Evolution of Driver “Training”

Another traffic picRoughly 90% of all vehicle crashes are the direct result of choices, attitudes, and habits of drivers while behind the wheel.  They may choose to drive impaired, or they may choose to speed, text while driving or make other fundamentally risky decisions.

Historically, society has tried to adjust for these choices in several ways:

  • Improving the design of vehicles to make them better protect occupants in the event of a crash, and to help drivers have more control of the vehicle in various circumstances so that they might avoid some crashes
  • Instituting standards for road design and signs to make it less complicated to drive
  • Improving post-crash medical response to help people survive crashes
  • Providing education to drivers to help them understand the possible consequences of their driving so that they might exercise greater caution in handling their vehicles

This post deals with the evolution of driver safety “training” or education efforts.  Early driver education programs included personal communications (word of mouth) between drivers and later became written documents and even short motion pictures.  The documents continue to this day as state government driver manuals for both new motorists (driving for first time) or for drivers who are applying to become commercial drivers (i.e. CDL manuals).

Movies, videos, CDs, DVDs, and online presentations represent the conversion of those SafetyZone-LMSwritten documents (content) into a captivating medium that can better illustrate common scenarios encountered on the highway.  Sometimes it is much easier to show someone a concept than to try and describe it in words.

Early education efforts focused on two underlying models:  Intellectual Awareness (discussing the details of an issue) and soliciting an Emotional Response to trigger a change in habits:

  • Intellectual Awarenessan assessment of issue, how it occurs, what contributes to it happening and suggestion of practical responses to either avoid that issue or cope with the consequences of the issue.
    • An example is describing how speeding robs a driver of time to react, reduces distance to brake and increases the energy involved in a crash; therefore, slow down to buy time to react, stop and reduce the consequences of the collision that may occur.
    • Pros/Cons – this is a great way to help establish a foundation of important knowledge and understanding of the risks of driving, but it depends on holding the attention of the audience and whether they understand all of the details being presented.  It can become dull for those people who are not passionate about safety issues – possibly causing them to miss the message.
  • Emotional Responsemany people, especially over the age of 21, become set in their habits and mindset unless an emotional event triggers self-reflection and ignites a willingness to change in response to a tragic or shocking circumstance.
    • An example would be the dramatic reenactment of a crash on screen.  This may trigger a strong emotional response from the graphic depiction of the actors being hurt or killed in the scenario.  A presentation of a brief learning lesson helps redirect the learner to want to change their habits in response.
    • Pros/Cons – not everyone responds the same way to emotional stimuli.  Not everyone will identify with the “victims” in the same way.  Some may reject the scenario as unlikely to happen to them for some reason.  Others may be frightened of the consequences but fail to grasp the message on how to avoid that scenario.


Within the past twenty years, new models have emerged to engage drivers.  These models seek to obtain a personal commitment from the audience, or to influence the audience into a new perspective on a common issue especially where there is a general misconception of the immediate threat presented by the target behavior or habit such as texting while driving (Social Norming).

  • Personal Commitment Solicitation is an effort to make the audience see “what’s in it for them” or how issue could affect them unless they commit to self-monitor (or adjust) their own behaviors to avoid issue consequences)
    • An example would be the presentation of a series of reminders about how crashes happen from attitude, choices and habits with a strong, emotional discussion of the potential consequences and a final, direct appeal to the audience asking that (based on the presentation) make a personal commitment to change habits (typically two or three specific commitments).
    • Pros/Cons – this sort of presentation isn’t designed to set a foundation of “how to drive”, but does highlight the consequences of poor choices and asks for a commitment.  There’s no way to assure that a commitment will be made, but this goes a step further than merely presenting an educational session and stopping the presentation.

Tailgating Preview – Commitment from SafetyFirst Systems on Vimeo.

  • Social Normingmany people, especially younger people (teens, young adults) hold inflated perceptions of reality (i.e. “crashes happen to other people – not me”, “texting while driving isn’t such a big deal since I do it all the time and have never crashed”, etc.) The approach of social norming is to counter misperceptions and help the audience adjust their perception of the true situation (people die from texting while driving, etc.).
    • An example would be to demonstrate how absurd it would be to translate our attitudes while driving into other social situations in order to elicit a response from the audience that their habits must change.
    • Pros/Cons – while entertaining, it may not convince some audience members that they ought to change habits.

…OR…

SUMMARY

Raising safety awareness, convincing drivers of the need to “want to” change and reminding them of the risks they take while behind the wheel are good efforts to reduce the risk of crashes.  Driver education is only one part of the program, but it can be an effective part when different methods are used for different audiences (young or old, seasoned or novice, etc.)

drowsy driving

Advertisements

2014 Ten-Minute Training Topic Calendar

SafetyZone-Safety GoalDriver education takes many forms in many companies.  A variety of methods used frequently helps assure that drivers receive the message that’s being sent by the management team.

We recognize that there are many really wonderful driver “training” programs out on the market, but many approach the educational program by making the driver sit in a class or in front of a computer for more than an hour at a time.  This cuts into their productivity and may become “mind-numbing” after the first 12 to 15 minutes – especially if they’ve already been through this topic in the recent past.

We’ve built two different systems to deliver “reminder” or “refresher” programs to supplement our driver coaching program.  Both approaches are designed to remind drivers of what they should already know and be practicing on a regular basis.  Both feature module duration at the 5 to 10 minute time span to respect your driver’s professionalism and to get them to actually listen!

What’s the difference between systems?

  1. SafetyZone-Safety GoalOur Ten-Minute Training Topic series is delivered monthly by email to each location manager.  This package can be used or delivered to drivers in many different ways — a classroom talk, a tailgate discussion, a payroll stuffer or anything that works for your company culture.  The manager’s supplement provides a little extra information to help the supervisor address these issues from a policy standpoint and the driver handouts provide practical tips that address safer driving.
  2. SafetyZone-LMSOur Learning Management System (LMS) is set up to offer “stand-alone” course assignment or to “integrate” automatically with either our Hotline (get a Motorist Observation Report, then assign training modules matched to the reported behavior) OR our E-DriverFile platform (get a new MVR showing fresh activity, then get modules automatically assigned based on violation codes) OR our telematics platform (get a series of alerts, then get modules specifically published for dealing with GPS alerts)

SafetyFirstEach year we publish a new calendar for our popular Ten-Minute Training Topic series.  These driver training packages are included in our very popular “driver safety hotline” program that some firms continue to call a “how’s my driving” program.

This article is focused mainly on our Ten-Minute Training Topic series that is included with our hotline program.

The monthly training package for drivers includes:

  1. A driver handout with statistics about the issue, a description of why they should care and tips to consider about their driving habits.
  2. A manager’s supplement report that includes current news stories about that month’s topic, links to web sites with additional resources and a discussion of how the month’s topic relates to company policies and procedures.
  3. A pair of power point presentations — one for easy copying/printing and one with full graphics and images to help drivers relate to the message at hand.

The very first Ten-Minute Training Topic was published way back in May of 2003 — long before any other vendors had ever considered breaking driver safety down into simple, focused modules.  We’ve been publishing a new or re-written topic each month since then — building an archive of over 120+ topics at our customer website.

During 2014, we will be publishing several interesting topics based on client requests and feedback:

  • January – “Surviving Winter Weather“
  • February – “Check Your Vehicle“
  • March – “Driving Safely Near Motorcycles“
  • April – “Backing“ (April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month so you may supplement with additional “distracted driving” modules from our library)
  • May – “Red Lights“
  • June – “Intersection Collisions“
  • July – “ROW On-Ramp Collisions“
  • August – “School Zones“
  • September – “Tailgating – Following Too Closely“
  • October – “Tires“
  • November – “Roadside Hazards and Debris“ (November is Drowsy Driving Awareness Month so you may want to supplement from our library)
  • December – “Poor Visibility“

In the past, we’ve published topics on many other pertinent and timely issues related to driver safety.  Current clients may substitute older issues for current issues by going to our site and downloading the older topics as they see fit.

TeleMaticsIn addition to providing these topics as a benefit of participating in the “driver safety hotline” program, some clients subscribe to the training topics as a stand alone program — separate from the hotline program.

We base most of the topics on suggestions we receive from current clients and their insurance carrier support teams.  If you have a topic of interest, please let us know and we will see what we can do for you.

If you have an interest in receiving a courtesy copy of one of our monthly programs, let me know!  Additionally, if you’d like to see a preview of our supervisory training programs, or our interactive training programs, we can arrange a web cast.

E-DriverFile

Driving Too Fast for Conditions

Driving Too Fast PPTDrivers encounter all sorts of conditions from day-to-day. Heavy traffic, detours, construction zones, bad weather, breakdowns and accidents blocking multiple lanes….all of these situations can affect their attitude, energy and judgement.

Driving too fast for the conditions means going faster than reasonable based on the conditions around the vehicle. Most drivers think this is limited to bad weather, but it could be any of the issues mentioned above.

The FMCSA states;

“Driving too fast for conditions is defined as traveling at a speed that is greater than a reasonable standard for safe driving. Examples of conditions where drivers may find themselves driving too fast include: wet roadways (rain, snow, or ice), reduced visibility (fog), uneven roads, construction zones, curves, intersections, gravel roads, and heavy traffic.”

Driving too fast for conditions robs the operator of time needed to react, steer, brake and avoid problems. Speed increases stopping distance, and the raw energy stored in the vehicle — possibly translating what might have been a fender bender into a crash with ambulance and tow truck.

Learning self-discipline to slow down in response to challenging situations is one mark of a truly professional driver, or at least an operator who really cares about being safe and getting home to his/her family without incident.

Key Places to Slow Down

Several specific areas should be treated with extra caution regardless of the posted, legal speed limit:

  • streets near neighborhood playgrounds and/or schools
  • areas with heavy foot traffic or cycling lanes
  • construction zones
  • marked wildlife crossing areas
  • railroad grade crossings
  • curvy roads where sight lines are limited (can’t see around the bends)
  • approaching the crest of hills where stopped traffic may be waiting

Key Times to Slow Down

The most obvious time to slow down is during extreme weather conditions.  Additionally, driving at night may be a time to exercise appropriate caution.  Many crashes, especially fatal and serious injury crashes, occur because drivers failed to reduce their speed for one of these special conditions.

Practical Tips for Dealing with Adverse Conditions?

This month’s Ten-Minute Training Topic includes a list of practical tips for drivers to consider when planning their trips, tools that can be helpful and ways to stay calm despite the conditions they encounter.

Our Ten-Minute Training Topic program (Click HERE to see our topic calendar for 2013) features a monthly driver handout, manager’s supplemental report (with news items related to the topic, tips for reviewing safety policies, and more).  The program also includes a pair of slideshows — one for easy duplication, and one for showing in lounges or classroom settings with full graphics, photos and charts.

The program is part of our safety hotline system — to enable the 80% of drivers who NEVER get a complaint about their driving to benefit from safety awareness training while those who do get the occasional complaint have additional training resources available to help them change habits (of the 20% who get complaints only half get more than one complaint — it is this very small group of drivers who get report after report who need the most urgent attention from managers before they get a ticket or become involved in a collision.

Summary

The unfortunate, likely outcome of driving too fast for conditions is either a ticket or a collision.  Ultimately, adjusting your speed to cope with the conditions (however defined) is your responsibility.