Did you know that multitasking is a myth? Computers may have made us feel as if we’re doing more than one task at a time, but we may be merely shifting attention more efficiently. As this engaging article about technology and the perception of multitasking shows, we actually can’t do more than a single thing at a time. At least, not well. Agencies who think their drivers are capable of multitasking may find this to be wrong. And it can lead to serious breakdowns in safety. Safety is a key issue at Western Community Action, a Community Action Agency operating in Southwestern Minnesota. Access Coordinator Shelly Pflaum talked with us about her concerns over safety and how WCA went about resolving driver distraction within its operation. “The safety component for us is HUGE,” Shelly exclaims.
Drivers are faced with a multitude of daily tasks. Dispatchers can ask a lot of their drivers in order to maintain schedule adherence. Drivers need to accept new trips while on the road, communicate the incidence of a no show, mark odometer readings, mark trips as completed, etc. It may be too much to ask a driver to “multitask” in order to keep your daily schedule on track. Even though a driver may be required to pull over in order to update his or her manifest, it may be far too tempting to do it while driving. As Shelly Pflaum, Access Coordinator with Western Community Action points out, “I take transit, I know, sometimes they didn’t pull over.
The faster a driver can deal with the various components of their job, the less distraction they will encounter behind the wheel. For WCA, as for all demand response operations, getting back on the road is key to efficiency, but not at the behest of safety. In-vehicle mobile data apps and terminals, synchronized with back office paratransit software help to improve safety because they streamline data sharing and communication. Through a simple touch screen, drivers can update manifests instantly, share dispatcher screens to view information at a glance and even read text messages when it is safe to do so. Shelly claims that her new drivers “can’t imagine going without their in-vehicle mobile data apps.” And more importantly, “the tablets have increased safety on the road.”
Doing many things at once requires attention. And where safety is concerned, attention must be paid. On top of the safety issue, paratransit software allows drivers, dispatchers and schedulers to automatically perform multiple actions rather than inefficient and error-prone manual methods. This means data entry is more accurate, trip bookings are more accurate and rider information is more accurate. Let the paratransit software do its job. This way, your drivers can concentrate on their primary job: safe driving.
Read the full version of Shelly’s story and how WCA discovered operational efficiencies and improved safety on the road. Their entire success story and video can be found here.