Do you have an unsafe driving remediation plan?

Motor Carriers Guide to ImprovingUnsafe driving includes risky behavior such as speeding, improper lane change, aggressive driving, and other types of  dangerous activity.

Recently, a motor carrier was placed out of service due to a range of reasons (Click Here for Article), but one of those reasons that caught my eye was “Widespread instances of drivers operating commercial passenger vehicles at speeds in excess of posted speed limits.

This made me wonder how the auditors arrived at this conclusion.

  • Toll receipt auditing?
  • GPS records review through “e-discovery”?
  • EOBR records or driver logs that showed getting from point “A” to point “B” in far less time than would be considered reasonable?

Unsafe CSA sheetRegardless of the mechanism to arrive at this conclusion, the immediate defense by the carrier should be to explain how they monitor and “control” drivers to avoid unsafe behavior or risk taking while behind the wheel.  Additionally, if those controls are deemed inadequate by the auditor, the fleet should be ready to prepare a remediation plan to curb the aggressive driving and keep it under control going forward.

If you use GPS or other systems that capture unsafe driving events (i.e. camera recorders, etc.) how do you measure performance violation rates?

  • What’s an acceptable level of speeding, hard braking, rough cornering, number of recordings per week per driver, etc?
  • How do you benchmark that against other operators to see if you’re above or below the norm for your type of operation?
  • Is your rate going up or down?
  • Do you have a plan to coach or re-train drivers when they exceed thresholds?
  • Is that documented and is it followed (how would you prove that it’s followed?)
  • Does your vendor help you solve these issues with reporting from their system and bench-marking against other clients?

At SafetyFirst we help our clients understand the metrics of our unsafe driver identification and coaching-remediation program.  We provide:

  1. live, statistically relevant bench-marking by SIC code,
  2. training for BOTH the supervisor and the driver (one on how to coach/counsel and the other on the consequences of risk taking while behind the wheel)
  3. The industry’s ONLY driver training program for excessive speed (GPS alerts)
  4. “paper trails and/or electronic confirmation” of activity in case of audits, and
  5. these capabilities for about 1/100th of the cost of the GPS or camera systems.

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Resources

smc 1The Safety Management Cycle (SMC) for the Unsafe Driving Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) helps carriers (and drivers!) evaluate existing processes over six areas including:

  1. Policies and Procedures
  2. Roles and Responsibilities, 
  3. Qualification and Hiring,
  4. Training and Communication, 
  5. Monitoring and Tracking, and
  6. Meaningful Action

By reviewing each of these areas, a fleet operator has the chance to spot gaps in management practices, shore up communications plans with drivers and test to make sure that policies are being followed and enforced.

We recommend you investigate these FREE resources from FMCSA for developing a plan to address unsafe driving before an audit team considers your operation for review:

Much of safety work is mundane and un-glamorous, but when executed consistently, can be highly effective at minimizing injuries, fines and violations.  Similarly, it can help bolster up-time, productivity and profitability.

Safer driving starts with a safety-aware, safety-vigilant driver, and this comes from managers who will compassionately intervene when performance issues arise.  Coaching shows concern when it’s focused as a “conversation about safety” instead of a head-butting “confrontation about blame/fault“.  At least that’s our opinion – how about you?

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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?

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. 

…but I got that ticket while in my personal car!

During my many years working in the field as a Loss Control Professional for the P&C insurance industry, I heard many employers (especially those who employed CDL license holders) asking about granting exceptions on MVR reviews when the driver had gotten a conviction while driving their own personal car “on the weekend”.

I was taught (in the insurance world) that it doesn’t matter what vehicle you were driving at the time of the violation — “behavior is behavior“.  If you speed on the weekend, you’ll probably speed on the weekdays, too.

PoliceA lot of managers pushed back on this notion by stating that people drive differently when behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound piece of steel.   That may be accurate, but learned and practiced behavior runs to the core of our personality and provides a strong governor of our actions.  When I learn to speed and roll through stop signs without getting caught for a long time, I take more risks and I learn to de-value the potential cost of risk taking.

Well, unfortunately for one driver (but perhaps an object lesson for others) the loss of a CDL has very publicly occured from personal driving violations.

According to published news reports,

“the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled Feb. 7 in the case of James Sondergaard v. the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation and Bureau of Driver Licensing, that Sondergaard’s CDL would be suspended for life.  According to court records, Sondergaard was convicted twice of DUI in 2010. Both arrests occurred while Sondergaard, a CDL holder, was driving his personal vehicle. The Pennsylvania Driver Licensing Bureau then suspended his CDL for life in August 2011.”

Arguing that state law was not clear, a series of court battles ensued, but culminated with the lifetime suspension of his CDL.

As pointed out in Land Line Magazine (Click Here to See Source Article);

“While the state law may not be straightforward, the federal regulations governing truckers is crystal clear.

The federal regulations outline varying durations of disqualifications under 383.51 The regulation spells out the various “major” and “serious” violations. The lengths of the various disqualification are a minimum standard set out to the states. States have the option of increasing the length of the suspensions if they so choose.

Federal regulation 383.51 states that the first conviction of being under the influence – even in a non-CMV – results in a one-year suspension. The second conviction is a lifetime suspension.

However, lifetime may not necessarily be lifetime. Reinstatement is possible after 10 years if that person has voluntarily entered and successfully completed an appropriate rehabilitation program approved by the state, according to 383.51(5).

Summary

So reviewing a driver’s MVR is important for a lot of reasons.  First, the employer should spot exceptions such as suspensions to protect their own legal interests.  Secondly, the employer should care enough about their operator to alert them that their continued aggregation of violations and convictions can lead to disaster — whether measured by collisions from risk taking habits OR loss of driving priviledges which affect employment.

Making exceptions or attempting to rationalize violations doesn’t do the driver or the employer any favors even though it may seem that way.  “Letting a violation slide” becomes an enabler of inappropriate (or at the very least, risky) habits.

If your current MVR review policy grants exceptions, please revisit that decision soon.  It’s possible that there may be certain situations where granting an exception could be justified, but it should be the true, rare exception rather the commonplace occurance.

Finally, remember that MVRs are vital, but not perfect.  There have been many situations documented by studies where violations and convictions are not reported, are masked, or have simply been lost when they “slipped through the cracks”. 

Additional Resources:

  1. Identifying drivers who may be at risk of becoming involved in a collsion:  MVR Analysis http://my.safetyfirst.com/newsfart/UnderwritingTrends8-2006(MVR).pdf
  2. Why Order & Review MVRs on Drivers? https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/why-order-review-mvrs-on-drivers/
  3. How to Use Individual Driver Motor Vehicle Records to Manage Risk  http://www.bbdetroit.com/news.php?id=166
  4. Do How’s My Driving? Programs Really Work? (See section titled “The MVR GAP”) http://www.fleet-central.com/resources/AF11supp_p22_25LR.pdf
  5. New MVR Ordering Features added to E-Driver File https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/new-mvr-reporting-features-added-to-e-driverfile/
  6. Deciphering MVR Profiling https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/deciphering-mvr-profiling/