National Stop on Red Week

redlight cam pictureThe Federal Highway Safety Administration (FHWA) has selected the first week of August as “National Stop on Red Week”  This week is devoted to increasing public awareness of the dangers of red-light running through both education and enforcement activities.

This is an important tie-in to the start of the school season as well — children will be walking to school, along rural roads to bus pick up locations and crossing streets at intersections.  It is especially critical to reduce the frequency of red-light running to minimize collisions with pedestrians — especially school children.

To be as effective as possible, the FHWA encourages local communities to do their part in promoting this cause.  They’ve suggested ten specific ways to boost awareness of the issue that range from holding press conferences to setting up targeted enforcement areas.

The suggestion for employers to issue paycheck reminders (i.e. targeted messages to employees and their families) begs the larger question of how employers routinely educate their drivers (and office bound commuters, sales drivers, etc.) to obey traffic laws, signs and signals.

In the past, SafetyFirst has published Ten-Minute Training Topics on the dangers of red light running, and one of our very first Videos / Online training modules ever produced dealt with this issue, too.

FHWA provides additional information at this web site – http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/redlight/

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also has a page dedicated to red light running – http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/red-light-running/qanda#red-light-running

The Traffic Safety Coalition has produced a video to promote “National Stop on Red Week”:

Here are some more stunning videos of the aftermath of red light running:

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.)

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Traffic Fatalities Increased In 2012

NHTSA 2012 OverviewWhile it’s tragic that deaths increased in 2012, we are glad that highway deaths over the past five years are at historic lows.  What’s strange was the sudden and unexpected rise in crash activity during the first two quarters of 2012 (the first quarter jump in activity was the largest spike in recorded NHTSA history.)

So here’s the latest from NHTSA:

  • …highway deaths increased to 33,561 in 2012, which is 1,082 more fatalities than in 2011. The majority of the increase in deaths, 72 percent, occurred in the first quarter of the year.
  • While Americans drove approximately the same amount of miles in 2012 as in the previous year, the new FARS data released today showed a 3.3 percent increase in fatalities from the previous year.
  • Fatalities in 2011 were at the lowest level since 1949 and even with this slight increase in 2012, we are still at the same level of fatalities as 1950. Early estimates on crash fatalities for the first half of 2013 indicate a decrease in deaths compared to the same timeframe in 2012.
  • Fatalities among pedestrians increased for the third consecutive year (6.4 percent increase over 2011). The data showed the large majority of pedestrian deaths occurred in urban areas, at non-intersections, at night and many involved alcohol.
  • Motorcycle rider fatalities increased for the third consecutive year (7.1 percent increase over 2011). Ten times as many riders died not wearing a helmet in states without a universal helmet law than in states with such laws.
  • Large-truck occupant fatalities increased for the third consecutive year (8.9 percent over 2011).
  • Deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers increased 4.6 percent in 2012, taking 10,322 lives compared to 9,865 in 2011. The majority of those crashes involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher – nearly double the legal limit.
  • The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328, while an estimated 421,000 people were injured, a 9 percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011. NHTSA is just beginning to identify distraction-related accidents, and is continuing work to improve the way it captures data to better quantify and identify potential trends in this area.
  • Nighttime seat belt use continues to be a challenge. In nighttime crashes in 2012, almost two-thirds of the people that died were unrestrained.

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NHTSA has prepared a summary of the 2012 data as a PDF which can be found HERE

Additionally, NHTSA has a preliminary look at 2013 available HERE

So if your fleet has seen an uptick in fender benders, consider a review of the many free articles offered at this blog site.  Further, if you need more specific help, call on us.

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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.

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Reader Commentary on Retention Tips

We’ve gotten a lot of encouraging feedback from our subscribers and casual readers about the mini-series on Recruiting and Retention. 

Today, we’ll share some reader comments and suggestions on ways to influence both Recruting and Retention.

TIPS FOR EITHER RECRUITING OR RETENTION:

  • “If you’re not using them now, consider driver surveys.”
  • “Your current drivers may be able to provide insight into why they are loyal, what they’d look for if they were looking for another job at another company, what would make them consider staying here until they retire permanently from driving.”
  • “The driver survey process can be informal discussions, or formalized feedback. If you do implement any changes based on driver feedback, sell the fact that you implemented a driver suggestion. If you can’t implement their suggestions, offer a short reason why it’s not practical.”
  • “Keep rules simple and then enforce those rules consistently. It’s easier to recruit when the company is perceived as being fair with clear rules and expectations — no one likes surprises (either drivers or managers). If you want “rule followers” on your team, you need simple rules and fair, consistent enforcement.”
  • “Develop an advancement program or draw up the “career path” of a typical driver. Everyone wants an opportunity to move up somehow. Is there a way to advance in title, pay, and “seniority” and if so what are those titles, perks, etc.? Have drivers ever transitioned to management or other types of positions (can you cite a specific story of a driver who has moved up)?”
  • “Pay, Pay, Pay, – guess what drivers drive for…”
  • “From my conversations it is not always money”
  • “Most drivers that I’ve seen would rather have the $ up front, rather in a savings / retirement plan.”
  • “Another option is to offer benefits in a cafeteria type plan, so those who have working spouses with benefits, can opt for more money in their normal paycheck.”
  • “Consider promotion from within, someone who has been reliable driving fork-lift trucks on the shipping dock [may be another way to find drivers]”
  • “The best fleets have nice vehicles, assigned to one driver so they can fix them up like they like them and keep them clean. ‘Bells and whistles’ are desirable…”
  • “There is a lot to be said about keeping the driver in clean and well maintained equipment, SAFER results, if the account has a Pass rating instead of Inspect there is a good amount of time saved in roadside inspections”
  • “Dispatch attitude and tone directed at the drivers is important”
  • “EZ Pass and electronic toll options can save time and reduce paperwork”

TIPS FOR RETENTION:

  • “Orientation and Training. How much “hand holding” goes on with new employees versus drivers who’ve completed a year of service. Training isn’t just lecturing about rules and processes – it’s a chance for drivers to ask questions (if encouraged properly) and to provide feedback. Sometimes the “right” training isn’t what the management team “assumes” is needed – it may be on how to communicate with cranky or pesky customers/shippers. Refresher training isn’t just an investment of time and money, it’s also a way to acknowledge drivers who’ve been doing a good job and involve them in the training discussions/sessions.”
  • “Train, Train, Train. We are seeing that drivers actually like to receive quality, innovative training. After receiving it, they actually ask for more. The stereotypical image of commercial divers who loathe classroom training only applies if they’re being dragged into the classroom to hear the same old material they’ve already heard a thousand times. Their attitude, “I’ve been doing this for years. I could probably teach this course better than you!” But if you provide them with high-quality insight training, their attitude is, “I’ve been doing this for forty two years and really didn’t want to be here for this, but I learned something today. Thank you.” (I actually had a driver say that to me last week, and I’ve heard similar statements hundreds of times over the past couple of years)”
  • “Properly training drivers not only shows them you care as an employer and are prepared to walk the walk when it comes to safety, but it helps to prevent the crashes and violations that might lead to you having to terminate them.”
  • “Traditionally, we have thought of training as a way to help prevent crashes and protect ourselves in litigation, but we are now beginning to understand it can be another piece of the recruiting/retention puzzle. The key is that the training must be of high quality, and relevant.”
  • “Place all corporate purchases are done on a “rewards card” linked to a central account. The daily purchases add up and then “rewards points” are used to fund the driver safety pool for awards and trips, etc.”
  • “For retention using some of the new behavior tests to see if one has the “temperament” for driving I think is good and would be a predictor for longevity.”
  • “GPS in vehicles for those who have delivery type jobs are considered helpful. Especially if the driver doesn’t have to load the info; if they can do it from the company computer with the shipping load.”
  • “Home at night is the best for drivers. Even if the company needs to “relay” the load across the country. They can eat better and have a more stable family life. Their health is generally better.”
  • “Steady work with steady customers and routes.”
  • “Stable management with reasonable business policies and paperwork requirements”
  • “Scheduling the driver to be home on a regular basis. The longer the trip in the number of days the more likely that there are issues with turn over”
  • “Use of electronic tools and weekly settlements of out of pocket expenses. With the cost of fuel companies with a two week settlement of expenses with paper checks on return frequently have issues with drivers floating money. If they send via computer the data for expenses and the money is electronically returned to drivers accounts this is an asset.”
  • “Surprise drivers [that report to a central location] with a box lunch or healthy snacks. It shows you’re thinking about them”
  • “Always be honest – they may not like what you have to say, but they have to respect that you’re not patronizing them”
  • “Implement a communication plan – give them feedback, ask for feedback on your own performance as a management team. You may not like what you hear, but it’s a start towards something better”

We even got suggestions on books you might investigate as additional resources:

  • Motor Fleet Safety Supervision: Principles and Practices –by NATMI (North American Transportation Management Institute)
  • You’re NOT the Person I Hired! — By Janet Boydell, Barry Deutsch, Brad Remillard
  • Perfect Phrases for Perfect Hiring: Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases for Interviewing and Hiring the Best Employees Every Time — by , Lori DavilaMargot King
  • Recruiting, Interviewing, Selecting & Orienting New Employees (Recruiting, Interviewing, Selecting and Orienting New Employees) — by Diane Arthur 
  • The Employee Recruitment and Retention Handbook — by Diane Arthur
  • 101 Strategies for Recruiting Success: Where, When, and How to Find the Right People Every Time (Paperback) — by Christopher W. Pritchard
  • The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave: How to Recognize the Subtle Signs and Act Before It’s Too Late — by Leigh Branham
  • Employee Opinion Questionnaires: 20 Ready-to-Use Surveys That Work — by Paul M. Connolly, Kathleen G. Connolly
  • Employee Surveys: Practical And Proven Methods, Samples, Examples — by Paul Connolly

Reader Commentary on Recruiting Tips

When we were researching the first part of this mini-series on recruiting and retention, we got a lot of interesting tips from safety managers and HR teams.  Some may be familiar, some may seem odd, but all were offered with the best possible intention — to help you, our readers try stuff that has worked for them in the past. 

We’ll be continuing our series by shifting to retention strategies and how they can help you stay fully staffed (or even uncover issues affecting recruiting, too).

We asked various safety, fleet, DOT and HR managers what they would suggest to try when recruiting drivers.  Here are some of the most interesting comments (that dealt specifically with recruiting) we received:

  •  “Prescreening programs such as personality profiling may help avoid situations where the driver and your dispatch team are going to become frustrated early and often. Prescreening won’t increase the number of hires, but it may decrease the number of drivers who quit in the first week or month, and it may help reduce the frequency of “conflicts” between drivers and customers/shippers.”
  • “Incorporate a personality assessment into the application. You can track data to help identity those most likely to perform well. It also helps familiarize dispatchers and supervisors with new employee’s personality.”
  • “Re-evaluate your job descriptions (especially those used in recruiting advertising). If you can increase the level of detail, or get feedback from current drivers to revise the wording, your going to waste less time later with candidates that walk out when they realize that 80% of their time will be driving in New York City (when they thought they wouldn’t have to go there at all, etc.)”
  • “Maximize time home where practical and where it is actually valued by the driver. Some drivers may not have a family to return to and want to maximize their earnings, but others may not last at your firm unless they have time to reconnect with their families. Can you re-evaluate routes to encourage more home time? If necessary hire remote drivers for the 2nd half of a run (shuttle loads)”
  • “Seek diversity… It’s often too easy to build up using the friends and relatives of current drivers… it may discourage others from signing on, and if you fire someone’s best friend, they may start looking to leave, too”
  • “Give consideration to unionizing, may be a dirty word to some, but a friendly union can be very beneficial.”
  • “Contact the veterans association or local armed services base for recruitment of recently discharged servicemen”
  • “Develop a brand name and demonstrate professionalism ( no small feat)”
  • “What I’ve seen some companies do is to hire people with good driving records but no truck experience and then train them for truck driving.” [Note: be very careful if you consider this approach – the inexperience in handling a heavy truck could lead to accidents]
  • “My personal suggestion is to check driving record and credit rating. Both imply one’s ability to act within themselves, and socially responsible.”

Many of these comments echo statements and suggestions I’ve read online at various LinkedIn discussion groups and other online resources.  Later, we’ll post more suggestions that deal with Recruiting AND Retention (we believe these two issues aren’t just linked, they’re often two ends of the same issue.)

Driver Recruitment and Retention: A Winning Combination

Attracting “good” drivers and keeping the “best” ones are two challenges that can frustrate managers, but are the keys to success within a fleet operation. Why are these two areas so critical?

Maintaining a stable roster of drivers enables:

  • Dispatchers to move loads without delay, 
  • Sales people to bid for more loads with greater confidence, 
  • Safety managers to better ensure predictable and reasonable results as measured by DOT compliance and accident prevention, 
  • Companies to preserve a greater share of their profit margin as a profit instead of funding expensive qualification activities (i.e. drug tests, MVRs, medicals, etc.)

Additionally, attracting and keeping “professional” drivers directly influence your firm’s results:

  • Drivers are the public face of your company. Drivers interact with customers and shape their opinions of your firm. 
  • There are a lot of folks outside of your company who care about your drivers and how they behave: roadside inspectors, insurance carriers, DOT auditors. 
  • Drivers can get into trouble (i.e. infractions of regulations, crashes, etc.) and in doing so can get you and the management team into trouble, too.

There are many obstacles that keep firms from achieving strong recruiting and retention results:

  • It is difficult to find new, qualified (experienced) drivers who are willing to work long hours at “reasonable” wages (the candidate’s expectations are becoming harder to satisfy) 
  • Many potential drivers have difficulty with speaking and writing the English language which can introduce regulatory compliance and safety issues. 
  • Increased competition between transportation firms for what loads are available are leading some to pay a premium for the best drivers, but that’s also driving up their costs. 
  • Safety departments have a legitimate concern over hiring drivers who may be “at increased risk” of becoming involved in collisions due to prior collisions and moving violations; however, when this interferes with the company’s ability to move loads, it can lead to an internal struggle between managers. 
  • Many companies can’t afford lavish retention programs and anniversary bonus programs that are cash based. 
  • Many top managers don’t support their department or team leaders in practical ways that would enable more creative approaches to recruiting or retention; therefore, line managers become de-motivated to try new things that might actually help.

How can a company overcome these obstacles to find and keep productive drivers?

Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric said; “Business is like a sports team; to win, you have to field the best talent“. Some managers may be reading this and thinking, “Heck, I’d settle for fielding a ‘complete’ team let alone the ‘best’ team“. Don’t give up hope and don’t let your boss paint you into a corner by demanding results with no budget.

There are likely two issues keeping your company from achieving its staffing goals: not enough qualified candidates arriving at your door, and too many veterans leaving your company. Whether we like to admit it or not, these two issues are usually connected to each other — two ends of the same spectrum.  If you’re having trouble with one, you’re likely struggling with the other (maybe it’s not obvious or it’s still “under the radar”)

In the next couple of blog posts, we’ll look at Recruiting Strategies and Retention Strategies.  We’d like to hear from you if you agree/disagree that these two issues are linked and if you have any tips for your peers on improving retention/recruting.