Avoiding Multitasking Mistakes

Multitasking Is The New Normal

In 2020 there was a huge shift in the way we do business. We were multitasking before, but often in a community workspace with more team interaction. Social distancing has forced us to re-think the workspace and work more independently. With that comes more multitasking, and a new level of stress and confusion can emerge. For drivers who have more technology to manage on the road, mistakes can have deadly consequences.

Fleets are using more electronics than ever for navigation, ELD, work orders, and communication. Fleet managers supervise drivers engaging in potentially dangerous multitasking that in some cases runs counter to the safety programs in place. Managers and dispatchers make exceptions when they need something, but later hold a driver accountable for talking on a phone while driving. Is there a double standard? Where do operational requirements supersede safety best practices? It’s an uncomfortable conversation, but one we need to be having.

Applying Wisdom From Other Disciplines

As a training center for NSC’s Defensive Driving Course, we get a lot of safety related communications and links to safety related content. A recent article “Safety Leadership: Reducing catastrophic incident potential via enhanced human performance reliability” by Matt Hargrove from DEKRA Organizational Safety and Reliability caught our attention. His post focuses on catastrophic incidents that occur on offshore drilling rigs, but there was some underlying wisdom that can be universally applied.

Given, most of our readers are not doing potentially life threatening jobs in dangerous environments, but one statement Matt Hargrove made strikes at the heart of what most of us are doing.

“We make more mistakes when our work is designed to have us multitask.”

Matt Hargrove

Principal Consultant, DEKRA Organizational Safety and Reliability

Multi tasking manager

That statement is true for drivers, managers, support staff, vendors… all of us. And with all of the technology we use day to day, everyone is multitasking. So, how can we support employees to make fewer mistakes while still accomplishing all that needs to be done?

The author listed 5 specific “layers of protection” to be considered to “further reduce potential for catastrophic incidents”. If we consider those same recommendations with a fleet based operation in mind, are able to identify specific actions we can take to prevent the common multitasking related mistakes we make everyday.

Five Layers of Protection

  1. “Creating clear alignment on prioritization of competing organizational targets and objectives.”

Make sure drivers, managers, and support staff are clear on their own priorities, and each other’s. A manager that needs something done right now must consider a driver’s first priority is arriving safely. It’s OK to communicate urgency, but not to pressure the driver to hurry unduly. If he is a few minutes late due to driving on icy roads, express that it is OK.

  1. “Creating brain-aligned standard operating procedures and documents in which design and content are developed in a way that highlights critical steps and prompts specific actions that reduce potential for critical error.”

Maybe it’s time to take a good look at our forms and processes. Do forms follow the work flow so that drivers and other workers can document what they are doing in the order they normally do it? Are the fields for must have information required fields on electronic forms and highlighted somehow on paper forms? Are you using checklists to confirm the proper steps have been taken?

3. “Creating specific lines of inquiry related to human performance and human-machine interface to understand how errors might occur/or have occurred post-incident.”

When mistakes are made, they should be reviewed to determine why they were made. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn from mistakes and understand if multitasking is contributing to errors made. That responsibility needs to be owned by someone in the organization. Once we identify the common threads when mistakes occur, we can take steps to mitigate their re-occurrence.

  1. “Deploying a structured technique for hazard identification (going from looking to seeing and mitigating hazards). Creating prompts that move people out of the default autopilot (fast brain) during safety-critical transitions within work tasks.”

Within our own departments we do things out of habit because that’s the way they have always been done. Perhaps we should get a fresh set of eyes on our procedures and forms to help us identify areas we might improve. For instance, we recently identified that two employees in different departments were both creating and uploading a nearly identical document into the same shared folder. We determined it made more sense to share a single document cutting both workloads. Now, both know to check the folder for an existing document before creating a new one. It’s a small thing, but every little bit helps.

  1. “Training frontline team members to understand the causes of performance errors and co-develop the techniques and system changes necessary to control for them.”

This goes hand in hand with #4 on the list. Management needs to be on the lookout to identify wasted effort wherever it lives. It could be anything from an employee spending hours doing something manually that could be done more efficiently with the right software or integration, to identifying overlapping tasks that can be shifted to the most appropriate team member. If we can split the workload we can eliminate some of the multitasking.

A Few Simple Ideas You Can Implement Now

Some suggestions from our own staff include completing the task you are working on before starting another, closing your email client to avoid distractions, and organizing your email inbox with folders to prioritize and group similar tasks together. It all seems to come down to being open to change. There are a plethora of apps designed to help us get more done in less time and with less error. Being willing to evaluate and invest in those new solutions can be a game changer!

7 Costly Driving Habits that are Easy to Break

We All Have Costly Driving Habits

This post shares valuable information not only for commercial fleets, but for anyone who drives. We all want to keep our vehicles running well and far from the repair shop. A few things you may do out of habit, and never thought much about can be causing serious damage to your vehicle over time. Saving a transmission, braking system, or fuel pump from excessive wear will keep your hard-earned money in your pocket, and you in the driver’s seat.

Costly Driving Habits

#1 Ignoring an Unfamiliar Sound

Some sounds just get our attention more than others. A loud scraping noise is pretty alarming. Most drivers would recognize it as bad news and do something immediately. On the other hand, what about a subtle hissing sound? You may not even be sure you really heard something. Ignoring that sound is a costly driving habit.

Rather than let it go, take a minute to listen more closely. Lift the hood and see if it sounds louder. Ask someone else if they hear it too. Sure, it might just be wind noise, but it could be an early warning sign of something about to go very wrong. If you ignore it until that soft hiss turns into a whistle you could find yourself at the side of the road needing belts or vacuum hoses replaced.

#2 Resting Your Hand on the Gearstick While Driving

According to carthrottle.com and many other sources, this common habit can cause easily avoidable damage to your transmission. The constant weight of your hand or arm on the shift lever, puts pressure on the parts connecting below in the gearbox. That pressure causes unnecessary wear and tear and can lead to very expensive transmission failures.

Break that costly driving habit easily by keeping both hands on the wheel. You will find you have more control and may even react a little faster to potential hazards.

#3 Over-Revving a Cold Engine

Winter is here and vehicles may be very cold when we get in to drive. Newer vehicles with fuel injection systems do not require the same care as older vehicles did in this regard, but after reading a few articles on the subject, it seems prudent not to over tax cold vehicle components. Thermal expansion is a fact and precision parts operate best when they are at their optimum operating temperatures, so spending a few minutes to allow the engine to warm just makes sense. It also makes sense to warm the car before you get in for the sake of your own comfort.

This video shot with a thermal camera shows the warming of a frozen engine is very interesting and informative.

Costly Braking Habits

Your brakes may be the single most important system on your vehicle. Wherever you go and whatever you encounter, when you want to stop, or need to stop in an emergency, the brakes have to work! The alternative ways to stop a vehicle can be extremely unpleasant. There are 3 costly driving behaviors that are easy to break specific to how and when we brake.

#4 Excessive Downhill Braking

Of course, you want to brake when necessary, but riding the brake pedal when driving downhill is a common costly driving habit. Continuing to do it will overheat your brake components and wear them out before their time. Instead, try slowing down some before you crest that hill, take your foot off the gas, and downshift to slow the engine. If you pick up too much speed, brake as needed to slow the vehicle, but don’t keep constant pressure on the brake pedal.

#5 Frequent Hard Braking

Sudden and frequent braking often go hand in hand with distracted driving. Both are costly driving habits. A driver that is aware of what is going on around him (or her) has more time to react. They can more easily swerve safely to avoid an obstacle or decelerate slowly rather than brake at the last second. In any case, breaking the hard braking habit pays off in fewer brake repairs and replacements as well as fewer collision incidents and stressful close calls.

#6 Not Using the Parking/Emergency Brake on an Incline

Those of us who mainly drive in the flat lands may not know this, but you should always engage the parking/emergency brake when parked on an incline, AND it should be engaged before you take your foot off of the main brake and put the gear shift lever into the park position. As a side note, if you drive in a mountainous region you also need to curb your wheels. Communities like San Francisco routinely issue citations for not doing so.

The reason for using the parking/emergency brake is pretty simple to understand. Automatic transmissions have a device known as a parking pawl that prevents the transmission output shaft from moving when your shifter is in park. It looks like a pin that engages a notched ring. When these parts are worn, you will notice the vehicle moves a couple of inches forward or back after you put it in park. According to AAMCO, when you set your shifter to park before setting the parking or emergency brake, the entire weight of your vehicle rests on the parking pawl device. Over time it becomes weak leading to premature failure and very costly repairs.

#7 Emptying the Tank Before Refueling

Costly Driving Habits

This is an easy costly driving habit to break once you accept that you are not saving a dime by filling the tank later rather than sooner. The fuel that you pump into your vehicle at the gas station contains some impurities all fuel does. Over time, these impurities settle to the bottom of your tank. Again, this may be more of a concern for older vehicles and colder climates than newer vehicles in the south, but it still applies to all vehicles over time. When you burn the fuel at the bottom of the tank, those impurities (including water) can be pulled into the fuel pump and engine. Enough water will stall the engine. More important, the last thing you want are impurities getting trapped in critical moving engine parts.

Top mechanic’s recommend to never run the tank dry. Certainly refuel before you are below 1/10 or under 2 gallons. Others say to keep no less than a quarter tank at all times. This is so the fuel level does not go below the level of the fuel pump within the engine. They say when the fuel level is below the fuel pump, the fuel pump generates more heat causing it to wear faster than normal.

Why not start off the new year by breaking those costly driving habits? Your wallet and your vehicle will thank you!

Tell Us Your Story!

We Hear a Lot of Great Success Stories

Fleetistics is sponsoring a contest for a chance to win an Amazon gift card when you tell us your story. We hear lots of great stories from our customers, all kinds of stories actually. Things like amazingly quick recovery of a stolen vehicle, litigation avoided after a collision based on telematics data, and one customer reported discovering that his clients with the prettiest receptionists always received much longer stops than others.

Tell Us Your Story

With that in mind, tell us your story!

We want to hear your GPS tracking success story. Your experience could be exactly what someone else needs to know, so tell us your story for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card. Even better, have your story featured on Fleetistics’ Blog with a link back to your business. Only Fleetistics’ customers are eligible to win.

Put those writing skills to work and tell us your story today. Email it to contact@fleetistics.com. Deadline for submissions is January 29, 2021. We will select a winner from the submissions we receive to tell your story in an upcoming blog post. Your name, logo, and a link to your website (with your approval) will be posted as well. We look forward to hearing about your success with telematics and sharing your story with others. So send us your story today!

Distracted Driving Awareness Month – October 2020

Distracted Driving Car Accident Highway
Normally held in April, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year October will be observed as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. This annual promotion sponsored by the National Safety Council brings awareness to a primary cause of preventable injury and death on the roads, distracted driving.

The NSC website reports that on a typical day, more than 700 people are injured because of driver distractions. This includes, but is not limited to phone calls, text messages, and entertainment system adjustments. Likewise, the CDC reports that each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.

Distracted Driving Affects Everyone

While cell phones are a primary distraction we can all relate to, it is only one of many things that contribute to the preventable collisions noted above. If you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off of your driving for any reason, you place yourself and others at risk.
The National Safety Council focuses on eliminating the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths. As part of the October campaign, NSC is providing free downloadable materials to encourage companies to create distracted driving prevention programs.

What can you do to prevent Distracted Driving?

You can commit to driving distraction free by taking the NSC Just Drive pledge. Thanks to a partnership with The Zebra, the nation’s leading insurance comparison site, NSC will receive a donation of $1 for every pledge taken and match 100% of every donation made, up to $5,000, today through Nov. 6.

First, consider taking the pledge or making a donation. Also, consider promoting the pledge to your company drivers and their families. Ultimately, if we all do just a little, many lives can be saved.

The theme is Just Drive. Simple and to the point, it is a great reminder to us all to put down the phone, stop fiddling with the equalizer, and just drive.
Fleetistics is a leading provider of technology to identify and mitigate distracted driving.

Usage Based Insurance, Powered by Telematics

What is Usage Based Insurance?

Usage Based Insurance, or UBI, is defined by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners as a type of auto insurance that tracks mileage and driving behaviors. They further explain that the basic idea of UBI is that a driver’s behavior is monitored directly while the person drives, allowing insurers to more closely align driving behaviors with premium rates.

How UBI Works

Underwriters can now consider factors that formerly were not available. Total miles driven, time of day, geographic location, and road type all speak to driving conditions and insurance liability. Speed, rapid acceleration, hard braking, and hard cornering are behaviors known to directly impact accident risk. Obviously actual automobile usage is a more accurate method to assess risk than the actuarial methods in use. Actuarial methods aggregate accident risk based on age, gender, marital status, credit score, and driving history. Consequently UBI is a much fairer way to assign risk and set insurance premiums.

In response, telematics vendors are developing more tools to evaluate at risk driving. For example, the free Verisk Data Exchange add-in was recently introduced to the Geotab Marketplace. It is a platform that allows both customers and their insurers to access the same smart analytics that impact insurance premiums.

Usage Based Insurance App

Telematics is the Key to UBI

Advanced telematics is what makes Usage Based Insurance possible. Over the years, telematics providers and their partners have proven the value of telematics data. The information at our fingertips identifies risky driving behaviors. More important, we can use it to improve and correct them with driver training. In contrast, not acting on the information we have increases liability. But that is easily corrected as shown in the video below. Clearly the benefits that make companies more efficient and competitive outweigh any concerns over increased liability. Usage Based Insurance rates are another potential cost savings to add to that return on investment.

Usage Based Insurance Drives Driver Improvement

Improving driver behavior based on telematics data is easy to automate. Apps like Predictive Coach do all of the heavy lifting. There are also traditional courses like the National Safety Council Defensive Driving Course. A combination of ongoing and individually targeted training raises driver safety awareness and creates a culture of safety. Doing that will more than pay for itself in the long run, not to mention reducing your company liability. Proactive training increases the opportunity to reduce insurance premiums with new and innovative insurance plans like Usage Based Insurance. Ultimately the incentive to improve driving behavior for lower insurance rates will drive the success of initiatives like Vision Zero, making the roads safer for us all.

What the Future Holds

In conclusion, Transport Topics recently stated rising insurance premiums are a perennial stress for many motor carriers, many of which are now installing telematics systems with the latest safety technologies to mitigate cost increases. This is a positive trend for the trucking industry, and more carriers should fully embrace these technologies as they soon will become necessary to operate a safe, efficient and, ultimately, more profitable trucking fleet.

We agree and are here to help you get the technology in place, and use it to create positive change.