How Gamification Might Help Drivers Optimize Driving and Vehicle Performance

How Gamification Might Help Drivers Optimize Driving and Vehicle Performance

Maybe you’ve accepted your kid’s challenge to play Madden or FIFA 15, and lived to regret it. It doesn’t take long to realize that video games create their own set of super achievers, helping them develop new instincts and new knowledge that keep them engaged, sometimes beyond reason.

What is it about video games that can keep people so singularly focused, and as a someone in the commercial transportation world, why should you care?

Because gamification is changing commercial driving, but not necessarily in the way you think.

Gamification seems like a buzzword destined to lose its luster, but it is, in fact, permeating every aspect of life, from how you maintain fitness to how you shop. And over the past decade, it’s changed nearly half of corporate processes, from HR to accounting, according to Gartner Research.

There’s science behind the techniques video games use to hook and keep their audience’s attention, such as delivering real time feedback on performance, offering ways to beat high scores to validate improving skills, and offering a constant source of discovery, among others. Think, for example, about the badges you get from “leveling up” on your FitBit or by posting reviews on TripAdvisor or Yelp. While they keep you engaged, even more impressive is how some of these techniques improve the ability to learn.

A 2013 study at the University of Colorado Denver Business School revealed that gamification in e-learning delivered significant results:

  • 14% increase in skills-based knowledge
  • 15% increase in factual knowledge
  • 9% increase in learning retention

You may already be using gamification in your driver training and in ongoing coaching to keep skills sharp, but the principles of gamification may be most needed as automated technology in the cab increases.

Automated technology is evolving from assisted braking and steering now to what’s anticipated in the future, with near-autopilot-like technology. A driver – or operator -- will need to develop new skills to fight off boredom over long stretches of inactivity while remaining prepared to assume control of the vehicle in the wink of an eye when the unpredictable happens.

While these new skills will greatly influence hiring criteria and driver training, gamification in the cab may be able to help. One simple example might be to have a driver earn points for pressing a button that lights up randomly throughout the journey, indicating that they’re still engaged in the operation of the vehicle.

Truck manufacturers have already begun to engage with human factors experts to guide them through the best way to design a cab to incorporate elements that optimize the vehicle operator, and as that occurs, the definition of safe driving will evolve. And making sure your fleet drivers’ behavior is tracking with those changes will be critical to your business.

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