Incentives for Safe Driving?

One of the most common search terms used in the past six months by fleet safety managers is “Driver Incentive Program”.  A recent article states;

Another traffic pic“There is little question that keeping company vehicle drivers, their passengers, and the public safe is the single most important responsibility a fleet manager has. From vehicle selection to specification to policy, safety should be a primary force in decision-making.”

“One method used by many companies to help make safety efforts successful is implementing a safe driving incentive program. Using various measurements, drivers whose safety records are exemplary are rewarded.”

“But if the basis for the program is merely “no accidents = cash,” the overall goal of achieving a safety culture among drivers won’t be met. Here are some tips to remember when you want your safety program to have maximum effectiveness.”

READ MORE? Click Here.

Additionally, a case study of particular note, titled “PAY INCENTIVES AND TRUCK DRIVER SAFETY: A CASE STUDY” conducted by the team of DANIEL A. RODRÍGUEZ, FELIPE TARGA, and MICHAEL H. BELZER was brought to my attention by a colleague.  The study summary states:

“This paper explores the safety consequences of increasing truck driver pay. The test case the authors examine involves a large over-the-road truckload firm that on February 25, 1997, raised wages an average of 39.1%. An analysis that controls for demographic and operational factors, including prior driving experience and experience acquired on the job, suggests that for drivers employed during the lower pay regime and retained in the higher pay regime, crash incidence fell. A higher pay rate also led to lower separation probability, but this indirect effect only translated into fewer crashes by increasing the retention of older, more experienced drivers. These findings suggest that human capital characteristics are important predictors of driver safety, but that motivational and incentive factors also are influential “

The study can be found by clicking HERE.

Finally, the FMCSA has previously published information designed to help pave the way forFMCSA Retention brief fleets who are struggling to reduce their UNSAFE DRIVER “BASIC” scores and want to examine incentives as part of that process.

http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/facts-research/research-technology/tech/driver-retention-safety.pdf represents one of these FREE resources that many fleet managers are unaware exist.

Summary

Many fleets have worked with incentive programs and they either LOVE them or HATE them — the keys to success focus on simple issues:

  1. The drivers need to buy in to the program — if the incentives offered are unappealing, they won’t influence behavior
  2. Goals need to be reasonable and achievable.  If the drivers feel that the goals are unrealistic, they may give up before really trying to attain them
  3. Communication between management and drivers is very important — if the drivers don’t understand parts of the program, how it gets administered, or what they need to do, they can become very frustrated.  It’s also helpful to provide periodic feedback on progress to keep everyone encouraged and working towards a common goal.
  4. Keep it simple.  There is always a temptation to make things complicated.  Keeping the program as simple as possible makes it easier to communicate goals, methods and progress.  If something isn’t working well, it’s also easier to change things than when the program is highly complex.

The team at SafetyFirst may be able to help you further!  Give us a call to discuss our programs and resources. 1-888-603-6987

OSHA Training and “Drivers” – are They “Invisible Employees?”

A colleague sent me a link to a blog article titled; “OSHA Training: The “Invisible” Employees”.  It got me wondering whether company drivers are so-called invisible employees when it comes to being included in all types of OSHA mandated training….

Here’s an excerpt of the original article:

Hello – can you see me? I must be invisible when it comes to OSHA training. Or maybe I am just exempt from all safety training regulations? Surely not!

I mean, if there was a fire or explosion in our building, I am curious to know what the company expects me to do. Is there some kind of alarm or signal to warn us to evacuate, or a place where I am expected to assemble? How would they know I got out safely? I wonder, but yet I have never been trained about this sort of thing.

And if a nearby co-worker suffered a heart attack or other serious medical emergency, I am not sure exactly how I should react. Does our company have a procedure in place? Maybe I just call an ambulance? Does anyone here know first aid or CPR? I have no idea, as our company’s safety manager never trained me about this sort of thing either. And while I’m at it, what am I supposed to do if a tornado is reported to be headed in our direction? Do I go get in my car and drive away? Or crawl under a table somewhere? I don’t know what the company expects of me, as I have never been instructed on what to do in this situation, either. I guess maybe I’m on my own.

The posting continues on offering additional scenarios covering potential injury/illness generators that may not be fully addressed unless “all” employees are fully trained on a regular basis.

So does the fact that most drivers stay out of the manufacturing plant (in, say, a private fleet operation), keep them from getting all the training that in-plant workers receive?  What if they have reason to transit the production floor to visit HR or attend a safety committee meeting?

Is Red Light Running A Serious Problem?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirms that road deaths soared during 1Q2012 (by 13.5%) (see our article) and it is doubtless that some portion of these fatalities occurred at traffic light controlled intersections.

According to a recent article published at EHS Today, red light running is a serious concern.  The “Safer Roads Report 2012” summarizes data collected from 1,240 red-light safety cameras in 18 states and 142 municipalities with a total population of over 18 million.  Some of the key findings included:

  • Over 2.34 million red-light violations were observed in 2011.
  • The most violations, 30.7%, occurred in the afternoon from 1-5 p.m.
  • The fewest violations, 9.75%, occurred late night from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Greater likelihood of finding a red-light violator on a Friday (16%) than on a Sunday (12%).
  • Christmas had a 40% lower violation rate than the average day while June 3 earned the prize for the worst day for red-light running
  • In terms of major travel periods, Memorial Day Weekend ranked the highest, with over 27% more red-light runners than on the average weekend; Independence Day, Labor Day and Halloween were right up there as well.

The NCSR report references a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistic in which intersection-related vehicle accidents were responsible for more than 8,500 deaths in 2011.

All the data point to a clear conclusion:  the odds of encountering a red-light violator are significant.  Automated enforcement alone will not eliminate the behavior of being in a hurry or racing to beat a “yellow light”.  All drivers need to modify their habits to respect traffic signals, and be on the look out for red-light violators.

This is the subject of two brand-new interactive training modules introduced by SafetyFirst for it’s enhanced service clients.  Presently available in English or Spanish, the training can be assigned through our website or when an online-MOR (Motorist Observation Report) recommends specific training modules from our growing library of titles.

In addition to the new, interactive training modules, we have published multiple “Ten-Minute Training Topic” packages for the benefit of client drivers and their supervisors.

If you’d like more information about our training packages, enhanced safety hotline program, MVR profiling or other services, please contact us (1-888-603-6987 toll-free)

Does Driving an Older Car Increase Injury Risk?

According to an article at EHS Today ( http://ehstoday.com/blog/does-driving-older-car-increase-injury-risk-nhtsa-says-yes ), the author and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration make the case that older vehicles increase your risk of injury for a number of interesting reasons.

First of all, it’s important to define “older” — according to NHTSA, any make/model of 2008 or newer vintage is a “newer car” and those older are, well, “older cars”.

According to the article;

“In its June 2012 report, “An Analysis of Recent Improvements to Vehicle Safety,” NHTSA set out to determine what role vehicle safety improvements played in the historically low fatality and injury rates over the last several years. NHTSA’s data crunchers performed detailed statistical model analysis to ascertain if vehicle safety improvements since 2000 could be responsible for preventing injuries and fatalities. Their final conclusion is not surprising. The magnitude of those findings, however, is eye-opening.”

NHTSA concluded; “We estimate that the likelihood of crashing in 100,000 miles of driving has decreased from 30 percent in a model year 2000 car to 25 percent in a model year 2008 one, when both vehicles are driven “as new”. The likelihood of escaping a crash uninjured has improved from 79 to 82 percent as a result of improvements between the 2000 and 2008 car fleets. Improvements are also found for light trucks and vans, and for the chances of surviving a crash and avoiding incapacitation.”

To summarize other key findings:

  • Improvements made to newer models (post CY2000) prevented an estimated 700,000 vehicles from crashing.
  • These newer car improvements prevented or mitigated an estimated 1 million occupant injuries.
  • The improvements to newer cars likely saved 2,000 lives in the year 2008 alone.
  • Of the 9 million crashes occurring among passenger vehicles in 2008, 200,000 could have been prevented if the vehicles had the benefits of more recent safety systems.
  • The conclusions apply equally to light trucks and vans – not just sedans and minivans, etc.

It’s interesting to note that many families with teenagers learning to drive put their children in the oldest car so that if there’s a crash, it’s not as big a loss (i.e. “who cares if the old van gets one more dent?”) 

Unfortunately, the issue isn’t really about getting one more dent or one more scratch — it may be about whether your teen survives the collision at all.

So what do you think?  Perhaps it’s time to consider trading up to a newer model and retiring your older vehicle?

Driver Safety Hotline Benefits Your Drivers

It is uncontested that 80% of all commercial drivers drive consistently well, but a small percentage have “bad habits” that contribute to the vast majority of crashes and “near-misses”. 

How do you identify these drivers so that you can effectively help them drive better tomorrow so that they:

  • Do go home to their families each night
  • Do make their deliveries on time
  • Do receive positive training, not punishment
  • Do understand that safety is serious at your firm
  • Do help protect the company’s image
  • Don’t have to sit through depositions
  • Don’t get hurt or killed
  • Don’t get a moving violation (with the out-of-pocket fines!)
  • Don’t have their personal insurance rates jump (due to the moving violation)
  • Don’t reduce their “employability” due to tickets or accidents

Historically, there were two options available to safety managers to identify drivers who may be “at-risk” of becoming involved in a crash:  Motor Vehicle Reports (profiling based on past tickets – and provided electronically by our E-DriverFile System) and Crash Reports. 

Over time, these approaches were supplemented by tachographs (speed recorders) and “black boxes” which tell us about location, speed, hard braking, etc.  Each of these processes tells you about problems after they’ve already manifested themselves — so called “lagging indicators of performance”. 

You see, to wait until a driver has already gotten a ticket, or has shown up on telematics data reports as an “exceptional exception” adds a delay that increases the odds of a crash happening before you have time to intervene.

Another way to identify these “at-risk” drivers is with a simple, low-cost, turn-key solution.  Our hotline program spots those drivers, who, if their behaviors were ignored, would end up with a violation or crash event. 

Here’s the process:

  1. We send you a report about specific incidents.  We also send Training Materials tied to the specifics of the incident.
  2. You talk with your driver – not to fix blame, but to help them fix any underlying safety problems.  Additionally to help them understand that the goal is safety – to avoid injury no matter who or what was the cause of the reported incident.  We also train your supervisors on HOW to COACH affected drivers for positive outcomes!
  3. You send us the completed report and we provide a monthly recap of progress and patterns in activity.
  4. We send a monthly training package to help ALL of your drivers with safety.

That’s it.  It is very simple and highly effective. Plus, it’s designed to boost the results from your existing safety practices at a very low cost (less than $15-$17 per vehicle per year).

If you are willing to invest about one minute per day (30 minutes a month) to coach and counsel drivers on their performance before they get a ticket or get hurt, then why not check out the program, it’s ease of use, it’s simplicity and it’s effectiveness?

Please let us show you our new DRIVER COACHING PROGRAM for supervisors — it can help you leverage your Safety Hotline Reports, your TELEMATICS Data, and even your VIDEO recordings. 

While other vendors tell you to coach your drivers we explain HOW to coach your drivers for better results!  Want to preview our program?  Give us a call at 1-888-603-6987

Because Results Count, What Training Approach Makes the Most Sense?

Guest Commentary from Joe Zingale, VP Business Development, SafetyFirst Systems, LLC

I was speaking to my CEO, Paul Farrell, at the SafetyFirst corporate office and we were discussing driver training and all the various types and formats that exist today: Online Training, Video, Audio, Written, Classroom, Behind the wheel, etc. We are in development of our own training program and we wanted to determine what would be the most effective, defined by the results it produced (reduced incidents/collisions).

We agreed that there are a lot of “good” training programs out there already, but when you look closely at the current offerings and then at the needs of the majority of fleets, we recognized some surprising things:

  1. There are a large range of industries, each with their own special concerns for drivers to address
  2. Most larger firms have multiple types of vehicles – each with special concerns that should be pointed out to drivers (i.e. blind areas, special equipment, handling concerns, etc.)
  3. Regardless of the size of the firm, drivers encounter wildly different road types and weather conditions throughout North America (i.e. “winter driving” is very different in Arizona versus Manitoba or even Maryland)
  4. There are differences in driving between the same vehicle type  (i.e. “VAN” could mean: cable companies driving tech vans vs. social services organizations driving 15 passenger vans.).  

We soon realized that each company would have to decide whether they wanted:

  1. To build a massive library to deal with each and every one of these variable factors, or
  2. Settle for a generic menu of courses (i.e. light versus large vehicles, “Defensive Driving” practices, or some variation of a “one size fits all” program) that would provide little impact to the driver taking the course.  After all, the phrase “Generic Focus” is an oxymoron in the training world for good reason. 

We admitted that we’ve heard from safety managers who feel the effort becomes pointless when, after a driver has taken the course, there is another incident recorded by the same driver.  We’re not undervaluing training mind you. It’s necessary and important; however, how do we know when it was fully effective?  What are the metrics that show us the results?  Is it reduced crash rates or test scores?  Is it the ease of implementation, or whether the drivers like theLMS/Content?

It’s amazing to think about the amount of hours invested in most fleets for: entry level driver training; training to learn new or advance current skills; regulatory compliance and policy training; even post-incident refresher training.

In the years that I have been designing and implementing fleet safety programs, I don’t believe I ever had a client who knowingly put a driver on the road that wasn’t: licensed; trained; experienced; and fully qualified to the various selection processes such as background checks, drug testing, medical certificates, etc.  So, once a driver is on the road and has an incident/crash that wasn’t due to a mechanical issue or clearly the fault of another motorist, doesn’t it boil down to either complacency (unaware of habits) or negligence (aware, but doesn’t care)It’s not a lack of training, skill or knowledge contributing to these incidents.  Bottomline:  I’m certain that most drivers wouldn’t have been entrusted with a set of keys and a company credit card if their results depended primarily on whether they had “enough” training – so how is “more training” going to fix the underlying performance issue?  (Again, training as a safety method isn’t the problem, I think it’s the over-reliance on training as a cure-all solution that gets some folks in deep water.  Also, check out the article on “training transfer” at http://blog.wteams.com/the_winning_team_Blog/2007/10/research-over-m.html). 

With our “How’s My Driving?” program we find that it is a small percentage of drivers who ever receive reports (10-15%) but studies by our insurance partners and fleet clients show that drivers with multiple reports have a much greater risk of becoming involved in a crash. The typical response is to offer more “training” to these drivers in the hope that we can change their day-to-day performance by re-teaching the six second following rule.  Would that work if the underlying issue is attitude, not lack of knowledge? Also, if the supervisor’s attitude reflects that of the affected driver (just watch this video so we can both get back to work, OK?) why would the driver feel the need to change his/her behavior?

Interestingly, our clients experience the highest report volume during the first several months of the program. It reinforces a theory I’ve long held – drivers who are “at-risk” of becoming involved in a collision (so-called “Unsafe Drivers” by the CSA program) either don’t recognize their risk taking habits or don’t care about them.  Those clients who invest the time to look these drivers in the eye and really coach them on specific issues received a noticeable reduction after the first few months.  Clearly, the drivers that “don’t care” that will continue to receive reports (ignoring the coaching/training efforts and sadly moving on to other means to motivate a change in performance) and those that “didn’t know” that they had slipped into habits, once they have been made aware of them, do not receive a second report. So, back to our discussion on our training program development.  As mentioned earlier, because of the size of the library needed to cover all the variables, and the low impact of generic training, we looked for a different solution.

In my experience, the best and most successful safety directors are those that take safety and make it personal – compassionately intervening to impress upon their drivers a need to change before something bad happens.

I have always admired the passion they bring to their work. It’s not about numbers for them. After all, it’s about motivating their team to perform, not how to avoid getting caught. Offense rather than defense! One analogy I have used when speaking to various groups is the Safety Director/Employee relationship is very much akin to the relationship between a parent and teenager (who feels “invincible” and safety is a message really intended for their peers, not themselves).

If you were concerned about your teenager’s safety and well-being, you’d talk to them about consequences, reasons to choose safety over the dares and “counsel” of their peers.  You’d look them in the eye and talk about why it is so important that they understand how much you care for them and why you don’t ever want to see them get hurt. In short, you’d “discipline them” where “discipline” is defined as; “…training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.”  We want to know that they’ll behave a certain, predictable way when we’re not there to watch them or intervene on their behalf.

What we wouldn’t do with our own teenagers is sit them in front of a television, pop in a DVD and cross our collective fingers that the “training takes hold”.   Paul and I further agreed that we’d spend time driving with our sons and daughters and restrict them from driving with friends who’ll distract them and other steps.  Would you do any less for your own son/daughter when they’re driving for the first time?  How about when they’ve been driving for five years, ten years or twenty – the time we spend with them now pays dividends in continued safety – later (when we’re not with them).  I’m not going to trust aDVDor online course to build their internal “discipline” – would you? 

We recognized that the best way we could impact a commercial driver safety program would be to help the Safety Directors by giving them coaching strategies and tactics! I haven’t met with a Safety Director that isn’t already working 60+ hours a week going 100 mph with their hair on fire, running multiple programs at the same time across a number of areas beyond the fleet aspect of their job. We have, and are continuing to, develop our “training” to do two things:

  1. Address the actual performance issue through coaching and use training only as a reminder of what they should already know. In the case of a Motor Observation Report that could be tailgating, unsafe lane changes, speeding, etc.   We’ll coach on why these behaviors necessarily lead down the road to “bad stuff happening”, but then we’ll also coach on how the driver can/should self-monitor and correct those habits and performance issues while behind the wheel.
  2. Equip, enable and empower the Safety Director so that each meeting with an affected driver can be used as an opportunity instead of turning into a confrontation.  It’s not about “blaming”, it’s actually about “training reminders” – so that the performance (whether “attitude” or “complacency” based) improves to everyone’s benefit.  The driver reduces the likelihood of getting a ticket or injury, and the fleet improves their CSA scores and maintains reasonable insurance pricing.

Our coaching program covers the comments and responses between driver and management, based on feedback we have collected from our clients, so that conversation is positive and the effect is the driver is a better driver!   To introduce our coaching program (an opportunity that really is best addressed through education) we have produced a brief, but powerful video package for supervisors to learn how to implement these concepts.

As our decals state; “Safety Is My Goal” – getting to that state of “safety” takes eyeball to eyeball conversations – training by proxy through an internet connection may be “easy” but only gets results defined by needing to buy more training.  We’d rather measure success by fewer injuries — Does anything else matter?

Joe Zingale recently joined SafetyFirst as our VP of Business Development and can be reached toll free at855-229-3220.  Joe has 17 years experience in driver safety having previously worked at Driver’s Alert, but finally “seeing the light” and making the change to SafetyFirst during 2011.

Drowsy Driving Week – November 6-12, 2011

No, it’s not the week where we want to drive drowsy — it’s to raise awareness of the extent of the issue and the need to educate drivers of what they can do to prevent driving while drowsy.

While most people have come to recognize the dangers of “drinking and driving“, “texting while driving” or “driving without the use of a seatbelt“, many still consider “driving while drowsy” to be a relatively minor safety concern. People think that they can tell when they’re about to fall asleep and can safely get home before a problem occurs. These drowsy drivers are at much greater risk to be injured in a crash than they realize.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving results in 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and more than 100,000 accidents each year.

In a recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAAFTS) survey, nearly nine out of every ten police officers reported they had stopped a driver who they believed was drunk, but turned out to be drowsy.  The AAAFTS survey also indicated that:

  • Younger drivers age 16-24 were nearly twice as likely to be involved in a drowsy driving crash as drivers age 40-59,
  • About 57 percent of drowsy driving crashes involved the driver drifting into other lanes or even off the road.
  • More than half (55%) of those drivers who reported having fallen asleep while driving in the past year said that it occurred on a high-speed divided highway.
  • More than half (59%) of those drivers who reported having fallen asleep while driving in the past year said they had been driving for less than an hour before falling asleep; only one in five reported they had been driving for three hours or longer.

Drowsy driving is operating a motor vehicle while sleepy, fatigued or “tired/exhausted”.  Sleepiness and driving is a dangerous combination. Most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving but don’t realize that drowsy driving can be just as fatal. Like alcohol, sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases your risk of crashing.

The potential to fall asleep behind the wheel can’t be judged by the operator – they simply fall asleep and typically lose control of their vehicle.

This month’s Ten-Minute Training Topic covers what drivers can do to recognize the warning signs, prevent drowsy driving and improve their health/wellness in the process. 

The Ten-Minute Training Topic series is a monthly driver training package on a specific, focused issue like Drowsy Driving, Parking Lot Dangers, Improper Passing, etc.  The program includes driver handouts, manager’s supplemental reports (with relevant news stories, links to web site resources, etc.) and links to A-V presentations for the drivers.  The program materials can be used as payroll stuffers, classroom training sessions, or tailgate talks.  Drivers can review the materials from remote locations electronically.

We encourage managers to review any existing company policies that relate to the Ten-Minute Training Topic in advance of its distribution to drivers.  This provides an opportunity to make any needed enhancements, prepare for anticipated questions and check to make sure that your policy and the Ten-Minute Training Topic are in agreement.

While some companies may have developed “policies” concerning how drivers should deal with drowsy driving and “fatigue”, others may want to consider the following questions:

  • Are your drivers aware of your specific company expectations regarding driving while tired or “drowsy”?
  • Are there any specific instructions you want them to follow regarding breaks, use of rest areas or other procedures when “at-risk” of falling asleep at the wheel?
  • Are there any circumstances where the driver should not attempt to drive while tired?
  • Has your company developed or participated in any workplace wellness programs that might help address sleep disorders, diet and other contributing factors?
  • Are there pertinent regulations affecting your drivers with regard to their alertness or ability to drive safely (ie. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations; Hours of Service Rules, etc.)

This is a great time to re-acquaint them with your company’s practices and expectations regarding all aspects of driving safely at night or during extended trips where fatigue may become a safety issue.

If you’re interested in learning more about our monthly driver training package (included free in our hotline program, or available for separate purchase), please let us know.  We can even send out a sample training topic for your review as a courtesy copy. 

Our toll-free number is 1-888-603-6987 – just let us know that you’re interested in the Drowsy Driving Training Topic.

Avoiding Pedestrian Collisions

At crosswalks and intersections, near schools and shopping centers, in parking lots and along the rural road, pedestrians and motorized vehicles interact on a daily basis. 

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) most current data, there were 4,092 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes and another 59,000 injured in a single year – that’s more than 11 deaths and more than 161 trips to receive medical attention each calendar day of the year. 

Although deaths and injuries from ANY type of vehicle crash are serious, the number of pedestrian deaths compares to the number of deaths related to cell phone use (995/year per NHTSA) on a 4:1 basis (for every driver killed while talking on their cell, there were four pedestrians killed regardless of cell phone use or not).

Understanding why pedestrians and motorists get into crashes helps us understand what might be done to improve results.  NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have published some interesting facts about pedestrian deaths: 

  • 72% of the deaths occurred in urban settings (drivers should be extra careful in congested urban areas);
  • 76% occurred at non-intersections (pedestrians crossing the road where they might not have been expected);
  • 17% were “hit and run” collisions (where prompt notification of the authorities might possibly have saved a life);
  • 25% of the deaths occurred between 6 pm and 9 pm; and an additional 22% occurred between 9 pm and midnight (speeding at night reduces the “effective” illumination distance in front of the vehicle).

Ultimately, pedestrians and drivers each share responsibility to prevent these collisions. 

  • Pedestrians should use crosswalks, cross with the light, look before stepping into the roadway, wear light-colored (reflective if possible) clothing and carry a flashlight when walking between dusk and dawn. 
  • Additionally, drivers need to pay attention to their surroundings since pedestrians may appear from: between parked cars; behind view blocks; or in strange locations.  Drivers can be extra careful when driving near shopping areas, entertainment centers, sports fields, schools, transit stops, and any other area where pedestrians would be expected.

Each month, SafetyFirst publishes a “Ten-Minute Training Topic” to share with drivers, their families and even office workers who commute to work.  This is included in our driver safety hotline package at no extra cost.  

This month’s topic was on avoiding pedestrian collisions and included specific tips for commercial and non-professional drivers, too.  The package includes driver handouts, manager supplements, and power point slideshows.  Subscriptions to the monthly training packages are available for separate purchase if your fleet does not use a safety hotline service.

The Vulnerability of Telematics as a “Stand Alone” Driver Safety Solution

Telematics, specifically, the use of automatic vehicle location services (commonly referred to as AVLS or GPS systems) offers incredibly helpful data to fleet managers.

The combination of onboard recorders and telemetry (communication of the data back to a central web site as it happens) can provide timely identification of vehicles with exceptional attributes: excessive idle time; significant deviations from planned route; stationary for unusual periods of time; traveling at excessive velocities; swerving and swaying through traffic lanes; etc.

The principal benefit of this information is to enhance fleet efficiency by providing the operations team with tools to dispatch effectively, reduce fuel waste, and hold drivers accountable for productivity metrics.

A secondary benefit has been promoted by telematic program supporters – improving driver safety.

There’s no question that telematic programs can provide information about speed, hard braking, heavy acceleration and even sway/swerve. Unfortunately, the best data in the world will be ineffectual unless:

  1. it is conveyed to the driver in a meaningful way so that the driver actually changes their own behavior while they are “behind-the-wheel” of their vehicle, and
  2. behaviors are affected proactively enough to actually prevent collisions from happening.

Fortunately, SafetyFirst provides the “integration” of information management, supervisory coaching and driver training resources your team needs to translate raw data into results. Let me give you the “big picture”.

One of our clients has used our SafetyFirst behavioral program for many years. They later added telematics for the “operations team” and found great success in improving dispatch and fuel savings. However, driver safety was not the primary goal of implementing the system. During the first year, they amassed 1700 excessive speed reports. The telematics program delivered the data efficiently, but (based on our understanding) provided no mechanism to follow up with individual drivers at various locations. It became clear that behaviors were not being addressed and the trend suggested that the behavior would continue.

Our client asked SafetyFirst to receive all subsequent excessive speed alerts and treat the alerts as though they were a concerned motorist making an observation report. This accomplished several important steps:

  1. Our database could match the truck to the location and send the report to the supervisor of the affected driver promptly.
  2. In addition to sending the report, our system automatically attached pertinent training materials to use with the affected driver (the report and training materials were merged into the same email).
  3. The supervisors have been trained to use our behavioral coaching process to help assure that the affected driver understands why his/her behaviors on the road place them “at-risk” of becoming involved in a collision. This includes training tied to the issues reported in each type of incident.
  4. The report must be closed out in our database showing the results of the supervisory investigation and coaching process. This includes signatures of the supervisor and affected driver.
  5. The driver’s behavior is logged for future reference and comparison to MVR data and other profile factors (we can supply MVR data in real time and profile it based on the client’s own matrix).
  6. Drivers with repeated instances of aggressive driving reports can be targeted for more intensive training and coaching per client’s own specifications.
  7. Monthly, topical training packages are sent to help ALL drivers stay on the right road.
  8. Managers get streamlined summary reporting on a monthly basis to note trends/patterns in supervisory responses and driver responses.

In the first year of having us manage their telematics data for safety issues, the client dropped the excessive speed alerts by 600% (went from 1700 to less than 200 alerts).

What really changed?   The telematics system worked perfectly – it supplied data.  Our system worked perfectly – it got supervisors to talk to drivers about the data in a way that modified behavior.

Think about it….Behavioral safety programs depend on performance feedback, delivered in a timely manner, about specific habits and actions.  Reinforcing the right/desired behaviors or outcomes and illustrating why the inappropriate behaviors present a risk to the operator in such a way that the operator would value “getting it right” tomorrow.  Driver Safety Hotlines follow this process (person to person communication).  Telematics providers, generally, do not (so much data that it becomes difficult to distinguish the “urgently actionable” from the “background noise”).

Is this a recommendation of one type of program over the other? Not at all – it’s making the case that they work better together! Safety results don’t come from an “either this or that, but not both” mindset – it comes from leveraging the individual strengths of multiple programs. Just as MVR screening, driver training, driver safety hotlines, post-crash investigation, and other safety elements must work together to get optimized results, telematics isn’t an effective “one-man-band” that can replace these other elements.

There’s no question that telematics have a role to play in the future of most commercial fleets, but telematics isn’t a silver bullet solution by itself. SafetyFirst provides the “integration” of information management, supervisory coaching and driver training resources your team needs to translate data into results.

Joe Zingale Joins SafetyFirst Team

PARSIPPANY, NJ; July 19, 2011 – SafetyFirst Systems, provider of various driver safety and fleet safety programs, has named Joe Zingale as its new Vice President of Business Development.

Mr. Zingale, who had been Vice President of Sales at Driver’s Alert, will be in charge of increasing SafetyFirst’s core business while expanding into other markets and offering additional programs through key partner relationships.

“Our company’s core mission is to meet the needs of our customers by offering ways for them to reduce the likelihood of commercial vehicle collisions,” noted Dan Lessnau, President of Sales at SafetyFirst. “Joe’s extensive network of relationships with insurance personnel, safety managers, risk managers and innovative vendors will help us expand product offerings and grow our client base.”

Before joining SafetyFirst, Mr. Zingale spent 17 years at Driver’s Alert in a variety of roles with a special focus on developing relationships with fleet managers, safety directors, and insurance industry professionals from carriers, agencies and brokers.  “If you ask me what I do, I’d have to say ‘find out what clients want and then make it happen!’’ said Mr. Zingale.  “By teaming up with SafetyFirst, I feel empowered to deliver a higher level of customer service and custom program elements than ever before in my career.”

His passion for living comes from his interest in health and fitness as a personal trainer.  Mr. Zingale has pursued outdoor activities and team sports ranging from his involvement in high school and collegiate football as well as active participation in the Boy Scouts of America’s youth leadership program.