Insurance Carrier UBI and Telematics Vehicle Tracking Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comments from the audience included:

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

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

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

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

blog banner snow ice blizzard

Advertisements

Near Miss Reporting for Fleets

Featured Image -- 1451Every day drivers operate their vehicles amidst the chaos of growing congestion caused by stressed-out and distracted drivers.  Vehicles drift out of lanes as drivers distract themselves with gadgets or texting. Other drivers mindlessly tailgate with the mistaken belief that by driving close to the vehicle in front they’ll somehow arrive sooner.

When two (or more) vehicles almost collide, but don’t, many motorists might utter some exclamation, shake their head about how bad the other driver is and continue on their way.  Many safety professionals would label the incident as a “near miss”1,2 – as in “it was nearly a collision but we missed”.

dis-enf-10-ever-officials_lo_res-post-72-enCollecting data on near miss incidents in the workplace is an emerging part of many safety professional’s jobs:  they have the advantage of making direct observations of the workplace, soliciting feedback from employees and even building a culture of self reporting of near misses.

The driver safety specialist has a harder time obtaining near miss data since drivers are not likely to self report near misses as they happen, make detailed observations of all circumstances, or remember details from an early morning incident at the end of their day.

If there were convenient mechanisms enabling us to collect and analyze near miss data, it would help us:

  • Address flawed processes and procedures (i.e. scheduling, routing, dispatch, etc.)
  • Investigate enhancements to equipment (i.e. mirrors, steps, rails, etc.)
  • Adjust educational programs for content, length, periodicity, etc.
  • Cross reference this new data against historical information (i.e. crashes, violations)
  • Tailor our finite attention and resources where it can have strongest and most immediate impact.

Most importantly, it would give us an opportunity to hit the “pause button” on life and compassionately intervene with our operators – perhaps before a “real” collision actually happens, injuries are incurred or violations are issued.

Don’t we already accomplish this with historical data?

Near Miss Article sidebar 1Fleet safety professionals have tirelessly identified drivers who may be “at-risk” of becoming involved in a collision by looking at historical data.  The phrase “historical data” is often interchangeably called “lagging data” since the information lags behind the actual incidents that we aim to avoid.

The difficulty with depending on lagging indicators of performance is that the driver must “suffer” the consequences in order to appear on the safety professional’s reporting matrix.

How would a driver “suffer” negative consequences?  Getting cited by a police officer would typically result in:

  • Policea fine paid out of pocket by the driver,
  • lost employment time if the driver must appear in court,
  • increased personal car insurance for the driver, his/her spouse and any other drivers (i.e. teens) in their household
  • decreased employability of the affected driver due to a littered MVR/Abstract which is reviewed by prospective employers as part of their hiring/screening process

Near Miss Article sidebar 2Further, for some drivers with extreme violations or a history of violations, it may mean:

  • possible loss of driving privileges, suspension or revocation of license
  • possible loss of employment

In short, lagging indicators provide very valuable insights, but come at a very real cost to the organization and the employee.  Leading indicators of performance, while harder to pinpoint, chart the way forward towards prevention and avoidance.

The comparison of leading vs. lagging indicators led one commentator to ask the provocative question; “Are your managers operating as company doctors or coroners?”7 Put another way, is the focus of your effort principally to increase wellness, or does it feel like you’re spending most of your time doing “post-mortem” examinations?

To be very clear, the MVR/Abstract review process and post-crash investigations, et.al. are vital safety tools and shouldn’t be abandoned; however, it is clear that it would benefit the driver and the employer to find ways to identify “at-risk” drivers before they receive violations or get into crashes.

The identification and inclusion of “leading indicators” (indicators of “at-risk” performance, habits or behaviors prior violations or crashes) would make a significant difference.  Near miss reporting would be one set of leading indicators that could help.

How might we get this data? 

There are a number of resources available that provide insight into “near miss” events – those events that would have been collisions – IF – conditions had been slightly different, or reports of habits/behaviors that if left unchecked will likely lead to collisions or violations.  I’d like to offer a short list of some examples:

  • Near Miss Article sidebar 3Commentary Drives and Supervisor “Ride-Alongs”
  • Driver Safety Hotlines (aka “How’s My Driving?”)
  • Tachographs, Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBR), “Telematics” devices

During commentary drives, near misses may occur which provide the opportunity for immediate “no-fault” training and coaching. This approach is highly proactive, but requires a tremendous amount of resource time to ride with 100% of drivers.  Some fleets use this method with all drivers on a periodic basis (once every X years) and others use it when drivers have been identified as needing help through lagging or other leading indicators. This second approach (selectively using commentary drives) reduces the number of drive events to effectively coach those drivers who may be at greatest risk.

Another efficient resource for near miss and behavioral data is the humble and sometimes misunderstood Driver Safety Hotline.  Sometimes called a “How’s My Driving?” program, it is designed to solicit feedback on behavior – praiseworthy or risky – from other motorists.  Safety Hotlines have been repeatedly studied by groups large and small to see what effect the program has on crash rates:  these studies provide compelling testimony that the data leads behavior and management intervention reduces crashes by 10-30% in most cases. These studies were conducted in a manner that is similar to studies validating most technology platforms, and in one case included three and a half years of data derived from 30,000 power units in varied industries from among 200 fleets.  This provides much richer statistical data than many technology studies that were limited to “test pilots” of 25 to 50 vehicles in one or two fleets for time periods of less than a year.

The secret of the success of this program has been:

  1. Using the reports as a springboard for “no-fault” refresher training instead of blame setting9
  2. Incorporating the reporting as a positive element of safety cultures and behavior safety programs10,11
  3. Managers who will discuss the report with the driver to set individual safety goals for modified behavior.12

On-Board recording devices generate specific data sets on vehicle performance and by extrapolation, driver behavior.  Data sets typically include vehicle location through the course of the day, speed, harsh acceleration, harsh braking, swaying and sudden shocks or bumps.  Most systems report this data to a central reporting hub and management can review the historical data for exceptional events.  Some systems provide immediate feedback to the driver as events occur:  either through a flashing light or some sort of sound making device.

The successes of most on-board devices has been clearly documented in fuel savings, idle-time reductions, man power resource tailoring from routing efficiency and other “operations” metrics.  These benefits are significant, but don’t directly impact the reduction of crashes by themselves.  The challenge to most managers is finding the best way to translate volumes of data into enhanced behaviors.

You see, telematics data may be generated in a very different manner than a How’s My Driving report or commentary drive, but the application of that data to affect driver change can be as poorly executed or as brilliantly managed in any of these programs.

Telematics data showing speeding events can be hotly denied by drivers who’ll come up with clever (and often accurate) responses – locations are often “estimated” by satellite triangulation, and sometimes speeds are misread based on locations at crossroads or underpasses, etc.  After managing the data from both telematics and safety hotline programs (our clients have begun sending their telematics data to SafetyFirst for enhanced reporting and better training options), we have found that drivers are actually more inclined to deny the telematics alerts than the how’s my driving reports!

Additionally, the amount of data from some telematics programs can become overwhelming.  I’ve heard safety managers say that “there’s probably a lot of really good information buried somewhere in the pile of reporting”, but they can’t manage it on a daily basis.  If you call it “information overload”, “background noise” or even “dial tone” then you’re likely to move on to other priorities or return to only working with lagging indicators.

Our own firm’s experience is that there are clever and easy ways to avoid information overload and get traction in translating the data into a well crafted coaching session.

By sorting the urgently actionable items from the background noise and then leveraging the coaching processes pioneered and perfecting in the safety hotline program, our hybrid approach managed to reduce excessive speeding by 600% in one year at a major fleet operation. (Click HERE)

Fortunately, in the case of commentary drives and driver safety hotlines, the amount of data is self-prioritizing.  The ride-along supervisor can prioritize in real time as the drive continues, and most fleets using hotlines only get reporting on about 2% to 3% of their drivers in any given month (focused on the most egregious behaviors seen on the highway – motorists are not motivated to report trivial issues).

Dealing with Data Organizationally

Dealing with raw data, whether we call it a near miss report, motorist observation report or telematics alert, presents opportunities and concerns:

  1. We ought to be respectful of drivers and their privacy – no one wants to see their personal data on the company bulletin board as an “example to others” (i.e. share the lesson to be learned, but don’t embarrass the operator). Near miss reporting programs can be most productive when conducted in an atmosphere of trust and proactive goal setting rather than couched in threats and blame.
  2. We need a system to hold and correlate the data – to provide meaningful management reporting that can distinguish patterns and trends that may signal a larger policy/procedure or system issue13
  3. We need access to urgently actionable data in a timely fashion – to coach drivers while the event is still fresh in their mind14 while suppressing “background noise” data15
  4. We need to have a data retention plan in place to either preserve data from spoliation or to properly dispose of old records when the data is no longer relevant to our near miss program16
  5. Coaching Tips TitleWe need to develop policies and procedures that create a uniform method to dealing with the data — that it needs to be used to educate and redirect behavior – not as a blame setting tool. Playing the “GOTCHA” game with drivers isn’t likely to improve results or encourage them to embrace the technology that is “getting them in trouble”.   Working with an individual driver to set personal and professional goals related to changing habits can be challenging, but also lifesaving (or injury/violation avoiding) at the same time.

Driver Attitudes vs. Manager Attitudes

When capturing near miss data, drivers and managers may argue about data quality or what should be done with the data that is acquired.

  • In the past, we’ve met professionals who used to argue about “crank calls” on hotlines as a reason to ignore the data; however, 98% of hotline reports are confirmed accurate by safety managers who actually investigate each report and talk with their drivers.  The 2% of reporting that is discarded or deleted comes mainly from transcription errors (i.e. transposed vehicle numbers, etc.) 
  • Even commentary drives are susceptible to data quality errors: no two driver supervisors will share the same biases or spot all the possible hazards given the same route, same vehicle and same day.
  • Telematics data, while “scientifically” obtained can also be erroneous and a source of contention for drivers if they feel threatened by its “alerts”.

CoachingMy point?  Any near miss or leading indicator program could become a source of arguments and negotiations, or become a proactive “game changer” in terms of safety results.  It’s really up to the management team to decide if they’re going to help drivers improve through a positive coaching and training program or merely spin the revolving door of driver turnover by using data merely for discipline.  Unfortunately, it’s often easier to play the “gotcha” game of confrontation over alerts than to actually make the time to have an eye-to-eye, “no-fault” coaching session about improving habits to be safer while behind the wheel.

The first step is training supervisors on how to use the data to get a positive change.

SafetyFirst, in close cooperation with its own clients, has produced a supervisory training program called “Coaching Drivers – Conversations That Make a Difference”.  This program helps managers to make coaching sessions a positive experience by keeping focused on the safety lessons to be learned without getting sidetracked into confrontations over blame and who was right or wrong.

Without a consistent coaching process in place, the most accurate leading indicator, or near miss data, will not be effective in getting drivers to change habits.

This isn’t just a good idea – it’s been studied. Researcher Sunil Lakhiani of the University of Wisconsin-Madison presented findings from a study on near-miss reporting systems to the American Institute of Chemical Engineers at the 7th Global Congress on Process Safety in Chicago in March 2011. Lakhiani reported that a positive management culture towards safety made a significant difference in the employee’s participation in near miss programs.

ALERT CSARecently, one of our larger clients inadvertently proved the coaching point as well.  They had installed telematics devices in several thousand vehicles for dispatch, routing, and related reasons.  During the first full year using the system, they also accumulated 1700+ excessive speed alerts (above 80 mph for a minute or more), but had no mechanism to push the alerts out to the drivers for coaching.  We worked with their telematics provider to have the alerts sent to our safety hotline where we treated the alerts like a motorist’s call-in observation.  The net change was dramatic.  By sending training materials, requiring the location manager to coach the driver and return the completed report showing goals discussed, training completed and corrective actions taken, they dropped the number of alerts to under 200 in the subsequent year.  Coaching makes a difference regardless of the data source if it’s handled in an atmosphere of trust and prevention.

What about driver education as a leading indicator?

Some safety professionals have considered driver education (its frequency and aggregate duration) to be a possible leading indicator of performance.  Let’s briefly consider the case for and against this conclusion.

Driver education can be used to introduce new skills or remind drivers of practices and procedures that they should already know due to previous educational experience.  In the case of new skills, many safety professionals may argue that habits not a lack of driving skills are the predominate cause of (arguably) 90% of all motor vehicle crashes.17 Therefore, the use of education programs to:

  • Remind operators of key safety policies affecting their daily activities, and to
  • Increase situational awareness and the rapid recognition of hazards while driving

is an ideal practice to help reduce the likelihood of future collisions.  Additionally, the assumption that an increase in education events (frequency/periodicity) or the overall number of hours of training (duration/aggregate) can reduce collision rates seems highly reasonable.

While we’ve characterized commentary drives as a near miss reporting platform, they were initially introduced as a method of driver education.  In this regard, they may be part of a leading indicator measurement system, too.

Individual fleets may set driver education as a leading indicator to be verified in hindsight (did crashes go down during the year we increased our education efforts?)  Indeed, firms who introduce the varied near miss reporting systems already discussed will likely increase their education efforts as they conduct refresher sessions with drivers who participate in commentary drives, get telematics alerts or safety hotline observations.

Unfortunately, this author has not located many detailed studies published on the links between driver education and crash results other than the ATRI study conducted in 2008 titled; “A Technical Analysis of Driver Training Impacts on Safety18 In this study, 17,000+ driver records were studied to examine correlations between training and collisions/violations:

“The total “contact hours” or hours of interaction provided by training programs vary greatly from 88 hours to 272 hours. In addition to identifying the total contact hours a student is exposed to in a training program, participating training institutions provided details on the number of training hours that occurred within various training environments, such as the classroom, in-truck, behind-the-wheel and using a simulator. These environments vary between programs, with programs weighting and emphasizing classroom and in-truck training differently. Additional information was collected on the type of instruction that takes place within each training environment.”

The report’s conclusions included:

“…the analysis finds little variation among driver safety performance that can be explained by training program duration within the range of 88 to 272 hours.”

“…the lack of a safety improvement trend line towards the longer duration programs does not provide the researchers with a basis for this conclusion.” [that more training would necessarily result in greater safety results]

To be very clear, this author is not suggesting that driver education is any less valuable or critical to a firm’s safety program.  In fact, it is crucial.  It may be especially valuable when used to focus resources on those individuals deemed “at-risk” by the near miss system.  As a leading indicator, it may be more valuable when blended with near miss reporting or other elements of an existing driver safety program.

Setting a strategy for success

Hopefully you are feeling encouraged that driver safety programs can greatly benefit from incorporating near miss reports into their existing safety program.  Near miss reporting serves as a leading indicator to help balance your “scorecard” of valuable lagging indicators such as historical crash reports and MVR/Abstract profiling.

Each organization endeavoring to launch a near miss program should make a plan on how to incorporate this new data into their current safety program:

  • Outline where data will come from and how it may be used (i.e. will it be used for education only, or can it be used for discipline, if so, under what circumstances?)
  • Develop a process to deal with system faults or physical hazards (i.e. dispatch errors, maintenance items, equipment issues, loading processes, etc.)
  • Review historical crash and/or violation data (lagging indicators) and compare to near miss data for trends (i.e. prior to all preventable crashes, these types of near miss reports or leading indicators were present; therefore, if we see these near misses or leading indicators, we need to respond urgently to prevent a crash)
  • Have a clear process or procedure – who will be responsible to collect and distribute data?
  • Develop a coaching process to interact with affected drivers to affect a change in habits
  • Develop a process to track the success of the program (i.e. are collisions decreasing, are police citations/violations decreasing?)
  • Celebrate the progress with all affected employees – include them in the results as well as the coaching sessions

Summary

Near miss reporting is a valuable tool.  It requires a strong, consistent commitment from the management team at all levels to use the data to compassionately intervene with drivers in a trusting manner.  Building trust will take time, but it pays huge dividends in safety results for both drivers and management teams.  Coaching and education are two sides of the same coin, and each has it’s own supporting role to play.  If you want to get on the leading indicator side of the driver safety equation (while not abandoning lagging indicators), then near miss reporting may be the place to start.

Pyramid 2011 for blog

Feedback?

During my safety career, I’ve learned that despite all of the networking, conferences and research, I know I don’t have all the answers. I also know that together we can each contribute pieces of the puzzle to get to a better understanding of most any safety issue.  I’d love to learn about your experiences with near miss reporting in fleet operations, and hear about your concerns about leading indicators, too.  How do you currently identify drivers who may be “at-risk” of becoming involved in a collision?  Do you incorporate leading indicators into your driver risk profile, or just lagging indicators?  Do you want to launch a leading indicator or “near miss” program, but aren’t sure where to start?

Many safety professionals are active on social networking sites like LinkedIn and share comments and questions through discussion groups.  Would you be willing to discuss this article online?  If that’s too “public” of an environment, I’d be very happy to talk with you directly, too (1-888-603-6987 toll free).

END NOTES:

1http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_miss_(safety)

2http://www.toolboxtopics.com/Gen%20Industry/Near%20Miss%20-%20The%20One%20That%20Almost%20Happened.htm

3http://www.atri-online.org/research/results/One-Pager%20CMVE.pdf

4http://www.atri-online.org/research/results/ATRI_Crash_Predictor_One_Pg_Summary_Apr_2011.pdf

5http://www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov/Pages/default.aspx

6http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/about/basics.aspx

7http://www.bptrends.com/publicationfiles/TWO%2003-09-ART-Leading%20vs%20Lagging-Gotts-final.doc.pdf “Leading Indicators vs. Lagging Indicators” by Ian Gotts, March 2009, BP Trends

8http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_commentary_driving

9https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/recent-news-articles-on-safety-hotlines/

10http://my.safetyfirst.com/newsfart/ISA%20December%202009.pdf – “Changing Unsafe Behavior Using Activators and Consequences” by Andrew Salvadore, December 2009, Arborist News

11http://www.treecareindustry.org/pdfs/EXPO/ABCsOfHumanBehavior.pdf – “ABCs of Human Behavior” by Andrew Salvadore, TCIA Expo presentation

12http://vimeopro.com/safetyfirst/safetyfirst-coaching-tutorial/video/30495547 “Coaching Drivers – Conversations that make a difference” by SafetyFirst Systems, December 2011

13http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/reports/2000/HAR0001.pdf NTSB Highway Accident Report conclusion; “…policy of disregarding anonymous calls to 1-800-SAFEBUS prevents the company from identifying patterns of unsafe driving practices by particular drivers or on particular runs and diminishes the potential safety oversight benefits of this program. Including all complaints in driver personnel files would enable [company] to better detect an operator problem and act to eliminate it before an accident occurs.” [italics added for emphasis]

14http://www.virtualriskmanager.net/main/aboutus/niosh/t1-2_paul-farrell.ppt “Negligent Entrustment – When is a license check not enough?” by Paul Farrell, International Conference on Road Safety at Work, February 2009

15 – A technology vendor’s presentation states (about their own system) “There are many reasons why a device might trigger:  Pot holes; Unpaved roads; Railroad tracks; Turning hard in a large vehicle; Rocking an unloaded tractor-trailer; Waste truck throwing a trash bin into the vehicle hard; Jack-rabbit start; Vehicle Maintenance; Defensive Driving/Evasive Maneuver…” excerpted from http://mcsac.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/June2010/DriveCam%20presentation.pdf

16http://www.atla.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/14259.htm “Danger On The Road – The mighty trucking case” by Jeanmarie Whalen, Trial Magazine (American Association for Justice), February 2011, Vol. 47, No. 02

17http://www.virtualriskmanager.net/main/aboutus/niosh/t2-3_lynn-berberich.ppt#18 “Crash Analysis and Benchmarking as Tools to Improve Fleet Safety – or – What Metrics Should I Use and How Should I use Them?” by Lynn Berberich, International Conference on Road Safety at Work, February 2009

18http://www.atri-online.org/research/results/driver_training_impacts_on_safety2.pdf “A Technical Analysis of Driver Training Impacts on Safety” by ATRI, May 2008

speeding banner2

Evolution of Driver “Training”

Another traffic picRoughly 90% of all vehicle crashes are the direct result of choices, attitudes, and habits of drivers while behind the wheel.  They may choose to drive impaired, or they may choose to speed, text while driving or make other fundamentally risky decisions.

Historically, society has tried to adjust for these choices in several ways:

  • Improving the design of vehicles to make them better protect occupants in the event of a crash, and to help drivers have more control of the vehicle in various circumstances so that they might avoid some crashes
  • Instituting standards for road design and signs to make it less complicated to drive
  • Improving post-crash medical response to help people survive crashes
  • Providing education to drivers to help them understand the possible consequences of their driving so that they might exercise greater caution in handling their vehicles

This post deals with the evolution of driver safety “training” or education efforts.  Early driver education programs included personal communications (word of mouth) between drivers and later became written documents and even short motion pictures.  The documents continue to this day as state government driver manuals for both new motorists (driving for first time) or for drivers who are applying to become commercial drivers (i.e. CDL manuals).

Movies, videos, CDs, DVDs, and online presentations represent the conversion of those SafetyZone-LMSwritten documents (content) into a captivating medium that can better illustrate common scenarios encountered on the highway.  Sometimes it is much easier to show someone a concept than to try and describe it in words.

Early education efforts focused on two underlying models:  Intellectual Awareness (discussing the details of an issue) and soliciting an Emotional Response to trigger a change in habits:

  • Intellectual Awarenessan assessment of issue, how it occurs, what contributes to it happening and suggestion of practical responses to either avoid that issue or cope with the consequences of the issue.
    • An example is describing how speeding robs a driver of time to react, reduces distance to brake and increases the energy involved in a crash; therefore, slow down to buy time to react, stop and reduce the consequences of the collision that may occur.
    • Pros/Cons – this is a great way to help establish a foundation of important knowledge and understanding of the risks of driving, but it depends on holding the attention of the audience and whether they understand all of the details being presented.  It can become dull for those people who are not passionate about safety issues – possibly causing them to miss the message.
  • Emotional Responsemany people, especially over the age of 21, become set in their habits and mindset unless an emotional event triggers self-reflection and ignites a willingness to change in response to a tragic or shocking circumstance.
    • An example would be the dramatic reenactment of a crash on screen.  This may trigger a strong emotional response from the graphic depiction of the actors being hurt or killed in the scenario.  A presentation of a brief learning lesson helps redirect the learner to want to change their habits in response.
    • Pros/Cons – not everyone responds the same way to emotional stimuli.  Not everyone will identify with the “victims” in the same way.  Some may reject the scenario as unlikely to happen to them for some reason.  Others may be frightened of the consequences but fail to grasp the message on how to avoid that scenario.


Within the past twenty years, new models have emerged to engage drivers.  These models seek to obtain a personal commitment from the audience, or to influence the audience into a new perspective on a common issue especially where there is a general misconception of the immediate threat presented by the target behavior or habit such as texting while driving (Social Norming).

  • Personal Commitment Solicitation is an effort to make the audience see “what’s in it for them” or how issue could affect them unless they commit to self-monitor (or adjust) their own behaviors to avoid issue consequences)
    • An example would be the presentation of a series of reminders about how crashes happen from attitude, choices and habits with a strong, emotional discussion of the potential consequences and a final, direct appeal to the audience asking that (based on the presentation) make a personal commitment to change habits (typically two or three specific commitments).
    • Pros/Cons – this sort of presentation isn’t designed to set a foundation of “how to drive”, but does highlight the consequences of poor choices and asks for a commitment.  There’s no way to assure that a commitment will be made, but this goes a step further than merely presenting an educational session and stopping the presentation.

Tailgating Preview – Commitment from SafetyFirst Systems on Vimeo.

  • Social Normingmany people, especially younger people (teens, young adults) hold inflated perceptions of reality (i.e. “crashes happen to other people – not me”, “texting while driving isn’t such a big deal since I do it all the time and have never crashed”, etc.) The approach of social norming is to counter misperceptions and help the audience adjust their perception of the true situation (people die from texting while driving, etc.).
    • An example would be to demonstrate how absurd it would be to translate our attitudes while driving into other social situations in order to elicit a response from the audience that their habits must change.
    • Pros/Cons – while entertaining, it may not convince some audience members that they ought to change habits.

…OR…

SUMMARY

Raising safety awareness, convincing drivers of the need to “want to” change and reminding them of the risks they take while behind the wheel are good efforts to reduce the risk of crashes.  Driver education is only one part of the program, but it can be an effective part when different methods are used for different audiences (young or old, seasoned or novice, etc.)

drowsy driving

Blind Areas Around Big Trucks

MirrorPoster_72dpiAll vehicles have areas (or “zones” or “spots”) around the vehicle where it is difficult to see other cars or trucks even with the help of various mirrors. Most commonly, the area immediately behind the driver’s door on the left side (or the passenger door on the right side) present “hiding spots” where other vehicles may lurk out of sight.

At highway speeds, merging or changing lanes can become a disaster if your movement connects with another vehicle that was in your “blind area”.

To help minimize blind areas, some folks install additional mirrors, cameras or even specialized sensors to detect and alert to the presence of vehicles in these blind areas.

For larger tractor trailers, the size, shape and location of blind areas presents special concerns to truck drivers. While they must do their part to scan around their truck, other motorists have a responsibility to cooperate by understanding that their car may be virtually undetectable within the blind area and do their best to keep out of that zone. Passing large trucks promptly instead of dwelling alongside is one example of a productive, courteous step to avoiding crashes.

The Utah Department of Transportation (as one example) has invested in public education materials to help all motorists and commercial drivers reduce crashes by working together. A colleague shared an example of their video on blind zones around large trucks (called “NO ZONES” in the video — as in these are not the zones to hang about in).

Take a look:

Another video in their series is closely related to this topic — since we’re hoping motorists (and other commercial drivers) won’t hang out in the “no-zone”, we also want the to complete their pass or merge safely.  One danger of passing a big truck is cutting them off (cutting directly in front of them).  This robs the big truck of stopping distance in case of a need to stop suddenly and increases the risk that you’d be hit from behind in such an instance.

Take a look:

These are short, easy to understand modules.  More topics can be found at http://www.udot.utah.gov/trucksmart/index.php

Remember, traffic safety is every driver’s responsibility!

SafetyZone-Safety Goal

Merging at Ramps

junction13Accessing a highway can present several challenges to drivers – whether novice or experienced: poor weather, low light levels, road design and the discourtesy of other drivers can each contribute factors that increase our risk of a crash while merging at ramps.

In a perfect driving world, we’d be the only operator and vehicle on the road; however, that’s just not possible.  We face congestion, road work, and delays each day as we go from site to site.  Merging adds stress since we have to cope with limited visibility areas (aka “blind spots”) and finding that gap in traffic flow where we can “squeeze in” to our spot with all the other vehicles.

SafetyZone-Safety GoalJuly’s Ten-Minute Training Topic provides drivers and their supervisors with insights and discussion about merging at ramps.  The driver handout refreshes operators on common problems encountered, and offers reminders about traffic, ramp metering and even wrong-way crashes that happen when a confused (or impaired) motorist manages to take the wrong ramp and rushes head-long into oncoming traffic.  The slideshows also help to illustrate these issues and aids for drivers.

Automotive Fleet Magazine recently posted a nice article and video to promote safe merging at on ramps.  To view these click HERE.

ramp collisions

New Video Releases (July 1, 2014)

SafetyZone-LMS

SafetyFirst’s Learning Management System (LMS) assigns focused training modules to individual drivers based on their risk taking behaviors such as weaving in traffic, excessive speeding or running stop signs.  These behaviors can be reported using our Motorist Observation Reports (MORs) SafetyFirst TeleMatic Alerts (TMAs), or Motor Vehicle Records (MVRs) from enforcement violations.

Our LMS is designed with the flexibility to function as a stand alone product offering, or to work seamlessly with our other driver safety programs (i.e. Safety Hotline System, E-DriverFile, MVR services, etc.) so that when a driver’s individual risk score changes (due to a new violation, etc.) our system can automatically recommend/assign the right module.

Based on past experiences, we recognized that having “more titles” (that drivers don’t pay attention to) isn’t the goal when promoting a Learning Management System.  The best system is the one that gets used, and the one that drivers actually enjoy working with (i.e. current, captivating and concise content).

Looking to find that right balance between highly engaging content and covering the needed range of topics, we’re always working on new modules. We have several in post-production editing presently.  A preview trailer of these new topics is embedded, below.

Our approach to learning content is to keep it simple, make it personal, and ask the affected driver(s) for a commitment to drive differently tomorrow based on today’s message.

At 5 to 7 minutes in duration, our videos (and their respective 10-question quizzes) are highly engaging and deliver the key content without losing your driver’s attention.

Currently Available:

  1. Tailgating (English/Spanish)
  2. Improper Lane Change (English/Spanish)
  3. Honoring the Right of Way (English/Spanish)
  4. Driving Too Fast for Conditions (English/Spanish)
  5. Running Red Lights / Stop Signs (English/Spanish)
  6. Aggressive Driving
  7. Distracted Driving (Cell Phone/Text)
  8. Drug/Alcohol Use
  9. Drowsy Driving
  10. Faulty Equipment
  11. Driving Too Slowly for Conditions (Impeding Traffic)
  12. Exceeding the Speed Limit (supports GPS monitored fleets)

To be released July 1st, 2014:

  1. Rules of the Road
  2. Parking Lot Risks
  3. The “Other” Driver
  4. Hydroplaning
  5. Distracted Driving (all sources)
  6. Intersection Collisions

To learn more about our online program, please visit http://www.safetyfirst.com/interactive-training-modules.php

SafetyZone-Safety Goal

New NHTSA Study

drowsy drivingWhen dealing with a ‘ton of data’ about crashes, causes, contributing factors, costs and such, it can take several years to fully value and understand what it all means.  Why?

  1. First, there’s a lot to analyze.  
  2. Second, not all final crash costs are known until the bulk of medical treatments have been completed and reported.  
  3. Third, data about the source data becomes available during the analysis process (we gain insights as the analysis proceeds — sometimes causing us to reverse and re-examine details).

With these points in mind, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released a new study of “The Economic and Societal Impact Of Motor Vehicle Crashes” that occurred during 2010.

cropped-thanksgiving-traffic.jpg

We wanted to share some select quotes from the study to highlight several key findings.

In 2010, there were 32,999 people killed, 3.9 million were injured, and 24 million vehicles were damaged in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. The economic costs of these crashes totaled $277 billion. Included in these losses are lost productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency service costs (EMS), insurance administration costs, congestion costs, property damage, and workplace losses. The $277 billion cost of motor vehicle crashes represents the equivalent of nearly $897 for each of the 308.7 million people living in the United States, and 1.9 percent of the $14.96 trillion real U.S. Gross Domestic Product for 2010. These figures include both police-reported and unreported crashes. When quality of life valuations are considered, the total value of societal harm from motor vehicle crashes in 2010 was $871 billion. Lost market and household productivity accounted for $93 billion of the total $277 billion economic costs, while property damage accounted for $76 billion. Medical expenses totaled $35 billion. Congestion caused by crashes, including travel delay, excess fuel consumption, greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants accounted for $28 billion. Each fatality resulted in an average discounted lifetime cost of $1.4 million. Public revenues paid for roughly 9 percent of all motor vehicle crash costs, costing tax payers $24 billion in 2010, the equivalent of over $200 in added taxes for every household in the United States.

Clearly, traffic crashes cost a lot of money!

Key contributing factors to the crash data in 2010 included:

  • Impaired (drunk) driving
  • Speed
  • Distraction
  • Seat belts saved many, but some (3,350 people) perished for failing to use their restraints properly/consistently

It is staggering to realize that during 2010, there were more than 3.9 million people injured in 13.6 million motor vehicle crashes (including about 33,000 fatalities).  Alcohol-involved crashes accounted for about 21 percent of all crash costs and a third of all road deaths.

Speed-related crashes (where at least one driver was exceeding the posted limit OR driving too fast for conditions) were connected to 10,536 fatalities (another third of the total for the year).

So, in hindsight, if all drivers had:

  1. worn their seatbelts properly,
  2. avoided driving while impaired and
  3. followed the speed limit (or driven with regard to local conditions)

then, about two-thirds of all road deaths could have been avoided (22,000 lives saved).

cropped-web-banner-blog-20112.jpg

The opening paragraph of the study that deals with speeding says a lot in a few words:

Excess speed can contribute to both the frequency and severity of motor vehicle crashes. At higher speeds, additional time is required to stop a vehicle and more distance is traveled before corrective maneuvers can be implemented. Speeding reduces a driver’s ability to react to emergencies created by driver inattention; by unsafe maneuvers of other vehicles; by roadway hazards; by vehicle system failures (such as tire blowouts); or by hazardous weather conditions. The fact that a vehicle was exceeding the speed limit does not necessarily mean that this was the cause of the crash, but the probability of avoiding the crash would likely be greater had the driver or drivers been traveling at slower speeds. A speed-related crash is defined as any crash in which the police indicate that one or more drivers involved was exceeding the posted speed limit, driving too fast for conditions, driving at a speed greater than reasonable or prudent, exceeding a special speed limit or zone, or racing.

In short, speeding robs you of needed reaction time – you need to make judgments faster and have less room to maneuver in an emergency.  Each of us can choose to drive slower and buy time to react and respond, but we’re often in a ‘hurry’ to get to our destination, and choose to increase or risk.

Police

The study reminded us of the urgent need for ALL drivers of cars, trucks, buses to properly use restraints such as seatbelts whenever driving.  Consider these statistics:

When properly fastened, seat belts provide significant protection to vehicle occupants involved in a crash. The simple act of buckling a seat belt can improve an occupant’s chance of surviving a potentially fatal crash by from 44 to 73 percent, depending on the type of vehicle and seating position involved. They are also highly effective against serious nonfatal injuries. Belts reduce the chance of receiving an MAIS 2-5 injury (moderate to critical) by 49 to 78 percent.

MirrorPoster_72dpiThe report did not have kind words for the use of motorcycles (however, I could speculate that the authors were concerned for the welfare of riders in delivering their findings in a stark way):

Motorcycles are the most hazardous form of motor vehicle transportation. The lack of external protection provided by vehicle structure, the lack of internal protection provided by seat belts and air bags, their speed capability, the propensity for riders to become airborne through ejection, and the relative instability inherent with riding a two-wheeled vehicle all contribute to making the motorcycle the most risky passenger vehicle. In 2010, 4,518 motorcyclists were killed and 96,000 were injured in police-reported crashes on our Nation’s roadways. This represents 14 percent of all traffic fatalities and 3 percent of all police-reported injuries. Motorcycles accounted for only 0.6 percent of all vehicle miles traveled in 2010. Per vehicle mile traveled in 2010, a motorcyclist was about 30 times more likely than a passenger car occupant to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash and 5 times more likely to be injured. The difference in these proportions reflects the more severe injury profile that results from motorcycle crashes. Over the past several decades motorcycle fatalities and injuries have generally increased relative to those in other vehicle types.

Other observations included a good reminder that intersections continue to be a prime location for crashes since there are so many ways that vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists can interact with each other during turns or even while transiting the intersection (straight across).

SUMMARY

While the data summarizes activity from 2010, we can learn a lot about behavior, choices and safety results.  There’s never an inappropriate time to share safety messages with drivers about obeying traffic laws, using seatbelts and avoiding risk taking (i.e. driving while impaired, distracted driving, etc.)

cropped-more-thanksgiving-traffic.jpg