12.14
2018

Tips: Drive Safer This Winter

They say the only guarantees in life are death and taxes. But for drivers, there’s another guarantee they’re always faced with: less-than-desirable conditions on the road due to inclement weather. This is especially true during the colder winter months, when a nefarious storm can wreak havoc on a run-of-the-mill drive, transforming it into a course straight out of Mario Kart. (Blue shells not included.)

Driving in the winter months — a time when road conditions can morph from normal to slick with ice in a matter of minutes — can be especially problematic for companies with a mobile workforce. Added precautions need to be taken (e.g. reducing speeds, warming up vehicles, etc.), all of which can impact daily operations. Here are some of our suggestions to help keep your drivers safe on the road while keeping your business running as smooth as possible.

Clean off your vehicle.
This one may seem obvious, but as anyone who has driven after a snowfall can attest, the practice is not universal. Don’t just clear enough so you can see out the front and rear windows. Take care of the roof, the hood, all of the windows, and even the bumper. Unexpected snow and/or ice whipping off vehicles and onto others is a hazardous, easily preventable catalyst for accidents.

Check that battery.
Believe it or not, plummeting temperatures can directly impact the health of your vehicle’s battery. This can be especially detrimental to electric or hybrid vehicles, reducing the distance you can travel on a single charge. Before the extreme weather hits, have your battery inspected and make sure it’s up to snuff. (And if you’re driving a hybrid, always have ample gasoline in your tank, just in case.)

Fill up your reservoir.
We’re talking about the windshield-wiper fluid, of course. This stuff goes fast in the winter months, so make sure you always have plenty on hand; choose a quality winter blend that will help aid in de-icing your windshield. And, while you’re at it, check those wiper blades to make sure they’re up to par for the double (or triple) duty they’ll be pulling.

Increase your distance. 
In prime conditions, you should generally be shooting for a vehicle following distance of about four seconds. But when roads are covered with slick snow or that dreaded black ice, it’s best to increase that to roughly ten seconds. This way, you’ll have more than double the reaction time in the wake of any mishaps.

Keep moving. 
While attempting to strong-arm your way up a slick hill by speeding can just result in spinning wheels that take you nowhere, coming to a complete stop can also leave you stranded or (worse) sliding back down from where you came. However, do be sure to slow down as you reach the peak of the hill so your descent on the other side can be slow and steady.

Keep your tracking devices working properly.
Just like in cases of extreme heat, arctic temperatures can have adverse effects on your smart device. When your tracking device of choice is a phone, this can usually be avoided by making sure your crew keeps their devices with them when they depart their vehicles. But if you prefer, say, a securely mounted tablet, consider investing in something like the GPSLockbox Atmos cradle. This innovative mount was designed to restore tablets to functioning temperatures, whether by warming them up or cooling them down.

Driving in the winter months can be a little more daunting than normal, but it certainly doesn’t mean that mobile businesses need to come screeching to a halt. Just be sure you and your crew adhere to these extra precautions and it’ll be business as usual. For even more winter driving tips, head on over to AAA.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

11.21
2018

Don’t Let the Weather Freeze Your Pockets

As the temperature drops, everyone’s bills begin to rise. Of course, energy bills go up as many try to avoid the frosty outdoors. But have you noticed an uptick in how much you spend on fuel for your vehicle in winter?

The freezing weather (20 degrees F) can drop a car’s gas mileage by about 12 percent when compared to normal performance at 77 degrees, according to a study done by FuelEconomy. For shorter trips, it can drop as much as 22 percent.

How does the weather affect fuel consumption?
There are multiple reasons fuel economy is reduced in frigid conditions. One reason is that the friction from the icy conditions can make it more difficult for a vehicle’s engine to perform. It’s also more difficult on engines if you work in an area that requires your vehicle to plow through the fluffy white stuff.

Much like how we desperately wait for a vehicle’s heating unit to warm up in the cold, the engine itself requires a warm-up to get to a point where it’s at peak performance. That takes time — and fuel — for the car to get to that point.

But hybrids will be okay, right?
Actually, the same study done by FuelEconomy showed hybrids can have their fuel economy reduced by as much as 34 percent when the weather is below freezing, compared to the vehicle’s normal performance. The main reason hybrids do worse is the computer that monitors fuel economy can see a drop off in performance due to freezing temperatures. Hybrids also suffer from the issues a conventional vehicle faces in the frigid conditions. Basically, the same system that helps your fuel consumption in a hybrid may be its downfall in the cold.

The human factor
There are driving habits that can burn up fuel as well. Turning on a vehicle and waiting half an hour for it to heat up, of course, will burn up fuel. Idling has been proven to have a mileage of zero miles to the gallon.

However, there are some other factors we might not even consider. The more trips a vehicle has to make in a day will take its toll during the winter. Each time a car is shut off and subsequently turned back on it requires energy to do so and that, of course, is gasoline.

Solutions
So what can be done to avoid frequent trips to the pump while the weather outside is frightful?

Plan trips to avoid unnecessary stops. The more you fire up the engine (especially if the engine sits for a while and gets cold), the more precious energy it takes to get the vehicle going. Try to get everything done in one go, if possible, and try to reduce the total distance traveled per trip.

Check the tires. The weather can have a strain on the air in a vehicle’s tires because cold, dense air causes the tire pressure to drop below an efficient level.

Don’t let the pedal hit the metal. The more accelerating drivers do the quicker fuel is burned up. Each time the engine revs up it’s like tossing a few nickels of gas money out the driver-side window.

At Actsoft, we unfortunately can’t control the weather, but we can help you be efficient despite the conditions. We can help monitor driver habits and make sure drivers aren’t needlessly accelerating or breaking hard on the snowy streets. We can make sure the money Jack Frost is trying to take from you stays in your pocket rather than being lost to the icy roads.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you through the cold season?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

03.22
2018

5 Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

In our über-connected world, distractions abound. Our senses are constantly inundated with a steady influx of visuals and sounds. Each competes for our immediate attention if even for just a moment, to deliver a message that hopefully sticks with us amid the sea of noise. These missives come at us in so many forms: commercials, billboards, phone calls, text messages, emails, music, traffic signs, pop-up advertisements, and more.

To say this saturation of data is overwhelming is putting it mildly at best. But throw in a focus-driven activity into the mix — like driving a car, for example —and it can be downright dangerous.

When you’re behind the wheel, there’s a lot at stake that goes well beyond successfully making the trek between points A and B. Driving safely not only requires that you remain cognizant of the important things — signs, traffic lights, emergency signals, etc. — but that you also keep the needless distractions — conversations, music, scenery, etc. — at bay.

With your life (and the lives of those in and around your vehicle) at stake, staying as safe as possible is key. Here, our tips for avoiding distracted driving.

Hands off your phone.
We get it. You see a text notification and you feel the need to read and reply. Or suddenly an idea pops into your head and you just have to share it with the world. Whatever it is, it’s probably not that important. Save the cellphone use for later. Have some trouble controlling that impulse? Try installing one of these free apps to limit your device’s functionality while on the go.

Keep passengers under control.
Road trips are fun. Cruising around with friends is fun. But save the super-animated conversations for when you reach your destination. We’re not saying that you should be riding in silence; just keep the volume in check and consider changing subjects if the topic causes you to veer too deep into debate mode, which can become distracting.

Put down the …
Sandwich. Makeup. Newspaper. (Yes, we’ve actually witnessed the latter before. More than once.) Multitasking may be a great trait to slap on your resume, but when it comes to driving a car, it’s better for all parties involved if you remain focused on the one task at hand and save the rest for later.

Don’t drive if you’re tired. 
Fatigue may not seem like a distraction, per se, but if the bulk of your energy is being used trying to remain awake, then you’re far from focused. In fact, studies have shown that sleep-deprived drivers can experience impairment equal to that of intoxicated drivers, or even worse. So if your eyelids are heavy, take a nap, ask for a ride, or call a cab.

Secure your belongings. 
The last thing you need is your coffee-cup tray spilling everywhere, or shopping bags crashing to the floor, or any number of unexpected — but preventable — distractions. If you’re loading up the car before you head out, make sure everything is best situated so it all stays put.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

 

03.12
2018

The Best Apps for Preventing Distracted Driving

Distracted driving — and the wave of devastation that comes with it — is a major issue today. In 2015, it was the cause of nearly 10 percent of all U.S. motor vehicle fatalities and around 16 percent of overall automobile injuries.

Cellphone use has taken the forefront as the target goal for distracted driving prevention, though it’s not the only form. (Other examples include lack of focus due to preoccupation with something else, fatigue, conversations, and eating.) But it’s for a good reason. On average, reading or sending a text takes around five seconds; at a speed of 55 mph, that’s enough time for a person to traverse the length of an entire football field.

It should come as no surprise that younger drivers (20 and under) are among the most impacted by distracted driving. Not only is this segment lacking in experience on the road, but they’re arguably the most connected, digitally, so the propensity for distraction is greater. (Not to mention, the invincibility/“not me” complex tends to reign truest in this demographic.) That always-by-their-side cellphone can be a recipe for disaster. In fact, 42 percent of high school drivers fessed up, admitting to having texted while driving.

But it’s not just kids that are practicing this type of behavior. It’s adults, too.

Here at Actsoft, we help businesses monitor employees for a number of work-related habits, including certain safe driving habits such as speed, length of time legally allowed to be spent behind the wheel in a day, and rapid acceleration and deceleration. Keeping drivers safe is extremely important to us. As a nod to our commitment to driver safety, we wanted to share a couple of apps you can use to help combat that urge to pick up the phone while you’re on the road. Not only can they help keep you and your loved ones safe, but they’re both absolutely free!

AT&T DriveMode
Once you reach a speed of 15 mph, the app is triggered, silencing incoming alerts and phone calls. Music and navigation are still accessible, but from a consolidated one-touch menu, along with select speed-dial contacts. Although it’s available to anyone, AT&T customers have the added bonus of being able to send automatic replies when text messages are received. And, with special controls built in for younger drivers, parents can rest a little easier, since they’ll be alerted if their kids switch the functionality off or add a new speed-dial number. AndroidiOS; free; att.com/drivemode

TrueMotion Family Safe Driving
Sometimes a little incentive helps to curb a bad habit. TrueMotion Family Safe Driving adds some friendly competition between family members to encourage driving safer. Tapping into your smartphone’s native capabilities, the app monitors your driving habits, including phone use while in motion. At the end of each trip, you’re given a score. Keep up with your family’s scores and see who comes out on top as the most-focused driver. Members can even opt to share their locations and trip data so others can see how they got to their destinations. AndroidiOS; free; gotrumotion.com/app

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar