Study: Fatal Car Crashes Involving Marijuana Have Tripled « CBS Seattle

drugged driving 2Study: Fatal Car Crashes Involving Marijuana Have Tripled « CBS Seattle.

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study on drugged driving (click HERE to see full report).  According to the abstract, there is increasing public concern over substance abuse affecting traffic safety results.

The study assessed trends in alcohol and other drugs detected in drivers who were killed within 1 hour of a motor vehicle crash in 6 US states (California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and West Virginia) that routinely performed toxicological testing on drivers involved in such crashes.  Their findings?

Of the 23,591 drivers studied, 39.7% tested positive for alcohol and 24.8% for other drugs. During the study period, the prevalence of positive results for nonalcohol drugs rose from 16.6% in 1999 to 28.3% in 2010 (Z = −10.19, P < 0.0001), whereas the prevalence of positive results for alcohol remained stable. The most commonly detected nonalcohol drug was cannabinol, the prevalence of which increased from 4.2% in 1999 to 12.2% in 2010 (Z = −13.63, P < 0.0001). The increase in the prevalence of nonalcohol drugs was observed in all age groups and both sexes. These results indicate that nonalcohol drugs, particularly marijuana, are increasingly detected in fatally injured drivers.

In short, fatal car crashes involving pot use have tripled in the U.S. during the study period.

“Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,” Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia, and co-author of the study told HealthDay News.

Other comments and quotes offered in the CBS article included:

“This study shows an alarming increase in driving under the influence of drugs, and, in particular, it shows an increase in driving under the influence of both alcohol and drugs,” Jan Withers, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, added.

“MADD is concerned anytime we hear about an increase in impaired driving, since it’s 100 percent preventable,” Withers said. “When it comes to drugged driving versus drunk driving, the substances may be different but the consequences are the same – needless deaths and injuries.”

blog rainy traffic day 1

Of course an article that ran in Forbes (click HERE) suggests that the study may have been flawed and that testing for certain chemicals may provide “false positives”:

If “drugged driving” means operating a motor vehicle with any detectable amount of cannabinol in your blood, “drugged driving” inevitably will rise after legalization as consumption rises. But having cannabinol in your blood is not the same as being intoxicated.

Still, driving while impaired in any way endangers yourself and other drivers.  We each have a responsibility for traffic safety results and must be vigilant, sober drivers to continue to see improvements in crash rates.

rx-for-dui

Incremental Gains Add Up Over Time

The Tortoise and the Hare is one of Aesop’s Fables.

The story concerns a Hare who ridicules a slow-moving Tortoise and is challenged by the tortoise to a race. The hare soon leaves the tortoise behind and, confident of winning, takes a nap midway through the course. When the Hare awakes however, he finds that his competitor, crawling slowly but steadily, has arrived before him. (Summary from Wikipedia)

“Slow and steady wins the race” is how I’ve heard the moral of the story expressed.  It’s a simple concept for leaders to embrace.   Incremental gains in effectiveness and efficiency may not seem all that important (or glamorous), but as long as you keep improving in small but very steady ways, you’ll soon leave the competition in the dust.

Consider this article titled; “What Would Happen If You improved Everything by 1%: The Science of Marginal Gains” (Click HERE).  The author, James Clear, paints the picture vividly by recalling the efforts of the British cycling team to win the Tour DeFrance:

No British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France, but as the new General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky (Great Britain’s professional cycling team), that’s what Brailsford was asked to do.

His approach was simple.

Brailsford believed in a concept that he referred to as the “aggregation of marginal gains.” He explained it as the “1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” His belief was that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.

They started by optimizing the things you might expect: the nutrition of riders, their weekly training program, the ergonomics of the bike seat, and the weight of the tires.

But Brailsford and his team didn’t stop there. They searched for 1 percent improvements in tiny areas that were overlooked by almost everyone else: discovering the pillow that offered the best sleep and taking it with them to hotels, testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. They searched for 1 percent improvements everywhere.

Brailsford believed that if they could successfully execute this strategy, then Team Sky would be in a position to win the Tour de France in five years time.

He was wrong. They won it in three years.

So in business, and in our personal life, small but deterministic changes can lead to bigger and better results.  I think this can be true in safety areas, too.

Large_Trucks_Cover_Front-300x287From the driver’s perspective, habits (productive or risky) develop over time from small choices made and small risks taken which are reinforced as acceptable (i.e. speeding daily without having a crash, using a hand held cell phone repeatedly without a crash, etc.)

These choices (good or bad) either take us to better performance (eating more healthy each day, getting more rest from a consistent sleep schedule, etc.) or lead us towards a bad outcome (crashes due to unchecked risk-taking.)  Driver coaching feedback should get drivers to incrementally change to conform to existing policy.  We’re not suggesting letting them break rules, but consistent monitoring and reinforcement of following the rules may work better than trying to get them to change overnight by means of hours of re-training, etc.

Driver Communication Plans foster two-way discussion about goals and outcomes (results) that can be a valuable tool in getting strong performance (https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/driver-management-communication-plans-part-1/)

smc 1Similarly, from a management standpoint, arriving at a poor BASIC score isn’t (typically) done overnight with one bad event, but over time with holes in the enforcement of policies designed to keep drivers safe, cargo secured, etc.

The discovery that a driver has become a chronic risk taker, or that a management team has developed inappropriate BASIC scores isn’t something that can be changed immediately.  Just as it took time to get to this point, it will take discipline and patience to get everything back on track.

marginal gains

Leveraging your current investment in safety programming (fine tuning for improved performance) is a great place to start.  Details like policy enforcement, training utilization, maximizing vendor relationships, fine tuning management reporting to identify key performance metrics may be mundane, but can yield significant dividends.

You might also consider setting highly tailored, short term objectives related to recent trends in loss (Crash/Injury) activity, and pushing for verified achievement before tackling additional areas of improvement (no one can easily win a wrestling match against an eight-armed octopus — focus and step-wise implementation are important).

TeleMaticsI recently attended a GPS conference where a very large delivery fleet (thousands of trucks ranging from class 3 thru class 8) talked about their success in rolling out telematics.

While they recognized that telematics could help them in hundreds of ways, they focused on one metric to start with and mastered that one thing, then moved on to another until it was mastered also.  Did they “leave money on the table” by not setting multiple goals in multiple areas?  They felt that if they had tried to tackle too many details all at once they might have failed in all areas.  By staying focused and working the incremental gain, they mastered their system and are getting amazing results (with plenty of ROI waiting in the wings, too.)

Communicating each “small win” to the team helps keep them motivated, too.

Slow and steady wins the race.

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Updates on Autonomous Vehicles

While we’ve covered AV’s in the past at the blog site:

We felt that it might be time for a quick update by posting some links to recent articles of interest (and some that are older, but still hold a relevant place in our discussion about safety, risk and insurance).

  1. Connected CarsOne of the most recent articles asks “WIll you ever be able to afford a self-driving car?” (Click HERE) and offers some interesting stats on the real cost to up-fit a vehicle with the needed gear to make it driver-less.  Of course, with mass production, these costs will come down (just like any tech related gear from phones to computers and flat screen televisions), but it’s interesting to consider the economic factors that may push widespread adoption further into the future simply because of cost.
  2. The Military sees the benefit of AV’s to reduce the liklihood of casualties on the battlefield from Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) — http://rt.com/usa/driverless-autonomous-vehicles-pentagon-498/
  3. One of the biggest questions on people’s minds seems to be “would widespread use of AV really improve road safety?”  An article from the New York Daily News offers thoughts on this issue – http://www.nydailynews.com/autos/cars-safer-drivers-self-driving-vehicles-eliminate-traffic-accidents-article-1.1595616
  4. Daimler’s CEO feels that AVs could be rolling off the production line by 2025, at least as outlined in this article – http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140113/AUTO04/301130112
  5. Naturally, we’d all like to know how much we’re going to save on car insurance if we “leave the driving to the vehicle” – http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-57422681-48/how-much-will-it-cost-to-insure-an-autonomous-car/  AND  http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/05/30/will-driverless-cars-cut-your-insurance80-percent

AV trucksLast, but not least, we recognize that AV technology isn’t limited to personal cars and light duty delivery vehicles — some of the most demanding and immediate applications for AV tech falls among the largest vehicles in quarries, mines and off-road trucking.  So what happens when USA’s “truckers” are replaced by radar and laser sighting equipment?  Will there be 80,000 pound, articulated, tractor-trailer rigs running cars off of the highway, or will truck safety results also improve (regardless of who might cause or contribute to crash occurrence)?  Check out this article for a preliminary discussion of these issues —http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/autonomous-vehicles-how-safe-are-trucks-without-human-drivers-9047546.html

road train automated

AV tech is on it’s way — it’s no longer reserved for Saturday morning cartoons like the Jetson’s flying car, etc.

gm_firebird_iii_concept

Getting People to Change their Driving Habits

Following yesterday’s post about exploring fresh ways to address traffic safety culture, a colleague shared a link to an excellent blog called “Mobilizing the Region”   At this site (http://blog.tstc.org/2014/01/14/better-safety-education-campaigns-could-reduce-traffic-fatalities-in-the-united-states/) there’s a great article comparing the typical USA-based Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for traffic safety to those used elsewhere in the world.

Many of the US-based ads send a message of “DON’T GET CAUGHT“, implying that the unlawful, ill-advised behaviors and habits are fully expected and normal — just avoid detection and it’s OK.  Worse, some speeding PSAs send a message that speeding is OK, just expensive (if you can afford the fines, you’re somehow justified in speeding).

This past year a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences conducted seven experiments. Two of them measured the behavior of drivers at four-way intersections and at crosswalks.  Conclusions?

  • “Drivers of more expensive cars are more likely to cut off other drivers and violate pedestrians’ right of way.” and
  • “Upper-class individuals’ relative independence from others and increased privacy in their professions may provide fewer structural constraints and decreased perceptions of risk associated with committing unethical acts.”

This seems to reinforce the PSAs who suggest the only reason to drive at or under the speed limit is if you can’t afford to pay the fine, but if you can afford it, set your own limit based on your wallet’s contents.

A recent article in Wall Street Journal “Should Wealthy Drivers Be Fined More for Speeding?” (January 12, 2014) discusses the emerging trend in Europe to base traffic safety fines on the net worth of the individual in order to curb reckless and aggressive driving habits.  The article suggests that “For a multimillionaire, a $100 speeding fine is simply a small price to pay for saving time on the road.” therefore, a rich Ferrari driver with a history of violations in Switzerland was recently given a $290,000 ticket–a world record. The article continues “Such fines, pegged to wealth, are becoming increasingly common in Europe. Germany, France, Austria and the Nordic countries are issuing higher speeding fines for wealthier drivers. In Germany, the maximum fine could be $16 million.

Do you think increasing fines (tied to personal worth) are feasible in the USA?  Would this approach make any difference or only confirm that driver safety culture can be bought at a price?  

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.

Carjackings On The Rise

Yesterday, a local news report was published indicating that there had been 450 carjackings in Essex County, NJ – setting an all-time record for this part of New Jersey. The article offered these additional insights:

So far in 2013, there have been 450 carjackings in Essex County, up from 422 in 2012, and 410 in 2011. In 2009, there were just 200. Law enforcement experts said that those numbers should scare you.

“They said they make more money stealing one car than they do slinging drugs on the street corner and their risk of getting killed by the competition is much lower,” former Morris County detective Dan Coleman explained.

A demand for nice cars has made the luxury SUVs popular with thieves, and new technology like push-button starters make hot wiring the new models virtually impossible, so criminals need the car and the key.

Ten percent of the stolen cars wind up in containers at nearby ports, Sloan reported. “There are very sophisticated rings stealing luxury cars and shipping them overseas. In a post-9/11 world we’re watching what’s coming into the port. What’s going out isn’t watched as closely,” Coleman said. Many of those cars are then sent to Africa where there is a high demand for luxury vehicles, Sloan reported. 

Surveillance footage has even shown thieves stealing cars at gas stations, following drivers home, or initiating bogus accidents by bumping cars from behind.

Overview

Carjacking is the theft of an auto while it’s occupied by its lawful operator. Carjackings are often characterized with serious threats of violence or death by gunfire or stabbing. Carjacking is on the increase throughout the world as thieves can easily make their getaway in the seized vehicle. In rare cases, the lawful operator is kidnapped as a passenger under duress, or made to drive the vehicle on behalf of his/her abductor.

In 1992, Congress passed the Federal Anti-Car Theft Act (FACTA) making it a federal crime to use a firearm to steal “through force or intimidation” a motor vehicle. Unfortunately, the law was seldom enforced since most cases are held at local or state level courts.

Commercial fleet operators whose managers use high value, target vehicles (SUVs, etc.) would be wise to educate these operators about the nature of these crimes, and steps to consider if attacked.  Trucks carrying high value goods may also be hi-jacked for their commodities.

According to the Department of Justice there are some general characteristics of carjacking events:

  • Carjacking victimization rates were highest in urban areas, followed by suburban and rural areas. Ninety three percent of carjackings occurred in cities or suburbs.
  • A weapon was used in 74% of carjacking victimizations. Firearms were used in 45% of carjackings, knives in 11%, and other weapons in 18%.
  • The victim resisted the offender in two-thirds of carjackings. Twenty-four percent of victims used confrontational resistance (threatening or attacking the offender or chasing or trying to capture the offender). About a third of victims used nonconfrontational methods, such as running away, calling for help, or trying to get the attention of others.
  • About 32% of victims of completed carjackings and about 17% of victims of attempted carjackings were injured. Serious injuries, such as gunshot or knife wounds, broken bones, or internal injuries occurred in about 9%. More minor injuries, such as bruises and chipped teeth, occurred in about 15%.
  • 68% of carjacking incidents occurred at night (6 p.m. – 6 a.m.). 
  • 44% of carjacking incidents occurred in an open area, such as on the street (other than immediately adjacent to the victim’s own home or that of a friend or neighbor) or near public transportation (such as a bus, subway, or train station or an airport), and 24% occurred in parking lots or garages or near commercial places such as stores, gas stations, office buildings, restaurants/bars, or other commercial facilities.
  • About 63% of carjacking incidents occurred within 5 miles of the victim’s home, including the 17% that occurred at or near the home. Four percent occurred more than 50 miles from the victim’s home.
  • 77% of carjackings — 98% of the completed crimes and 58% of the attempts — were reported to the police.
  • Partial or complete recovery of property occurred in 78% of completed carjacking incidents. A quarter of carjackings involved total recovery of all property.

The US Department of State offers tips on avoiding carjacking incidents:

  • Stay alert at all times and be aware of your environment. The most likely places for a carjacking are:
    • High crime areas
    • Lesser traveled roads (rural areas)
    • Intersections where you must stop
    • Isolated areas in parking lots
    • Residential driveways and gates
    • Traffic jams or congested areas

In traffic, look around for possible avenues of escape. Keep some distance between you and the vehicle in front so you can maneuver easily if necessary–about one-half of your vehicle’s length. (You should always be able to see the rear tires of the vehicle in front of you.)

When stopped, use your rear and side view mirrors to stay aware of your surroundings. Also keep your doors locked and windows up. This increases your safety and makes it more difficult for an attacker to surprise you.

Accidents are one ruse used by attackers to control a victim. Following are common attack plans:

    1. The BumpThe attacker bumps the victim’s vehicle from behind. The victim gets out to assess the damage and exchange information. The victim’s vehicle is taken.
    2. Good SamaritanThe attacker(s) stage what appears to be an accident. They may simulate an injury. The victim stops to assist, and the vehicle is taken.
    3. The RuseThe vehicle behind the victim flashes its lights or the driver waves to get the victim’s attention. The attacker tries to indicate that there is a problem with the victim’s car. The victim pulls over and the vehicle is taken.
    4. The TrapCarjackers use surveillance to follow the victim home. When the victim pulls into his or her driveway waiting for the gate to open, the attacker pulls up behind and blocks the victim’s car.

If you are bumped from behind or if someone tries to alert you to a problem with your vehicle, pull over only when you reach a safe public place.

DURING A CARJACKING

In most carjacking situations, the attackers are interested only in the vehicle. Try to stay calm. Do not stare at the attacker as this may seem aggressive and cause them to harm you.

There are two options during an attack–nonresistive, nonconfrontational behavior and resistive or confrontational behavior. Your reaction should be based on certain factors:

    • Type of attack
    • Environment (isolated or public)
    • Mental state of attacker (reasonable or nervous)
    • Number of attackers
    • Weapons
    • Whether children are present

In the nonconfrontational situation, you would:

    • give up the vehicle freely.
    • listen carefully to all directions.
    • make no quick or sudden movements that the attacker could construe as a counter attack.
    • always keeps your hands in plain view. Tell the attacker of every move in advance.
    • make the attacker aware if children are present. The attacker may be focused only on the driver and not know children are in the car.

In a resistive or confrontational response, you would make a decision to escape or attack the carjacker. Before doing so, consider:

    • the mental state of the attacker.
    • possible avenues of escape.
    • the number of attackers; there is usually more than one.
    • the use of weapons. (Weapons are used in the majority of carjacking situations.)

In most instances, it is probably safest to give up your vehicle.

AFTER THE ATTACK

Safety  —  Always carry a cell phone or radio on your person.

If you are in a populated area, immediately go to a safe place. After an attack or an attempted attack, you might not be focused on your safety. Get to a safe place before contacting someone to report the incident.

Reporting the Crime — Describe the event. What time of day did it occur? Where did it happen? How did it happen? Who was involved?  Describe the attacker(s). Without staring, try to note height, weight, scars or other marks, hair and eye color, the presence of facial hair, build (slender, large), and complexion (dark, fair). Describe the attacker’s vehicle. If possible get the vehicle license number, color, make, model, and year, as well as any marks (scratches, dents, damage) and personal decorations (stickers, colored wheels). The golden rule for descriptions is to give only that information you absolutely remember. If you are not sure, don’t guess!

 RELATED INFORMATION SOURCES:

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

Hidden Liabilities for Fleets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copy of Copy of EDF LOGO (final)

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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Spoliation of Evidence Following a Crash

EdiscoveryAlthough SafetyFirst has authored articles about spoliation over the past several years (Here) and (Here), this topic has been making the rounds of insurance carrier discussions lately. 

Spoliation of evidence is a fancy term for failing to safeguard information, documents, electronic data or other evidence that would (or could) be material to a lawsuit. 

For example, you are suing a manufacturer for a defective product that injured you.  They have “misplaced” or “lost” key quality control documents, inspection records and data on how the product had been tested to minimize those safety issues that might have prevented your injury.  You don’t know if they purposely destroyed the documents to cover up their own negligence or if they just made mistakes with their own document retention policy.  In court, a claim that they mis-handled the evidence, especially after becoming aware of your injury and/or lawsuit, could lead to serious consequences.  The judge could order any prospective jurors to assume the worst — that the missing evidence was damning to their case and would have proven our case that the injury was the fault of the defective product. 

In this recent article — Risk Managers: Spoliation Prevention has Insurance Underwriting Implications, too! (LINK) the author asserts that companies with strong record retention policies and well-defined filing programs can help build a strong defense when claims arise.  It’s better (in most cases) to argue the claim from a factual basis — knowing all of the relevant facts instead of trying to dispose of data (electronic or paper).

From the article:

Dollars are dollars, and they can balloon an account’s loss ratio if the company must spend an inordinate amount of money because it is unprepared for electronic discovery, or has spoliation of evidence issues posed against it. These dollars can balloon an account’s loss ratio which, in turn, may impact the availability and pricing of financial protection in the form of product liability insurance. [or other forms of liability insurance like Commercial Vehicle coverage, too]

The takeaway, therefore, is that companies with strong e-discovery, document- and evidence retention systems represent better risks. They have their proverbial “act together,” to put it in street lingo.

One way to do this is to strengthen the company’s document preservation and spoliation prevention systems and to be able to present a compelling case to insurance underwriters that the risk manager’s company is a sound risk for the underwriter and insurance company. Underwriters are the gatekeepers who determine whether or not a company represents an acceptable risk and at what price.

Thus, we can increasingly expect insurers to probe and ask about systems that facilitate efficient e-discovery, thwart spoliation and maximize retention of evidence.

This will be part of any insurance company’s due diligence process in assessing the fitness and desirability of an account for insurance placement or renewal. Questions about document preservation systems and e-discovery preparedness could be on the insurance application, could surface in pre-underwriting reviews, or arise during discussions with underwriters.

The very best defense against lawsuits is to avoid crashes and injuries in the first place.  Unfortunately, and despite everyone’s best intentions, crashes may occur.  In that event, preserving relevant data about the driver’s qualifications, regulatory compliance status, moving violations and crash history (among other things) may be critical to mounting an appropriate good faith defense. 

Check with your attorney, claims team, or insurance safety professional to learn more about how to protect your company’s specific interests.

Disclaimer:  SafetyFirst and the author of this article are not legal specialists or experts.  We are not attorneys and can not offer legal advice.  This article (or any associated/referenced articles by SafetyFirst and it’s staff) merely discusses a general topic and is not intended as specific advice on how to prepare for litigation or any other purpose.