“The safety of my children is not my number one priority while driving.” Very few, if any, parents would make this statement. So why is it that 83 percent of teens say their parents engage in unsafe driving habits with them in the car? Considering the high degrees of motivation a parent has to keep their children safe, why would they ever act otherwise? Something else must be at play, some unseen influence literally driving parents to distraction.

The parent-child protective bond might be the most deep-seated motivator of all, yet even that seems mostly ineffective if statistics are any indication. So how could fleet managers possibly hope to shift an entire company culture towards driving more safely? This seems especially unlikely considering fleet managers aren’t physically present while the driving is taking place. To tackle this issue, we must first unpack how human motivation works. Why do people engage in what they know to be dangerous behavior to begin with, let alone allow that behavior to fester into a full-on bad habit they regularly engage in? When hidden motivators work to influence our behavior as humans, it can sometimes feel as though we are powerless to change. To solve this problem, we must first address the awareness component of habit formation. It’s helpful to remind ourselves of Peter Drucker’s timeless words, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

The hidden forces that drive human habits

For fleet managers, perhaps the biggest hurdle in encouraging safer driving habits is the simple fact that there isn’t any direct supervision of the drivers. In the past, basic data trends at the vehicle cost of operation level could reveal things like routinely poor fuel mileage, but that’s only sometimes an indicator of chronic speeding. Perhaps that driver simply takes off from stops too swiftly but then drives the speed limit? Fortunately, newer telematics tools can provide far greater insight into the totality of fleet driver habits and how they affect the safety metrics of the entire fleet.

Of course, raising awareness through measurement is only the initial step in shifting mindsets to be more safety-oriented when it comes to driving. At the recent Fleet Safety Conference in Henderson, Nev., Kristofer Bush, LeasePlan’s Vice President of product management, gave a presentation on getting to the root of safety. In his presentation, he started by covering the psychological aspects of how driver safety habits are formed, referencing six main sources of influence on human decision-making:

  1. Personal motivation.
  2. Social motivation.
  3. Structural motivation.
  4. Personal ability.
  5. Social ability.
  6. Structural ability.

Let’s cover these in more detail to make sense of how each is applicable to motivating fleet drivers.

Personal motivation

While most people’s desire to be a “safe driver” is genuine, the term is generally too vague and distant to affect actual behavior. More often, a driver’s short-term motivation is directed by a variety of factors like reducing drive time, not getting stuck behind slow-moving vehicles, meeting delivery quotas, and motivators personally unique to the individual.

Social motivation

Companies that have a widely distributed network of drivers who infrequently interact with fellow fleet-drivers and managers are faced with a major challenge regarding social motivation. One possibility is creating score-based ranking systems with leaderboards for drivers to drive healthy competition and awareness of the good habits their industry peers engage in.

Structural motivation

These can be more direct motivators like tiered compensation plans, bonuses, and other direct rewards for performance. When no link exists between performance and the fulfillment of lower-level needs on Maslow’s hierarchy, motivation becomes nearly impossible.

Personal ability

Without any immediate feedback on driving habits, it’s easy for drivers to fall prey to their less desirable motivators. Providing a method for instant feedback on performance helps enable drivers to take charge of their habits.

Social ability

Companies that provide only direct one-on-one feedback to drivers miss the enabling power of social recognition. If employees are blind to the performance of co-workers or industry peers, it’s harder for them to see why they need to make changes because they have no reference for what the results of those changes look like.

Structural ability

Creating a work environment that fosters success is key. If drivers must wait until a quarterly performance review to gain feedback on driving performance, they are much more likely to be tempted to engage in bad habits while driving. Tools that provide instant feedback on driving safety, efficiency, and compliance provide a much more hospitable environment for the formation of good habits. Once the underlying influences are identified and addressed to provide full awareness of the situation, the real work of habit formation can begin.

Aptitude is not the same as attitude

When considering providing feedback on driver behavior, it’s important to keep in mind the fact that many drivers self-rate their driving aptitude as good or even superior compared with other drivers. This especially holds true for fleet drivers who log exponentially greater mileage than the average drivers they share the road with. Considering the generally valid rule that time spent doing an activity leads to higher levels of ability, our beloved road warriors aren’t totally off-base, so it’s crucial as fleet managers to be mindful of the high regard many drivers hold for their driving ability. Insulting a person’s intelligence is a sure-fire way to increase resistance, if not trigger total insubordination, and will not help in winning over the minds of employees.

What’s needed is a shift from criticizing driving aptitude to developing the proper driving attitude when crafting better social influence initiatives and communicating performance feedback to fleet drivers. Drivers need to understand fleet managers aren’t denigrating their level of driving skill, but simply addressing the underlying attitudes toward driving, because attitude is what truly dictates the decisions that form habits.

Company culture – the attitude of the whole

Changing company culture is a topic of much debate, and changing the culture of a widely distributed company such as one with a fleet of drivers who may never interact with one another is an especially challenging scenario. First, what is “company culture” even? Ben Horowitz states it boldly in the very title of his new book, “What you do is who you are – how to create your business culture,” Horowitz posits that the very essence of a culture is what people within that culture habitually do, both in companies and outside of them.

To break it down further, company culture starts with an employee’s observations of what other people in the company do on a regular basis, and those observations become the employee’s narrative about what kind of company it is they are working at. If a driver’s peers routinely speed to meet delivery quotas, it’s much more likely a new driver will quickly adopt the same behavior because “that’s how we do it here.” If a company wants to shift the attitude behind the daily actions that make up the culture there, it must find a way to provide universal feedback that makes obvious what habits are acceptable and which are not. Company leadership must make it clear that “we are this type of company because we engage in these habits surrounding our driving.” Fleet drivers should be encouraged to ask themselves questions such as, “What type of company do I want to be associated with? One known for excellence and consideration of society members? Or one known as careless and a menace to society?”

A new paradigm in driver motivation – gamification

So far, this all may sound like companies need to hire a team of psychologists to address the psyches of their fleet drivers, but fortunately, there is a promising alternative for tapping into the innate human desires that motivate real change – gamification. It turns out, games are a nearly irresistible motivator for changing human behavior. As counterintuitive as it may sound, making a game out of driving can have a tremendous impact on driving habits. To be clear, these aren’t games in the traditional sense of the word, but rather a structured way of presenting feedback that taps into the reward systems we all possess.

OneScore – The ultimate driving habits machine

Employees all playing their own driving games may give managers nightmares of having to referee scores of drivers, but fear not, LeasePlan has a gamification tool fleet managers can use that provides real-time feedback to drivers sans supervision by management. We call this feature OneScore, and it is already available in our MyLeasePlan app. The intuitive interface provides a single score with color-coding that provides ever-present awareness of overall fleet member habits. Driver OneScores are comprised of three main categories of performance: safety, efficiency, and compliance. Multiple aspects of each category are tracked primarily by the driver manually entering information like fuel consumption, mileage, maintenance receipts, and registration updates. With this system, social motivating and enabling influences are inherently built-in, as the parameters that go into a driver’s OneScore are based on benchmarking the best drivers. To further concrete habits, social motivators like company leaderboards for OneScore or bonus structures could also be used, along with structural influences like monetary bonuses, rewards, or raises.

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A pair of Michigan car owners sued a dealership in 2013 after a tire came off while driving, leading to a crash. A tech at the dealership hadn’t tightened the lug nuts after a tire rotation.

The owners, one of whom was injured in the crash, won their case against the dealership and were awarded $110,000 for damages and legal costs under the Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Act.

The dealership appealed, according to a report of the case by Jalopnik. The Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Act is violated in part when a shop charges for repairs that “are not in fact performed.” A Michigan appeals court decided to take a close look at what constituted “performed” in this tire rotation.

Judges ultimately concluded that the tire rotation is performed when the tires are moved, but that’s where it ends. As highlighted by Jalopnik:

“We conclude, under the plain language of MCL257.1307a, that defendants ‘performed’ a tire rotation, albeit negligently…There is no support for the trial court’s determination that a tire rotation is not “performed” if a service person fails to sufficiently tighten the lug nuts on one tire,” the ruling said.

The ruling noted that the tech had successfully moved the tires. The tech who did the rotation admitted that he placed the lug nuts back on the tire but didn’t wrench them tight, which the court determined to be negligent. But a strict reading of the law prevented that to be a violation of the law.

It’s an odd ruling that, as Jalopnik notes, could have ramifications in other services like oil changes. How far does the performance of an oil change extend? Refilling the reservoir or tightening the drain plug?

It may take other court cases or legislative action to find out in Michigan.

Source: Ratchet and Wrench

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As vehicles become more and more technologically advanced, drivers are becoming more and more comfortable with a future that involves self-driving cars, according to a new study.

About 40% of drivers are in favor of self-driving vehicles being available for purchase right now, according to Adobe Analytics’ newly released Future of Driving Report. The report doesn’t clarify what level of autonomy they are comfortable with.

The report chronicles the responses of more than 1,000 people across the U.S. and finds somewhat unsurprisingly that millennials are much more comfortable with autonomous vehicles and other forms of technology in vehicles. However, it also finds there are very disparate opinions about vehicles between electric vehicle owners and gas-powered vehicle owners.

People who are ready for the self-driving future now have big plans for the time they used to spend driving. Once they’re in the car, research shows nearly half of drivers (49%) intend to eat and drink while being driven, followed by talking on the phone (47%), holding face-to-face conversations (31%), writing emails (42%) or even working (36%). Thirty percent plan to nap.

Many drivers are looking for what the study describes as “self-driving” features, but typically fall under the category of advance driving assist systems, or ADAS. Language aside, demand for these safety and convenience technologies is growing as 44% of drivers say having a car with self-driving features such as lane-keeper assist and parking assist is currently a factor in their car buying decision.

Not surprisingly, millennials are much more comfortable with advanced technology in vehicles and are more willing to buy electric vehicles or those with connectivity features. Nearly half of EV owners are millennials whereas gas-powered vehicle owners are more evenly dispersed across all age groups.

The study revealed that EV owners hold very different opinions than their gas-powered counterparts. Electric/hybrid car drivers are also twice as likely to feel comfortable getting into a self-driving car vs. gas-powered car drivers.

Gas car drivers more willing to share their car data in exchange for rebates and promotional offers whereas 60% of EV owners said they would do so if rewarded with personalized experiences. However, owners of gas-powered vehicles aren’t entirely inflexible about what powers their vehicles.

According to the study, 60% of gas car drivers say they’d be more willing to purchase an electric car if charging stations were more readily available, batteries had a longer range and the cars were more affordable. Further about one in three are mulling the possibility of switching sides and buying an EV or hybrid next.

Overall, the advent of interactive vehicles has increased everyone’s comfort level. The desire to have that technology in a vehicle is on the rise. In fact, a third say a built-in voice assistant is a factor in what vehicle they will buy next.

Familiarity helps with this as 25% reveal they’re driving a vehicle with some type of built-in voice control functionality, and 39% of drivers say they use their voice assistants daily. That usage is going up as the quality of the systems improves. Initially spotty, in terms of reliability and usability, 61% of drivers with connected car functionality confirmed their built-in voice assistants work well.

A quarter of drivers with built-in voice control functionality are handling tasks they would otherwise take care of outside the car, such as texting (49%), shopping (9%) and searching sports scores (9%). This is in addition to using their voice assist for more typical in-car activities, such as navigating traffic (44%) and listening to music (33%).

Source: The Detroit Bureau

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As electric cars become more popular, engineers, driven by government regulators, are crafting the sounds that will define the highways of the future.

Two years ago, Nissan hired the studio Man Made Music for what seemed like a straightforward task: Design a sound that its quiet electric vehicles could play to announce themselves on the road.

The automaker wasn’t just splurging on a flashy feature. It was preparing for a federal regulation set to take effect next year that would require all hybrid and electric vehicles, which are quieter than their gas-guzzling ancestors, to emit noise at certain speeds for pedestrian safety.

This week, the agency that oversees the rule, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, proposed changing it to let automakers offer drivers a suite of sounds. For now, though, Nissan plans to include just one with its electric Leaf next year: “Canto,” a resonant hum created by Man Made Music whose pitch rises as the car accelerates.

Designing such sounds is a complex undertaking, according to Joel Beckerman, the founder of Man Made Music. With Canto, the team had to address safety and maintain a brand identity, all in a three-second loop that is distinctive yet doesn’t stand out.

“If we do our job in this kind of situation, then you don’t notice what we did at all,” Mr. Beckerman said. “It just becomes natural, it’s just a part of your life, it’s a part of your environment. When you get it wrong, that’s when people notice.”

The team at Man Made Music, which is used to developing audio for TV, movies and radio, spent nearly half of 2017 working on the sound, a layering of sampled wind and string instruments, and analog and digital synth sounds.

“A surprising element we found ourselves relying on were pure ‘sine waves’ from analog synthesizers,” Danni Venne, the studio’s creative director on the Nissan project, said in an email. “We also found that adding bits of ‘white noise’ to the mix gave us a lot of control to shape and color the sound. It’s almost like we built ‘Canto’ from fundamental building blocks of sound.”

While the advent of quieter hybrid and electric vehicles presents an opportunity to build such sounds from scratch, there is a long history of sound design in the automotive industry. Muscle cars have their distinctive throaty growl. Harley Davidson motorcycles have that syncopated “potato-potato-potato” chug. (That’s really what they’ve called it.)

There is also a history of maintaining zombie sounds long after technology has made them obsolete. On smartphones, for example, the actions of locking the device or taking photos are often accompanied by the noises of a mechanical lock or camera shutter. In financial apps, transactions are often accompanied by the sound of jingling coins or a cash register.

In the case of hybrid and electric vehicles, though, the need for sound is about more than the user experience: It’s about safety. About a decade ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that hybrid electric vehicles were 35 percent more likely than those with internal combustion engines to be involved in a pedestrian accident. Hybrids were also 57 percent more likely to be involved in accidents involving bicycles.

In 2010, Congress passed a law to enhance pedestrian safety, instructing the agency to craft a rule mandating that hybrid and electric vehicles emit noise. The rule was finalized in 2016 and requires that such noises be produced when the car is driving at speeds up to 30 kilometers per hour. Above that, tire, wind and other noises were warning enough, it deemed. The move was celebrated by the blind community.

Automakers requested a few changes, though, including allowing owners to choose from a range of sounds rather than just one. On Tuesday, the agency proposed making that tweak, and said that it would accept input on the move until November.

Regulators around the world have been imposing or weighing such requirements. In the European Union, for example, one such rule just took effect in July.

As a result, major carmakers have been working on crafting sounds to meet those requirements. Jaguar, for example, said it worked for four years on the futuristic noise for its I-PACE SUV. For the 2020 model of the Chevrolet Bolt, General Motors designed the vehicle’s sound in-house, using a quiet electric whirring as a starting point, according to Todd Bruder, the engineer who led development of the sound. “It wants to be purposeful, it wants to be pleasing, but also have the ability to warn people that there’s something coming,” he said.

For Nissan, Man Made Music sought to develop a sound that was both functional and emotional — something that represented the aesthetic of the consumer. “If you’re buying an electric vehicle and you’re interested in clean energy, you probably want that car to feel frictionless,” Mr. Beckerman said. At the same time, the car needed to represent Nissan, too.

“It will be by far the highest-frequency contact that people will ever have with that brand or that vehicle,” he said. “It really reinforces the brand.”

Source: The New York Times

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As ghosts, witches, and superheroes wander the roads on Halloween looking for candy and treats, drivers should take extra care to ensure that the holiday doesn’t become truly horrifying.

The scary reality is that Halloween is one of the deadliest days of the year for pedestrians, especially children, statistics show. Pedestrian deaths in the U.S. have spiked recently, reaching 6,283 in 2018, a 3.4 percent increase from 2017. The latest reported death toll is the highest since 1990, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that pedestrian deaths soared by 45 percent from their low point in 2009, with an increasing share of the deaths away from intersections and on busy and dark city and suburban roads.

“Halloween night is like a ‘perfect storm’ of risk because it involves darkness, a huge increase in pedestrian traffic—especially children—and all sorts of distractions,” says Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations at CR’s Auto Test Center. “Everyone needs to be ultra-careful to not turn such a fun evening into tragedy.” 

Halloween brings out children of all ages walking on, alongside, and crossing streets. It’s important for them to be aware of their surroundings so they can stay safe.

And there are steps that parents and drivers can take to reduce the risks.

Tips for trick-or-treaters

The tips below are from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Department of Transportation.

  • Parents should accompany children younger than 12 years old.
  • Children should walk—not run—from house to house.
  • Children should stay on sidewalks instead of walking between cars or on lawns, where there could be tripping hazards.
  • Parents should remind children to look for cars when crossing driveways.
  • Pedestrians shouldn’t assume they have the right of way, because motorists may not see them.
  • Go trick-or-treating before it is truly dark, especially with young children. 
  • Parents and children should consider choosing costumes that are lighter in color, which make it easier for drivers to see them. Adding reflective material to the front and back makes a costume easier to pick out. It can even be built into the design.
  • Avoid costumes that make it more difficult for a child to see, especially ones that include masks. If a mask is necessary, kids may want to remove it when moving between houses for greatest visibility.
  • Give children a flashlight to walk with in the dark so they can be more easily seen by drivers. Glow sticks can help, too.
Tips for Drivers

Drivers can find Halloween to be especially difficult, because children often behave unpredictably and can be difficult to see after dark. These tips are from NHTSA and the Department of Transportation.

  • Halloween is especially dangerous for drivers and pedestrians.
  • Drive slowly in and around neighborhoods and on residential streets.
  • Don’t drink and drive. Drunken-driving incidents increase on Halloween. (NHTSA reports that 42 percent of all people killed in motor vehicle crashes on Halloween night from 2013 to 2017 were in crashes involving drunken driving.)
  • Watch for children who may dart out into the street, and always yield to pedestrians. If you see one child, there are likely more ready to cross.
  • If you’re driving children around for trick-or-treating, make sure they’re buckled up appropriately in a child car seat or with a seat belt. Make sure they buckle up each and every time they enter the car, and check to make sure they’re secure before you drive to the next stop.
  • Parents transporting kids for Halloween activities may be tempted to buckle them in wearing their costumes. But some costumes may have added padding or hard surfaces that will make it difficult for the car-seat harness or vehicle seat belt to properly fit the child. Consumer Reports advises buying costumes without padding or hard surfaces, or have your child change into their costume after arriving at their destination.
  • Pull over at safe locations to let children exit at the curb and away from traffic. Use your hazard lights to alert other drivers of your car. 
  • Try to park in a spot where you won’t need to back up. But if you must, have an adult outside to make sure no children are in the way of your vehicle when you do.
  • Don’t use a cell phone or other mobile device while driving. Pull over safely to check voice messages or texts, if necessary.

By being cautious and mindful of safety this Halloween, you can make sure the holiday is a treat for all.

Source: Consumer Reports

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