Building the Ideal Fleet Assessment Report

NHTSA 2012 OverviewOne of the vital tools used in the insurance world is the initial risk assessment report.  This report helps underwriters get a very clear understanding of the activities of a given company, and how that management team handles safety processes to avoid injuries or physical damage.

An assessment report will typically cover all areas of concern depending on the nature of the business being insured:

  • A report for a warehouse operation may focus mainly on the potential for fires, the combustible nature of goods being stored, the controls to prevent fires and the processes in place to provide early/prompt alarm if a fire were to happen.
  • A report for a manufacturing operation may focus on how equipment is safeguarded to prevent injuries, how vapors or fumes are ventilated to prevent explosions or work-related illness by chemical exposure.

When dealing with companies which operate fleets of cars, vans, trucks and/or heavy duty vehicles there are a lot of issues to consider – especially since the drivers and vehicles will be operated out of sight of supervisors who could offer coaching and helpful correction when safety complacency develops or bad habits might be formed.

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I asked peers to give me their perspective on creating the ideal fleet survey report, and I received very gracious and thoughtful responses.  Here are several that characterize the general consensus:

The two most important attributes covered in a fleet Loss Control report would be 1) evaluating the proactiveness of Management 2) evaluating the implementation of an effective fleet safety program.  I feel there are many sub elements that fall under these two categories, but these are the two most important attributes to evaluate.

A solid loss control report must cover several key data points like:  qualifications of the safety director (his/her support, experience, authority); a robust driver qualification process with uniform standards; driver education processes; a program to address the readiness of the vehicles; a review of past losses to identify patterns or trends.

A thorough evaluation of a fleet operation could cover many areas depending on the nature of the business. For instance, a trucking company should be in compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations at a minimum; however, a company with mostly salesperson’s cars or executives may need to focus more closely on distracted driving prevention, weekend use, and other factors like passenger policies or permissive personal use.

Considering fleets can have a wide range of exposures to loss, it can be helpful to begin by identifying the nature of the cargo most commonly carried – the attributes of these loads (hazardous chemicals versus boxes of oatmeal) will determine the relative risks in the event of a collision and the need to ramp up management’s vigilance over driver qualification, training and monitoring.

We’ve learned that most crashes happen as a direct result of driver choices, attitudes and habits.  Whether the driver is impaired, drowsy, or just has the flu, can directly lead to a crash from inattention.  In long haul fleets, drivers may be away from their families for two weeks or more – this can lead to additional stress when they call home to find out the roof is leaking again or the oven is broken, etc.  Having an assistance plan in place can help these drivers cope and stay focused on their driving instead of what is simply out of their control at the moment.  Distraction comes in many forms – not just cell phones – and daydreaming can become deadly in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It’s all about management attitude, leadership, setting and enforcing policies.

Does the account have the following policies (long checklist including cell phone, seatbelt, incentives for crash free driving, permissive use drivers, passengers, DUI forbidden, etc)

How does the account on-board new hires?  Do they have a formal training program, and if so, how many hours in classroom and how many hours behind the wheel?  If they’re not committed to training, they’re likely to have more crashes than the average fleet.

In the past, SafetyFirst has put together example checklists for fleet surveys, and we’ve spoken extensively about the ability to use the ANSI Z15 standard as a self-audit tool for enhancing existing fleet safety programs.  There’s no short answer to evaluating a fleet operation whether it’s five cars or five hundred tractor trailers.  Still, there are many areas that professionals can agree are important to painting a detailed picture for underwriters (and to help offer meaningful guidance to policyholders based on the evaluation process).

MirrorPoster_72dpiI’d suggest the following outline for an example loss control evaluation of a regulated fleet.  It’s NOT intended to be completely comprehensive since every fleet is unique, and we could easily double the length of the outline and still miss some details like asking whether drivers stop periodically to check for cargo shifting, if the policyholder has a formal inspection program to assure that all first aid kits and fire extinguishers are fully stocked/charged, etc. It’s not that these details are “unimportant”, but there’s an upper limit on the patience of a policyholder to remain calm under a relentless assault of questions.

Take a look and offer some thoughts – is this getting a good “big picture” view of most fleet operations?  Is there something in your experience that we’ve missed that should be considered “elemental” and included?  Have we suggested items that you think are trivial?

 

Loss Control Report
Company name: DOT number:
Location:
Contacts: Phone/email:

Overview of Operation

  • Description of company focus, operations, scope of service territory, multiple locations/terminals?
  • Workforce stats
    • Number of drivers (Full time vs. Part time (if any))
    • Balance/percentage of OO vs Company drivers
  • Equipment types operated (reefers, tanks, dry van, tautliners, etc.)
  • Describe commodities hauled – typical versus occasional (define occasional)
    • Are there forbidden cargo types (describe) how monitored?
    • Hazardous Materials and Oversized loads being hauled? If so, how much/how often
    • (include report supplement)

General Management Controls, Policies/Procedures

  • Safety Director
    • Chain of command (where does safety fit in)
    • Authority of safety to make and implement recommendations
    • Qualifications (ongoing professional development)?
    • Networking?
  • smc 1Any examples of recent changes made to improve safety processes?
  • Who authors and revises policy/handbooks, etc.
    • Revision schedule
    • Benchmarking of best practices by peer group?
  • General controls
    • How are control policies memorialized?
    • How are control policies communicated?
    • How are control policies acknowledged by drivers/operators?
    • How are control policies enforced?
    • Provide an overview description of each of following:
      • Cell Phone/Texting/Distraction
      • Fatigue/HOSMotor Carriers Guide to Improving
      • Wellness/EAP
      • Substance abuse
      • Family support
      • Communications program
        • Methods (newsletter, emails, surveys)
      • Education Program (describe each, vendor used, frequency, etc.)
        • New hire
        • Ongoing
        • Post Crash
        • Other?
      • Incentives/Bonus?
    • Standing Safety Team/Committee?
    • Post Crash Review Processes
      • (team, individual?)
      • Preventability (standard used?) versus at-fault

Regulatory Concerns (CSA)

  • Some parallels worth examiningWho monitors SMS/BASICs (satisfied with current score?)
  • Last login within past 30, 60, 90 days?
  • Describe audit history
  • Any notice letters within past 24 months?
  • Familiar with and using Safety Cycles for BASICs?

Asset Controls

  • Describe approach to maintenance – in house, OO, contracted, etc
    • Describe controls over maintenance operation – how does management know it’s getting done
    • Annual FHWA inspection process (If in-house Annual Inspections are being completed are the mechanics properly trained?)
    • Provide garage/mechanical/fuel/body shop/warranty services to others? (if so, attach supplemental report)
  • DVIR processes used – who maintains and purges records?
  • Participate in CVSA programs?
  • Equipment replacement program (owned assets)
  • Any example of corporate changes that affect assets, specifications, retention, etc.?

Featured Image -- 1451Drivers

  • Recruiting
    • Internal/external team
    • Sourcing types
    • Job descriptions
    • Stated Minimum-qualifications (what are they, how enforced?)
    • Are exceptions granted (if so, under what circumstances and sign-offs?)
    • Recycle rejected candidates? Black box candidates?
  • Qualification/Onboarding
    • CoachingIn-person interview?
    • Application form used is detailed?
      • Online capabilities?
    • Pre-hire MVR review? FMCSA PSP Program Review?
    • Describe orientation process; follow up interviews/surveys, etc.
    • Mandatory initial training? (topics, duration, etc.)
  • Renewables program (DQF Maintenance)
    • Who handled DQF processes – methods, practices, self audit?
    • Describe annual performance review process
    • COVR reconciliation
      • MVR Criteria used for acceptable vs probation vs suspension
      • Any legal assistance program to help drivers fight tickets?
    • Disciplinary Process for Company Drivers? (what triggers? How enforced?)
    • What could cause company to break a contract with OO?
  • Communication Program?
  • Controlled substance program overview
    • Process for positive tests
    • EAP offered or termination on positives?

Pre-Loss Safety Practices

  • Asset-based tech
    • Camera-in-cabin? (who sees videos, retention period, coaching process, documentation?)
    • GPS for safety issues (type of alerts, thresholds for alerts, who monitors alerts, when do they intervene with driver, how do they coach, retraining, documentation of corrective actions? Retention of records period?)
  • HOS Enforcement and Monitoring Processes
    • Electronic Logging Devices or EOBR used?
    • Toll Pass program?
    • Log book reconciliation with tolls, etc.
  • Driver (Admin) based programs
    • Pyramid 2011 for blogHow’s My Driving?
    • MVR Monitoring (pull program, etc.)
    • Incentive program?

Post-Loss Processes

  • Define “crash event” (anything that changes the material appearance of the vehicle, or something else?)
  • Define “Major Event” as opposed to “DOT Recordable” (if different)
  • Familiar with Claim Unit processes and expectations?
  • Education of all drivers on what to do at the scene of an accident? (frequency, content, vendor-based?)
  • Post-crash documentation kits (pouch? Camera?)
  • Crisis Response Team?
    • Who investigates accident scenes? Qualifications?
    • Lawyer hotline (for driver? For management team?)
    • PR-crisis management training or firm on retainer?
  • DOT Crash Register for past three years
  • Incident rate per million miles
  • Trending and pattern analysis?
  • Recap of recent “Major” crashes, lessons learned, communication to drivers about incident?

Additional Reading:

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Tips from AAA on Mechanical Breakdowns

SafetyZone-Safety GoalAs a follow up to this month’s Ten-Minute Training Topic (on the value of inspecting your vehicle for obvious problems before any trip), we thought we would share this short video from AAA on what to do in the event of a breakdown.

While authored to help instruct drivers of sedans, the tips “work” for light and medium duty trucks, too.

If you’re not certain about your company’s specific policies or procedures, ask your supervisor.

Driver Safety Hotline – Dealing with Reports

cropped-decal-ate-truck.jpgOne of the most often asked questions from safety managers is “what am I supposed to do with a driver who has received a Motorist Observation Report?”

Blended Risk ScoreFor many, the assumption is that a report = disciplinary action, blame setting, arguments and confrontations that lead to sulky drivers and higher turnover.

However, that’s never what we had in mind (despite our competitors ingraining that ‘mentality’ into their fleet customers over the past three decades)….

The goal of a safety hotline is to increase safety results, not punish drivers.  

Unfortunately, many supervisors have never had training or education on “how to coach/counsel” for improved habits and to motivate drivers to seek a better level of safety awareness.  The other issue is often a lack of tools in the tool kit to help drivers.

Another traffic picFor example, when we send a report we not only provide as much detail as possible (taking a paragraph or two to describe what happened) but we also use a tactic called “polite interrogation” of the motorist.  This sounds horrible, but we’re working on behalf of the commercial driver, not the caller.  Therefore, we ask open ended questions instead of trying to simply fill out a checklist.  We have a few other tricks of the trade to help vet these calls, but a good artist never reveals all of their secrets.

Next, we have our computer system attach one-page safety fact sheets to reports which match the specific habit types listed on the report (i.e. tailgating, swerving in traffic, running red lights, etc.)  The driver reads these sheets and signs/dates the bottom of the form to document at least minimal training has been provided.

We send a link to a supervisory video program on how to conduct proactive, cooperative coaching sessions.  This includes role play scenarios on the most common issues presented by drivers.

Additionally, our reports “recommend” specific 5 to 7 minute remedial, online, interactive training courses with “one-click” ordering of multiple courses (one course for each key habit issue) so that drivers get the training they need the most based on actual observations.  Some vendors limit you to picking the most egregious habit (can only assign one course—and their courses average 37 to 42 minutes long apiece—YIKES, talk about mind-numbing disrespect of a professional driver and a waste of time, energy and resource)

Driver Safety Cycles

Summary

Our program isn’t about pointing fingers, setting blame or yelling at drivers.

Our program is a DRIVER EDUCATION program that happens to use stickers as a triggering agent to identify who needs the MOST URGENT attention on SPECIFIC TOPICS, right now, BEFORE a crash or moving violation happen.

Our goal is to help supervisors focus on the few drivers who just need a little “course correction” before they’re off the rails.  This is prevention at it’s best. 

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

  • One of our clients operates 12,000 trucks.  They installed GPS.  Their GPS provider had no mechanism for them to translate the data into actionable follow ups with individual drivers.  During the second year, all excessive speed alerts (driving more than a set maximum threshold) came to us to be processed as Motorist Observation Reports (to use our coaching process.)  Since the rule was that none of these could be deleted, each incident must end up with coaching offered to the driver.  Net results?  By the end of the second year, they had decreased GPS speed alerts by 600% (From 1700 down to 174).  This was by “no-fault” coaching instead of discipline and termination – result was curbing behavior while increasing tenure.
  • Another client with 450 tractor trailers (over the road trucking) has GPS.  They got 470 hotline calls (motorist observation reports) in the first year on the program (more than one per tractor!) – out of these, ONLY five were ‘inaccurate” based on GPS readings for location/speed at time of report – that’s only 1% considered inaccurate and all remaining reports were used for coaching.  Their accident frequency has stayed about the same; however, severity per claim is “significantly lower” than the prior year and they believe it’s due to the drivers being aware of their surroundings and using the training we’ve provided to modify their habits.

SafetyFirst

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

Distractions leading to worker injuries — beyond the vehicle

Distracted driving continues to be a problem on the highways, but researchers are investigating how distraction on the job (away from the vehicle) is affecting injury rates and contributing to safety problems in other types of environments.

The National Safety Council recently ran an article on this phenomenon titled “Distracted on the job — Identifying and Minimizing Worker Distractions can help reduce injuries”  A link to the full article is HERE.

The “key points” made by the article include:

  • Deadlines and pressure to meet production goals are some of the biggest on-the-job distractions, experts say.
  • Allowing short breaks and empowering workers to speak up when they observe distractions can help mitigate the problem.
  • Although employees may pay more attention to the job at hand and are able to better minimize distractions shortly after a near miss or a workplace incident, experts warn this will eventually fade.

Complacency is one of the culprits that can drive up injury rates, and the article covers tips to combat these distractions through breaks and other means.

The Wall Street Journal also produced a short video covering office distraction leading to lost productivity.  While the discussion is mainly about the office environment, the issues raised could affect people in a wide range of jobs and positions. (http://on.wsj.com/VS70iN)