Long haul truck drivers have it tough. Long hours, constantly changing schedule – and very little time at home. My team and I looked for ways to make a tedious task easier – route planning.
Mission: Create a routing tool for commercial drivers that incorporates hours of service regulations.
[two_third]Commercial drivers frequently face fatigue, which puts them at risk for accidents. Hours of Service (HOS) laws place restrictions on drivers’ working hours in an attempt to help them avoid working while fatigued, but they also mean drivers need to plan more complicated routes. Long haul drivers in particular need help figuring out where and when to take required breaks and find safe places to sleep. The Department of Transportation tasked us with creating a prototype of a tool that offers this kind of assistance.[/two_third]
Role: User Experience Designer
Client: Pulsar Informatics, Inc[/one_third_last]
Looking at major competitors, and finding web forums where drivers discussed what they loved and hated about such programs – and what they wanted to be able to use. An in-house researcher took to the road with company drivers to learn about their experiences, and returned with ample notes.
One of the biggest problems drivers face is finding safe, dedicated spots to park for their required 10-hour sleeping breaks. Since timing often depends on when a load is due, drivers are often left in the lurch when it comes to legal parking spots: Get in too late, and all the spots are gone. Drivers at the end of their service hours without a legal spot to park are effectively forced to drive while out of compliance. This means more drivers on the road are exhausted, and less capable of driving safely.
Other issues include planning where to get gas, take required 30 minute breaks, and find amenities such as clean, pay-per-use showers. Many of these spots have online reservation systems, but drivers have to know their exact route to figure out these options. Planning could easily take 4 unpaid hours or more, depending on the load.
Device use while on the road was primarily mobile tablets or cellphones.
Using the initial proposal to the DOT as a guideline, requirements for prototype vs. final proposal were divided up. I set about creating a visual design that would fit the bill.
I needed to show the bones of the program were working to ensure the next round of funding. I focused on the primary routing questions, final map, and projected HOS as compared to the projected levels of fatigue experienced my the driver throughout the day. This handy comparison was possible thanks to another tool created by part of the team – the Fatigue Meter.
For the full program, a few additional key functions will be added. The ability to create profiles, save, and even find clients looking for drivers.
I’m proud to say it was well-received, and after a period of review, the DOT approved it for another round of funding. It is currently (as of 2017) being developed to the full version by a team at Pulsar Informatics.