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.

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Drowsy Driving Update 2014

National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week runs November 2-9, 2014. Highlighting the need for drivers and safety teams to focus on drowsy driving, the AAA AAFTS Drowsy DrivingFoundation for Traffic Safety has issued a new research report which states that 21% (one in five) fatal crashes involved driver fatigue. Further, the report summary indicates that:

  • 6% of all crashes in which a vehicle was towed from the scene,
  • 7% of crashes in which a person received treatment for injuries sustained in the crash,
  • 13% of crashes in which a person was hospitalized, and
  • 21% of crashes in which a person was killed involved a drowsy driver.

How did we miss the scope of these crashes?  AAAFTS suggests that National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics “are widely regarded as substantial underestimates of the true magnitude of the problem.”  Why?

The statistics reported by the NHTSA are based on data compiled from reports completed by police officers investigating the scenes of motor vehicle crashes. However, unlike impairment by alcohol, impairment by sleepiness, drowsiness, or fatigue does not leave behind physical evidence, and it may be difficult or impossible for the police to ascertain in the event that a driver is reluctant to
admit to the police that he or she had fallen asleep, if the driver does not realize or remember that his or her performance was impaired due to fatigue, or if the driver is
incapacitated or deceased and thus unable to convey information regarding his level of alertness prior to the crash. This inherent limitation is further compounded by the design of the forms that police officers complete when investigating crashes, which in many cases obfuscate the distinction between whether a driver was known not to have been asleep or fatigued versus whether a driver’s level of alertness or fatigue was unknown.

Based on these concerns, many experts have concluded that the NHTSA data was merely indicating the tip of a large iceberg of hidden or mis-coded results.  Compounding this opinion were results from other studies, including naturalistic (camera in cabin, continuously recording) studies showing a much higher rate of drowsy driving related events.

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Of course, this study makes several assumptions and may not present a perfect picture of drowsy driving in the USA.  However, it is reasonable to assertively promote tactics to avoid drowsy driving situations based on the following:

  • drivers are unable to prevent micronapping from occuring – the fatigued body will overpower their mind’s alertness
  • Poor diet, lack of exercise, frequently interrupted sleep periods, lack of consistent sleep cycles all contribute to weak health and drowsiness.
  • Many “home remedies” for drowsy driving may work for a few minutes, but can’t be relied upon for a real solution — many drivers who’ve turned on the air conditioning or turned up the radio still had crashes happen.

Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is quoted as saying;

Despite the fact that 95 percent of Americans deem it ‘unacceptable’ to drive when they are so tired that they have a hard time keeping their eyes open, more than 28 percent admit to doing so in the last month,”…“Like other impairments, driving while drowsy is not without risk.”

AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds sums it up nicely;

Unfortunately many drivers underestimate the risk of driving while tired, and overestimate their ability to deal with it.

Find other articles on drowsy driving at https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/?s=drowsy%20driving

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21st Century Fleet Maintenance

StepVANSIn  a recent article, titled “How Telematics Has Completely Revolutionized the Management of Fleet Vehicles” published in Entrepreneur (Click HERE), the case is made on how UPS managed to increase maintenance intervals (reduce total number of inspections and PMs) while increasing fleet reliability:

That’s right: UPS went from 240,000 preventative maintenance inspections per year to 120,000. 

Director of automotive engineering Dale Spencer, who oversees the UPS fleet, explains that…For decades, UPS used the same maintenance schedule: changing the oil, fluids and brakes at prescribed intervals, no matter what…[now] UPS has learned to trust the [telematic] data–to monitor every truck remotely, from a high-temperature warning to signals as to whether a driver is wearing a seat belt. “We have the driver data; we know how fast they’re driving, how hard they’re stopping,” Spencer says. “That driver will change bad habits before it costs us money.”

With Telematics, it is easy to spot problems before they’d typically surface in normal PM inspections.  Some fleets are using the GeoTab program to spot failing alternators up to two weeks prior to the anticipated failure — giving them the luxury of pulling the vehicle when it is most convenient for their shop instead of dealing with a roadside failure later on.

It’s more than just cutting PM frequency to save money — it can be a powerful predictor of future recalls and warranty issues:

The software also allows the company to spot wear trends. “We could see certain parts wearing out on the same vehicles too quickly,” Spencer says. That enabled UPS to go back to the vehicle manufacturer and argue for a warranty claim because it was possible to document a pattern. Even a small-business owner with a 10-vehicle fleet might have such an advantage, he says, “as long as they had the data to prove it.”

ntdc truck lineupTelematics can also identify aggressive drivers who wear out vehicles faster than the norm within your fleet.  Drivers who accelerate, brake and swerve in harsh ways tend to kill the lifespan of brakes, burn fuel efficiency and damage steering and control systems. Often, these are the same drivers who top the list of “most crashes” before being asked to drive someplace else.

At the end of the day, the hardware and software your team purchases is important, but even more important will be the customer service support, the hand holding, the networking/benchmarking with other clients and the ability to integrate data into existing systems — all hallmarks of the GeoTab system offered by SafetyFirst (Click Here)

With SafetyFirst, we can integrate:

  • Scored MVRs (using your scoring system)
  • Aggregated Driver Risk Scoring (using crash data, HMD reports, MVRs and telematics)
  • Safety hotline reports (aka How’s My Driving – third generation)
  • Online Training Modules (5-7 minutes, newly produced, tailored to specific issues including speed alerts from telematics)
  • DOT DQ File Maintenance (online)

Further, these are all 100% in-house built systems — not merely a patch work assembly of multiple, third-party products that have been stitched together.

Connected Cars

How do we address idling for fuel economy?

A recent article by GEOTAB offered some interesting insights on idling and ways to effectively improve fuel consumption.

The article deconstructs idle time into sub-categories to better understand “WHY” idling is occurring and whether it is “acceptable” or could be curbed by the driver.

They compare two fictional drivers:  Driver A and Driver B.  Driver A logged 300 minutes of idling, and Driver B logged 250 minutes.

idle-2While the immediate assumption is that Driver B was a better manager of idle time, a closer look at their records revealed that most of their idling occurred during their “pre-trip” and “post-trip” time periods.

Specifically, Driver B idles while doing his/her walk around inspections and setting up his/her route plan.  That idling in the yard or at the terminal could have been easily avoided.  Driver A’s idling happened during heavy traffic while on dispatch.

From the article

The majority of preventable and actionable idle time happens during the before trip and after trip segments. This idle time can be reduced by the use of idle reduction campaigns which establish peer pressure, one-on-one communications with drivers, and continuous feedback using idle reports.

Idle time can be reduced by instilling a culture that prohibits the running of the engine during pre-inspections, filling out of paper work, or any activities where the running of the engine is not necessary.

Idle time during the trip can be used in route planning because it can indicate travel conditions for a given route or area. Idle time during the trip is normally attributed to traffic conditions, traffic signals, and driving conditions. While drivers most likely do not have direct control of this idle time, the route and time-of-day can be evaluated to ensure travel delays (idle time) is reduced as much as possible.

To really maximize your efforts in reducing idle time, clear reporting can help you dive deeper to distinguish unavoidable versus avoidable idling.  Productive drivers who are admonished to reduce idle time without distinguishing these factors can easily become frustrated while other operators are wasting fuel during pre-trip inspections or other scenarios.

Selecting the right partner to help you quickly spot these trends also makes a huge difference.  While some firms charge an arm and a leg for telematics “data” (which amounts to “background noise”), receiving superior “insights” (on the most urgently actionable areas) can translate to immediate savings. 

TeleMatics

Traffic Congestion Accelerating thru 2013

According to a recent article in Heavy Duty Trucking (click HERE), “A new report shows traffic congestion in the U.S. increased last year after two consecutive years of declines and is growing faster than the nation’s economy.”

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That report being cited is the 7th Annual Traffic Scorecard Report by a company called INRIX (click HERE).

Why is it important to know that congestion is rising?

  1. indicator of economic recovery
  2. predictor of crash rates (higher congestion should produce more fender-benders)
  3. impact on fuel, idling and lost productivity (from sitting in stalled traffic)
  4. indicator of unemployment trends (when people are unemployed, they’re not commuting to work, but when they accept new jobs much further from home, they commute longer distances in unfamiliar territories)
  5. indicator to the government planners that road capacities need to be monitored and infrastructure improved

TeleMaticsMany of the issues facing fleet operators due to congestion can be addressed through the use of an inexpensive, easy to use, plug-n-play telematics system like the one offered by SafetyFirst (the GO platform from GEOTAB).

With simple reporting, fleets can monitor and adjust their habits to conserve fuel, increase routing efficiency, avoid congestion and increase productivity.  On top of all that, the data can provide additional insights into safety especially when you blend MVR data, past crash data and How’s my driving data into a single behavior profile through our E-DriverFile system.

Have you seen increases in congestion in your area of the country?  If so, how have your operators been coping with the added delays and stress?  Is your company looking to lower fuel spend and increase safety through telematics?

Telematics: It is 10 AM, do you know who is driving your vehicle?

SafetyFirst has been helping fleets with telematics (tracking specific data about vehicle location and performance) since 2002.  At that time, we initiated a relationship with a local firm that handles hardware design and manufacturing of advanced telematics units.  Over the past ten years, we’ve seen a lot of changes in the industry, and we have worked hard to stay current on the latest trends.

Recently, I was talking with a colleague about telematics he was surprised to learn that one of the “hidden” challenges of systems is connecting data back to the driver from the vehicle.

I pointed out that most telematics devices are tied to the vehicle, not the driver.  This is a management reporting obstacle for fleets that don’t assign particular drivers to specific vehicles.  In our Safety Is My Goal hotline program, very few of our clients make such assignments:  most drivers swap vehicles from day to day.

In fleets whose drivers do operate the same vehicle day in and day out, it is straightforward to link the vehicle data to the driver since they operate as an integrated pairing.

Unfortunately, those fleets whose drivers exchange vehicles periodically must find a way to connect performance data to the appropriate driver.  A failure in this area could lead to mistakenly crediting John’s risky driving to Sally’s record.

Once management negatively impacts a driver by using someone else’s data to coach/counsel them (or discipline them for breaking rules), the system’s credibility is going to be suspect in many of the driver’s eyes.  After all, if we make the mistake once, could we make it again?

Tying data from the vehicle to the driver takes an additional logistical step (or two or three).

There are a number of approaches to linking drivers to data from the simple/mundane (maintaining a database of who was dispatched on each vehicle each day, etc.) to something more “automatic” and self-administrating such as electronic interfaces.

Naturally, as we add complexity to the process, there are additional “failure” points possible.  Drivers may forget to punch in their ID code, swipe a card, insert a key device, or whatever method is needed to “link” the driver to the vehicle electronically.  It would be possible for a driver to “code in” on Monday and forget to “code out” and so on.  Algorithims can cap off some of this forgetfulness, but it is likely that these processes will require the cooperation of the individuals to monitor and correct data errors on a daily/weekly basis.  Unfortunately, this administration takes productivity time away from supervisory staff, but is needed in order to assure data quality and reporting value.

Ultimately, I would speculate that there may be a shift (in the next several months or years) away from simply hardwiring the vehicle to acquire data towards using “apps” downloaded to smart devices such as tablets or phones that stay with the driver and link him/her to the vehicle via some “over the airwaves”.  Perhaps a link via “WIFI” or a “Bluetooth-type” interface could be used to create a hybrid situation between on-board hardware and floating devices which stay with the driver.

It is especially vital to tie safety performance to the driver since personal habits and behaviors generate the exceptional data.  Traditionally, data about speed, sway, harsh braking and heavy acceleration are monitored.  These indicators represent only a fraction of the total driver safety picture which is a mosaic of many tiles or data points (i.e. telematics doesn’t tell us about running red lights, load securement issues, failure to use or improper use of turn signals, and so on).

A balanced program includes layers of programming such as MVR profiling, “Safety Is My Goal” Hotlines, driver risk profiling and so on.  Such a layered approach to driver safety programming can fill in gaps and provide a greater, clearer “big picture” of needs and results.

While telematics data can be a very valuable tile in the mosaic picture, it would be easy to overwhelm a constituent with raw telematics data.  This flood of data, if unfiltered, could make it difficult to differentiate the “urgently actionable” from the “background noise” without hiring additional data analysts.  To the greatest extent possible, information should be self-selecting and self-prioritizing through appropriately tested filters to float the cream to the top of the bucket.  This is one of the areas that SafetyFirst has been helping clients transform their data pile into scoring and results tied to particular operators.

Finally, telematics (or any other data pile) is only going to be useful if it is translated into management action — if actual behavior isn’t changed, then the data’s intrinsic value diminishes.  Ultimately, a translation of engineering derived data to soft skills communication such as practical coaching and education must happen for the various system goals to be met.  Otherwise, we may be banking on an expectation that drivers would self-correct merely for fear of sanction, and such a system would be hard pressed to provide long term or sustainable results.

So use your telematics system wisely:

  • Make certain that you can tie your data back to specific drivers with certainty.
  • Be prepared to filter your data from a “pile” into a workable set of key performance indicators. 
  • Create a game plan to translate “engineering data” into a “person friendly” coaching experience so that individual drivers may receive a compassionate intervention. 

The goal should be sustainable, enhanced performance, not contrived short term gains.

SafetyFirst specializes in driver safety results.  We are the preferred “in-network” choice of commercial insurers and fleet operators throughout North America.  Let us help you overcome your driver safety challenges.

Our programs include: telematics solutions; training/education; consultancy; FMCSR/DQF solutions; MVR ordering and profiling; Driver and Asset Risk Management Information Systems and much more.