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

Motorist Observation Reports – What’s the Point?

Another traffic picWhen a motorist calls a safety hotline reporting service, they usually call because they’re emotionally upset by what they’ve witnessed.

However, that statement doesn’t mean that the commercial driver “did something wrong” OR that the motorist “was just trying to get someone in trouble“.  Unfortunately, these assumptions lead to blame setting instead of no-fault coaching designed to reduce risk.

For instance, a motorist travelling in the middle lane (of three) is passed by a large commercial vehicle in the left lane.  The motorist looks at his or her speedometer and realizes they’re already five MPH above the posted limit of 65 (operating at 70 while being passed.)  The motorist is concerned since the commercial vehicle then begins to weave through traffic ahead of them without using signals.

  1. The call is made and the interview concludes with an estimate of the commercial vehicle’s speed being around 80 since they passed the motorist so quickly.  In ALERT CSAreality, the speed of the passing vehicle would be difficult to estimate, but since the motorist did check their own speedometer (at 70 MPH) it’s reasonable to estimate a speed in the 75-80 range.  
  2. In the process of making the report, the motorist is asked where this incident took place, and they cite a mile marker that they’ve just passed (even though the incident took place behind them, perhaps as much as 2-3 miles behind).
  3. Finally, the motorist is asked to leave a contact number and their name in case the safety manager would like to give them a call.  Having just seen a movie the night before about stalkers and such, the motorist is unwilling to give their name for fear that a driver might somehow get their information and harass them.

The report is filed with the motor carrier electronically, within an hour of the phone call.

  1. The motor carrier checks GPS records for the time of the incident and confirms that the vehicle was withing five to ten miles of the approximate location mentioned by the motorist; however,
  2. all of the trucks in that fleet are “governed” to a maximum speed of 70 MPH.  
  3. The manager sees that the report was filed anonymously. 

Critical decision time — is the point of the report to:

  1. set blame and initiate discipline for breach of a safety policy?
  2. offer “no-fault” coaching on safety practices to raise safety awareness, record the report in case subsequent reports are received on this same driver for similar situations?

If the goal is to set blame, then the report is a poor mechanism in this instance since there is an apparent conflict with the report of the speed and the “governor” settings (the manager could investigate to see if the settings have been altered), and the manager doesn’t like to deal with anonymous reports since he/she feels that there is a lack of credibility associated with the report.

However, if the goal is coaching/re-training, then the manager can:

  • have a face to face meeting about safety.  Even if the conversation is something as simple as:  “tire blowouts are caused by under-inflation and high speed operation which heats the sidewalls, tire blow outs are a primary contributor to truck rollovers, & truck rollovers are a key crash type that ends in fatalities not just simple injuries; therefore, you should be very careful to always check tire pressure and stay at or under the posted limit while not impeding traffic.  Additionally, signaling and proper passing technique is important to avoid side swipes and merge/pass collisions.  For CDL holders improper passing is also a disqualifying offense because it is such a serious safety issue”  This conversation would, naturally cover any specific company policies related to pre-trips, speeding and time management (not rushing due to poor planning, etc.)
  • schedule online refresher modules.  Many online programs are available that highlight risk-taking such as speeding, weaving in traffic, etc.  Our programs are focused on the possible consequences of such behavior which doesn’t focus on blame setting, just awareness by asking for a renewed commitment to drive professionally.  Our programs are also kept to 5 to 7 minutes out of respect for your driver and the need to be productive, too.
  • Another example of a blended scorekeep the report on file in case of subsequent reports for similar situations in the future.  Maintaining a file doesn’t have to imply punitive action against the driver, but without records, we’d never know if the driver may be slipping into a repeated pattern of habits.  
  • connect this report with the affected driver’s history of violations and past collisions. This report may be another piece of a complex puzzle indicating a need for management’s compassionate intervention.

Coaching Tips TitleTo ignore the report or delete the report shows the least care and concern for the professional driver — it says that we don’t care enough to offer safety coaching to help minimize the chances of becoming involved in a collision — preferring to wait for a violation (affecting their personal insurance rates, out of pocket fines, etc.) or waiting for an actual crash event to recognize the need to intervene.

Large_Trucks_Cover_Front-300x287The National Transportation Safety Board has previously issued written recommendations over this issue of deleting all anonymous reports.  The NTSB offered their opinion that while the individual report credibility may be called suspect, if subsequent reports of similar nature (anonymous or not) were later received about this same driver for the same (or similar) described habits, then there’s ample justification to provide “no fault” re-training in order to preserve the highest regard and practice of safety awareness within the professional driver population.

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

  • One of our clients operates 12,000 trucks.  They installed GPS.  They ignored the GPS alerts about speeding for the first year.  During the second year, all speed alerts (driving more than 80 MPH) came to us to be processed as MOR – none could be deleted, all must end up with coaching offered to the driver.  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.
  • Another client with 450 tractor trailers (over the road trucking) has GPS.  They got 470 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 1% considered inaccurate and all remaining reports were used for coaching.  Their accident frequency has not changed, but 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. Further, the number of reports per month is dropping steadily as drivers modify their habits to be less aggressive as they maintain their productivity through careful route planning and time management.

These are just some of the tips and techniques that we provide to our clients, and the examples above are highly abbreviated versions of what we actually share.

So how about you?  Do you see a Motorist’s Observation as a chance to help a driver be safe or merely a punitive exercise?  

We think that it’s akin to a “near miss” report that’s actionable from a prevention standpoint that helps the driver avoid collisions and stay productive.  

This is based on a dozen+ studies conducted by both fleet managers and insurers who provide the hotline (and monitor the reporting over the shoulder of the enrolled fleet).  Those studies showed 20-35% reductions in frequency and larger savings from severity reductions.  When coupled with automated MVR profiling, GPS alerts and Online Training, the improvements increase.

www.safetyismygoal.com

7X20 decal 7233

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

Driver Safety Hotline – Coaching for Results

SafetyFirstIt is uncontested that 80% of all commercial drivers drive consistently well, but a small percentage have “bad habits” that contribute to the vast majority of crashes and “near-misses”.

How do you identify these drivers so that you can effectively help them drive better tomorrow so that they:

  • Do go home to their families
  • Do make their deliveries on time
  • Do receive positive training, not punishment
  • Do understand that safety is serious
  • Do help protect the company’s image
  • Don’t have to sit through depositions
  • Don’t get hurt or killed
  • Don’t get a moving violation
  • Don’t have their personal insurance rates jump
  • Don’t reduce their “employability” due to tickets or accidents

The best way to identify these drivers is with a simple, low-cost, turn-key solution.  Our hotline program spots those drivers, who, if their behaviors were ignored, would end up with a violation or crash event.

  1. We send you a report about specific incidents.  We also send Training Materials tied to the specifics of the incident.
  2. You talk with your driver – not to fix blame, but to help them fix any underlying safety problems.  Additionally to help them understand that the goal is safety – to avoid injury no matter who or what was the cause of the reported incident.
  3. SafetyZone-LMSYou assign one OR MORE 5-7 minute remedial, online, interactive modules specifically related to the incident described in the report.
  4. You send us the completed coaching report and we track your driver’s progress in completing the online portion of the program.
  5. We provide a monthly recap of progress and patterns in activity.
  6. We send a monthly training package to help ALL of your drivers with safety.

That’s it.  It is very simple, very inexpensive and highly effective.

Pyramid 2011 for blogAlso, if you prefer, we can integrate our MVR system, DOT compliance database and GPS systems into the solution for a fully-encompassing approach to driver safety.

Anger Behind the Wheel

Interesting post from an honest driver who is struggling to do their part in dealing with the frustruations of driving in today’s environment.  Have you ever wondered what’s going through the minds of other drivers?

anexperimentinhappyness

Because sometimes it’s totally not my fault that I yell like you can hear me

Maybe it’s just me but I am so hateful when I drive. I hate pedestrians. I hate bikers. I hate the old and the young alike. I hate the speeders, I hate the slow-pokes. The passengers that change my radio station without asking (you know I love Keith Urban why would change it as soon as one of his songs comes on) and the ones that can’t seem to give directions before I have to make the left from the right lane don’t escape my seething quiet wrath either. When there are other people in the car with me sometimes I yell at other cars. Their state plates become their names and suddenly Virginia doesn’t know how to pass and gosh-darn-it Georgia slow cars are suppose to be in the right lane not in the left and for heaven’s sake what…

View original post 411 more words

Webinar: Out of Time? Out of Compliance? NOT out of Options!

To support our clients, USI and AIG, SafetyFirst led a webinar targeting smaller fleet operators (those with under 500 power units).

cropped-truck-traffic.jpgRegulated fleets all have to comply with the same set of ever-changing regulations; however, larger fleets can dedicate specialist resources to handling the paperwork and smaller fleets may be limited to a proverbial crew of three — “Me, Myself and I”.  Further, this team of “three” may have many other job duties beyond compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, too.

The focus of the webinar included the following learning points:

  • Identify the principal areas of driver safety regulation
  • Identify educational resources for managers
  • Identify how to use Federal resources to monitor their compliance status
  • Determine a mechanism to set a rational focus on key tactics.

While it’s beyond the scope of this blog article to cover all the points of the webinar, we’ll try to offer some of the highlights.

First, we made it a priority to share as many links to free, federal resources as possible — the goal of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to reduce crashes and injuries; therefore, they are stepping up to provide strategies and tactics that motor carriers can employ to that end result.  It all starts with the main web site — http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov

Motor Carriers Guide to ImprovingAnother resource was “A Motor Carrier’s Guide to Improving Highway Safety” which doesn’t serve as a replacement for the FMSCRs, but helps provide a “plain English” version of what motor carriers should be working on to be safe and compliant.  This can be downloaded from http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/eta/index.htm

We also encouraged the participants to regularly visit http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov to get the latest tips and fact sheets on the CSA program.

The CSA program changes how FMCSA conducts audits and gives them flexibility to target more carriers for specific issues using different means of intervention (i.e. such as sending an inquiry on a highlighted issue by mail).  It doesn’t add to the regulations – it just addresses how FMCSA measures safety performance, evaluates the need to intervene, and then responds to potential problems.

CSA ToolkitsWe walked through the Bookend BASICs concept (covered on this blog site and in articles published by NATMI, et.al.) and how fleets can prioritize their response to keeping BASIC scores as low as possible.

The Safety Management Cycle, as a risk management model, was used in a practical exercise to demonstrate it’s utility to motor carriers.

We also highlighted the newest fact sheet releases, the motor carrier tool kit, and the driver tool kit which are found at the CSA site.

Summary

We dealt with a half-dozen specific questions from the audience (submitted through the web-ex environment) and there was some thoughtful discussion to wrap up the session.  We reminded the participants of the following ideas:

  • Compliance is about doing the “boring/tedious” stuff consistently
  • There are a lot of resources available to help you comply that cost nothing 
  • The FMCSA keeps data on your fleet to decide if they should intervene – you should monitor your scores at their site
  • If the FMCSA sends you a letter, call them and talk to them IMMEDIATELY. Tell them that Safety & Compliance are serious subjects and you want to improve your score.
  • Use the online resources to craft your response to them, and KEEP IT SIMPLE – no need to be fancy or commit to things you can’t afford or complete.
  • They will want to see that you did what you said you would. Not more or less. You need to put the plan into effect!

SafetyFirst is a fleet safety solutions provider, working through insurance carriers and directly with fleet clients throughout North America.

A copy of the slideshow will be distributed to participants in the webinar experience, and will be posted at our client-only (*log in required) web site.

The Most Costly WC Claim?

mvr crash sceneAs employers, we pay a heavy price for each and every injury — for the affected employee (driver); their immediate passengers (if any); and the liability associated with the injuries of third parties (anyone our vehicle hit).

National Safety Council publishes an annual statistics book called “Injury Facts”.  In this great document, I found the following quote:

The most costly lost-time workers’ compensation claims by cause of injury, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance’s (NCCI’s) data, are for those resulting from motor vehicle crashes. These injuries averaged $65,875 per workers’ compensation claim.

Isn’t that an amazing (if tragic) fact?  I’ve heard many safety managers dispute this by arguing that “this or that” type of claim is more severe, but they sit down and look at their own data and come to the same conclusion…..at the end of the year, when all claims have been tallied, motor vehicle collisions are the most tenacious.

I did a little more digging at the NCCI web site and found this quote from December 2012:

…motor vehicle accidents are more severe than the average workers compensation claim; they impact a diverse range of occupations other than just truckers; top diagnoses include neck injuries; duration is more than a third longer; subrogation is significant, with traffic accident claims comprising more than half of all claims with subrogation; and attorney involvement is greater.

Wow, that’s a lot to take in, too.  When setting up a safety plan for the year, or a budget, it’s important to remember to count workers compensation claim costs into your fleet safety budgeting, too.  It’s not just a matter of fixing dents and repainting fenders — there’s third party liability costs, litigation costs, lost supervisory time for extended investigations, depositions, protection of evidence, and much more.  Just that one phrase “duration [of the MVC-related workers comp claim] is more than a third longer [than other work comp claims]” impacts your lost time calculations for OSHA and affects your experience modifier for setting insurance rates.

At safety conferences, I often ask participants the following question…

All workplace injuries should be prevented; however, does “driver safety” take a keystone priority to your company’s “safety program” if you operate any type of commercial vehicles?

Safety professionals make the connection between vehicle liability and workers comp costs, but not all fleet managers have access to the data to build the case for a stronger safety effort in the “wheeled world“.

CoachingWhen I worked in the insurance world, we covered a large baking operation.  They made nine inch fruit pies for restaurants.  The workers comp claim totals far eclipsed the commercial vehicle claims at first glance.  However, we isolated all of the workers comp costs by employee type and location and re-stacked the data — we found that if we took injuries related to driving, and making deliveries, and placed them in the same bucket as the commercial vehicle crashes, we had a clearer case to make to top management that they needed to put most of their safety efforts into the fleet operations, not the manufacturing plant.  They followed our lead an loss costs for the entire operation plummeted.

The ANSI Z15 standard (published by the American Society of Safety Engineers – http://www.asse.org) outlines many practical steps toward saving lives of employees who drive as part of their job. One element of that program is to monitor driver behaviors to provide coaching and re-training if hazardous habits are detected.  This is an area where our firm has excelled over the years.  Pyramid 2011 for blog

So if your workers compensation costs are high, your insurance program rates keep rising, or your experience modifier is creeping up, consider re-evaluating the factors that are contributing to the issue.  Maybe a stronger and more effective focus on “wheels” can help moderate your WC costs!

SafetyFirst works with a network of more than 75 insurance providers and serves an active customer base of more than 3,800 fleets around North America.  Since our company start in 1998 we’ve touched and managed more than a million drivers to cut crashes and avoid injuries.  blog rainy traffic day 1

 

How Fast is Too Fast?

cropped-thanksgiving-traffic.jpgThis past Fall, Texas opened a new toll road that parallels a slow road thru a rural area.  Drivers would have a choice — pay a premium to drive 85 MPH legally, or drive the old road through small towns and speed traps.  What made matters seemingly worse was that the deal between the state and the operator of the toll road (a private vendor) was somehow incentivized to push the speed limit as high as possible.

On the first night of public operation, the toll road suffered it’s first fatal crash (http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/12/15112206-texas-highway-with-nations-fastest-speed-limit-records-first-fatal-crash?lite)

Now, a lawmaker in Nevada wants to push the maximum limit to 85 MPH in his state, too (http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/04/02/nevada-bill-would-allow-85-mph-speed-limit-on-state-highways/)

I drive out on the Interstate 80 quite often and the maximum speed limit there is 75 [mph],” says Sen. Don Gustavson, the bill’s sponsor. “Most people do faster than that, they do 80 to 85. If we increase the speed limit to 85, these people that are already doing that speed will be doing so legally.

Of course, there’s always a business angle to exploit when it comes to speeding:

Exotic car rental companies in Las Vegas that rent out powerful automobiles like Lamborghinis and Corvettes could be the beneficiaries of faster highways throughout the state.  “For our customers, to do that 10 mph more and do the 85 mph, it’s a plus for them,” Ted Stevens, who owns Fantasy Car Rentals, told FoxNews.com. “They’re going to be in a nice car and the cars are safe enough with the airbags and suspension in the rides and the safety features in most cars.”

Is speeding really a serious problem?  

Consider these facts from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

  • Nearly a third of all motor vehicle fatalities, occurred in speed-related crashes
  • In a high-speed crash, a passenger vehicle is subjected to forces so severe that the vehicle structure cannot withstand the force of the crash and maintain survival space in the occupant compartment. Likewise, as crash speeds get very high, restraint systems such as airbags and safety belts cannot keep the forces on occupants below severe injury levels.
  • Speed has a major impact on the number of crashes and injury severity. It influences the risk of crashes and crash injuries in three basic ways:
    • It increases the distance a vehicle travels from the time a driver detects an emergency to the time the driver reacts.
    • It increases the distance needed to stop a vehicle once the driver starts to brake.
    • It increases the crash energy exponentially. For example, when impact speed increases from 40 to 60 mph (a 50 percent increase), the energy that needs to be managed increases by 125 percent.

cropped-cars-rushing.jpgThe affects of eliminating the national speed limit of 55 MPH has been studied repeatedly.  As late as 2009, the long-term effects of the 1995 repeal of the national speed limit found a 3 percent increase in road fatalities attributable to higher speed limits on all road types, with the highest increase of 9 percent on rural interstates. The authors of that study (the most recent of its type) estimated that 12,545 deaths were attributed to increases in speed limits across the U.S. between 1995 and 2005.

Summary

Speeding, whether driving too fast for conditions, or just plain high velocity on a clear, sunny day raise your risks of both a collision and of not surviving it.  Telematics units and GPS systems point out cases of repeated speeding events or sheer maximum speed, and this is a disturbing trend since an accident is waiting to happen.  Drivers need to slow Coaching Tips Titledown, plan adequate time for their trip and be prepared to take the full amount of time to drive between cities at an appropriate pace.

SafetyFirst provides a safety hotline service, mvr profiling, and many more driver safety programs to help fleets of all sorts to monitor and report on individual driver performance.  We work with more than 3,800 active clients.  Let us know how we can help your fleet, too.

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.

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Do It Yourself (DIY) Hotlines

Frequently, companies read about the many success stories of “How’s My Driving?” hotlines and decide to try and run their own hotline. It’s not an unreasonable argument to make:

  • The company phone number (main switchboard) is probably already stenciled on their vehicles
  • The company already gets the ‘occasional’ call from an upset motorist.
  • Taking advantage of the current switchboard staff will save money over paying a third party firm to answer the phone.

Unfortunately, the best intentions and the most sincere efforts don’t always translate into results that match those published by fleets using a third-party fleet safety hotline program. Why? Your efforts necessarily focus on the administration of the program:

  • dealing with incomplete calls,
  • off-hours voicemails,
  • transcribing reports,
  • getting the report to the right manager for follow up,
  • tracking to confirm that training was provided to the affected driver,
  • filing the completed report to defend against possible “negligent entrustment” claims, etc.

If you let us handle the administration (what we are efficient at handling since it is our company’s specialty), you can focus all of your energy on training drivers and coaching them to replace bad habits with better ones.

That’s what gets the results you’ve seen and/or heard about!

Here’s a summary of points to consider:

  • We use properly designed decals with lettering large enough to read at a reasonable distance.
  • Our operators are professionally trained to politely interrogate the caller to confirm details and defuse emotions. They answer calls 24 hours-a-day, 365 days a year.
  • Our operators handle calls about safe driving issues only (no other types of calls come into our call center). Your staff would probably be very happy to give up dealing with irate callers or unfounded calls, and will be able to focus on their regular job duties,
  • We legally record calls from motorists enabling you to verify details as needed,
  • We organize all incident reports and records in a sophisticated, but easy to use, database that can provide very detailed management reports to further help you improve safety results.
  • We are an unbiased, neutral party – we don’t have any temptation to “take sides” or “spin” the handling of any report based on who was driving at the time of the incident.
  • We send training materials along with the report to help your manager and driver focus on safety practices, not arguments about pointless details.
  • Since this is the focus of our business (safety and call taking) we’re very efficient and can provide additional insights about driver safety issues (we work with 4,000 other fleets who have the same types of concerns about safe driving as your team).
  • Many insurance providers pay for our program because we’ve demonstrated our results – they don’t pay your expenses to maintain your internal program.
  • All of the published results studies that we’ve seen were based on using a third-party service – NOT an internal program.
  • We automatically include training documents with the individual reports, and again on a monthly basis to help your drivers improve their habits (it moves the report process from arguing about the details to discussing safety issues instead).
  • Many of our loyal clients switched from an internal (DIY) hotline and saw immediate improvement in results (and they still have their number on their trucks, but motorists happily identify our sticker and call us for road observation reports).
  • Our program is less expensive on a per truck basis than a new set of wiper blades – why be pennywise and pound foolish?
  • The “expense” of our program is offset by the end of the first month in most cases.
  • http://www.safetyfirst.com/services_hotline.html provides a direct link to our Driver Safety Hotline overview.

A third-party, professional service provides an early warning system to help drivers identify and replace bad habits. The upside is that they could avoid: tickets, fines, collisions, injuries, and worse. 

Trying to save a buck or two shifts your DIY program from results to administration, headaches, incomplete (inactionable) reports, and continued loss activity.  Trust SafetyFirst to run the program for you so that you can spend your time helping your drivers drive the best that they can!