulls per year, we are also working to make our systems available through participating insurance providers as part of their “value added” services (you have to pay for the MVRs directly per FCRA/DPPA regulations, but the service platform expense may be covered by participating insurers).

“One for the road” – Alcohol Impairment

NOTE: This article is part of a series investigating the definition of “impaired driving” as it occurs in society, traffic safety and driver safety professional networks.

Of the most common ways a driver can impair their own ability to drive is to choose to consume alcohol before getting behind the wheel.  In fact, this is a world-wide phenomenon.  According to the Global Road Safety Partnership (Link),

“In high-income countries about 20% of fatally injured drivers have excess alcohol in their blood, while in some low- and middle-income countries these figures may be up to 69%.” (from “Drinking and Driving: an international good practice manual”)

Here in the USA, we have an annual fatality rate of roughly 32% from drinking and driving.  Granted this is much improved since the 1970’s when it was as high as 50% (and even 40% as recently as 2003 per National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – NHTSA) These reductions were due largely to:

  • Changes in laws
  • Aggressive enforcement
  • Community involvement
  • Public awareness
  • Educational programs targeting the youth of our country

Unfortunately, as a nation, we seem to have hit a plateau over the past decade where further declines have been halted.

It’s a sobering reality to contemplate that we continue to record an alcohol fueled traffic fatality every 51 minutes despite our best efforts to curb these behaviors.

Patterns of Deep Seated Behavior?

In reviewing recent research and statistics on alcohol and driving, we find that out of 1.5 million arrests of impaired drivers each year, about a full third are repeat offenders.  Additionally, the Insurance Information Institute issued an update in September showing that first-time offenders are very likely to have driven drunk before their first arrest.  Further, studies suggest that on average, one arrest is made for every 88 instances of driving over the legal limit; therefore we have to wonder if the average first-timer has driven drunk 80+ times before getting caught. (Link to source)

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) reminds us that while alcohol related crashes happen at all hours, they peak at night and are more common on weekends than on weekdays.  This suggests a link between parties and crashing on the way home, but it’s not the whole picture.  Alcohol still plays a role at all other times on the calendar and clock.

When we combine the fact that most “drunk drivers” have a pattern of drinking and driving, and that while most crash on weekends, the choice to get behind the wheel while buzzed is primarily a judgment call, not one of convenience, conscience or mere location (i.e. the behavior of the weekend partier carries that judgment to the business vehicle during the week even if the alcohol is left behind).

Latest Trending – Binge Drinking

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that most alcohol-impaired drivers binge drink.  Binge drinking is a behavior where large quantities of alcohol are consumed in a short period of time with the purpose of becoming drunk as quickly as possible.

CDC further indicates that most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics in general.  They may be ordinary people who want to escape their normal routine, “have fun” or simply “get blitzed.”  Consider the following statistics from a January 2012 report:

  • More than half of the alcohol adults drink is consumed while binge drinking.
  • Age group with most binge drinkers: 18-34 years
  • Age group that binge drinks most often: 65+ years
  • Income group with most binge drinkers: more than $75,000
  • Income group that binge drinks the most often and drinks most per binge: less than $25,000

Binge drinking may be a sign that:  the person is unable to cope with other stressors in their life, it could affect more than just driving (i.e. job performance, workers comp injuries, customer complaints, etc.).  All in all, this may also signal a need for the employee to take advantage of an Employee Assistance Program if one is available to them.

Wrong Way Crashes and Links to Alcohol Impairment

On December 11, 2012, an Associated Press article was released which stated:

“Hundreds of people are killed each a year when drivers turn the wrong-way into the face of oncoming traffic on high-speed highways, and a majority of the crashes involves drivers with blood alcohol levels more than twice the legal limit, a federal accident researcher said Tuesday.

“The board’s study analyzed data from 1,566 crashes from 2004 to 2009, as well as nine wrong way collisions NTSB directly investigated. In 59 percent of the accidents, wrong-way drivers had blood alcohol levels more than twice the legal limit, researchers said. In another 10 percent of the crashes, drivers had alcohol levels between .08 and .14. The limit in most instances is .08.”

“Often the chain of events begins with drivers entering an exit ramp in the wrong direction, making a U-turn on the mainline of a highway or using an emergency turnaround through a median, investigators said.”

“To address the problem, the board is considering recommending all states require convicted first-time drunken-driving offenders use ignition interlock devices that test their breath for alcohol concentration in order to drive. The devices, mounted on the vehicle’s dashboard, prevent the engine from starting if the driver’s alcohol concentration is too high. Seventeen states already have such a requirement.”

Legal “Profiling”

In California, driver abstracts (aka motor vehicle reports or driver violation histories) that get issued to insurers automatically include any Driving Under the Influence (DUI) violations from the past ten years.  This was done to ensure that a past recipient of a DUI conviction would not qualify for a “good driver discount.”  Even though other types of violations can “fall off” or be “grandfathered”, DUIs are a much more indelible mark on a driver’s record.

From an employer’s perspective, there is a risk in voluntarily handing keys to a driver who has previously been convicted because of “negligent supervision”, “negligent entrustment” and similar legal theories.  Of course, employers might provide keys to company equipment if required by court order, if an “interlock ignition” system is installed or if any license restrictions allow commuting to the worksite (and don’t require the transport of passengers or other riders).

Commercial Drivers and Alcohol

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published regulations affecting drivers who hold a Commercial Drivers License (CDL).  Initially, a substance abuse testing program was launched in 1989 to cover certain controlled substances, but expanded in 1994 to include alcohol testing requirements.

The testing, along with enforcement initiatives and educational factors have made an impact.  In 1990, 2.8% of all drivers of heavy trucks who died in crashes had a BAC of 0.08 or greater.  By 2010, that percentage had dropped to 1.8%.  This compares favorably to drivers of passenger cars:  1990 = 28.9% and 2010 = 23.2% (these percentages are also similar to drivers of light-duty trucks).  This information is from the “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2010” (FMCSA-RRA-12-023, August 2012)

Here are some highlights from the FMCSA’s own website:  http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/topics/drug/engtesting.htm

  1. Who do these rules apply to (besides CDL holders, specifically)?
    1. Examples of drivers and employers that are subject to these rules are (the following does not represent a complete listing):
      1. Anyone who owns or leases commercial motor vehicles
      2. Anyone who assigns drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles
      3. Federal, State, and local governments
      4. For-Hire Motor Carriers
      5. Private Motor Carriers
      6. Civic Organizations (Disabled Veteran Transport, Boy/Girl Scouts, etc.)
      7. Churches
  2. WHAT ALCOHOL USE IS PROHIBITED?
    1. Alcohol is a legal substance; therefore, the rules define specific prohibited alcohol-related conduct. Performance of safety-sensitive functions is prohibited:
      1. While using alcohol.
      2. While having a breath alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or greater as indicated by an alcohol breath test.
      3. Within four hours after using alcohol.
    2. In addition, refusing to submit to an alcohol test or using alcohol within eight hours after an accident or until tested (for drivers required to be tested) are prohibited.
  3. WHAT ALCOHOL TESTS ARE REQUIRED?
    1. The following alcohol tests are required:
      1. Post-accident – conducted after accidents on drivers whose performance could have contributed to the accident (as determined by a citation for a moving traffic violation) and for all fatal accidents even if the driver is not cited for a moving traffic violation.
      2. Reasonable suspicion – conducted when a trained supervisor or company official observes behavior or appearance that is characteristic of alcohol misuse.
      3. Random – conducted on a random unannounced basis just before, during, or just after performance of safety-sensitive functions.
      4. Return-to-duty and follow-up – conducted when an individual who has violated the prohibited alcohol conduct standards returns to performing safety-sensitive duties. Follow-up tests are unannounced. At least 6 tests must be conducted in the first 12 months after a driver returns to duty. Follow-up testing may be extended for up to 60 months following return to duty.

SUMMARY

The problem of drinking and driving is a significant contributor to road deaths despite improving results over the past four decades.  While we never make light of the emerging threat of electronic distractions, there remains a significant difference between these two conditions:

  • Distracted drivers can drive well, but choose to ignore their duty
  • Alcohol-impaired drivers can’t drive well because they’re physically or “medically” unfit for the duty, but choose to drive anyway

In reality, neither should get behind the wheel if they’re going to impair themselves, and yet both boldly choose to endanger themselves and other drivers despite the warnings and pleadings of safety professionals and the public at large.

As a nation, we’ve called for a complete ban on hand-held cell conversations and texting-while-driving, but it feels like we haven’t (recently or as loudly) called for true zero-tolerance of drinking and driving with the same fervor.  

As an employer, consider a timely review of your policies covering drinking and driving. Perhaps its time to remind your employees of your expectations — after all, you’re also expressing genuine concern for their wellness and safety by curbing the notion that buzzed driving is somehow OK — it isn’t.

Within your own family, talk with teens and seniors, moms and dads — everyone who drives should be reminded that the choices we make have direct and significant consequences.  Calling a cab (or mom and dad) for a ride is a far better choice than hoping for the best, or feeling lucky.

Join the conversation at our Linked In discussion site or our facebook page.

SafetyFirst provides automated MVR checking/ranking services, fleet policy consulting, access to tailored telematics that actually “fit” your company and it’s unique needs.  Validated best in class for reducing collision claims among insurance carriers and world-class safety organizations in every SIC division.
 

Severe Obesity as a form of Impaired Driving?

NOTE: This article is part of a series investigating the definition of “impaired driving” as it occurs in society, traffic safety and driver safety professional networks.

A recent study searched for links between a driver’s Body Mass Index (BMI – a key measure to determine clinical obesity in people) and their crash rate.  The findings were preliminarily published in “ScienceNOW” (Link) on October 26th of this year.

The study focused on commercial drivers who typically deal with long hours, a sedentary lifestyle punctuated with brief intervals of physical activity and a lot of stressful situations over scheduling and traffic.  Also linked to these drivers are very irregular sleep patterns and typically a deficient amount of quality sleep.

Due to the amount of miles driven, commercial operators are predisposed to crashes and many of these are already linked to fatigue, drowsiness and medical issues.

Two years ago, the research team focused on driver height and weight as factors in crash occurrence.  The height and weight can be used to derive BMI:  BMI greater than 25 is considered “overweight”; greater than 30 is considered “obese”; and greater than 35 has been labeled “severely obese” by the study.

During their first 2 years on the road, drivers in the study group with a BMI higher than 35 (“severely obese”) were 43% to 55% more likely to crash than were drivers with a normal BMI, the team reports in the November issue of Accident Analysis & Prevention (Link).

The specific causal reasons have not been clearly documented and speculation is focused on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), limited agility and fatigue associated with other medical factors other than OSA.

There are a range of medical issues that can cause a driver to become disqualified as a “Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator” under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).   Presently, a person with severe obesity might be at elevated risk of developing some of the conditions that could lead to disqualification, but the simple weight or BMI of a person has no direct connection to qualification as expressed in Part 391.41. 

Additionally, the link between crashes and supposed causes (in this case BMI over 35) does not constitute grounds for disqualification; however, it may be a warning sign that drivers, their employers, health providers and EAP program administrators should be working in concert to manage a BMI greater than 35 downward to a lower number where feasible (if not for crash reductions, then for the many well documented health benefits of maintaining a lower BMI). 

Driving a commercial vehicle for a living presents special challenges, but comes with added responsibilities, too.  It’s a difficult challenge for many drivers to get the help and relief they need to make consistent lifestyle changes.  If they could, they’d benefit directly and if the study mentioned above is representative of all drivers, then we’d see potentially lower crash rates, too.

Stay tuned for more articles examining the issue of “impaired driving” in its many forms.

SafetyFirst provides a range of driver safety programs to more than 3,800 active fleet clients and through a network of more than 75 insurance providers. 

Our programs range from MVRs to hotline reports — all designed to identify specific drivers with specific habits that should be “brought to the front of the line” to get help from their supervisors immediately.  This compassionate intervention in a timely fashion has been documented to reduce crash rates by 20 to 30% without expensive telematics devices that cost 100 times more per vehicle per month than our proprietary program.

However, we also embrace technology and have helped our clients better leverage their telematics investments.  In one case, we worked with a client to design and implement an enhanced coaching program that reduced the actual behavior that triggers telematic speed alertsThey dropped the alerts by 600% in the first year.

MVRs as a Lifespan Predictor?

 Recently, LexisNexis and RGA Reinsurance Company completed a study of more than 7.4 million motor vehicle records (MVRs).  Among other observations, they found that:

  • Individuals with major violations, such as alcohol-related infractions and excess speeding, have all-cause mortality that is 70 percent higher than individuals who do not.
  • The presence of six or more driving violations on an MVR elevates an individual’s all-cause mortality by 80 percent.
  • Individuals with a high number of major driving violations represent the worst risks.

Interestingly this study was conducted to gain insights into how to more accurately gauge the right price for life insurance, and how to do so more efficiently than using current, conventional practices.  From their study:

For instance, a 45-year old male seeking a $250,000 policy may not appear to live a risky lifestyle and, based on medical and financial reports, may even qualify as a preferred risk. Yet, according to our research, men between the ages of 41-50 with multiple major violations on their MVRs have an all-mortality rate that is nearly twice that of a driver with a clean record. Based on this study, MVRs are a suitable indicator of all-cause mortality, and they offer positive protective value for all ages and genders.

How did we get here?

The study cross tabulated 7.4 million MVRs with 73,000 death reports from the Social Security Death Master File (SSDMF) and then normalized the data to compensate for potential under-reporting of deaths in the SSDMF.

Individuals were distinguished based on whether they had clean records, minor violations or major violations on their MVRs. To avoid bias, major violations were pre-defined by RGA, and include infractions such as alcohol- or substance related infractions, excess speeding, and reckless or negligent driving.

The study examined the relationship between all-cause mortality and MVRs according to three segmentations:

  • Results by MVR severity (On average, having a major violation elevated an individual’s all-cause mortality by 71 percent.)
  • Results by number of violations (It was found that the more violations on an individual’s MVR, the higher their relative mortality ratio. In particular, individuals with 2–5 violations  experienced 24 percent higher mortality, and those with six or more violations experienced 79 percent higher mortality ratios)
  • Results by number of major violations (Results showed that individuals with a high number of major driving violations represent the worst risks. Having just one major violation on an MVR elevates an individual’s all-cause mortality by 51 percent; with four or more violations, their mortality is more than twice that of individuals without major violations.)

 Can we project any further (if generalized and speculative) conclusions?

  • If MVR violation history is such an indicator of mortality, then would MVR data have a relationship to health care costs or the likelihood of being injured on or off of the job? 
  • Would Usage Based Insurance (using electronic reporting devices linked to your car or truck) be of similar value to rating your life insurance policy or helping you improve your healthcare deductible?
  • What’s the net effect of changing your behaviors through driver education and performance monitoring (i.e. use of UBI devices to modify your habits in order to obtain a lower rate on your car insurance – would this translate to leading a longer life than if you had not modified your lifestyle?)

If you’d like to review the source white paper, visit: http://lexisnexis.com/risk/downloads/whitepaper/MVR-mortality.pdf

If you’d like to learn more about our proprietary blended risk scoring that incorporates multiple data sources (i.e. MVR data from states/provinces; telematics; collision data; Motorist Observation Reports, et.al.) give us a call or send us an email!

Are your ACD Codes up to date?

When viewing state MVRs it quickly becomes obvious that each state has unique conviction reporting language and codes inherent to their motor vehicle statutes and specific violation language. Additionally, each state has its own point system that links to suspension of driving privileges.

Since states must communicate with one another and with the National Driver Register (NDR) regarding commercial drivers, problem drivers, and out-of state actions, the question is—how do states know what the conviction codes from other states mean and how do they translate this information into their own language and code set?  In short, how do they make sense of the data if there are fifty standards?

The answer is the states utilize the AAMVA Code Dictionary (ACD) as a translation table. The primary function of the ACD Codes is to enable to the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) to exchange convictions and withdrawals. Other applications use the codes, such as the Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS), knowing that the ACD Codes are defined for CDLIS.

Fleet managers, safety directors, and human resources teams depend on accurate reporting of MVR data tied to ACD codes.  This enables a fair evaluation of a driver’s history against a set standard within their organization.  This evaluation will typically lead to refresher training and could lead to discipline or removal of driving privileges. 

Because of the seriousness of this evaluation, it’s important that the process be consistent and fair.

The AAMVA periodically updates their ACD code listing to reflect changes in the traffic citation “marketplace” — for instance, “Texting While Driving” or “M85” was recently added to the dictionary of codes.

If your MVR scoring/evaluation system doesn’t tie directly to the master list of ACD codes, you may be missing or mis-classifying violations.  Worse, if you depend on a person* to “interpret” violations being posted back from the states and/or provinces, how do you know that they’re being coded correctly?  *(what about multiple service reps working on your account — does “Joe” interpret violations differently than “Sally”?)

Your drivers deserve every opportunity to receive training based on these codes since the codes are tied to specific behaviors.  When violations are coded improperly, you may be missing opportunities to help drivers correct their habits. 

On the other hand, when your MVR system is working well, you can influence the probability of preventing collisions or even getting additional violations. 

This can impact your BASICs for unsafe driving and crash rates if you’re a regulated carrier, or simply boost your profitability if you’re a non-regulated fleet.

There are many providers of MVR data out there.  If you’re checking MVRs to simply fulfill a policy or program statement (without considering the data quality, or without using the data to instigate corrective training), any provider will suffice.  If you’re interested in helping drivers become aware of potential habits that are leading them towards collisions, then data quality and reporting are critical to success.  Advanced systems that do more than deliver an MVR result may prove helpful — does your system also:

  • tag and remind you proactively when licenses are about to expire?
  • link driver evaluations to training systems?
  • link driver’s MVR data to preventable crash history, telematics alerts, motorist observation reports or other indicators for a blended risk score?
  • assist in complying with FMCSR if your fleet is regulated?
  • assist in tying varied company events to a blended score?
  • link data from automated enforcement agencies to your driver’s account?
  • reconcile and maintain your consent forms tied to each state and each driver account?
  • offer e-consent in those states which support e-consent?

If you’re interested in a system that does more than post back a data file (that may or may not be accurate), then check out E-DriverFile or give us a call at 1-888-603-6987.

New MVR Reporting Features Added to E-DriverFile

Based on dialog with our clients, we’ve introduced several new enhancements to our MVR services platform, called E-DriverFile.

Background:

E-DriverFile is a risk management information system that was initially developed in early CY2000 to help fleets manage driver and vehicle specific data. 

Designed for both regulated and non-regulated fleets, it was the originator of the “anniversary reminder alert by email” concept for driver management.   When a driver (or vehicle) has an impending anniversary (expiration date) for something like a license, registration, insurance, permit, etc. the system automatically sends a reminder report to the location manager as a “to do” list of compliance issues.

As the location manager updates each item by typing in the new anniversary date, the system adjusts the reminder notice accordingly.  If the issue isn’t dealt with in a timely fashion, the report escalates to higher levels of management.

In 2004, clients asked us to incorporate MVR ordering.  This enabled them to set a triggering date (such as date of birth or date of hire, etc.) to have our system initiate the request for a new MVR on that driver.  Initially, the system only handled the request, but later on we also handled the input of the response from the state as more states began delivering “granular data” instead of paper reports.

Now, the MVR function almost overshadows the other features (i.e. DQ file management, automatic reconciliation of driver’s annual review, training updates, et.al.) since it’s so convenient and easy to run thousands of MVRs based on:  location, driver’s risk score (order high risk driver’s MVRs more frequently), division, date, etc.

NEW ENHANCEMENTS:

Recently we introduced two new enhancements:

  1. Clients asked for the ability to “time travel” and see a given driver’s risk score as it appeared on that date in time. Since our system automatically calculates scoring based on the tenure of convictions, telematics reports, MORs, and preventable collisions, it can be helpful to provide more than the default view (score as of today) by enabling an instant re-calculation based on any date provided by the client. 
  2. One feature is a new report that enables the client to query the database directly. This enables clients to answer questions like….. 
    1. how many of my drivers have S99 versus S92 speeding events?”
    2. how many of my drivers have both S99, S92 and (insert your favorite ACD code) combined?” 
    3. how many drivers (and who are they?) have at least one violation for speeding regardless of which speeding code was used by the state?”
  3. All of this data can be exported directly to Excel for further analysis and includes driver location data so that reporting by territory can be highlighted (to spot regional trends or hot-spots).
  4. Varied tenure periods based on data category.  We can split your reporting tenures based on data category — for instance, count MVR convictions that are less than 36 months old, count preventable collisions that are within 24 months of today’s date, count Motorist Observation Reports within 24 months, count telematics alerts within the past 12 months, etc.  This overlays the client’s own scoring mechanism for each data category, and their ability to isolate each category as a stand alone score.

Would you like to learn more about E-DriverFile, or our other driver safety programs (i.e. training, telematics, et.al.)?  Please give us a call at 1-888-603-6987!