Why a Good Driver Experience is Important

Why is a good driver experience important? In a nutshell - safety and productivity. A good driver experience means letting drivers focus on what's important: the driving and servicing of their routes in the safest manner possible. It means reducing the copious requirements for human intervention that can distract and delay. It means removing unnecessary paperwork, tedious data entry and too many manual touch-points. Technology designed for drivers New on-board fleet management technologies have brought the driver experience into the 21st century. Technology has the ability to reduce the amount of human intervention and, correspondingly, the margin for error. The challenge for a fleet management system is to provide accurate driver and customer service time data without burdening the driver with time-consuming manual processes. New on-board fleet management systems are now designed for drivers who perform dozens of customer service stops per route. Every keystroke matters, every possible time stamp and location calculation needs to happen automatically. Effective on-board fleet and route management systems can make it easier and faster for drivers to account for their full day with none of the approximations that reduce the value of arrival and departure time reporting. All data and events can now typically be geo-coded (GPS) to increase precision. Process-driven, consistent workflow New on-board fleet management capabilities capture an effective workflow process that mimics what the driver would typically need to do and then improve on this experience by: Eliminating paperwork and providing paperless route sheet information in the vehicle Ensuring a minimum of keystrokes to record exceptions such as extras and skips Automatically recording lift events and lift weights Automating the entry and completion of disposal tickets, exchanges, returns, deliveries and removals Eliminating any phone wait times. The automation generation Drivers can have too much to think about, too many buttons to press, too many calls to answer or make, and too many reports to submit. Virtually all of this can be easily eliminated or radically reduced by deploying the right on-board system. For example, waste carts now come with RFID tags installed that automatically track individual stops. No driver intervention is required unless there is an exception. For a typical commercial route of about 120 stops, usually 95% can be automated. This means that dispatch will know automatically and in real-time when a lift is done, how much it weighs and so forth. Drivers can now focus on driving safely. In addition, automatic driver direction tools provide directions to the designated next stop and let the driver graphically view all designated stops along a predetermined route. They can also automatically re-calculate routes when a driver deviates from the route or makes an out-of-sequence manual stop. No more paperwork Transitioning from a paperwork-driven to paper-free environment is critical to improving the driver experience. Drivers have traditionally been expected to manually capture all essential information - record times of arrivals and departures, note weights - typically operating under time constraints for route completion. As a result, the recording of required information may be inconsistent, inaccurate and incomplete. A capable on-board fleet and route management system should ask less of driver and deliver better data on a real-time basis. A better driver experience can virtually eliminate the need for follow up calls to verify service and can track all events and locations - automatically and in real-time. Safety wins! Ultimately, safety is the big winner of an optimal driver experience. Drivers who rely on cell phones and pieces of paper to get route info are distracted drivers. Drivers who need to press buttons constantly are distracted drivers. Drivers who need to fill out forms en-route are distracted drivers. Distracted drivers make mistakes. Mistakes cause accidents. Improving the driver experience can make all the difference in the world. Don Diego Padilla is a vice president at FleetMind Solutions Email: dpadilla@fleetmind.com Read More Life in the Slow Lane:Living with the Tata 'Ace-EV' City and town councils are the biggest potential market for 'zero emission' battery electric, hybrid drive and renewable fuel source powered vehicles. Unfortunately, these so-called 'eco-friendly' options can cost considerably more, while offering less in terms of range and payload. So against this backdrop, it's a brave manufacturer which gives WMW's collection and transport correspondent, Malcolm Bates an electric truck to test. 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