The Shift To Paperless Safety

Fleet Financials

The Shift To Paperless Safety

While accident management programs reduce the expense of repairing a damaged vehicle, fleets are beginning to avoid accidents in the first place by providing online training to drivers.

By Matt Le Grande

        The most cost-efficient way to handle fleet accidents is preventing them from happening in the first place. How do you make sure your company's current and newly hired drivers are safe drivers? Technology has helped create new ways to measure and track driving abilities.

Paperless Solutions Offered
       With access to a computer and an Internet connection, drivers log on to a Web site and take an assessment test. Their results are immediately available. Information about each driver's strengths and weaknesses is stored online. Additionally, the system automatically selects training programs to improve the employee's driving skills.

        This is the basic format of online driver-risk management programs. While differing in emphasis and technique, each accident management program focuses on working with fleet management to determine the driver safety issues each company faces and how to solve them. Once in place, programs work without need of intervention.

Driver Risk Levels Determined
       The first step in using these programs is identifying what needs improvement. When choosing a driver risk management company, fleet administrators should determine whether they want to direct effort toward improving individual drivers or preventing particular crashes and safety infractions. Most companies offer programs that tackle specific issues, but a popular method is zeroing in on every driver.

        The CEI Group, Inc., based in Trevose, Pa., calls its online driver risk management system “Driver- Care.” The program sorts drivers into risk categories, from low to high, based on data from a number of sources: each driver's accident and safety policy infraction history; MVRs covering the previous three years, and public complaints called in to commercial “How's My Driving?” services. The scores are updated in real time whenever a driver has an accident, or as motor vehicle records show new citations.

Providing online training to drivers

        “There are two reasons for this process. The main one is to identify each fleet's high-risk drivers. But we also want fleets to know when a driver moves into a higher risk level because this represents an opportunity to intervene with that driver to prevent a future accident,” says Charlie Ganter, CEI's manager of risk and safety services. “In some cases, it takes several infractions to rise from, say, the lowrisk to medium-risk category. But situations in which just one incident — like a DUI citation or involvement in a fatal accident — can lift a driver from low risk to high risk.”

        In these cases, the company may not only send e-mails to the driver and fleet safety official, but also to the human resources and legal departments, and even the CEO. Fleet administrators can check DriverCare daily, online, for reports of new fleet risk events. Trends also can be monitored through a variety of flexible reports.

        AlertDriving's Driver Risk Profiling Application is best used after drivers complete a training program.

        “Our Driver Risk Profiling Application combines all training data, motor vehicle data, employee background data, and collision data,” says Rob Martin, AlertDriving vice president of operations. “This application sets a threshold that drivers must stay under and when it is surpassed, the administrator is notified.”

Reinforce Good Driving Habits
       In response to a risk elevation, CEI's DriverCare system automatically assigns, delivers, and monitors completion of remedial online driver training courses tailored to the type of event that elevated the driver's risk level. By prior arrangement with the client fleet, the system can also facilitate assignment of behind-the-wheel training.

        With Fleet Response's online tool, DHP (Driver History Profile), fleet managers obtain a quick overview of each driver's motor vehicle records, accident claim history, and online training course completion status. Working with a Fleet Response certified safety professional, companies develop and apply universal customized points. MVR points are applied based on infractions, and claims points are applied based on preventability, costs, injuries, or other variables determined by the company.

        The points rank the driver as low, medium, or high risk. When an additional claim occurs and the driver is elevated to high risk, electronic notifications are sent to the driver's manager and/or direct supervisor.

        While using the system, fleet administrators can focus on counseling risky drivers. Fleet Response's certified safety professional reviews driver data and recommends nonautomated training or other necessary actions.

        When another claim occurs, DHP can also e-mail the driver, requesting they complete an additional online training course targeting the specific safety issue. For example, a driver backs into a pole. That driver is automatically assigned the online training course that focuses on “backing.”

        DHP also helps fleet managers move to a paperless MVR administration process through a “self administration” option. Using this process, drivers can log in, verify, or update their data and their spouse's information to order MVRs and access state-specific documents. This step eliminates the fleet manager's need to maintain a separate database for this information.

Focus on Cognitive Skills
       CEI Group has recently formed an alliance with Cognifit, based in Nazareth Illit, Israel. A provider of programs that measure, train, and enhance cognitive psychomotor abilities, Cognifit offers FleetFit, a program that builds cognitive skills critical to driving ability.

        FleetFit, based on patented technology, begins by assessing each driver's cognitive skills, including reaction time, short-term memory, focus, and ability to divide attention, through a test covering up to 18 different task. Each task was created by Cognifit's team of psychologists. After identifying a driver's weakest cognitive skills, the system immediately assigns training exercises to improve them. Isaac Soibelman, sales manager – North America, for Cognifit, says, “Each training section focuses on three specific cognitive skills. As the user moves to the next training session, the program intuitively increases the difficulty level for each specific skill based on the progress from the previous training session.”

        The CEI Group will incorporate the FleetFit cognitive training system in its DriverCare program.

Follow Assessment with Training
       Many programs follow up driver assessment with training based on its results.

        Corporate Claims Management (CCM) of Ivyland, Pa., and Advanced Driver Training Services (ADTS) of Trooper, Pa., combined forces to deliver a comprehensive accident management and driver safety training program. The CCM Web-based program, FleetGuard, automatically analyzes a driver's risk level based on MVRs and accident history. FleetGuard then recommends an ADTS safety training corrective action program. ADTS offers a complete suite of Web-based interactive modules, classroom, and behind-the-wheel training.

        This process allows a company to monitor the effectiveness of training by capturing drivers' training histories and monitoring accident histories from a single source.

        CCM's FleetGuard can free up the fleet manager from the tedious task of manually monitoring the potential risk problems by sending email notifications of any changes in a driver's risk level. FleetGuard also enables clients to establish risk levels based on a point-leveling system configurable by the client.

Ease of Use Promotes Learning
       Most online training programs are designed to be taken anywhere (with an Internet connection) and anytime. Users can log off and log back on (even at another computer) where they left off.

Ease of Use Promotes Learning

        “The most popular features of our programs are the lessons' interactivity and the fact that the users dictate the speed with which the courses are completed,” says Masa Patterson, TrafficSchool ( fleet safety director. “From more than 12 years in the driver safety industry, we've found that interactive participation is one of the best ways to increase retention of material and maintain a high level of user interest.”

        Some programs offer the option of setting deadlines. For example, when a driver's risk has been elevated in CEI's DriverCare system, an e-mail sent to the driver gives a training program with a completion deadline date. Reminder e-mails are sent periodically to drivers, and if they fail to finish the training by that date, an e-mail is sent to their supervisor and other designated company officials.

        Each driver safety training application offers different features and training processes. For example, AlertDriving's hazard perception evaluation program assesses a driver's ability to spot and avoid potential hazards. The company also provides a method of periodically delivering training modules to keep drivers on their toes.

        “Our 12-module driver training program receives the best results,” says Martin. “This program sends out a 20-minute targeted training module to each driver once a week for three months. This is called pulse training.”

These programs have been effective, a result of actual learning or due to a ‘Hawthorne effect' in which drivers know they are under scrutiny and are more careful about driving.

        The National Traffic Safety Institute (NTSI) also offers a different training approach. Rather than assessing individual drivers and providing a variety of applications suited to specific safety risks, NTSI takes drivers through an interactive program that addresses attitude and behavior in order to break bad driving habits.

        “When someone first begins SAFER Driver Challenge, they begin as an accident investigator, figuring out the hows and whys of various accidents,” says Debra Cambridge, NTSI vice president. “The individual toggles back and forth between witness testimony, the accident scene, and other pertinent information.”

        Once completing that section, individuals begin risk assessment. They answer a series of behavioral based questions. Their results categorize them as a particular type of driver, such as “aggressive.” At that point, drivers are required to create an action plan that addresses negative behaviors. At the end of the online course, a short evaluation reveals if drivers have changed their attitudes about their own driving and whether they plan to make a positive change. More than 99 percent agree they plan to make positive improvements.

Technology May Need Upgrading
       Certain training programs require specific hardware and software, particularly a computer and an Internet connection. While a 56K connection is acceptable for most applications, a dial-up modem is not recommended.

        Many programs involve modules with high-resolution graphics and sound, so video cards and speakers are necessary. Updating computer software with the latest version of Internet Explorer or Macromedia player may be required as well.

        “PureSafety is a Web-based solution, so all a trainee or system administrator needs is an Internet-connected computer to access our assignments,” says Tom Gaudreau, director, channel sales and marketing, PureSafety. “They are all built in Macromedia Flash, making them very interactive and engaging for adult learners.”

Online Programs Reduce Crashes
       Experience has shown these programs are effective, whether a result of drivers actually learning what they didn't already know, or simply due to a “Hawthorne effect” in which drivers know they are under scrutiny and consequently are more careful about driving. Either way, drivers become more conscious about driving, and become involved in fewer accidents.

        For CEI clients, for instance, preventable accidents have decreased by as much as 20 percent a year, and non-preventable accidents have been reduced as much as 10 percent.

        “A 30-percent reduction in collisions is the standard, but many of our clients have experienced a 50-percent reduction in collision rates,” says Martin from AlertDriving. “We have had a few that reduced their collision rates by as much as 70 percent.”

        Cambridge reports that in the first six months of utilizing NTSI's Online Army Traffic Safety Training Program, U.S. Army statistics show a 19-percent fatality rate reduction and a 23-percent reduction in the overall accident rate.

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