Diversion Programs and Violation Masking

If you get pulled over for speeding in Minnesota, it’s increasingly likely the police officer will give you a choice: Pay the ticket, or take a safe driving class.

The classes usually cost less than the ticket, and the violation doesn’t go on your driving record.

More cities and counties are offering “diversion programs” because they keep cases from entering the court system. One state auditor’s report, though, says there’s a problem with these programs: They’re illegal.

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/11/14/news/driver-safety-class

PoliceIf you get pulled over for speeding in Minnesota, it’s increasingly likely the police officer will give you a choice: Pay the ticket, or take a safe driving class.

This legal tactic, known as “diversion” enables offenders to avoid prosecution (and resulting criminal record) in exchange for alternative outcomes like:

  • Education aimed at preventing future offenses by the offender (i.e. Traffic School in lieu of Moving Violations)
  • Completion of community service hours
  • Avoiding situations for a specified period in the future that may lead to committing another such offense

According to a wikipedia article on diversion programs:

Some jurisdictions in the United States, such as those in California, may impose the completion of DUI programs as punishment for drunk driving in the United States. One such program is the Victim Impact Panel (VIP). administered by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) since 1982. MADD typically charges a $25 “donation” (which is defined as voluntary), even for court-mandated attendance; MADD reported $2,657,293 one year for such donations on its nonprofit tax exempt returns.[11]

EdiscoverySome safety professionals do not like diversion programs since they tend to “mask” behaviors or habits that might otherwise be indicators of a deeper risk-taking mentality.  For example, suppose a chronic speeder relies on diversion programs to mask their speeding problem — ultimately, they may become involved in a fatal crash since their MVR (report of prior driving violations) didn’t signal the need for a stronger safety response.  Various reports have signaled that driver education programs often fail to reduce crash rates (click here) since:

  • Driver education does teach safety skills but students are not specially motivated to actually use them
  • Driver education could foster overconfidence
  • Driver education often fails to adequately address lifestyle issues
  • Driver education often fails to tailor content to student-specific needs

Further complicating matters is the fact that diversion programs are run locally — there’s no central reporting on who has participated and what the underlying cause may have been.  For corporate safety managers, that means giant holes in MVR reporting where all sorts of violations may have led to traffic stops, but there are no records to indicate an underlying issue with risk taking.

“We don’t want somebody with bad driving behaviors to be able to participate in diversion programs around the state and nobody knows how many they’ve participated in,” said [Minnesota] State Auditor Rebecca Otto. “If someone gets to participate in diversion in one county that’s doing this program, and then the next day they’re in a different city that has this program, their driving records are scattered all over.”

The view’s different, though, in sheriff’s offices and police departments across the state using diversion programs.

In Buffalo, Minn., the city started its Drive Smart program. Only people cited for minor moving violations — such as going 15 miles or less over the speed limit, running a red light, failing to yield – are eligible.  The number of programs like Drive Smart has nearly tripled over the last six years. More than 35 of them operate in cities and counties around the state.  [Unfortunately,]…There’s a range of fees. There’s a range of classes you get to take if you’re allowed to participate. One of them is an eight-minute online video that you watch.”

Motivating local departments and municipalities is the fact that generally a third of violation fines go to the state treasury, but diversion course fees largely stay local (a bigger cut of the pie stays at home).

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What do you think?  Should drivers be able to take an eight-minute online class and have a violation tossed as though it never happened?  In the end, would more drivers have more crashes if they have an underlying problem with risk taking while behind the wheel?  Is this all really about money in a tough economy?

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Benchmarking Violation Data

Atri 2011 coverIn 2005 and 2011, ATRI provided a ground-breaking study of the connection between violations and increased crash risk (Click Here).

Having studied more than a half-million driver records, the analysis was incontrovertible and carries powerful implications for driver safety supervisors, managers and directors.

In short, when a driver receives a violation, the likelihood of a crash also goes up by a specific factor.  

We’ve also seen a connection between tighter MVR profiles and decreased crash numbers:

“As recently reported at a fleet safety conference, two similar fleets had chosen to use the same standard for MVR review — exclude violations greater than 36 months old and allow for a combination of three violations and one preventable crash before suspending driving privileges.  One of these fleets tightened their standard to two violations and one crash during the most recent 24 months and saw a five point reduction in collisions (from 22% of their fleet vehicles involved in a crash per year to 17% of their vehicles involved in a crash) and $2 million in savings.”  (click here for full coverage)

Now our question to progressive fleet teams is this — are you benchmarking your driver profile results against national trends in violations to assess relative crash risk?

Violatios Table

Consider this table (above) and how your individual drivers stack up against national averages.  IF your drivers have a greater share of violations than the average, what would you do to step up your performance monitoring or refresher coaching?

  • Could this data be used against you in a Negligent Supervision lawsuit?
  • Is your defense going to be proactive and demonstrate that you actively monitor this data and assign coaching, education, monitoring resources or to claim “we didn’t know“? (not knowing is never a realistic defense)

If you’re using an automated MVR solution to pull in MVR data and profile it, you should be considering:

  1. whether the ACD code tables are up to date (many providers haven’t updated their code lists in years and can’t even post a texting violation properly!)
  2. whether your data can be exported to spreadsheet for analysis against national records like the table presented above, or whether your provider can automatically provide a comparison on a “driver-by-driver basis” against such public data
  3. whether your MVR profiling efforts should include other proactive, leading indicators of performance such as GPS alerts, how’s my driving alerts, or even camera in cabin video analysis.
  4. how you compare actual MVR results to your own loss data to validate the ATRI study and take action on “at-risk” drivers to reduce collisions
  5. how to link your MVR (ACD Codes) to refresher training modules to document immediate action taken on all drivers (who show a change in results) each time their MVR is obtained.

Of course, it may be easier to simply use our plug-n-play E-DriverFile system, Safety Hotline Program and “SafetyZone” LMS to handle these issues for you.  We work with the nation’s largest fleets (of CMVs and non-regulated vehicles, too!) to help manage risk, safety and results.  We also maintain an “in-network” system of relationships with more than 75 insurance providers who use our services with their select, targeted clients.

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Hidden Liabilities for Fleets

Wayne Smolda, President of CEI, offered the following provocative thoughts on his blog (bold added by us for emphasis):

On balance, technological advances are proving to be beneficial to fleets. Vehicles Ediscoveryare safer than ever before and get better fuel economy. When used properly, wireless communications are also helping fleets and their drivers to be more productive in such ways as plotting more efficient routes and enabling drivers to stay in closer touch with their organizations and customers. But there are two applications of wireless communications in the realm of traffic safety that I believe are having a potentially very nasty unintended consequence.

The applications are telematics and traffic cameras, and the unintended consequence is an all-but invisible increase in fleet liability…such systems are also capturing data that could reveal that some drivers are habitually speeding…the data being captured makes it possible for fleets to identify high-risk drivers. Yet, how many fleets are actually converting that data into actionable information…? I submit that many are not – even though the data resides in their computer systems.

A similar challenge comes from the proliferation of traffic safety cameras. Camera-redlight cam pictureissued tickets are sent to the registered owner of the vehicle, but in most cases that is the fleet, not the driver. That means that most of the violations don’t get recorded on one of the major tools fleets use for identifying high-risk drivers, their motor vehicle records. Unless fleets find a way to connect traffic camera violations to the drivers responsible, they are missing another opportunity to use the data they have to identify drivers they ought to reconsider trusting to operate a motor vehicle.

The very real gap in data leading to “compassionate interventions” to address safety issues can be easily overcome by using SafetyFirst’s “Safety Hotline” program and our “E-Another example of a blended scoreDriverFile” system.  Both programs capture telematics alerts AND automated traffic enforcement violations to present on a BLENDED RISK SCORE REPORT.

In fact, we’ve previously published an article showing a one-year decline in GPS speed alerts of 600% based on using our coaching processes to curb the risk taking behavior BEFORE it led to bigger problems.

YOU set the time frames and the score weighting for your own fleet operation, and you can also generate “violation only” scores versus “blended scores” — where one can be used to assign non-punitive training (via our new “SAFETY ZONE” learning management system with the industry’s newest, most provocative refresher modules, and the other can be used for Human Resources (i.e. disciplinary) purposes.

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Profiling Driver Event History

All motor fleet operations generate or collect various data on their driver’s performance:

  • Violations/Tickets
  • How’s My Driving Alerts
  • Crashes (at-fault, preventable, etc.)
  • Telematics (GPS, EOBR)
  • Driver Logs
  • Toll Receipts (EZ Pass, etc.)
  • Automated enforcement violations (which come direct, not through MVR data)

Additionally, fleets track information about other types of driver “events”:

  • Completion of training classes (online, classroom, tailgate talks, etc.)
  • Completion of year or years with no crashes (ie. Awards)
  • Internal Company Violations
  • Customer Complaints
  • Supervisory Observation Reports

Historically, each of these data sources have been in their own “silo” or “compartment” — but what if we could get all of this data together in one spot?  We could:

  • Another example of a blended scoresegment all drivers by relative risk taking behaviors
  • segment all drivers by crash risk
  • segment all drivers by age, tenure, training completed and then compare their crash histories to build a profile
  • determine which factors precede a collision (i.e. how many incidents, which types of incidents, etc.)
  • assign a predictability score to each driver based on actual data trends and schedule them for additional coaching or training to modify their habits and risk taking.

More simply put, we’re trying to leverage data to build awareness and reduce crash likelihood.

Fantasy?  Millions of dollars needed?  Nope. It’s real, and it’s happening right now among some of the nations largest fleet operators.

Imagine searching through 6500 driver records to find the “at-risk” needles in the haystack. Now imagine doing that with the push of one button.

One of several SafetyFirst clients implemented our E-DriverFile system three years ago on a pilot basis, but then rolled it out to their entire corporation.  This enabled them to cut the number of “at-risk” drivers in half within the first year simply by targeting their current training and supervisory resources on those people at greatest risk of becoming involved in a collision?

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Further, our new, online safety training modules are laser cut to fit specific issues surfaced by our How’s My Driving Hotline and our E-DriverFile profiling system.  These modules zero in on those risk taking habits, and remind drivers that there are serious consequences to the choices they make when behind the wheel.

At five to seven minutes each, they represent the next generation of online learning — focused, sharp, brief, emotive and able to convince drivers to “internalize” the need and desire to driver more safely — to make wiser choices — to take fewer risks.

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To learn more, call us toll free at 1-888-603-6987

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Large Truck & Bus Crash Facts – 2011

LTBCS 2011The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has just released the “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2011” report which examines statistics about fatal, injury, and property damage only crashes involving large trucks and buses that occurred during 2011.

This is an annual publication and it is organized into four key chapters:

  1. Trends (compare 2011 against other time periods),
  2. Crashes (counts number of incidents),
  3. Vehicles (counts vehicles in crashes — single versus multiples, etc.), and
  4. People (counts persons of all types (passengers, pedestrians, etc.) involved in crashes).

Highlights from Trends:

  • In 2011, 3,608 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes, a 3-percent increase from 2010. However, from 2008 through 2011 the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes declined by 12 percent. The number of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes declined by 13 percent over the same period.
  • Over the past 10 years (2001 through 2011):
    • The number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes decreased from 4,823 to 3,608, a drop of 25 percent.
    • The number of large trucks involved in injury crashes decreased from 90,000 to 63,000, a drop of 30 percent.
    • The number of large trucks involved in property damage only crashes decreased from 335,000 to 221,000, a drop of 34 percent.

Highlights from Crashes:

  • Of the 273,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks in 2011, 3,341 (1 percent) resulted in at least one fatality, and 60,000 (22 percent) resulted in at least one nonfatal injury.
  • mvr crash sceneSingle-vehicle crashes made up 22 percent of all fatal crashes, 13 percent of all injury crashes, and 21 percent of all property damage only crashes involving large trucks in 2011.
  • Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred on rural roads, and about one-fourth (25 percent) occurred on rural and urban Interstate highways.
  • Thirty-four percent of all fatal crashes, 22 percent of all injury crashes, and 17 percent of all property damage only crashes involving large trucks occurred at night (6:00 pm to 6:00 am).
  • The vast majority of fatal crashes (85 percent) and nonfatal crashes (89 percent) involving large trucks occurred on weekdays (Monday through Friday).

Highlights from Vehicles:

  • Large_Trucks_Cover_Front-300x287Singles (truck tractors pulling a single semi-trailer) accounted for 61 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2011; doubles (tractors pulling two trailers) made up 3 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes; and triples (tractors pulling three trailers) accounted for 0.1 percent of all large trucks involved in fatal crashes.
  • Vehicle-related crash factors were coded for 4 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes and 3 percent of the passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes. Tires was the vehicle-related factor most often coded for both vehicle types.

Highlights from People:

  • Of the 3,757 drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes, 199 (6 percent) were 25 years of age or younger, and 175 (5 percent) were 66 years of age or older. In comparison, 5 (2 percent) of the 232 drivers of buses in fatal crashes were 25 years of age or younger, and 19 (8 percent) were 66 years of age or older.
  • Of the 3,757 drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes, 341 (10 percent) were not wearing a safety belt at the time of the crash; of those, 29 percent were completely or partially ejected from the vehicle. 
  • One or more driver-related factors were recorded for 56 percent of the drivers of Another example of a blended scorelarge trucks involved in single-vehicle fatal crashes and for 29 percent of the drivers of large trucks involved in multiple-vehicle fatal crashes. In comparison, at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 76 percent of the drivers of passenger vehicles (cars, vans, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles) involved in single-vehicle crashes and 52 percent of the passenger vehicle drivers in multiple-vehicle crashes. Speeding was the most often coded driver-related factor for both vehicle types; distraction/inattention was the second most common for large truck drivers, and impairment (fatigue, alcohol, drugs, illness) was the second most common for passenger vehicle drivers

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Intelligent transportation systems & the urban parking crunch

CarParkingSignA recent blog article at Metro Magazine called “Transit Dispatches” (click here) covered a very interesting topic — the difficulty of parking in urban environments.

From their article:

Smart parking is rapidly emerging as a popular term for applying new technology to an old problem: the urban parking crunch. Virtually all city drivers have suffered through the truly miserable experience of circling downtown blocks over and over in search of an open spot.

The necessary evil of “cruising” for parking comes with unnecessarily high costs, as experts such as UCLA Professor Donald Shoup have pointed out. After completing a one-year study in Los Angeles, Shoup found that “the search for curb parking in this 15-block district created about 950,000 excess vehicle miles of travel — equivalent to 38 trips around the earth or four trips to the moon.” This translates to 47,000 gallons of wasted gasoline, a pricey sum these days, and 73 tons of excess carbon dioxide.

Yet there is reason for hope. The Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) industry has been developing smart parking systems that can alleviate many of these costs by providing drivers, businesses, and metropolitan authorities the information they need to reduce wasted time, energy and money.

The article continues by describing smart phone apps, integrated solutions being considered by car manufacturers and more.  It even goes as far as to offer pointers to city planners on how to price parking during peak times when parking spaces are in high self-parking-garage1demand.

If you have a fleet that is frustrated by the hunt for urban parking, I highly recommend reading the entire article by Scott F. Belcher.

Digging into the MVR – For Stronger Results

LINK — Digging into the MVR – All That’s Trucking – TruckingInfo.com.

There’s no question that fleets need to review driver abstracts (or Motor Vehicle Reports – MVRs) on their drivers to identify any trend or pattern in past moving violations.  The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has connected the links between receiving a violation and increased risk of subsequent collision in two studies that were reported on this blog in the past – HERE.

As recently reported at a fleet safety conference, two similar fleets had chosen to use the same standard for MVR review — exclude violations greater than 36 months old and allow for a combination of three violations and one preventable crash before suspending driving priviledges.  One of these fleets tightened their standard to two violations and one crash during the most recent 24 months and saw a five point reduction in collisions (from 22% of their fleet vehicles involved in a crash per year to 17% of their vehicles involved in a crash) and $2 million in savings.

Since not all violations represent the same level of risk taking, targeting specific types of violations would be expected to further enhance the results.  The ATRI study showed that the occurrence of JUST one of the following moving violations dramatically increased the likelihood of becoming involved in a crash by the following amount:

  • Failure to use or improper turn signal: 96%

  • Improper passing: 88%

  • Improper turn: 84%

  • Improper or erratic lane change: 80%

In comparison, speeding more than 15 mph over the speed limit — which most safety mangers would likely target as a clear indicator of a risky driver — increased the overall crash risk by only 67%.

Our E-DriverFile platform can instantly risk score and rank your fleet of drivers based on multiple data points — telematics alert history, violation history, crash history, automated enforcement violations, and even positives such as recently completed training or other factors that might tend to reduce the risk of becoming involved in a collision.

If you’re still ordering MVRs manually, or have a vendor that can’t do bulk orders, or must manually re-score each driver’s data points, consider our system’s capabilities.

In addition to MVRs, we can expand the program to cover crash reporting, DQ File maintenance, non-regulated driver policy compliance, online storage and completion of forms/files and even provide refresher training in the form of five minute, laser-focused topics that remind drivers of what they should already know and be doing.

Our system was initially deployed in May 2000, a full two years prior to any other driver risk management system on the internet.  Additionally, our program always included vehicle files in addition to driver files — no additional cost!

Our typical client has between 2,500 and 10,000 drivers, but we’ve worked with clients that have as few as several hundred drivers, too.  We work with motor coach operators, intermodal trucking companies, telecom, power generation and distribution, food and beverage, non-profit agencies, retail store chains and wholesale suppliers.

Contact us, toll free, at 1-888-603-6987 for an info packet or a demonstration.

Managing Risk Thru Driver Points

For many fleets, the MVR review process is a time consuming, energy draining project done annually.  The paper produced by the project can represent great insights or merely a pile of paper. 

Progressive fleets have been working over the past decade to streamline their process by moving from spreadsheets and PDF files to “granular data” on each driver that can be sorted, sliced and diced.  This granular data of violations can be matched to a point system, and even blended with other data such as historical crash data (preventables, at-faults, or all incidents), telematics alerts, How’s My Driving reports, or other indicators.

While fleets have collected this data in the past, collating it has been an uphill battle since data layouts were not compatible, or, in some cases, difficult to get from one system to another.

Another example of a blended scoreConsider the image at right.  This driver has a lot of data and a lot of activity. 

Initially, many would simply dismiss the driver outright, but upon closer examination, you can see some interesting patterns in the data. 

From 2005 to 2010, there are five speeding events in five years (although three occured in 2008).  In 2011, there were two motorist complaints about driving too fast, dishonoring the right of way and failure to stay in lane.  The next event to occur was a crash in August of 2011 when the driver hit another vehicle in the rear. 

Another crash happened in January 2012 (and was cited for careless driving on same date), then another complaint about lane change, signals and driving too fast for conditions in June of 2012. 

Management had indicators that this driver tends to rush. 

  • Was there any direct observation of the driver to determine whether they allow proper following distance? 
  • Was there remedial training provided and completed? 

The system that produced this report can be expanded to show the remediation events (and, in theory could provide negative points for successful training, etc.)

At issue isn’t just one particular driver, but locating those drivers who are most likely to be involved in collisions based on patterns of behavior, or who’ve had one crash already and may be ready to have a subsequent crash.

The National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) recently posted the following video about driver point systems:

SafetyFirst’s E-DriverFile program has been ordering and processing these reports for years for clients with as few as 40 drivers and as many as 7,500 drivers. The system does much more than report on these metrics and can even help those fleets who are regulated by FMCSR.

How does your organization handle MVR point systems?  Do you have a database program?  Is it largely manual?  Can it automatically order fresh MVRs on higher than average risk drivers quarterly?  Would you save time if all this data was in a single spot?

Can we show you how our program works for larger, multiple location fleets?

No Excuse for Speeding

Most of us appreciate the humor of “top ten lists” and heading about the silly excuses people deliver to cover over their poor choices.  A recent article at consumerreports.com listed the top ten reasons people gave when pulled over for speeding.

It is funny to read these excuses (below), but we also recognize that speeding itself is never funny.

Sobering facts about speeding:

  1. Driving Too Fast PPTSpeeding is four times more likely to lead to a death than talking/texting with a hand-held cell phone.  
  2. Speeding reduces your time to react to unexpected situations
  3. Speeding reduces the effective control of your steering and braking systems — it takes more time to safely maneuver and/or stop.
  4. Speeding violations increase your personal insurance costs, decrease your future employ-ability, frustrate your employer and can have substantial fines associated.
  5. More ‘exceeding the speed limit’ crashes occur in home towns, on side streets and involve pedestrians, bikes and motorcycles than on the open highway.  
  6. There’s rarely a good excuse to speed.

So the results of a survey of 500 licensed drivers age 18 and over who reported using an excuse during a traffic stop include the following top 10 excuses:

10. My GPS said it was the right thing to do: 2.2 percent.
9. I was on my way to an emergency: 4 percent.
8. I didn’t do anything dangerous: 4.2 percent.
7. I had to go to the bathroom: 4.6 percent.
6. I missed my turn/exit: 4.8 percent.
5. I’m having an emergency situation in my car: 5.4 percent.
4. Everyone else was doing it: 6.4 percent.
3. I didn’t know I broke the speed limit: 12.4 percent.
2. I’m lost and unfamiliar with the roads: 15.6 percent.

And the number one reason…

1. I couldn’t see the sign telling me not to do it:  20.4 percent.

Summary

The common thread through these excuses is a combination of feigned ignorance of the law (or more simply, the rules of the road) and self-deception that the risk isn’t real (i.e. I’m a good driver, only other drivers actually crash because of their choices or “speeding isn’t dangerous”).

Some may argue that “having an emergency situation in my car” could be a legitimate concern, but since this is a summary of drivers who actually got ticketed, I have to wonder how serious the “emergency” was (the police took the time to issue the ticket and conduct the survey).

We all share a responsibility to each other, as drivers, to be safe and execute reasonable judgement while following the law.  Some drivers deceive themselves into believing that the law doesn’t apply to them (or their circumstance) or that they’re so skilled that they can  overcome any dangerous situation that may arise.  All they’re accomplishing is endangering themselves and the rest of us.

Take time to talk with your friends and family about driving safely — it starts within our immediate social circles and spreads out from there.  We can’t wait for someone else to step up and lead the discussion — it starts with you, today.  Be brave enough to have that conversation.

Webinar: Motivating Drivers to Make Safer Decisions

Everest National Insurance, together with Aspen Risk Management Group hosted a webinar today (4/23/2013) on the topic “Motivating Drivers to Make Safer Decisions“.   SafetyFirst’s CEO, Paul Farrell, was the presenter.

The topic is timely and vital to fleet operations regardless of their native industry type or business model” says Farrell.  “We’ve learned over the past thirty years that ninety percent of commercial vehicle collisions are due to driver’s attitudes, actions, choices, beliefs and assumptions about risk taking while driving.  If drivers operate in violation of safety policies,   and we can diagnose why this is happening, we’re on the path to getting their cooperation and compliance.

Dan Lessnau, VP of Sales at SafetyFirst contributed this thought; “While technology can play a very important role in enhancing both vehicle and driver safety results, the human factor can’t be underestimated.  When managers make time to self-audit their current practices, evaluate their successes and apparent failures, they’re enabling themselves to define a solid benchmark to build upon.”

While many drivers do operate their vehicle in compliance with company policy and state traffic laws, some violate these guidelines for various reasons.  Noncompliance can lead to traffic violations and crashes with damaged vehicles, injuries or even fatalities.  These negative outcomes influence business results, BASIC measures (in regulated fleets) and even insurance premiums when rated on a past-loss basis.

Of those drivers who are consistently non-compliant with company driving policies, there are four distinct populations of drivers:

  1. Those who are genuinely unaware of the nature of the risk or the policy which is in place to address that issue. (aka Training/Education Issue)
  2. Motivating Drivers to be saferThose who are aware that there is some degree of risk and/or that there is a policy in place to address this type of behavior, but there is also a genuine misunderstanding about the nature of the risk (consequences) or what the policy is communicating. (aka Communications Issue)
  3. Those who understand the nature of the risk and the intent of the policy very clearly, but fail to comply out of conflicting expectations from their own management team (i.e. “Hypocritical Enforcement or a “goal alignment issue” where the actual rewards and benefits for violating the policy (i.e. pay, productivity, etc.) may be greater for non-compliance than for compliance.) (aka Goal Alignment)
  4. Those who understand the nature of the risk and intent of the policy, but simply choose to violate the policy by sheer willful decision.  (aka Performance Issue)

Diagnosing why non-compliant drivers are violating policy based on the model described above is the starting point to improving results.  Questions like the ones below could be used to help diagnose why some drivers may not have been aware of the policy, or didn’t understand the policy fully enough to comply on a consistent basis:

  • Are all drivers fully aware of our expectations for their performance?
  • How have we communicated these expectations?
  • How do we know that the message was received and understood?
  • Did we take a “once and done” approach or have we used thoughtfully repetitive messaging to reinforce the communication effort?
  • Have we evaluated the simplicity of the wording used since legal teams often interject very precise wording that may be difficult to understand?
  • Did we use illustrative examples to clarify how the policy would be applied in realistic scenarios?

Drivers who heard the policy and understood the expectation may require additional information to translate their understanding into positive action.  For instance, going the extra step to explain why the policy is needed, what goals are being sought through the policy and “what’s in it for me, the driver?” could provide motivation for some to voluntarily comply on a consistent basis.

Other concerns include how the message gets delivered.  Some old-line managers valueYou tell his mommy the melodramatic message to shock people and use emotion to motivate compliance.  This image and message accomplishes that goal, but this approach can be overused and become ineffective for several reasons.

First, a steady bombardment of this type of heavy handed messaging may make drivers feel like they are villains or make them angry if there is hypocritical enforcement (i.e. managers breaking the same rules with impunity).  Secondly, youthful drivers have been raised on a steady diet of “just say NO” messaging or “this is your brain on drugs” messaging and they have become increasingly calloused towards the approach.  “Our caution is to evaluate the types of messaging being used and take great care to avoid over reliance on one type or style.  A great variety of messaging mechanisms keeps the information fresh and attractive.” commented Farrell.

Goal Alignment, Mixed Signals, Crossed Purposes

That segment of drivers who understand fully, but don’t comply by choice may be doing so for a range of reasons.

First, we must recognize that from the driver’s own perspective, rules such as state traffic laws or company policy can seem like suggestions:

  • compliance isn’t monitored or enforced with consistency
  • the consequences for non-compliance are not feared (i.e. seen either as trivial or unlikely to occur)
  • bigger reward for non-compliance than for compliance undermines value of adhering to policies
  • “just don’t care” factor (personal liberty is more valuable that potential consequences of non-compliance)

The “just don’t care” factor can be best illustrated in light of Virginia Technical Transportation Institute and Insurance Information for Highway Safety studies showing:

  • Policethe difference in compliance between companies with cell phone bans versus no policy at all = %17 (neither complied very well)
  • no measurable difference in early results between those states with a cell phone ban versus those with a strong ban in place.
  • crashes rose slightly in those states with a ban versus those without.

Dealing with this segment of the driver population (understands policy, but rejects compliance) may boil down to monitoring and enforcement actions, which will be discussed in the final segment of the article.

Next we must open our eyes to operations teams who reward productivity through bonuses, stronger pay raises, or management praise while sending signals to drivers that speeding, using hand-held cell phones while driving and other risky practices are worth broken rules if it means more revenue.   If drivers believe that the possible rewards gained by breaking the rules outweigh the risk of the potential, but likely consequences, they’ll continue to violate the policies.  

Some drivers break the rules because the management team encourages them to do so — for instance, no one is to use their cell while driving “UNLESS” it is their boss on the line demanding to speak with the driver immediately.  This sort of hypocritical enforcement adds to confusion about compliance and how to apply directions given by the management team.

Time For A Change

Weeding out “hypocritical enforcement” (however subtle) and making sure that manager’s goals/expectations are properly aligned with policy statements isn’t always easy, but it does help everyone in the organization focus on a common goal.  While we’ve previously done whole webinars on goal alignment for fleet safety results, our focus today was on ways management teams could monitor driver performance and increase the accountability of both managers and drivers in regards to policy compliance.

Some parallels worth examiningWe believe this monitoring and enforcement effort actually begins with candidate screening practices (i.e. “setting up for success”).  Some organizations use screening tools such as DISC or other behavior/motivational/skills based testing to find “rules compliant” applicants.  Others use revised interview questions and tactics to evaluate a candidate’s attention to details, listening skills and so on.  This is also a good time to begin sending the messages that safety is important and valued within your organization.

Other monitoring and enforcement mechanisms were covered during the webinar and ranged from How’s My Driving hotlines to MVR profiles to identify drivers who may be at-risk of becoming involved in a collision or may have broken a local regulation.  Technology such as on-board recorders, GPS systems and even Camera-in-Cabin systems were introduced with their respective pros and cons.

The group had a special interest for cell phone enforcement technology, and incentive programs which might be used to help spur compliance.  We discussed the emerging technology solutions around cell phone control, including pitfalls and ways to defeat the systems.  We also discussed why incentive programs can start strong and end in ashes if not carefully managed each step of the way.

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Summary

Drivers need clear communication of expectations which are consistently reinforced by their own management team.  Simple rules, thoroughly monitored and fairly/evenly enforced using technology and administrative programs can make a vast difference in safety results obtained.   Motivating drivers to make safer decisions while behind the wheel is one of the cornerstones of a solid driver safety program.

Current SafetyFirst clients and their respective insurers will have access to the slides at our website shortly.  If you’re not currently affiliated with SafetyFirst and would like to discuss this topic or get a copy of the slides and support materials, please contact us at support (at) safetyfirst (dot) com (providing your contact information and how we can assist you) or call us toll free at 1-888-603-6987

SafetyFirst provides driver safety services to a network of more than 75 insurance providers and 3,800+ active fleet clients throughout North America.  Driver Education, Online Interactive Modules, Driver Coaching, Hotlines, GPS and more are available through our consultative team of transportation, insurance and IT specialists.

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