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Heinrich’s Pyramid Challenge: 190 to 1 in an Instant

Heinrich’s Pyramid Challenge: 190 to 1 in an Instant

Bryon Cook, Lytx® VP of Data and Analytics, says that for driving the numbers draw a narrower path to a serious incident, and a combination of risky behaviors can get a driver from the bottom of the pyramid to the top in a blink of an eye.Anyone who’s worked in risk management or who’s responsible for OSHA compliance knows about Heinrich’s Pyramid. The theory is that for every 300 acts of risky behavior, there are 29 acts that lead to a minor incident or scary near-miss, and one act that leads to a serious injury or fatality.

Cook, who oversees Lytx analytics on well over 50 billion miles of driving data, said that in driving, the pyramid takes on a much more alarming proportion with 190 acts of risky behavior leading to 6 minor injury and/or property damage collisions and one fatality accident.

"Companies who have experienced even one serious injury or fatality collision know the damage it can do to their business, their reputation, and their drivers’ state of mind," said Cook.

Taking a closer look at the Lytx data from DriveCam®-captured events, Cook said that about 50 of those 190 acts of risky behavior are drivers not wearing seatbelts, or being distracted by hands-free/handheld cellphone use or food or drink in the cab.

"These may seem like minor policy infractions, but let me paint a picture about why they quickly add up to collisions," he said. "These are not one-off behaviors, but likely happen every day, and a driver will quickly find him or herself in that 190 layer of the pyramid, but adding just one additional behavior and you significantly add to the risk of having some sort of collision, move the driver upward in the pyramid."

Cook said that with driving behaviors, the fast lane to serious collisions lies in this combination of behaviors–preventable behaviors.

"A driver may have a habit of using a cell phone but is still allowing adequate following distance," said Cook. "It just takes one time of following too close, combined with the habitual use of the cell phone to lead to a serious collision."

Lytx data reveals the riskiest combination of behaviors as:

  • Not looking far enough ahead combined + insufficient following distance
  • Not looking far enough ahead + handheld cell phone
  • Not scanning intersection + entering intersection with a stale yellow light
  • Cell phone use (hands-free or held) + poor lane-keeping

Cook said that preventing a collision starts with coaching drivers on the daily habits that serve as the foundation of risk, and not dismissing them as minor behaviors.

"The Lytx driver risk pyramid shows that every minor behavior starts a path toward a potential incident, and eliminating those behaviors can go a long way toward reducing overall risk," he said.