POWER OF DATA BLOG

A Safety Manager Uses Math to Look Under the Surface

Featured
May 30/2017 Published by:

When Brian Simmons showed a room of transportation safety professionals a DriveCam® video clip of a driver crashing into a vehicle that had run a stop sign and was travelling through the intersection, many in the audience shook their heads and clucked in disapproval. The driver should have braked sooner. The driver should have braked harder. The driver should have seen it coming. The driver should have reacted more quickly.

That disapproval, however, was precisely the wrong response. Leaning on the laws of physics and data from the DriveCam clip, Simmons, a safety director for Waste Management Inc., showed through a series of calculations that there was, in fact, little the driver could have done to avoid the collision.

Brian Simmons
Brian Simmons, a safety director for Waste Management Inc, at the 2017 Lytx® User Group Conference. Credit: Lytx Inc.

It was an eye-opening exercise that Simmons has gone through thousands of times as a law enforcement officer who has investigated numerous accidents and been an expert witness in more than 20,000 cases involving vehicle collisions.

Simmons shared his techniques during a talk he gave this spring as part of the Annual Lytx User Group Conference in San Diego. Here’s a recap of the advice he gave during this informative presentation on effectively using DriveCam video analytics:

Don’t give in to hindsight bias. When the video lands in our inbox, most of us already know the outcome. This knowledge biases our judgment, leading us to jump to conclusions about what happened. Even when we do watch the video for the first time, our surface level analysis of video will often lead to the wrong answer.

Be objective. This is tough, Simmons acknowledged, especially if you or your company has a stake in the conclusion of your analysis. Two common errors tend to creep in at this stage: the tendency to automatically blame the driver, and the tendency to automatically side with the driver because of a personal connection. Both are likely to interfere with your ability to find out what really happened. This article talks about the role of emotion in effective coaching.

Don’t rely on the driver for the full picture. In Simmons’ experience, the least reliable sources of information are the drivers involved in the incident. “Most drivers are dealing with self-preservation” or they don’t always recall events fully or objectively, Simmons said. Those who have DriveCam will have a tremendous advantage in that they receive an accurate snapshot of the hard physical data, such as speed, brake timing, brake pressure, and so on, Simmons said.

Perfection is the enemy of good. Safety analysts sometimes spend hours on a 12-second clip trying to figure out what the driver did incorrectly, poring through data and matching that up with best practices or company policy. “When you measure against perfection, your employees will never measure up,” Simmons said. “It’s not about what was ideal, or what your best driver would do.  It’s about whether your driver’s reactions were reasonable.”

Never think about the liability. If you do, you’ll be looking for exculpatory evidence, which should not be the point of the exercise, Simmons argued. “Everything you do should be done on the merits of the physical evidence,” he said. Again, the goal of incident analysis is to find out what happened and whether the driver’s actions were reasonable.

In discussing incident analysis using physical analysis, Simmons walked through a few basic calculations. Simmons said he often starts with converting known speeds (miles per hour) to velocity (feet per second) using this equation:

Velocity = Speed x 1.466

Next, he determines whether the event was a simple event or a complex event. In simple events, people rely on conditioned behaviors. An example of a simple event is moving your foot to the brakes once you detect active brake lights on the vehicle you are following. Most collision events, however involve complex responses to unanticipated events. Reacting to complex events typically takes more than three times as long as simple events. Here’s rule of thumb:

Simple reactions = 0.5 seconds

Complex reactions = 1.6 seconds

Multiply the velocity (feet per second) by the appropriate reaction time to figure out how far the vehicle will travel before the driver can process the situation and prepare a response. The delay between the time a situation presents itself and when the driver reacts can increase by as much as two seconds if the driver happened to be doing a routine sweep of his or her mirrors.

Simmons cautioned that collision events are often complex, involving numerous factors. Covering all the factors, and the physics that play into those factors, was beyond the scope of the talk. He summed up his talk with two pieces of advice: rely on the physical sciences for incident analysis, and be as objective as possible when seeking the truth.

###


Related Tags

Related Blog Posts

Sep 24 / 2015Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Changing Habits by Retraining Muscle Memory

Staff Writer

Jul 24 / 2015Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Big Data, Better Drivers

Staff Writer

Nov 03 / 2014Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Adjusting to Standard Time

Del Lisk

May 23 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Retraining to Retain Your Drivers

Staff Writer

May 25 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Taking the Risk Out of One of the Riskiest Professions

Staff Writer

Jun 01 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

From 190 to 1 in a Blink of an Eye: Managing the Heinrich’s Pyramid Challenge

Staff Writer

Jun 03 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Not All Distractions Are Created Equal: Why Even Hands-Free Can Lead to Collisions

Staff Writer

Jun 15 / 2016Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

How Gamification Might Help Drivers Optimize Driving and Vehicle Performance

Staff Writer

Jun 23 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Who – or What -- Does the Heavy Lifting to Improve CSA Scores?

Staff Writer

Jul 07 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

The Top Three Things Fleet Managers Can Do to Proactively Manage Their Safety Program

Staff Writer

Jul 08 / 2016Choosing the Right Program, Featured

Meet Janelle: The Cone Destroyer

Staff Writer

Jul 27 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Choosing the Right Program, Featured

Using Data to Prioritize Your Fleet’s Safety Issues

Staff Writer

Jul 29 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Driving for the Limits of Automated Technology

Brandon Nixon

Aug 18 / 2016Choosing the Right Program, Featured

DOT Regulations: From the Same Government Who Brought You the Tax Code

Staff Writer

Aug 24 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Why Unsafe Drivers Are Often the Biggest Fuel Offenders

Staff Writer

Sep 08 / 2016Choosing the Right Program, Featured

Hours of Service, Driver Behavior and the ELD Mandate: American Central Transport’s Story

Staff Writer

Sep 26 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Fleet Safety: The Dangers Lurking Inside Your Fleet

Staff Writer

Oct 19 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

The Hallmark of a Successful Video-based Safety Program

Staff Writer

Oct 28 / 2016Choosing the Right Program, Featured

What You Might Not Know About the ELD Mandate

Staff Writer

Nov 01 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Fleet Safety: Putting a Stop to Rolling Stops

Staff Writer

Nov 09 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

The Three Types of Distracted Driving – and How to Solve Them – Part 1: Manual Distractions

Staff Writer

Nov 15 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

The Three Types of Distracted Driving – and How to Solve Them – Part 2: Visual Distractions

Staff Writer

Nov 23 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Distracted Driving Behaviors – and How to Solve Them – Part 3 Cognitive Distractions

Staff Writer

Dec 06 / 2016Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

Making a Case for Video Part 1: The Value of Video in Litigation

Staff Writer

Dec 16 / 2016Choosing the Right Program, Featured

Making a Case for Video Part 2: Exoneration From The Driver’s Seat

Staff Writer

Dec 22 / 2016Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

Making a Case for Video Part 3: The Company and the Courtroom

Staff Writer

Jan 10 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Three Things That Put Teeth in Your Safety Policy

Staff Writer

Feb 01 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Effective Video Review: Better Coaching

Staff Writer

Feb 28 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

High-Efficiency Driving: Five Driver Behaviors that Reduce Cost

Staff Writer

Mar 02 / 2017Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

What’s a Safety Halo? And Can it Help Build Your Brand?

Staff Writer

Mar 22 / 2017Choosing the Right Program, Featured

From the Front Lines: Turning Data into Insight

Staff Writer

Mar 24 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Part 2: Using DriveCam® Event Data to Drive More Effective Coaching

Staff Writer

Mar 28 / 2017Featured

Part 3: Getting Drivers and Managers to Buy into Analytics

Staff Writer

Apr 14 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Autonomous Vehicle Essentials You Need to Know Part One: Levels of Automation

Staff Writer

Apr 18 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Autonomous Vehicle Essentials You Need to Know Part Two: Impact on Drivers, Fleets and the Industry

Staff Writer

Jun 07 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

A Swift Guide to Better Coaching

Staff Writer

Jun 26 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

How ‘Cultural Novocain’ is Numbing Outrage to Traffic Fatalities

Staff Writer

Jun 30 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

A Practical Guide to Difficult Conversations: How to Coach Through Conflict

Staff Writer

Jul 06 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Why Putting Positivity Behind Your Training Program Will Pay Off

Beth Geraci

Jul 17 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

On Both Sides of the Atlantic, More Fatalities Take Place on Rural Roads. Here’s Why.

Beth Geraci

Jul 18 / 2017Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

Secrets of Top Performing Fleets

Staff Writer

Jul 25 / 2017Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

The Power of Peers to Inform Fleet Safety

Beth Geraci

Aug 10 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Distracted Pedestrians are On the Rise: What to Do About Them

Staff Writer

Aug 16 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Fear of Autonomous Vehicles – Loving of Autonomous Features

Staff Writer

Aug 31 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Is Your Rewards Program a Bust? Liven It Up Through These Great Alternatives

Staff Writer

Sep 01 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Trucking Industry Pulls Together to Aid Houston During Hurricane Harvey

Staff Writer

Sep 15 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Components of Effective Accountability Systems

Staff Writer

Sep 22 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

What’s Out There: Three Rewards Programs That Work

Staff Writer

Sep 25 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Video: Evolution, Revolution, or Both?

Brandon Nixon

Oct 06 / 2017Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

Why Reporting Claims Quickly Can Significantly Cut Claims Cost

Staff Writer

Oct 10 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Painting the Complete Picture: The Use of Witnesses in Trials

Staff Writer

Oct 16 / 2017Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

Four Driver Behaviors That Consume The Most Fuel

Staff Writer

Oct 19 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

The Worst 'Crash' Ever

Staff Writer

Oct 24 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Can We Reverse the Trend of Road Fatalities? New Figures Give One Safety Official Hope.

Beth Geraci

Nov 03 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Daylight Saving Time: More Light Has a Dark Side for Road Safety

Beth Geraci

Nov 07 / 2017Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

Communications 101: Seven Steps to Successfully Spreading the Word

Staff Writer

Nov 10 / 2017Choosing the Right Program, Featured

The Medium-Size Fleet Owner’s Guide to Creating a Safety Program That Works

Beth Geraci

Nov 16 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Five Sources of Aggressive Driving and What You Can Do About It

Staff Writer

Nov 20 / 2017Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

Seven Safety Quagmires and How to Sidestep Them

Staff Writer

Nov 29 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Gunning It: Six Hard Facts on Why Hard Accelerations Should be Avoided

Beth Geraci

Dec 06 / 2017Featured

The Interplay Between Leadership and Technology

Staff Writer

Dec 13 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

How Safety Technology is Paving the Way to Zero Collisions

Beth Geraci

Dec 15 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Catching the Spirit of the Season

Beth Geraci