Driver Safety Hotline – Dealing with Reports

cropped-decal-ate-truck.jpgOne of the most often asked questions from safety managers is “what am I supposed to do with a driver who has received a Motorist Observation Report?”

Blended Risk ScoreFor many, the assumption is that a report = disciplinary action, blame setting, arguments and confrontations that lead to sulky drivers and higher turnover.

However, that’s never what we had in mind (despite our competitors ingraining that ‘mentality’ into their fleet customers over the past three decades)….

The goal of a safety hotline is to increase safety results, not punish drivers.  

Unfortunately, many supervisors have never had training or education on “how to coach/counsel” for improved habits and to motivate drivers to seek a better level of safety awareness.  The other issue is often a lack of tools in the tool kit to help drivers.

Another traffic picFor example, when we send a report we not only provide as much detail as possible (taking a paragraph or two to describe what happened) but we also use a tactic called “polite interrogation” of the motorist.  This sounds horrible, but we’re working on behalf of the commercial driver, not the caller.  Therefore, we ask open ended questions instead of trying to simply fill out a checklist.  We have a few other tricks of the trade to help vet these calls, but a good artist never reveals all of their secrets.

Next, we have our computer system attach one-page safety fact sheets to reports which match the specific habit types listed on the report (i.e. tailgating, swerving in traffic, running red lights, etc.)  The driver reads these sheets and signs/dates the bottom of the form to document at least minimal training has been provided.

We send a link to a supervisory video program on how to conduct proactive, cooperative coaching sessions.  This includes role play scenarios on the most common issues presented by drivers.

Additionally, our reports “recommend” specific 5 to 7 minute remedial, online, interactive training courses with “one-click” ordering of multiple courses (one course for each key habit issue) so that drivers get the training they need the most based on actual observations.  Some vendors limit you to picking the most egregious habit (can only assign one course—and their courses average 37 to 42 minutes long apiece—YIKES, talk about mind-numbing disrespect of a professional driver and a waste of time, energy and resource)

Driver Safety Cycles

Summary

Our program isn’t about pointing fingers, setting blame or yelling at drivers.

Our program is a DRIVER EDUCATION program that happens to use stickers as a triggering agent to identify who needs the MOST URGENT attention on SPECIFIC TOPICS, right now, BEFORE a crash or moving violation happen.

Our goal is to help supervisors focus on the few drivers who just need a little “course correction” before they’re off the rails.  This is prevention at it’s best. 

Other food for thought from very recent client case studies (past two years)…..

  • One of our clients operates 12,000 trucks.  They installed GPS.  Their GPS provider had no mechanism for them to translate the data into actionable follow ups with individual drivers.  During the second year, all excessive speed alerts (driving more than a set maximum threshold) came to us to be processed as Motorist Observation Reports (to use our coaching process.)  Since the rule was that none of these could be deleted, each incident must end up with coaching offered to the driver.  Net results?  By the end of the second year, they had decreased GPS speed alerts by 600% (From 1700 down to 174).  This was by “no-fault” coaching instead of discipline and termination – result was curbing behavior while increasing tenure.
  • Another client with 450 tractor trailers (over the road trucking) has GPS.  They got 470 hotline calls (motorist observation reports) in the first year on the program (more than one per tractor!) – out of these, ONLY five were ‘inaccurate” based on GPS readings for location/speed at time of report – that’s only 1% considered inaccurate and all remaining reports were used for coaching.  Their accident frequency has stayed about the same; however, severity per claim is “significantly lower” than the prior year and they believe it’s due to the drivers being aware of their surroundings and using the training we’ve provided to modify their habits.

SafetyFirst

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

Safety Hotlines – How do they work?

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is “just how do those safety hotline programs work?”  Followed by “do they really produce a meaningful result?

cropped-wb-banner-asp-trucks.jpgLet’s address results first, and then look at the mechanics of a strong program.

Safety hotlines really do work to help fleets cut crashes and spot drivers who may be “at-risk” of becoming involved in a crash or getting a police-issued violation.

A Safety Hotline is different from a “how’s my driving” program in that Safety Hotlines are really training programs that use a sticker to bring certain drivers “to the front of the line” to get urgent assistance from management in “no-fault training“.

How’s my driving systems get drivers fired or punished and are often poorly supported by the vendor — allowing crank calls because their call center handles magazine subscriptions, sales calls, and all sorts of in-bound and out-bound marketing in addition to taking safety calls.

SafetyFirst was the first to change this approach from “complaints” to “training” and others have tried to mimic our approach, but have never come close to our crash reduction results (even in head-to-head comparison tests!)

  • About a dozen insurance carrier studies have been done between 1995 and 2010 validating the results consistently from independent study to independent study.
    • Insurance carrier studies are helpful since they average out variances from fleet to fleet and cut across industry lines to pick up a diverse crowd of participants
    • Insurer studies (done by their own safety teams) show a range of results from 22% to as high as 38% — with the stronger results being reported most recently as we continue to apply past learning to make the program more effective.
  • At least as many safety directors of larger fleets have done their own studies, too.
    • One involved 16,000 vehicles and documented a 24% reduction in claim count and a 25% reduction in claim costs – the study was done by a past chapter president of the American Society of Safety Engineers (he knew what he was measuring and how to do it!)
    • Another involved 3000 telecom-infrastructure vehicles (pickups and vans) and documented a three-year cumulative reduction of 54%
    • On the flip side, safety directors also looked at the relationship of reports to specific drivers found that the risk of collisions went up almost exponentially as one driver received a second, third, fourth observation report while other drivers (with the same vehicle and route complexity) got zero reports.
    • Safety directors confirm that reports are not random results of crank calls – 98-99% of all reports were confirmed valid upon investigation and 80% of all drivers NEVER get a single complaint (typically those drivers with CLEAR MVRs), but 10% get multiple complaints (typically those drivers with questionable MVRs)

7X20 decal 7233So how does it really work?

Initial Set Up

A participating fleet supplies a vehicle list and matches the largest possible decal to each vehicle type.  This helps the decal be noticed and makes it easier for motorists to call in reports (hands-free!).

The decal includes a short slogan (which is there as an “icon” not something meant to be read by the motorist – they recognize the decal design) a specific identifying number and a toll free call in number (using all digits and no letters since hands free dialing is much easier with all digits – we were the first to go all digits in our industry recognizing the additional safety benefits to hands-free callers)

In Action

Motorists who observe truly egregious behavior on the road may choose to file a report by calling (hands-free) to our 24/7/365 call center and talking to a live operator who will move them through a concise interview to grab details about the situation.  Our goal is to get the maximum amount of information in the shortest time possible and get the motorist off of their phone.  Many times, motorists have already found a safe parking place to make their call.

Typical fleets get only two to three reports per 100 vehicles per month.  There are factors which can swing that “norm” up or down, but it’s not a lot to review in order to stem off 20-30% of your crashes!

drowsy drivingReport Transmitted to Client

The report is typed into a database, sent to a supervisor for review/audit and then our computer system attaches the appropriate training sheets (based on the categories of behavior noted in the report).  This package is emailed to the location supervisor who controls that vehicle.  The report may also be copied to their regional, divisional or corporate safety directors (and even their insurance carrier if designated).

The supervisor confirms who was driving the vehicle and schedules and interview with that driver.  We provide a full training program for supervisors on how to prepare for, set up and conduct effective, no-fault coaching sessions.

Coaching – What Happens to the Driver?

CoachingDuring the coaching session, the supervisor will review the details of the report with the affected commercial driver and provide the training sheets to that driver.  This opportunity for on-the-spot training shifts the focus of the meeting away from “blaming” and on to “training” for improved performance.  Many supervisors also work with the driver to set personal goals for monitoring and checking “risky” habits that could lead to a ticket or crash.

If the supervisor feels that it is warranted, he/she may assign additional “online, interactive” training modules as they are closing out the report in our database.  In that event, multiple (but short) reminder training modules can be emailed to the driver to take at home, from a kiosk, or even on their smart device such as an i-Pad during their downtime.

Coaching Tips TitleWhere most online training programs average out to 37.5 minutes each, ours never exceed four minutes duration.  We figure that if it takes almost forty minutes to explain why you should be using your signals, as a trainer, you’re “doing it wrong” and have probably lost your learner to boredom and information fatigue.

Most drivers NEVER get a report – in fact, 80% go without a report during their entire career.  10% get one report and never get another.  10% get multiple reports about risk taking while behind the wheel.  It’s not a random chance that one driver gets a call and not another – it’s all about behavior.

Closeouts and Monthly Reporting

Each report gets closed out in our database.  This accomplishes several important tasks:

  1. it shows a paper trail response to each report
  2. it builds a database of who was driving during each event (especially important for fleets who don’t permanently assign drivers to specific vehicles)
  3. it enables us to help corporate managers see how location supervisors respond to these reports and differentiate location by location loss performance
  4. it helps us build a benchmarking database by industry SIC classification
  5. it enables us to send monthly reporting of activity that is valuable and helpful in adjusting your existing safety tools and programs to become more effective.

Once a month we send an email with a series of links to reporting designed by our clients to be simple, helpful and informative.  You don’t need to remember to come to our site and download things, and you don’t need to remember your ID and Password like our competitors programs (that don’t feature automated reporting).  However, if you do keep your ID and Password handy, you can access a treasure trove of fleet safety and driver safety resources.

We maintain one of the largest libraries of fleet safety and driver safety materials on the internet.  It’s only accessible by current clients and is updated four times a year with articles, presentation files, training packages for drivers and much more.

Monthly Training Topics for ALL Drivers

Even if you don’t access the library frequently, we automatically send out a monthly “Ten-Minute Training Topic” for you to use with your employees and their immediate families as you see fit.

Driving Too Fast PPTThe package includes a driver handout, manager’s supplemental report (about setting, reviewing or revising your company policies on that issue) and a pair of electronic slideshows.  A different topic comes out each month, and can be used with any type of vehicle.

Each company uses the documents in slightly different ways – from classroom talks with on-screen presentations to payroll stuffers that go home in the pay checks.  A new topic is sent each month and the archive of older topics has grown to more than 80+

Online, Interactive Training

Our learning management system enables our clients to upload their entire driver list, and bulk assign training modules with minimal mouse clicks.  If your drivers have email addresses, it’s almost automatic, but if they don’t we can generate a PDF document with each driver’s log in credentials and a “how to” paragraph to get them started with ease.

Each course is related to various “real world” scenarios and issues.  The onscreen content includes a mix of broadcast quality (HD) video, text, On Camera Host, and even computer animations to illustrate concepts.  This mix of formats is highly engaging and represents the reality that adult attention spans (for better or worse) have been decreasing steadily.

The average television commercial is now 15 seconds long.  Forty-minute+ training modules are dying dinosaurs and disrespect your driver’s professionalism by dragging along at such a plodding pace.

GPS Anyone?

Since 2001, SafetyFirst has been integrating telematics data alerts into E-DriverFile and working with fleets on specialized reporting.  Regardless of the hardware platform, you can leverage our data platform to accomplish multiple goals:

  • Use our coaching system to translate GPS data into a behavioral safety outcome (one fleet did this and saw a 600% reduction in excessive speed alerts within 12 months time)
  • Combine alerts with MVR data or other data points to spot drivers who may be “at-risk” of becoming hurt or driving up your CSA BASIC scores.
  • Simply get more from your solution like “cell control” to block cell phone use without the hassles of competing systems

Last, But Not Least

Blended Risk ScoreThe final step in our closeout process for those customers participating in our E-DriverFile suite is to post each “Safety Hotline” report to their driver risk profile.  The driver risk profile is an extra-expense report that enables managers to develop their own “blended” score of MVR violations, Preventable Crashes, Telematics Alerts, and How’s My Driving notices.  The driver risk profile helps validate the effectiveness of each of those programs and serves as an early warning indicator (by mixing leading and lagging indicators) that particular drivers need to be “brought to the front of the line” to get immediate help from their managers before a violation, or worse.

Summary

Safety Hotlines have come a long way in a short time.  They’ve been repeatedly proven effective, and are very simple to use.  They cost far less than other systems and provide a real value by becoming an extra layer to your safety processes.  They do not need to alienate drivers any more than GPS, telematics, or camera systems might.  The data captured has been validated by the safety supervisors, and these supervisors have used our training on “how to coach effectively” to host meaningful conversations about safety instead of letting these turn into confrontations about policies.

If you’ve never tried OUR program, you really can’t compare it to anything like you’ve used before — our approach is part of the success criteria of the program.  Consider a fresh start and test our program — you’ll see the differences immediately — we know that driving safely is every driver’s responsibility.

cropped-trucks-highway.jpg

Reader Follow Up from Driving Too Fast for Conditions

We’ve received a ton of great suggestions and comments from our recent blog post on “driving too fast for conditions” and we wanted to share some of those with you.

  • “In the UK we are advised to keep a minimum gap to the vehicle in front. so in good weather you keep a 2 second gap , in wet weather a 4 second gap and in icy weather /snow a 10 second gap although to be honest slowing down and adding a few more seconds wouldn’t go amiss.”

blog rainy traffic day 1

  • Teach common sense. As a law enforcement officer I would venture to guess I have written this particular citation (or more importantly listed as hazardous action on an accident report) more than any in relation to accidents. A speed limit is exactly that, A limit on how fast you CAN go given perfect conditions.”

blizzard traffic day

  • “I usually counsel my drivers that their speed should depend on no less than 6 conditions, namely:
    • condition of traffic
    • condition of road
    • condition of weather
    • condition of vehicle
    • condition of load, and, last but not least
    • condition of driver.

If any of these is/are not ideal, you must reduce the speed accordingly. Furthermore, drive the speed which will allow you to come to a complete stop without a hard-brake application. Aim high, anticipate traffic patters, work with your mirrors, keep eyes moving by panning them from left mirror across the windshield to the right mirror, than back again across the dash (after all, you want to see what your gauges are doing)….and, maintain that safety cushion ahead of you.

blog banner snow ice blizzard

  • Also, drivers need to understand that posted speed limits are just that. Limits….it does not mean that they have to drive that speed, but they shan’t exceed it!”

drowsy driving

  • “If you have ever driven a fully loaded truck and had to hit the brakes in icy conditions. that’s a good gauge of what you need to do to formulate a plan to prevent an incident. Happened to me years ago when I was driving my truck but I was lucky that day and so was the person in the car in front of me. A truck won’t stop once it losses traction and will hit whatever is in front of it if you’re too close.  Thinking otherwise is a huge mistake.”

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  • “What I have been teaching for years is that, Mr. Professional Truck Driver, do you really know and completely understand the dynamics of bringing an 80,000 pound vehicle to a “safe stop?”  Although most will say yes, when I sit with them for an hour or so they find that they are amazed,,, and say, “good gosh” I never had this explained that way before, thank you for making me a driver who now understands the basics of vehicle control…”

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  • “If you are talking about snow, fog or other visibility issues like lights at night use the “Trained Eye Lead Time” rule. This will help prevent some of the too fast for conditions problems. Basically the rule is 12 to 15 seconds, if you cannot see hazards and identify them that far ahead of you before you get to them, you cannot react in time. In icy, wet slick conditions you should increase you following distance as others have stated but your following distance should be more in the big truck, (1 second for every 10 ft of vehicle length) the 2 second rule works great for cars but not us. If you get to the point you feel traction about to break, back down 5 mph.”

Summary

We really appreciate the feedback we get from our readers.  The list of subscribers continues to grow each month and we have a ton of folks who have been asking for specific topics be added to the editorial queue.  If you haven’t let us know what’s on your mind, please reach out.

Also, thanks for the inquiries about our revolutionary refresher training program designed to work with coaching processes (whether driven by GPS, camera-in-cabin or safety hotline inputs) — it’s just the right approach for drivers regardless of industry or vehicle type.  No training module is more than FIVE minutes in TOTAL length — if it takes another vendor an AVERAGE of 37.5 minutes to tell your driver why they need to use their turn signals, we think that they don’t know very much about educational design or people’s attention span.

Respect your drivers — give them training that they want to take and will actually learn from — and then get them back on the road!

cropped-trucks-highway.jpg

 

Per Nat’l Safety Council — Motor-vehicle deaths up 5% in 2012

National Safety Council has release its preliminary report on MVC (Motor Vehicle Crash) data for 2012.

  • “Motor-vehicle deaths in 2012 totaled 36,200, up 5% from 2011 and marking the first annual increase since 2004 to 2005. The 2012 estimate is provisional and may be revised when more data are available.”
  • “The estimated cost of motor-vehicle deaths, injuries, and property damage in 2012 was $276.6 billion, a 5% increase from 2011. The costs include wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, employer costs, and property damage.”

This report follows on our initial reporting from October 2012 (https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/largest-6-month-increase-in-fatal-crashes-in-nhtsas-history/) which cited NHTSA reporting showing the largest spike in crashes since 1975 (when stats started being recorded in this format). 

The NSC data confirm that the first quarter of the year drove the average up considerably with double-digit increases in crash and fatality activity.

NSC Stats for 2012

The critical issue is determining what drove that increase — what happened during November 2011 to December 2011 that would have led to increased crash stats in January 2012 thru the end of March 2012 (especially with a milder winter than normal).

Additionally, why, after years of declines in crashes and fatalities (the same years that we had a significant economic downturn) did we see such a spike despite the enormous expansion of telematics units deployed, camera in cabin systems, and other safety programs in place?  Did the management teams fail to heed the warnings of these systems, did the operational climate shift from one of “driver surplus/cargo shortage” to “cargo surplus/driver shortage”

We’re interested in your thoughts — please contribute at our LinkedIn discussion group (Click Here)

To see the full range of data from NSC — http://www.nsc.org/Documents/NSC%20MV%20Fatality%20Estimates.pdf

About SafetyFirst Systems — We are a driver safety firm providing an umbrella of programs designed to help you manage drivers from first recruiting conversation to exit interview.  Online recordkeeping, reporting, monitoring, screening and profiling using your own criteria.  A proven system in place and functioning with fleets from all industry classifications (from construction and local delivery to over-the-road operations and everything in between).