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Dealing with High-Risk Drivers and Tackling Risk Factors Including Speeding

Originally published in Fleet Management Weekly 3/3/2021

By Ed Dubens, Founder/CEO of eDriving

Pareto’s Principle states that 80% of outcomes or results are attributable to about 20% of inputs or activities. It’s a relatively well-known principle within the fleet and risk industries, often applied to driver risk, and confirmed by a study conducted by the Transportation Research Safety Board that concluded that 20% of drivers were involved in 79% of crashes/incidents and 76% of violations.

This is incredibly useful insight for organizations with employees who drive for work purposes, and a phenomenon that I have witnessed time and time again over the last 25 years working with organizations globally to manage driver risk.

Critically, the 80/20 rule tells us just how important it is for organizations to identify, train and coach their most “at-risk” drivers, typically the 20% of drivers that account for approximately 80% of the organization’s risk, insurance, and liability costs.

A “catch-all” driver safety program that provides the same training to ALL drivers is highly unlikely to be as effective as one that identifies those drivers most in need of support, and sets out to improve the behaviors and attitudes of these drivers. Remember, just a few years ago, NHTSA identified that the critical reason for a crash could be assigned to the driver in 94% of collisions. Additional research has also shown that aggressive drivers tend to be involved in more traffic collisions. And, above a certain minimum level of competence at vehicle handling and road reading, drivers with inappropriate attitudes are more likely to crash . It’s clear that guiding high-risk drivers to safer on-road behaviors is crucial to achieve safer roads for all.

For many years, speeding has been regarded as one of the most dangerous on-road behaviors. In fact, speeding has been involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities for more than TWO DECADES , and the topic is so important on a global level that speed is the theme of this year’s UN Global Road Safety Week (May 17-23).

On average, a 1% increase in speed leads to a 2% increase in injury crashes and a 4% increase in fatal crashes. But speeding doesn’t only have the potential to seriously injure – or kill – the driver. The chance of a speeding driver killing another road user, particularly a pedestrian, varies drastically between speeds. For example, the average risk of death for a pedestrian is 10% at 23 mph/37 kph, increasing to 75% at 50 mph/80 kph and 90% at 58 mph/93 kph. In addition to its correlation with crash risk and severity, speed is strongly related to the emission of greenhouse gases, pollutants, and an increase in fuel consumption.

Of course, speed isn’t the only risk factor affecting high-risk drivers, with distraction, impairment and fatigue being significant contributors to traffic collisions.

Official figures indicate that distracted drivers were involved in 8% of fatal crashes, 15% of injury crashes and 14% of all police-reported crashes in the United States in 2018 . However, it is widely considered that distraction-related crashes are under-reported. A report conducted in Norway found that inattention among drivers contributes to 29% of all fatal crashes, and multiple studies have concluded that inattention far more often contributes to fatal crashes than to less severe crashes.[1]

Alcohol impairment accounts for approximately 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the US[2], while research has found fatigue to be a contributory factor in around 20% of all crashes.[3]

Tackling these, and other risky behaviors, takes a proactive, structured, ongoing approach, something we identified at eDriving over two decades ago. “If you can measure it, you can change it.” That’s why, after helping organizations establish a safety culture in which to formulate change, we help them conduct risk assessments for every driver, enabling them to understand the likelihood of each driver being involved in an incident/collision, and combine this information with additional performance data including license checks, incident/collision reports and telematics data to rank drivers by risk level. Subsequently, we can help managers execute a high-risk response plan including a three-pronged approach to manager-led coaching for those who need it, supported by a less intensive training program for those in the lower risk categories.

And we’ve confirmed over the years that high-risk behaviors CAN be changed! We have numerous case studies showing how clients have achieved this, as well as recent analysis of our Mentor by eDrivingSM program, which concluded that, over six months, drivers initially categorized as “Very High Risk” or “High Risk” improved their FICO® Safe Driving Score (the validated, predictive score at the heart of the program) by an average 32%, becoming “Medium Risk”, and subsequently achieving “Low Risk” after 15 months. The program also successfully decreased speeding events by an average 71% (82% over 15 months) and distraction events by an average 39% (57% over 15 months).

To summarize, let’s apply the 80/20 rule to your driver risk management program. If 80% of your efforts focus on improving the attitudes and behaviors of the most high-risk drivers, and 20% address the needs of those in lower risk categories, you can be on the road to creating safer drivers and safer roads within just a few months.

About the Author

Ed Dubens, CEO/ Founder of eDriving

Ed’s passion is helping companies proactively manage driver risk and prioritize the safety of their employees who drive for work purposes. The ultimate goal of eDriving’s programs is to help drivers return home safely to their loved ones and communities at the end of each day. Ed has been fortunate enough to be living out his passion for over 20 years, impacting lives and helping transform the field of driver risk management along the way.

eDriving’s Mentor program is a digital solution that collects and analyzes driver behaviors most predictive of crash risk and helps remediate risky behavior by providing engaging, interactive micro-training modules delivered directly to the driver in the smartphone app. As part of its broader risk management platform, Virtual Risk Manager®, eDriving provides organizations with everything they need to establish safety as a strategic imperative, and support drivers and managers as they strive to create a crash-free culture®.

eDriving is the driver risk management partner of choice for many of the world’s largest organizations, supporting over 1,000,000 drivers in 96 countries. Over the past 24 years, eDriving’s research-validated programs have been recognized with over 90 awards around the world. Learn more at www.edriving.com.

1Health and Safety Executive, UK
2NHTSA
3Nilsson “Power Model” 1982
4AAA Foundation
5NHTSA Research Note April 2020
6 Inattention and distraction in fatal road crashes – Results from in-depth crash investigations in Norway, Hanne Beate Sundfør, Fridulv Sagberg, Alena Høye, Accident Analysis & Prevention, Volume 125, 2019
7CDC
8Virginia Tech Transportation Institute