SambaSafety: Leveraging Technology to Solve Driver Behavior-Related Problems

Give us a lit­tle back­ground on Sam­baSafe­ty.

 Sam­baSafe­ty start­ed in 1998, as a small com­pa­ny in New Mex­i­co, ini­tial­ly col­lect­ing motor vehi­cle and titling data from the State of New Mex­i­co. Our orig­i­nal offer­ing was an appli­ca­tion around reg­is­ter­ing vehi­cles, both new vehi­cles and re-reg­is­tra­tions. We also built an appli­ca­tion that gath­ered motor vehi­cle records and we began to mon­i­tor dri­vers for the pur­pose of iden­ti­fy­ing risky behav­ior. That was real­ly the gen­e­sis of where we are today.

In the ear­ly 2000s, Cal­i­for­nia was very proac­tive with a pro­gram they call EPN or Employ­ee Pull Notice that we got involved in very ear­ly. Con­se­quent­ly, we are the largest EPN agent in Cal­i­for­nia and over the last sev­er­al years we have tak­en this con­cept of dri­ver risk man­age­ment — col­lect­ing, cor­re­lat­ing and ana­lyz­ing motor vehi­cle records (MVRs) and oth­er data sources to iden­ti­fy dri­ver risk — to a nation­al lev­el.

Let’s talk a lit­tle bit about the evo­lu­tion of the mon­i­tor­ing; where you were to where you are now.

As we all know, for com­mer­cial dri­vers there is a fed­er­al require­ment to pull MVRs once a year and look for valid and invalid driver’s licens­es. It is a stan­dard min­i­mum require­ment that has been done for a num­ber of years. As time has moved on, C-lev­el exec­u­tives, fleet man­agers, and risk man­agers real­ized that they real­ly need to know is what was going on with their dri­vers on a more fre­quent basis. Pulling an MVR once a year left a big gap. Many vio­la­tions can hap­pen with­in a year or even a quar­ter of a year. So what was need­ed was a true con­tin­u­ous mon­i­tor­ing solu­tion.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the term “mon­i­tor­ing” is now used to refer to a num­ber of dif­fer­ent method­olo­gies and data sources. Some com­pa­nies use mon­i­tor­ing when buy­ing MVRs 1–2 times a year, while oth­ers think that a license sta­tus check or look­ing for vio­la­tion data is mon­i­tor­ing. While these are all good sources of data that play a role in mon­i­tor­ing, by them­selves they are not mon­i­tor­ing. True con­tin­u­ous mon­i­tor­ing is a con­cept that starts with a base­line MVR and expands to a con­tin­u­ous­ly mon­i­tor­ing event look­ing for vio­la­tions, updat­ing the base­line MVR and build­ing a dri­ver risk pro­file. But always updat­ing the MVR, which is still the source of truth for a driver’s record. We also believe that con­tin­u­ous mon­i­tor­ing should include proac­tive strate­gies to improve dri­ver behav­ior, there­fore mit­i­gat­ing the risk asso­ci­at­ed with poor dri­vers.

What sorts of results are you see­ing, and do you have a suc­cess sto­ry that you can share?

 We are see­ing very pos­i­tive results. Cer­tain­ly the con­cept of more com­plete infor­ma­tion on a time­ly basis makes a lot of sense to our cus­tomers. In terms of real impacts, we have seen very favor­able results in terms of reduc­ing acci­dents, low­er­ing risk, and decreas­ing insur­ance premiums—especially for those cus­tomers who have devel­oped a very active pro­gram of man­ag­ing their dri­vers by lever­ag­ing our data and soft­ware.

If you think about the over­all uni­verse of dri­vers, there are very few that are high risk. You want to elim­i­nate those indi­vid­u­als from your dri­ver pool and put them in anoth­er job. The sec­ond group is a pret­ty good size group of dri­vers who are pret­ty good but you might have to coach them, train them, sup­port them; do things to make sure that their behav­ior con­tin­ues to improve. The third group of dri­vers is real­ly good and you don’t have to do any­thing with them. You can reward them for out­stand­ing per­for­mance. Our solu­tion takes this dri­ver data, puts it into an appli­ca­tion and then serves it up to orga­ni­za­tion, allow­ing them to be proac­tive in man­ag­ing their dri­ver pool.

A case study that we like to talk about is the coun­ty of San­ta Fe. They have been work­ing with us for sev­en or eight years to very active­ly man­age their dri­vers to reduce acci­dents. Because of their suc­cess in reduc­ing acci­dents and sub­se­quent improved risk pro­file, they were actu­al­ly able to work with their insur­ance provider to obtain a sev­en fig­ure sav­ings on their insur­ance pre­mi­um. That’s a very sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings event. Now we don’t take all of the cred­it for that but we know from numer­ous cus­tomer expe­ri­ences that our solu­tion along with an active dri­ver man­age­ment pro­gram real­ly helps to dri­ve that type of a sav­ings. One of the inher­ent ben­e­fits of dri­ver mon­i­tor­ing is that peo­ple tend to become more aware of their sit­u­a­tion and behav­iors on the road.

Some­thing else that we’ve found is com­mon across all fleets — pub­lic sec­tor, pri­vate sec­tor, small, medi­um, and large — is the tremen­dous amount of time sav­ings not hav­ing to review tens, hun­dreds or even thou­sands of MVRs. So whether it is a return on invest­ment relat­ed to low­er admin­is­tra­tive costs, or the very high ROI from the coun­ty of San­ta Fe, our solu­tion pays for itself in a short peri­od of time. The one thing that we know for cer­tain is that the more active our cus­tomers are in man­ag­ing their dri­vers, the bet­ter the dri­vers per­form, lead­ing to low­er risk and low­er cost.

How would you say Sam­baSafe­ty dif­fer­en­ti­ates itself?

 Sam­baSafe­ty is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent than most out there. There are three pri­ma­ry things that we think we have lead­er­ship posi­tion on. One, we have a true fifty state network—connected to every DMV in the Unit­ed States, Dis­trict of Colum­bia, all Cana­di­an Provinces and all U.S. ter­ri­to­ries . Two, we have access to court records. Three, we have a very robust, com­pre­hen­sive appli­ca­tion that lever­ages all this data to pro­vide the infor­ma­tion our cus­tomers need, when they need it. The com­bi­na­tion of data, soft­ware and action­able strate­gies that help our cus­tomers impact their dri­vers’ behav­iors is what real­ly sets us apart.

Addi­tion­al­ly, we have part­nered with a num­ber of oth­er com­pa­nies who pro­vide parts of that, either as sources of data, or as pieces of the appli­ca­tion. Think of us as a for dri­ver risk man­age­ment. Sam­basafe­ty is a plat­form where our cus­tomers can plug in dif­fer­ent modules—telematics data, traf­fic vio­la­tion data, even employ­er only data — and we can bring all of that data togeth­er in a com­pre­hen­sive sin­gle plat­form and then present that back up to our cus­tomers as action­able insight — giv­ing them the abil­i­ty to take cor­rec­tive actions before it becomes an issue.

Where do you see all of this tech­nol­o­gy going in the next year or so?

I think using that word ‘tech­nol­o­gy’ is an impor­tant word. We con­sid­er our­selves more of a soft­ware and tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny than a spe­cif­ic fleet man­age­ment com­pa­ny. We are lever­ag­ing tech­nol­o­gy to solve dri­ver behav­ior-relat­ed prob­lems for any com­pa­ny or pub­lic sec­tor insti­tu­tion. We’ve expand­ed the con­cept of dri­ver risk man­age­ment from a mar­ket where there was three to five mil­lion com­mer­cial dri­vers to the grey fleet [allowance or reim­bursable dri­vers] of prob­a­bly 50 to 75 mil­lion dri­vers that dri­ve for some rea­son for their employ­er. We think that all employ­ers are going to want to have bet­ter vis­i­bil­i­ty into their dri­vers’ behav­iors and the asso­ci­at­ed risk pro­files. This will be a ubiq­ui­tous type solu­tion that all com­pa­nies will have to employ. They are going to want to man­age the data and then take proac­tive strate­gies to make sure that they are man­ag­ing their risk and build­ing a safe­ty culture—ultimately safer dri­vers mean safer com­mu­ni­ties.

Let’s talk about some legal risks fleets face, specif­i­cal­ly neg­li­gent entrust­ment and vic­ar­i­ous lia­bil­i­ty.

One of the stats we have seen recent­ly is that in the Unit­ed States we pay more per per­son for torts or legal claims than any oth­er coun­try. We are a high­ly liti­gious soci­ety. There is a [legal] con­cept called neg­li­gent entrust­ment which is: if I own a vehi­cle as an employ­er, I entrust it to you, my employ­ee, to dri­ve around and do the work, I take on lia­bil­i­ty for what you do. This is most com­mon while you are work­ing, but we have seen cas­es even when you are not work­ing. So this con­cept of risk is car­ried for­ward con­stant­ly by the employ­er because I have entrust­ed you with a vehi­cle.

There is anoth­er con­cept called vic­ar­i­ous lia­bil­i­ty which is you are dri­ving your own vehi­cle but on behalf of me, the employ­er. Again, the employ­er still car­ries the respon­si­bil­i­ty for the driver’s actions and the asso­ci­at­ed lia­bil­i­ty. All orga­ni­za­tions should be con­cerned about the poten­tial neg­a­tive or legal ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the legal con­cepts — not to men­tion the poten­tial neg­a­tive pub­lic rela­tions storm. Today, the aver­age neg­li­gent entrust­ment awards are some­where north of four mil­lion dol­lars. How­ev­er, there have been judg­ments as high as 30 to 35million dol­lars for these types of law­suits. Clear­ly they don’t hap­pen often, but it is a con­stant con­cern of most of our cus­tomers.

At Sam­baSafe­ty we tend to look at it more from a pos­i­tive sense — we want to help our clients reduce acci­dents and low­er risks to build a prop­er safe­ty cul­ture and be good cit­i­zens in the com­mu­ni­ty in which they live and work.


Rich Craw­ford, CEO, Sam­ba Safe­ty

Rich Craw­ford brings more than 30 years of expe­ri­ence lead­ing high-per­for­mance high-tech­nol­o­gy busi­ness­es. He has served in numer­ous senior exec­u­tive roles across a wide range of high tech­nol­o­gy firms. Through­out his tenure, Craw­ford has direct­ed strate­gic devel­op­ment of prod­uct, sales and mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives and direct­ly con­tributed to com­pa­ny growth in both mar­ket share and rev­enue. As CEO of Sam­baSafe­ty, Craw­ford has direct­ed the company’s growth of its cloud-based Dri­ver Risk Man­age­ment plat­form to more than 10,000 cus­tomers nation­wide.

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