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What's Your Safety Personality?

TASA ID: 9075

Do you have a safety personality behind the wheel?  Yes!  Everyone has a safety personality.  That’s because everyone has a personality, and several universal personality dimensions affect safety behavior.  Driver personality is the strongest of various personal factors affecting safety outcomes, in my opinion.  Others include driver age, gender, sensory-motor performance (e.g., reaction time), medical conditions, and mental abilities.  All of these can affect driver crash risk, sometimes strongly.  Yet it is my conclusion that driver personality exerts the greatest enduring affects.

Which Five Factors Affects Driver Fatigue & Alertness The Least?

TASA ID: 9075

Here’s a quiz with just one question:  Which of the five factors affects driver fatigue (i.e., drowsiness) and alertness the least?  

A. Individual differences in susceptibility to drowsiness
B. Amount of prior sleep
C. Time-of-day
D. Prior continuous time awake
E. Prior continuous time driving

Two Driver Behavior Red Flags

TASA ID: 9075

I’m a psychologist who has devoted my career to traffic safety, in particular fleet safety.  Two psychological laws of human behavior are the Law of Individual Differences and the Law of Behavioral Consistency (Holland, 1975).  In any group of people, such as a fleet of drivers, one can expect wide differences in behavioral tendencies.  Psychological differences most relevant to safe driving include sensation-seeking, risk perception, impulsivity, and conscientiousness (i.e., obeying rules).  At the same time, each individual’s behavioral tendencies are likely to stay remarkably consistent over time and across various situations.  Indeed, the psychological definition of personality is behavioral consistency over time and across situations.  Future behavior and risk can be predicted based on past behaviors and events.  That’s why we screen fleet drivers for their driving histories and more broadly for their personal histories in other areas of their lives.

Fleet managers should think positively and seek to recognize and reward safe driving and loyal service.  Yet one must be alert for red flags signaling risk.  One bad driver can damage the reputation and even the viability of a whole fleet.  Among those red flags are safety belt non-use and involvement in single-vehicle crashes such as rollovers and run-off-road.

39 Ways To Reduce Driver Fatigue

TASA ID: 9075

Driver fatigue is a persistent safety risk, especially for commercial drivers and other fleet drivers who may be driving at night and/or for long distances.  Falling asleep-at-the-wheel (AATW) is the most dangerous fatigue risk.  A 3-4 second highway “microsleep” means a football field of unguided vehicle motion.  AATW crashes usually occur when drivers nod off and then drift off the road where they strike a fixed object or perhaps roll down an embankment.  Such crashes are often severe.  In fact, fatigue involvement in fatal crashes is five times that of minor crashes (FMCSA, 2014; Tefft, 2012).  In addition to human risks, AATW crashes can be high-liability.  Truck driver AATW cases have resulted in multi-million dollar “nuclear verdicts” when 80,000 lb. trucks strike passenger cars one-twentieth of their size.

Below are 39 ways that these crash risks can be reduced.  A bonus is that many of the same practices reducing driver drowsiness also boost overall human health, well-being and performance.  The first 18 are individual behaviors to promote in fatigue education programs.  The remaining 21 are organizational policies and practices which foster those same positive behaviors and outcomes.

Suicide by Truck

TASA ID: 9075

A 2014 investigational analysis of large truck fatal crashes in Sweden (Bálint et al., 2014) reported that 17% of them were attributable to suspected suicide.  The two major suicide scenarios were cars (or other light vehicles) crossing the highway centerline and pedestrians stepping out in front of trucks.  Another 9% were judged “unknown” for suicide, while the remaining 74% were coded “no.”  An international trucking firm based in Australia reviewed each of its fatal crashes and estimated that 20% or more were suicides, with the majority involving pedestrians (Jones, 2020).

 

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