How Gamification Uses the Thrill of Competition to Improve Driver Performance

Posted by Dale Hessing
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The theory behind gamification is really very simple:

Change behavior by making tasks fun.

It comes in many forms, from “gamifying” flight training with virtual reality flight simulators, to turning boring stationary bike rides into immersive, first-person tours of the Italian countryside. 

No matter what the setting, the goal is the same:

Improving performance.

And now, gamification is playing a role in fleet operations and safety.Gamification-Best-Practices-web.jpg

Not Your Father's Idea of a Game

For the older and, perhaps, more jaded among us, gamification might seem like a silly use of smart technology.

On the contrary:

The trend is already showing big returns on investment.

Trade-industry media reports gamification success story after story:

Ventilation-company drivers get engaged in competition with other drivers and reduce fuel consumption by 10%, a major gas distribution company watches in awe as its drivers cut idling incidents by 68%, route miles by 16%, and increase miles per gallon by 11 percent.

In short, gamification is no game and it’s spawning an entire industry.

For example, take D2GO, a Geotab Marketplace Partner. D2GO uses data collected over time from embedded fleet telematics to rate and reward drivers for their ability to reduce idling time, drive more carefully, brake more slowly—or to alter any behavior fleet managers want to see drivers improve on.

Appealing to An Ancient Human Trait

The gamification industry is gaining traction, in part, because of advancements in technology. The modern tractor trailer or heavy-duty vehicle is filled with sensors and monitors that capture data on everything from engine heat to brake wear, motor efficiency, adjacent traffic, near misses, and driver reaction. But as a leading Stanford researcher has noted, “gamification is 75 percent psychology and 25 percent technology.”

As the Pew Research Center for Internet & Technology points out, “Gameplay has long been a popular pursuit, from the simplest moves of Go, first played in China 3,000 years ago, to the massively multiplayer online games of today.” What these forms of play all have in common is their appeal to people’s innate competitive instincts.

Gamification-Strategy.jpgPeople’s love of competition may be partly neurological. The thrill of competition can actually release brain chemicals that not only make the competitor feel good, but can also improve his/her ability and willingness to learn, participate, and feel motivated.

As any fleet manager can attest, improvements in these three aspects can lead to broad improvements in driver behavior, job satisfaction—and in the bottom line.

Compete to Get Better At What You Do

The Geotab Marketplace D2GO app enables managers to configure the KPIs they want to see their drivers improve:

Safety, Productivity, or Participation.

The system generates weekly and quarterly reports that can be viewed by fleet managers and drivers alike. These reports serve a number of agendas. They provide management with insights on individual driver behavior. They provide immediate and continuous feedback to drivers themselves so that they can see how their driving stacks up against company goals. And, they enable managers to create driver report cards and rankings.

The purpose of gamification is not to punish drivers, but to educate them and encourage them to improve. Tapping into that competitive drive, these “games” have been shown to promote friendly competition among drivers, raise awareness of the impact of bad driving behavior, and help drivers avoid risky behavior.

These systems can even use data to spot unwanted behavior, and trigger the timely delivery of coaching and training to drivers to help them improve their weak points.

Company-wide competitions can reward drivers with many different forms of recognition and reward.

Another Smart Arrow in the Quiver

As we’ve recently noted, traffic deaths in the U.S. increased by 14% from 2015 to 2017. Fleet managers are bending over backwards to reverse this trend. Installation of collision avoidance technology, cameras, alarms, increased driver training, driver assistance technology, and identification of key roadway trouble spots will all play a leading role.

But there is nothing more powerful than a driver who can see the solid metrics of their driving skills and feel motivated to learn from them—and to do it better than his/her peers. Given the choice, we would all rather take first place.

When companies use gamification to improve drive behavior, we all win.

Topics: Safety Technology, Gamification, Fleet Safety

Who We Are

PRECO Electronics is a global technology provider that improves safety for operators, worksites, and the public. The effectiveness of our object detection radar systems is unmatched in heavy duty vehicle industries.

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