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Reducing The Risk

TORONTO, Ont. - Imagine being able to predict which of your drivers are going to be involved in an accident and then intervening before it occurs. According to Markel Insurance, a groundbreaking new p...

TORONTO, Ont. –Imagine being able to predict which of your drivers are going to be involved in an accident and then intervening before it occurs. According to Markel Insurance, a groundbreaking new program offered by the company allows fleets to do just that.

Rick Geller, national manager of safety and training services with Markel, says the company has completed two years of benchmark testing that has validated the program. One Canadian test fleet has realized a savings of about three cents-per- mile due to a reduction in crash costs, Geller claims.

The program allows fleets to determine a driver’s likeliness to be involved in an accident, based on his or her previous moving violations and at-fault accidents. It draws upon extensive past research as well as forecasts conducted by Markel’s actuaries. Geller says in two years of testing, Markel has determined its ability to predict the number of crashes a fleet will experience, as well as the drivers that will be involved to be about 80% accurate.

According to the program, a driver with a reckless driving violation, for instance, is 325% more likely to be involved in a crash over the next 12 months than a driver with an unblemished record.

“That individual is virtually guaranteed to have a crash,” Geller explains.

Under the High-Risk Driver Program, fleets identify the highest-risk drivers and then provide them with defensive driver training to correct the behaviour that led to the charge, before an accident occurs.

“The High-Risk Driver Program is really a revolutionary way of administering safety in the trucking industry,” Geller says. “Historically in the trucking industry, nothing happens until there’s a crash.”

Markel has developed a Crash Likelihood Chart, which places drivers with a past moving violation or accident into one of three categories: Category 1 is used to describe the drivers most at-risk, those convicted of a careless driving violation; Category 2 includes a number of less severe moving violations as well as a past accident; and Category 3 includes violations ranging from ‘driving too fast for conditions’ (which increases a driver’s likelihood of being involved in a crash by 62%) to an ‘out-of-service violation’ (which the chart shows only increases the chance of being involved in a crash by 16%).

According to Markel’s research, about 35% of drivers fall into one of the three risk categories.

“As long as we know how many drivers a carrier has, we can predict the number of drivers that are going to fall into this high risk category, the number of crashes and the types of crashes they’re likely to be involved in, the carrier’s associated costs and the overall impact on their bottom line,” explains Geller.

The insurer has developed a fictional case study to drive home the benefits of the program. A company with 37 drivers would typically have 11 that fall into one of the three high-risk driver categories. Based on that, 11 collisions are forecast: seven property-only accidents; three injury-related crashes; and one involving a fatality.

Assuming an insurance deductible of $5,000, the fleet is going to pay $55,000 in deductibles alone -not including all the related costs. With a profit margin of 3%, that fleet would need to generate more than $1.8 million in revenue to offset the costs. (And that is to say nothing of the life lost in the accident involving a fatality).While it may be a fictional example, Geller says the most the model has ever been out compared to real-life case studies is 6%.

So where does a fleet begin?

Geller says in the fictional case study,”There are three guys you’ve got to get in front of right away,” referring to the drivers in categories one and two.

“Any driver who falls into those top two categories really needs a hands-on defensive driving course, something where there’s an over-the- road component,” he insists. “Very often what you’re talking about here is simply a bad habit that’s crept into somebody’s driving. But that little bad habit that got them that speeding ticket in a restricted speed zone has increased their likelihood of a crash by 35%.”

Now that Markel is confident its High-Risk Driver Program delivers a payback for its customers, it is rolling out the program to the industry.

There’s a cost to join, as Markel plans to train a fleet’s safety reps on how to administer the program themselves.

Markel also offers its own FACTS defensive driving course across the country for drivers that are identified as “high-risk.”

For more on the program, contact Markel at 888-MARKEL-1 or visit

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