08.14
2019

Do You Know Your Fuel-Saving Facts?

Are you still “myth-ified” on how to save gas money? Every day our Actsoft team talks to huge fleet companies as well as local delivery businesses about how to save fuel, cut costs, and keep their vehicles running smoothly and efficiently. We’ve developed some of the most dependable software in the industry that helps managers do everything from monitor driving behavior (including fast braking and acceleration) to providing optimal routes for drivers in near real-time based on robust GPS technology, all with an eye on keeping gas costs down.

All of this adds up to millions of dollars in fuel savings each year. You may be surprised at what avoidable driving habits are costing your company big bucks each month — and you might even be more surprised at how easy it is to fix it.

FACT: Pay attention to your check engine light, because if it’s the oxygen sensor (which is a common cause of that scary little light flashing), replacing it can improve fuel economy by as much as 40 percent.

MYTH: Aggressive driving (fast braking and accelerating) doesn’t really affect fuel economy. Reality: Slow down and chill out — you’re wasting 31 percent more gas when you drive aggressively than your more relaxed and polite counterparts.

MYTH: Being stuck in traffic is better for fuel than taking a longer, less-congested way. Reality: An hour of idling uses up to a half gallon of fuel, so if you’re in a traffic jam (and sitting idly for even a minute) you’re better off taking the scenic route and moving.

FACT: Oil affects your fuel. Using the wrong type of oil in your vehicle can lower mileage as much as 2 percent.

MYTH: Using the air conditioner always wastes more gas than having windows rolled down. Reality: On highways, it’s more fuel efficient to roll windows up and use the A/C so the car is more aerodynamic.

MYTH: The shortest route is always better on gas. Reality: If you’re using a shorter, but hillier, route, you’ll be seeing the results on your gas gauge. Going uphill — even if the distance is a little shorter — is far worse on your gas tank than driving on flat land.

FACT: A tune-up can improve gas mileage by up to 4 percent.

MYTH: Car heaters use as much fuel as air conditioning. Reality: Car heaters recycle heat from the engine, so they don’t use any extra fuel.

Want the scoop on which solutions will save your company the most money each month? The Actsoft team is here to show you how.

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04.24
2019

3 Ways to Make Your Commutes From Work Less Stressful

Those dreaded red brake lights illuminating the interstate for miles on end at 5 p.m. every day are something that no one looks forward to. As heavy rush-hour traffic can be especially stressful after having just completed a full eight hours at the office, it’s important to do whatever you can to experience smoother trips home from work. Here are three tips to make those lengthy commutes from the office a little more manageable.

Listen to audio

Whether it’s music, a podcast, or the radio, having something to listen to while you’re on your way home can be immensely beneficial. Education-based audio may help you pass lengthy bouts of idle time by teaching you new things or helping you become a more well-rounded person. However, there’s still something to be said about relaxation and entertainment, and through avenues like music, you can experience both while driving home safely.

Optimize your schedule

Are there particular times of the day where you regularly notice traffic to be at its worst?  If so, it’ll help to tailor your daily schedule outside of the office a bit more toward avoiding driving far distances during those times. Choosing to meet a friend for dinner nearby after work or exercising at a gym close to your job are just two examples of activities that can help you dodge the worst of rush-hour’s snails-pace congestion, while also being beneficial to your well-being. It may not seem like that big of a difference at face value, but even delaying your usual departure home from the office by an additional 30 minutes to work out or eat first could end up saving you an hour of time that would’ve been spent in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Find better routes

If a backroad route is longer mileage-wise than a commute home via the interstate is, consider it as an option if it offers less congestion. Even still, if that route takes you five minutes longer to get home when compared to traveling on a jammed highway, it may be less stressful for you to have a drive where there’s as little stop-and-go as possible.

Through these tips, we hope that you’ll be able to experience safer, more manageable commutes during the work week. For solutions to the traffic inefficiencies that your mobile workforce may be regularly dealing with, see how Actsoft can assist.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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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?

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03.29
2018

Self-Driving Vehicles and the Future of Trucking

I feel as though it wasn’t long ago that I was sitting in my parents’ living room as a kid, staring at the fantastical world imagined as the backdrop for The Jetsons. Between robotic servants; self-driving, flying cars; jetpacks; drones; smartwatches; and myriad space-based buildings, among other things, the future looked insanely cool, but also so far-fetched. A thing that couldn’t exist outside the limitlessness of a cartoon fantasy world.

But in the relatively short span of time that has elapsed since then, many of those never-gonna-happen ideas not only exist today, but are readily accessible to anyone, if they’re willing to shell out a little money. (Still waiting on those space cities, though.)

One innovation that strikes a particular chord with us here at Actsoft is the self-driving vehicle. It was just about a year ago that we discussed the future of the driving industry as it pertained to the emergence of this technology. Will human drivers be replaced, forcing so many people out of jobs? And if so, what would all these people — roughly 3.5 million, according to AllTrucking.com — do if they finally found themselves without jobs?

Good news! It looks like the future for truck drivers may not be so grim after all. According to a recent survey conducted by Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, the need for truck drivers may actually increase in the wake of automation.

How can that be?

Essentially, the company doesn’t foresee self-driving trucks filling every nook and cranny of the trucking industry. Rather, these vehicles can focus on the long-haul treks, taking the wheel, so to speak, between “transfer hubs” positioned at various outposts along highways. Then, when it comes to navigating the more involved, complicated legs of the trips (read: within city limits or industrial areas), the human element would take the reins to complete the delivery.

You may still be wondering: How does any of this translate to there being not just a viable future in trucking, but a potential for even more jobs in the industry? The way Uber sees it, the proliferation of automated trucks on the road will increase the efficiency of overall freight transportation while also driving down costs. This will, in turn, create an even larger demand, necessitating an upsurge in the number of humans needed to bookend each trip.

Additionally, the localization of trucking jobs may help to keep younger generations interested in pursuing careers in an industry that is frankly difficult to staff long-term, particularly for long-haul routes. That’s because those can mean being on the road — and therefore away from friends and families — for two-thirds of the year. Automation could help solve that problem and keep attracting new recruits.

So given Uber’s predictions — as one of the companies leading the pack in self-driving vehicle development — while the trucking industry should be planning for a major shakeup, it’s not quite time to hit the panic button. But do be prepared to embrace and adapt to the evolution the industry will inevitably undergo.

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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?

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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

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