There’s no question that fleets need to review driver abstracts (or Motor Vehicle Reports – MVRs) on their drivers to identify any trend or pattern in past moving violations. The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has connected the links between receiving a violation and increased risk of subsequent collision in two studies – Predicting Truck Crash Involvement 2011 Update (their original study was released in October of 2005).
As recently reported at a fleet safety conference, two similar fleets had chosen to use the same standard for MVR review — exclude violations greater than 36 months old and allow for a combination of three violations and one preventable crash before suspending driving privileges. One of these fleets tightened their standard to two violations and one crash during the most recent 24 months and saw a five point reduction in collisions (from 22% of their fleet vehicles involved in a crash per year to 17% of their vehicles involved in a crash) and $2 million in savings.
Since not all violations represent the same level of risk taking, targeting specific types of violations would be expected to further enhance the results. The ATRI study showed that the occurrence of JUST one of the following moving violations dramatically increased the likelihood of becoming involved in a crash by the following amount:
• Failure to use or improper turn signal: 96%
• Improper passing: 88%
• Improper turn: 84%
• Improper or erratic lane change: 80%
In comparison, speeding more than 15 mph over the speed limit — which most safety mangers would likely target as a clear indicator of a risky driver — increased the overall crash risk by only 67%.
Analysis of data revealed that driving behaviors (measured as violations, convictions and historical crashes linked to specific drivers) are linked to specifically measurable increased risk of becoming involved in a crash. Perhaps more notable is the conclusion that:
“By becoming aware of problem behaviors, carriers and enforcement agencies are able to address those issues prior to them leading to serious consequences. The converse is also true, however, as lower priority behaviors, if ignored, may begin to play an increasing role in crash involvement.”
In simpler terms, if you take the time to look for behavioral issues and do something about them, you can directly influence your crash rates. Similarly, if you ignore behaviors deemed to be “low priority” such as failing to use turn signals, these habits can develop into an increasing role in crash involvement.