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.”
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.
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.
From 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/)
Similarly, 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.
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).
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.
While it’s tragic that deaths increased in 2012, we are glad that highway deaths over the past five years are at historic lows. What’s strange was the sudden and unexpected rise in crash activity during the first two quarters of 2012 (the first quarter jump in activity was the largest spike in recorded NHTSA history.)
So here’s the latest from NHTSA:
- …highway deaths increased to 33,561 in 2012, which is 1,082 more fatalities than in 2011. The majority of the increase in deaths, 72 percent, occurred in the first quarter of the year.
- While Americans drove approximately the same amount of miles in 2012 as in the previous year, the new FARS data released today showed a 3.3 percent increase in fatalities from the previous year.
- Fatalities in 2011 were at the lowest level since 1949 and even with this slight increase in 2012, we are still at the same level of fatalities as 1950. Early estimates on crash fatalities for the first half of 2013 indicate a decrease in deaths compared to the same timeframe in 2012.
- Fatalities among pedestrians increased for the third consecutive year (6.4 percent increase over 2011). The data showed the large majority of pedestrian deaths occurred in urban areas, at non-intersections, at night and many involved alcohol.
- Motorcycle rider fatalities increased for the third consecutive year (7.1 percent increase over 2011). Ten times as many riders died not wearing a helmet in states without a universal helmet law than in states with such laws.
- Large-truck occupant fatalities increased for the third consecutive year (8.9 percent over 2011).
- Deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers increased 4.6 percent in 2012, taking 10,322 lives compared to 9,865 in 2011. The majority of those crashes involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher – nearly double the legal limit.
- The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328, while an estimated 421,000 people were injured, a 9 percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011. NHTSA is just beginning to identify distraction-related accidents, and is continuing work to improve the way it captures data to better quantify and identify potential trends in this area.
- Nighttime seat belt use continues to be a challenge. In nighttime crashes in 2012, almost two-thirds of the people that died were unrestrained.
NHTSA has prepared a summary of the 2012 data as a PDF which can be found HERE
Additionally, NHTSA has a preliminary look at 2013 available HERE
So if your fleet has seen an uptick in fender benders, consider a review of the many free articles offered at this blog site. Further, if you need more specific help, call on us.
A new study looked at records for 878,546 pregnant women, aged 16–46 years, who delivered a singleton infant in North Carolina from 2001 to 2008. The study’s goal was to look for trends or patterns in the data.
Among the findings:
- Women involved in a crash while pregnant had elevated rates of preterm birth, placental abruption and premature rupture of the membranes, compared to pregnant women who were not involved in a crash.
- Pregnant women who were not using a safety belt at the time of the crash were nearly 3 times more likely to have a stillbirth than those who were buckled up.
- The risk of any adverse outcome increased if multiple crashes occurred during the pregnancy.
Researchers said that more research is necessary to further study how multiple crashes and vehicle safety features influence the outcomes of pregnancies.
The study was published online Oct. 8 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
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?
Regardless 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:
- live, statistically relevant bench-marking by SIC code,
- 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)
- The industry’s ONLY driver training program for excessive speed (GPS alerts)
- “paper trails and/or electronic confirmation” of activity in case of audits, and
- these capabilities for about 1/100th of the cost of the GPS or camera systems.
- Policies and Procedures
- Roles and Responsibilities,
- Qualification and Hiring,
- Training and Communication,
- Monitoring and Tracking, and
- 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?
Today, I found an article titled “Sixty feet of controversy” about a new tractor-trailer design that helps retailers conserve fuel, make fewer trips by carrying more cargo per trailer, and yet it generates controversy among experts.
For many retail store distribution operations (e.g. snack foods; general merchandise for retail department stores; food products, etc.) the current trailer designs are maximized for structural strength and their ability to carry a large weight of goods. These retailers often stuff the current style of trailer full, but it’s nowhere near maximum weight. This requires additional trailers running additional trips which is wasteful for several reasons:
- Each outbound load also generates a return “empty” trip that only burns fuel and generates no productive revenue for the company
- Because the trailer is designed to carry extra weight, there’s extra emphasis on structural support beyond what is needed to make the trailer “safe” to operate — the added (but un-needed) support beams add dead weight that burns fuel on both the outbound and return trips.
- If there had been a way to stuff more light-weight cargo into the trailer, more product would arrive efficiently.
What would help these operators is a trailer designed to provide an emphasis on cubic volume rather than a focus on weight of cargo.
This new “supercube” design (link to image) is being tested on a very limited basis in Canada. It is only seven and a half feet longer than most trailers on the road, but can carry 28% more cargo by volume. It includes several interesting design changes to manage this feat. According to the article; “A lowered floor and 126-inch interior increases trailer capacity by 28%, offering 5,100 cu.-ft. of storage, and a drome box mounted to the back of the cab adds another 521 cu.-ft. of carrying capacity.”
By placing an emphasis on a custom design, the shipper can move more cargo efficiently.
While other proposals for LCV (Longer Combination Vehicles) focused on double trailers or even triple trailers pulled by a larger tractor with greater horsepower, there has been a concern expressed for the safety of a string of trailers being driven in mixed traffic (i.e. next to smaller cars and light duty trucks) on existing highways.
One of the concerns expressed over the supercube design is that it might be used to haul heavy goods and become a safety threat if improperly employed in the future.
While the supercube may be a perfect fit for some shippers, it is not hard to imagine that a truck fleet, already operating on thin profit margins and dynamic fuel costs, might try to use supercubes improperly. This brings up controversy from safety professionals, and transportation industry insiders.
Regardless of controversy, shippers will not stop looking for their holy grail of trailers.
What do you think about supercube designs versus LCV combinations? Are they coming to a road near you soon? Is there a legitimate safety concern associated with these monster trucks? How do we deal with any real safety issues — more regulations? Specialized Training?
Let us know at our discussion group on LinkedIn.com!
ATRI has launched a new survey that explores the use of navigation systems by commercial drivers. This brief online survey, seeks both commercial driver and motor carrier input, and will capture information on the attitudes of both groups toward navigation systems including perceived benefits and risks.
CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ATRI PAGE AND TAKE SURVEY (opens a new window) [http://atri-online.org/2012/10/24/methods-for-providing-directions-to-drivers-survey/]
From an ATRI Press Release:
“While navigation systems are becoming increasingly commonplace in the nation’s commercial vehicles, the impact that these devices have on driver behavior, decision making and safety is not fully understood. There is mounting anecdotal evidence that GPS navigation units are being blamed for large truck crashes where “bridge strikes” and other crashes in which the truck driver was using a navigation system designed for passenger vehicles have been high profile events.”
It seems like a very valuable survey based on recent (and not so recent) crash reports. Perhaps it would be very wise to participate so that you can contribute to their research so that their findings include your perspective/experience!
Based on news reports, we hear about self-driving cars becoming a reality, lane departure warning systems, airbags built into the seatbelt and other “whiz-bang” devices designed to help us survive and avoid crashes. These features are significant, but are they in your car or truck today? If not, when can you expect to see them become incorporated into your next new vehicle?
The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) recently released a report about the typical time it takes for new safety innovations to become widely available. Their conclusion after studying tons of data is that it usually takes about three decades for a new safety feature to move from initial introduction to being found as either a standard item OR an available option in 95% of the vehicles on the roadway.
Their article goes on to offer an example; “…it won’t be until 2016 that 95 percent of all registered vehicles could have frontal airbags, the authors predict, even though manufacturers began adding frontal airbags in meaningful numbers during the mid-1980s.” The real impact of this lag time becomes evident in even more recently introduced appliances; “Forward collision warning, which was rolled out in theUnited Statesin 2000, could take even longer. If it continues to follow its current trajectory, the crash avoidance technology won’t be available in 95 percent of registered vehicles until 2049, HLDI predicts.”
There are two main factors in this lag time:
- new features that prove helpful are not instantly available in all new models and
- not everyone replaces their vehicles frequently enough to keep pace with new features as they’re introduced into more makes and models.
It is amazing to investigate the progress made on crash avoidance systems that are presently available in high end luxury cars and as after-market installs for commercial vehicles, but it’s also sobering to realize how few people are presently benefiting from these systems.
What’s the net impact of this lag time?
“The Institute has estimated that if all vehicles were equipped with forward collision warning, lane departure warning, side view assist, and adaptive headlights, 1.9 million crashes — including 1 in 3 fatal crashes — could potentially be prevented or mitigated if the systems worked perfectly.”
Another factor surfaced from the study – some innovations are more quickly adapted and incorporated than others: “Head-protecting side airbags, for example, shot up quickly in the beginning. It took 10 years for them to be available in 25 percent of the registered fleet, and it’s expected to take 15 years to reach 50 percent. In contrast,ESCreached the one-quarter mark after 16 years and is expected to be in half the fleet after 20 years.”
Finally, they also noted that the presence of some legacy technologies can accelerate new innovation acceptance; “Interestingly, antilock brakes have spread quickly even though they were never required. Despite promising results on the test track, realworld crash data haven’t shown large benefits from the technology. [However,] They got another boost fromESC[Electronic Stability Control] because an antilock braking system is a prerequisite for stability control. Now that the government requiresESCon new vehicles, antilocks have essentially become mandatory, too.”
So pay attention when you see the television ad or the professional journal article about new innovations, but realize that it may be a while until those systems hit the road in earnest. In the meantime, don’t sacrifice the “basics” of driver training, performance monitoring, and solid vehicle inspection programs tied to preventative maintenance.
We’ve gotten a lot of encouraging feedback from our subscribers and casual readers about the mini-series on Recruiting and Retention.
Today, we’ll share some reader comments and suggestions on ways to influence both Recruting and Retention.
TIPS FOR EITHER RECRUITING OR RETENTION:
“If you’re not using them now, consider driver surveys.”
“Your current drivers may be able to provide insight into why they are loyal, what they’d look for if they were looking for another job at another company, what would make them consider staying here until they retire permanently from driving.”
“The driver survey process can be informal discussions, or formalized feedback. If you do implement any changes based on driver feedback, sell the fact that you implemented a driver suggestion. If you can’t implement their suggestions, offer a short reason why it’s not practical.”
“Keep rules simple and then enforce those rules consistently. It’s easier to recruit when the company is perceived as being fair with clear rules and expectations — no one likes surprises (either drivers or managers). If you want “rule followers” on your team, you need simple rules and fair, consistent enforcement.”
“Develop an advancement program or draw up the “career path” of a typical driver. Everyone wants an opportunity to move up somehow. Is there a way to advance in title, pay, and “seniority” and if so what are those titles, perks, etc.? Have drivers ever transitioned to management or other types of positions (can you cite a specific story of a driver who has moved up)?”
“Pay, Pay, Pay, – guess what drivers drive for…”
“From my conversations it is not always money”
“Most drivers that I’ve seen would rather have the $ up front, rather in a savings / retirement plan.”
“Another option is to offer benefits in a cafeteria type plan, so those who have working spouses with benefits, can opt for more money in their normal paycheck.”
“Consider promotion from within, someone who has been reliable driving fork-lift trucks on the shipping dock [may be another way to find drivers]”
“The best fleets have nice vehicles, assigned to one driver so they can fix them up like they like them and keep them clean. ‘Bells and whistles’ are desirable…”
“There is a lot to be said about keeping the driver in clean and well maintained equipment, SAFER results, if the account has a Pass rating instead of Inspect there is a good amount of time saved in roadside inspections”
“Dispatch attitude and tone directed at the drivers is important”
“EZ Pass and electronic toll options can save time and reduce paperwork”
TIPS FOR RETENTION:
“Orientation and Training. How much “hand holding” goes on with new employees versus drivers who’ve completed a year of service. Training isn’t just lecturing about rules and processes – it’s a chance for drivers to ask questions (if encouraged properly) and to provide feedback. Sometimes the “right” training isn’t what the management team “assumes” is needed – it may be on how to communicate with cranky or pesky customers/shippers. Refresher training isn’t just an investment of time and money, it’s also a way to acknowledge drivers who’ve been doing a good job and involve them in the training discussions/sessions.”
“Train, Train, Train. We are seeing that drivers actually like to receive quality, innovative training. After receiving it, they actually ask for more. The stereotypical image of commercial divers who loathe classroom training only applies if they’re being dragged into the classroom to hear the same old material they’ve already heard a thousand times. Their attitude, “I’ve been doing this for years. I could probably teach this course better than you!” But if you provide them with high-quality insight training, their attitude is, “I’ve been doing this for forty two years and really didn’t want to be here for this, but I learned something today. Thank you.” (I actually had a driver say that to me last week, and I’ve heard similar statements hundreds of times over the past couple of years)”
“Properly training drivers not only shows them you care as an employer and are prepared to walk the walk when it comes to safety, but it helps to prevent the crashes and violations that might lead to you having to terminate them.”
“Traditionally, we have thought of training as a way to help prevent crashes and protect ourselves in litigation, but we are now beginning to understand it can be another piece of the recruiting/retention puzzle. The key is that the training must be of high quality, and relevant.”
“Place all corporate purchases are done on a “rewards card” linked to a central account. The daily purchases add up and then “rewards points” are used to fund the driver safety pool for awards and trips, etc.”
“For retention using some of the new behavior tests to see if one has the “temperament” for driving I think is good and would be a predictor for longevity.”
“GPS in vehicles for those who have delivery type jobs are considered helpful. Especially if the driver doesn’t have to load the info; if they can do it from the company computer with the shipping load.”
“Home at night is the best for drivers. Even if the company needs to “relay” the load across the country. They can eat better and have a more stable family life. Their health is generally better.”
“Steady work with steady customers and routes.”
“Stable management with reasonable business policies and paperwork requirements”
“Scheduling the driver to be home on a regular basis. The longer the trip in the number of days the more likely that there are issues with turn over”
“Use of electronic tools and weekly settlements of out of pocket expenses. With the cost of fuel companies with a two week settlement of expenses with paper checks on return frequently have issues with drivers floating money. If they send via computer the data for expenses and the money is electronically returned to drivers accounts this is an asset.”
“Surprise drivers [that report to a central location] with a box lunch or healthy snacks. It shows you’re thinking about them”
“Always be honest – they may not like what you have to say, but they have to respect that you’re not patronizing them”
“Implement a communication plan – give them feedback, ask for feedback on your own performance as a management team. You may not like what you hear, but it’s a start towards something better”
We even got suggestions on books you might investigate as additional resources:
Motor Fleet Safety Supervision: Principles and Practices –by NATMI (North American Transportation Management Institute)
You’re NOT the Person I Hired! — By Janet Boydell, Barry Deutsch, Brad Remillard
Perfect Phrases for Perfect Hiring: Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases for Interviewing and Hiring the Best Employees Every Time — by , Lori DavilaMargot King
Recruiting, Interviewing, Selecting & Orienting New Employees (Recruiting, Interviewing, Selecting and Orienting New Employees) — by Diane Arthur
The Employee Recruitment and Retention Handbook — by Diane Arthur
101 Strategies for Recruiting Success: Where, When, and How to Find the Right People Every Time (Paperback) — by Christopher W. Pritchard
The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave: How to Recognize the Subtle Signs and Act Before It’s Too Late — by Leigh Branham
Employee Opinion Questionnaires: 20 Ready-to-Use Surveys That Work — by Paul M. Connolly, Kathleen G. Connolly
Employee Surveys: Practical And Proven Methods, Samples, Examples — by Paul Connolly