Is Speeding a Serious Safety Issue?

The most recent NHTSA study on crashes in the USA analyzed data from 2010. The results were published in May 2014. From that study:

In 2010, there were 32,999 people killed, 3.9 million were injured, and 24 million vehicles were damaged in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. The economic costs of these crashes totaled $277 billion. Included in these losses are lost productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency service costs (EMS), insurance administration costs, congestion costs, property damage, and workplace losses. 

Key findings included:

  • Alcohol-involved crashes resulted in 13,323 fatalities, 430,000 nonfatal injuries, and $59.4 billion in economic costs in 2010, accounting for 21 percent of all crash costs.
  • Speed-related crashes (where at least one driver was exceeding the posted limit OR driving too fast for conditions) were connected to 10,536 fatalities (another third of the total for the year). This represents 32 percent of all fatalities; 20 percent of all nonfatal injuries, and 16 percent of all property-damage-only crashes.
  • Seat belt non-use represents an enormous lost opportunity for injury prevention. In 2010 alone, over 3,350 people were killed and 54,300 were seriously injured unnecessarily because they failed to wear their seat belts
  • Crashes in which at least one driver was identified as being distracted resulted in 3,267 fatalities…

As a nation of drivers, we continue to struggle with key behavior related issues like drinking and driving, speeding, failure to use seat belts and distracted driving.  Our response to these issues over the years has been to target education and enforcement campaigns to try and convince drivers to change their habits voluntarily.

Social norming” to get behavior change tends to be a very slow process and seems to have hit a plateau — we’ve made great gains in select areas since the 1970s — reducing impaired driving deaths from 50% of the annual total to 30%; increasing seat belt usage to an all-time high of roughly 84% (national average — some states are individually higher).

Unfortunately, we’ve slipped backwards on speeding with the removal of the national speed limit of 55 MPH previously established between 1974 and 1995.  Further, the widespread use of electronic devices has contributed to a new group of crashes caused by driver inattention.

Over the past decade, much legislative and media attention has been devoted to “Distracted Driving” but not nearly as much to other (pardon the pun) ‘drivers’ (factors) of fatal crashes.

Consider society’s view of speeding in contrast to distracted driving.  Most motorists look at speeding as a “non-issue” and not a “big deal” from a safety standpoint (AAFTS traffic safety culture surveys have documented a “prevailing attitude of “Do as I say, not as I do” on the part of American motorists”).

Recently a columnist participated in a “press drive” — a marketing opportunity hosted by a car manufacturer to let journalists test drive new or special edition models out on public roads. While each journalist was admonished to obey all traffic laws, this particular journalist was amazed at the power and acceleration of the test car and wound up getting clocked by police radar at 93 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. (To see his whole article about his speeding incident and subsequent three days in jail, click HERE)

Consider his reaction to the incident:

When I was pulled over during a press drive earlier this summer, I had been living in Washington D.C. for about a year and a half. In that time, I had been warned repeatedly — by ex-Virginia resident Matt Hardigree, by many of our readers, and by a host of other people — that you don’t ever speed in Virginia. But I had no clue just how serious the consequences would be. Maybe “serious” isn’t the right word. After everything that happened, “ridiculous” seems a little more accurate.[emphasis added]

I should probably explain why going into Virginia to have fun in a car is a bad idea in the first place. See, they’re crazy about speeding there. Really, really crazy. Speed limits are set absurdly low, 45 mph on some highways. [Virginia presumably follows the same federally recommended standards, or a derivative of those engineering practices when setting limits on roads based on design, traffic volume, etc.] Radar detectors are illegal, and cops have devices to detect them. And if you get caught going over 80 mph at all, that’s automatically a reckless driving charge.

Reckless driving is not a traffic citation, it’s a criminal charge, and a Class One misdemeanor at that. That means it’s the highest level of misdemeanor you can be charged with in Virginia, right below a felony. The maximum penalty for a reckless driving conviction is a $2,500 fine, a six month driver’s license suspension, and up to a year in jail.

See what I mean when I told you it’s serious? They hand it out like it’s Halloween candy, too. You drive 20 mph over the limit, it’s reckless driving. They even charge you with it for failing to properly signal, or when you’re found to be at fault in a car wreck. I’ve heard of some cases where people get 30 days in jail if they speed over 100 mph.

Other Class One misdemeanors in Virginia include animal cruelty, sexual battery, and aiming a firearm at someone. This is how the state regards people who drive over 80 mph.

I do think Virginia’s speed laws are absurdly harsh, especially as a native of Texas where 80 mph is an almost universally accepted highway speed by most drivers and where a toll road just outside of Austin lets you go 85 mph. There, this probably would have been a really expensive speeding ticket; maybe even one I could get dismissed with defensive driving.[emphasis added] I covered the courts for a long time when I was a newspaper reporter in Austin, and I was floored to learn Virginia actually sends people to jail just for speeding.

But that doesn’t excuse what I did. I came into Virginia and broke their laws; I drove way too fast. This is my fault and no one else’s. (Well, maybe the ZL1’s.) This wasn’t one of those moments where I got nailed going 5 mph over in some ridiculously low section of a county designed only for revenue collection; how could I justify going 93 in a 55 when I went to court, I wondered?

So, the driver hired an attorney to broker a plea deal with the court.

The best plea deal I got was a fine of about $400 with court costs, a 10-day suspension of my license in Virginia, and three days in jail. The judge has an option of giving one day in jail for every mile an hour over 90 mph, and he would exercise it here.

So I took the plea, but I was pretty despondent over the outcome for weeks. The fees and license suspension weren’t a big deal, but I was alternately livid and depressed that I’d be going to jail, even for a short stay. I didn’t hurt anyone, or kill anyone, or sell drugs, or drive drunk, or beat my wife, or steal; I was going to jail because I drove too fast in a car.

The best news of all this was that I wasn’t fired. Matt said the last thing you’ll ever get fired for at Jalopnik is speeding. It’s just an occupational hazard for us. And when I emailed Gawker’s editorial director Joel Johnson to apologize, he replied saying, “I don’t give a f**k,” and added that he found the matter “hilarious.”

Would this story have been different if the citation were for texting while driving instead of speeding?  Would the editorial director have had the nerve to consider the situation “hilarious”?

From the recent NTHSA study:

The fact that a vehicle was exceeding the speed limit does not necessarily mean that this was the cause of the crash, but the probability of avoiding the crash would likely be greater had the driver or drivers been traveling at slower speeds. A speed-related crash is defined as any crash in which the police indicate that one or more drivers involved was exceeding the posted speed limit, driving too fast for conditions, driving at a speed greater than reasonable or prudent, exceeding a special speed limit or zone, or racing.

As long as we consider speeding to be our right, speed limits to be merely suggestions, and tickets as only a way for states to make revenue over a non-issue, we will continue to have a plateau in our traffic safety results.  Things can not improve (i.e. people will not stop dying) until this nation breaks it’s obsession with speeding as an acceptable practice for motorists.

What do you think?  IS speeding a non-issue?  Or is it a deathly serious issue?

If your friends think getting a speeding ticket or spending three days in jail for speeding is “hilarious” then consider some of these Public Service Ads from countries that are more progressive in their safety attitude than the USA….

Australian PSA on how reducing speed (even by only 5 KPH) can save lives

Rushing = letting emotions control our better judgement when driving (Australian PSA)

Speeding – is it a ‘mistake’? New Zealand PSA

Irish PSA on speeding “you can’t control the consequences of speeding”

Rear-End Collisions

NAFA FS 4 2014In the April, 2014 issue of “Fleet Solutions” (a publication from the National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA)) the topic of rear-end collisions was closely examined.

In most cases, the driver who contributed to the crash wished he/she had “just one more second” to react and avoid the collision.

“You want to teach something in terms of prevention that is much more addressed to the holistic fact that there are many, many things you can do that can help prevent crashes,” explained Paul Farrell, CEO of SafetyFirst Systems, LLC

Indeed, there are many options to get drivers focused on their duty – – from showing them the potential consequences of distracted driving to explaining why the company policy is written as it is (to protect the employee and the company) to using technology that actually alerts the driver of impending collisions.

Simply stacking driver education course upon education course is likely to lead to numbed and bored drivers who fail to incorporate the lessons into their daily habits — we need a smarter approach that respects the driver, asks for a real commitment and plainly shows them the consequences of making the wrong choice or taking one too many risks.

Again, more training isn’t the answer, but the “right” training may be the answer.  One online training provider boasts 400 titles on fleet safety alone — at their average course length that’s 280+ HOURS (or almost 38 business DAYS) of content.  Yet, their clients do not have the time to take advantage of those courses, nor do they typically see a material decline in collisions — because it’s not just about VOLUME or DURATION — it’s about a tailored, thoughtful approach to changing habits:

  1. Driver qualification (MVR review and scoring)
  2. Driver performance monitoring (GPS/Telematics/How’s My Driving)
  3. Driver Coaching on spot issues as they occur
  4. Escalated Coaching on recurring issues with short refresher courses (online)
  5. Building a culture of “safety awareness” within your organization through monthly reminders, payroll stuffers, posters, micro-messaging (starting meetings with a safety reflection)
  6. Investigation of post-collision data to learn lessons, share insights, benchmark with peers and monitor trends in rates

Take time to check out the original article at NAFA’s web site or by Clicking HERE

TeleMatics

SafetyZone-LMS

A New Approach to Traffic Safety Culture?

SafetyFirstSome traffic safety professionals monitor the actions and activities of their peers around the world — to see what’s working, what new problems are emerging and to collaborate wherever possible.

SafetyFirst’s team has worked with colleagues in roughly 40+ countries around the world by email, making presentations at International Road Safety conferences, and webinars.

NZ video captureRecently, we were amazed by a fresh approach to getting motorist’s attention about the issue of speeding and common traffic mistakes that tragically lead to injuries and deaths.

In New Zealand, they are trying to get people to recognize their own contribution to crashes instead of assuming “it’s the other guy who doesn’t know how to drive” AND that these seemingly small mistakes add up to very horrible results (emphasizing the personal cost of the crash).

Cosider the impact of reading the following paragraph versus watching a 1-Minute video to convey the same idea:

Most road users recognise the risks of driving at speed and support police enforcement of the speed limit. But these statistics show that drivers don’t always practice this when driving: speed is still a contributing factor in 20% of all fatal and serious injury crashes on New Zealand roads.

Now, take a moment to watch this embedded video, below.

What do you think of this approach (the video) to get people thinking about their own choices?

The NZ Transport Agency offers this discussion about their choice to go in this direction:

Our approach

Previous campaigns have shown that the faster you go the less time you have to react, the longer it takes to stop and the bigger the mess when you do stop. But people still deny this truth or think it doesn’t apply to them. Their speed may be over the limit but it is minimal, e.g. 107 km/h in a 100 km/h area. In their minds they’re not ‘speeding’, but driving comfortably, and they feel in control.

This campaign aims to reframe the way that people look at their speed when they’re driving. A person may be a good driver but they can’t deny that people do make mistakes – after all, to err is only human. And in life, mistakes are made often. We usually get to learn from our mistakes; but not when driving – the road is an exception. Even the smallest of mistakes on the road can cost us our life, or someone else’s.

In a Safe System no one should pay for a mistake with their life. When we drive, we share the road with others so the speed a person chooses to travel at needs to leave room for any potential error – whether it is theirs or someone else’s. At speed, there is less opportunity for a driver to react to a mistake and recover, and this is the key message for this campaign.

The target audience

Our new campaign targets competent drivers who regularly drive and put the ‘Ks’ in. These people drive ‘comfortably’ fast; typically a bit faster than the posted speed limit or other traffic. But they don’t consider it to be wrong or anti-social because it’s not really ‘speeding’ in their minds. They feel competent and in control of their vehicle.

Join our discussion at our Linked In Group, Facebook page, or leave a comment here if you like or dislike this approach to getting people to check their own choices.

PSP Use Affecting Crash Rates Among Regulated Fleets

LTBCS 2011The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a study in October which concluded; “…carriers using PSP reduced their crash and driver OOS rates over the general carrier population.

What is PSP?  The Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) was launched on May 11, 2010, and is a voluntary program that enables motor carriers to obtain five years of crash data and three years of inspection data on prospective new hires.  The system is specifically designed to help determine whether a driver applicant should be hired by the carrier.

So the question has lingered since the introduction of PSP — would its use make a difference in results?

From the study:

Since the mission of FMCSA is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and FMCSA data indicate that many crashes are due to driver error, the impacts PSP has on the safety performance of drivers and the motor carrier industry is of particular interest to the Agency.

The methodology examines crash rates and driver-related out-of-service (OOS) rates of the portion of the motor carrier population using PSP. Safety performance of these carriers is compared for a 12-month period prior to and 12 months after the start of using PSP. These data are then compared to a control group of motor carriers that did not use PSP.

FMCSA’s analysis determined that both the PSP group and the control group (non-PSP) experienced a decline in crashes in all size classes. However, the motor carriers using PSP witnessed a greater decline in crash rates over the non-PSP group in the four size classes. After adjusting the crash rate improvement of the PSP group by removing the control group effects, the PSP group still showed improvement in all four size classes (although statistical significance was shown in only two size classes). The overall adjusted improvement in the crash rates for the PSP group, across all size classes, was statistically significant (see Table 1). The PSP group also experienced a decrease in driver OOS rates in all size classes. When adjusted for control group effects, this improvement in driver OOS rates was still statistically significant in all size classes.

So the answer is, YES, carriers using PSP seem to have done a better job in qualifying and selecting candidates that perform better on the job.  Interestingly the use of PSP is steadily increasing, too.  “Currently, there are about 35,000 PSP users making about 70,000 requests per month.”

Accident Analysis

As reported in an article (click here) at truckinginfo.com, the specific results were impressive:

“The overall adjusted improvement in the crash rates for the PSP group, across all size classes, was statistically significant,” said the report.

Another example of a blended scoreIt also found those using PSP experienced a drop in driver out-of-service violations.

Overall it found crash rates declined 8% for carriers while driver OOS violations fell 17.2% for fleets using PSP, as opposed to those who haven’t

Declines in crash rates were even bigger for carriers who have between 6 and 20 drivers, falling 20.6%, and those with between 21-100 drivers, declining 21.1%.

FMCSA says the 12.4% decline in the crash rates with trucking operations that have 1 and 5 drivers, and a drop of 3.4%, for those with more than 100, are not statistically significant.

Declines in the driver OOS rates for carriers using PSP as opposed to those not using it, ranged between 10.1% for those with 21 to 100 drivers, to as much as 18.3% for those with between 1 and 5 drivers.

Most carriers use the system to verify or validate that the candidate accurately reports information about past OOS and crash data on their applications.  Some even use the data to help validate prior employer information and such.  Again, from the report:

  • The motor carriers that responded obtained a PSP report on every driver they
    hired. The most frequent use of the report, as described by the carriers FMCSA queried, is to assure that drivers are accurately reporting all information on their applications, and not omitting places of employment or crashes.
  • Violations in the PSP report for pre-trip inspections, logbooks, and speeding were high on the list of concerns and were generally believed to be a better indication of a driver’s safety performance rather than violations that the driver had little direct influence to avoid.
  • Motor carriers responded that they can also observe if drivers have worked for companies with poor safety ratings in the past.

smc 1All in all, the combination of screening and selection methods available to motor carriers seems to be enhanced greatly when using PSP consistently.  The combination of MVR, previous employer checks and PSP data can be insightful — SafetyFirst is able to provide PSP data and MVRs from all 50 states.  Let us know if you’d like more information on our driver risk profiling services, online training or GPS platforms.

The FMCSA report concludes with this observation:

“Anecdotally, companies that use PSP think the program has value, they use PSP for all of their hires, and they plan to continue using PSP. These companies tend to believe drivers with favorable PSP data are more in demand and, potentially, more marketable and valuable.”

A slide show summarizing the report is available by CLICKING HERE.

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Study: Increased Risk of Problem Births for Pregnant Women involved in Crashes

mvr crash sceneA new study looked at records for 878,546 pregnant women, aged 16–46 years, who delivered a singleton infant in North Carolina from 2001 to 2008.  The study’s goal was to look for trends or patterns in the data.

Among the findings:

  • Women involved in a crash while pregnant had elevated rates of preterm birth, placental abruption and premature rupture of the membranes, compared to pregnant women who were not involved in a crash.
  • Pregnant women who were not using a safety belt at the time of the crash were nearly 3 times more likely to have a stillbirth than those who were buckled up.
  • The risk of any adverse outcome increased if multiple crashes occurred during the pregnancy.

Researchers said that more research is necessary to further study how multiple crashes and vehicle safety features influence the outcomes of pregnancies.

The study was published online Oct. 8 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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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?

Pyramid 2011 for blog

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

Copy of Copy of EDF LOGO (final)

Trailer Under-ride Guards (Don’t Lose Your Head in a Crash)

Though our headline/title may seem a like a very bad joke, we’re deadly serious.  Motorists who drive too fast, tailgate or drive “distracted” behind large tractor-trailer rigs are putting themselves in harm’s way — they could become decapitated if they crash into the rear corner of a trailer at speeds as low as 35 miles per hour.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducts many different kinds of crash testing. Recently (this March) they conducted crash testing of many different brands of trailers to see the effects on a 2010 Chevy Malibu and its crash-test-dummy occupants.  Only one brand of trailer saved the dummies in all three types of testing scenarios.  This was accomplished by using a different approach to the manufacturing of the under-ride guard.

Since most motorists won’t be able to pick and choose which type of trailer they crash into, they need to give tractor-trailer rigs a wide berth on the highway — stay out of their “no-zone” or blind areas, especially the area immediately behind the trailer.

To better illustrate the seriousness of the situation, please take a moment to watch this informative video from IIHS.

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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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

 

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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