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Tackling Information Overload to Prevent Vehicle Collisions

When I’m talking to fleet operators we frequently talk about the large amount of information given to drivers at their induction. This normally involves the provision of a substantial driver handbook. There will be some important information on driving standards in there, but it’ll be diluted with lots of other employment information.

The danger is that a new employee will be overwhelmed by all this information and won’t take it in or won’t read the documents. So there could be key messages on fleet safety that aren’t getting through at the crucial induction stage.

What is Information Overload?

This is an example of information overload. It’s when our ability to process information has passed its limit. It interferes with our capacity to learn and once our capacity has been reached, the additional information becomes background noise. This isn’t conducive to employees following your policies and procedures. With the increasing use of data from in vehicle technology, this issue is of relevance to managers just as much as drivers.

Information overload is sometimes called Information Fatigue Syndrome. It leads to poor concentration, irritability and stress. Of particular relevance to driving is the symptom of ‘plugged in’ compulsion, this is the need to check email, messages and social media to stay in touch. It can also cause hurry sickness, the feeling of needing to constantly rush to keep up. Neither of these symptoms are going to help prevent vehicle collisions.

Tackling Information Overload

So what can be done to tackle information overload? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Introduce information literacy training. Staff need to be up to speed with digital communication and use of technology. This might not reduce the amount of information but it will streamline the communication of information and reduce stress levels.
  2. Provide time management training for managers
  3. Periodically review the organisation and check on how information is being delivered to key stakeholders. Consider using video to deliver key messages to back up your written procedures.
  4. Check the information you’re providing to drivers. The key procedures to prevent accidents on the road need to be clearly communicated. Remember that more information isn’t always better
  5. Remember that ‘good is good enough’ and perfection isn’t always necessary
  6. Ensure that managers are developing their skills around prioritising tasks and delegating tasks.
  7. Check that your office staff are aware of your distraction policy. Your drivers shouldn’t be expected to have conversations with office colleagues as they are driving, even if they are hands free. Conversations when driving cause distraction and overload.

If you need help developing your policies and procedures for managing your driving at work activity, please get in touch at [email protected]

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