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Taxi cabs are crucial to a city’s transportation system. I realized this recently after trying to get a cab after a Charger’s game in San Diego and during a taxi cab strike in Atlanta. Having access to cabs 24/7 is something that we all take for granted. Taxis are vital people movers and cities cannot function properly without them.
Taxi cab fleets in major cities range from approximately 5,000 – 10,000 vehicles. For example, the city of Chicago has a fleet of about 6000 cabs. Chances are, fleets this large owe their flow and easy operation to GPS fleet tracking systems. That is because without them, too much is left to chance. Drivers and consumers are wandering about rather aimlessly hoping to hook up at the right place and the right time.
GPS tracking is a preferred method of taxi cab fleet management. Companies dispatching taxi cabs know that a tracking system will tell them where their fleet is exactly, so they have better control of their resources, and as an extension of that, better control of their operating costs and profit margin. GPS tracking systems are used to: record on-duty trips; to keep an electronic record of mileage and location, eliminating the need for manual trip sheets; and to better dispatch the closest available vehicle to trip requests.
This month the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that the number of truck driver traffic fatalities had declined 20 percent in 2009, dropping from 4,245 in 2008 to 3,380 in 2009. The reduction in large truck-related deaths is the lowest level in recorded Department of Transportation history. The results also show a 33 percent decrease in fatalities since the stricter Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hours-of-service regulations became effective in January 2004.
In addition to the 20 percent reduction in crash fatalities involving large trucks, the number of truck occupant deaths decreased 26 percent in 2009, from 682 in 2008 to 503 in 2009. The number of truck occupants injured in truck-related crashes also declined 26 percent. Those are the largest declines among all vehicle categories.
According to a recent study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), funded by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), implementation of driving behavior management systems using in-vehicle telematics devices can result in a significant reduction in the number of risky driving behaviors. Based on this research, Travelers (TRV)is paying its customers in the form of insurance discounts of up to 15% to educate their employees in safe driving by using data obtained from fleet telematics devices.
Similar to global positioning systems (GPS), fleet vehicle telematics go beyond navigation and positioning by storing and sending data on how a vehicle is operated. Fleet telematics devices can help reduce fleet maintenance costs, improve vehicle efficiency and result in insurance discounts. Recently Travelers (NYSE: TRV) announced a potential discount of up to 15 percent on certain auto liability insurance premiums for qualifying businesses that effectively use vehicle telematics technology to monitor their company owned commercial fleet vehicles and driver behavior.
Travelers Insurance is one of the world’s largest insurance companies. Traveller’s Insurance announced this week that it is now paying fleets in the form of insurance discounts if the fleet installs fleet telematics systems. According the a TRV press release, the fleet must install vehicle telematics technology “in a sufficient number of their fleet vehicles and that they are actively incorporating safety information from the devices into their ongoing safety feedback to drivers, at least on a quarterly basis.”
According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), there are easy, cost-effective ways for fleets to reduce their environmental impacts and operating costs at the same time.
Step 1: Measure Emissions and Set Goals
Understand your fleet’s current greenhouse gas emissions. Simple calculations allow you to track greenhouse gas emissions based on how much fuel is consumed.
Create a baseline by collecting fuel consumption data.
• Calculate your greenhouse gas emissions using the EDF’s online tool.
• Develop a goal to reduce emissions over time.
• Report your progress over time.
Step 2: Improve Vehicle Selection
One of the most important environmental decisions a fleet manager makes is which vehicles to have in the fleet. Consider the following strategies:
• Select the right size. Analyze your operational needs and eliminate excess vehicles. Four-wheel drive and 6- or 8-cyclinder engines can increase costs and emissions.
• Choose “best in class.” Select vehicles with the highest fuel economy that meet’s your firm’s price and performance needs. • Evaluate total lifecycle costs, including acquisition, fuel consumption, depreciation and resale.
• Offer employees incentives to choose more cost-effective, efficient vehicles, for example, sunroofs and satellite radio.
• Incorporate hybrid trucks. Truck fleets should consider incorporating hybrid trucks into their fleets. Trucks are responsible for 6 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Hybrids reduce GHG emissions by 30-50 percent, decrease particulate matter (PM) 96 percent, and improve fuel economy 30-50 percent, saving money at the pump! There are many incentives available to help fleets bring down the initial costs of a hybrid.
According the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), there are three compelling reasons to adopt a green fleet management program for your fleet. Operating a cleaner, greener fleet means more than counting the number of hybrids or alternative fuel vehicles you put on the road. Successful management means actively measuring and reducing your fleet’s greenhouse gas emissions over time. There’s no need to wait. You can get started today with relatively minor changes— vehicle selection, maintenance schedules and driver education—that add up to significant improvements in fuel economy, operating costs and emissions.
1) Cut operating costs—By improving efficiency, a greener fleet can significantly reduce lifecycle costs and vulnerability to volatile fuel prices.
2) Reduce greenhouse gas emissions—Because vehicles are a primary source of greenhouse gas pollution, fleet vehicle emissions can represent a large slice of your company’s total emissions. Implementing a green fleet program is an immediate and meaningful way to reduce your company’s carbon footprint.
3) Improve corporate reputation—With public concerns about climate change reaching all-time highs, companies are under increasing pressure to set and achieve environmental goals. Green fleet management can provide measurable results—often within the first 12 months—to report to employees, customers and shareholders.
The Green Fleet Conference will be taking place in San Diego next month. In light of today’s environmental issues and corporate responsibility expectations, the concept of Green Fleet Management should be important to all fleet managers, whether you have a fleet of one or one thousand. Developing and managing a green fleet requires a thorough knowledge of available products, technologies, and an in-depth cost-benefit analysis, plus much more.
The Green Fleet Management Conference will provide “two intense days of education and dynamic dialogue for green fleet managers,” according to Bob Brown, conference chairman and Automotive Fleet associate publisher. The Green Fleet Management conference “is the only alternative-fuel and technology event that combines and focuses solely on car and truck fleets with an environmental sustainability component,” Brown explained. The Green Fleet event features in-depth education sessions, a first-time ride & drive event, and valuable networking opportunities.
The team at FieldLogix, an industry leading provider of the most unique Green GPS Fleet Management System, is looking forward to the Green Fleet Management event. Not only is it in San Diego where FieldLogix is based, but the Green Fleet Conference will provide attendees with valuable insights, ideas, and examples to help fleet managers create the most cost-effective and environmentally conscious Green Fleet possible for your company.
GPS fleet tracking systems should be used by any and every business involved in field services – even small business with only a few fleet vehicles – and here’s why. Whether you operate a fleet of one or one thousand, the impact of today’s fleet management solutions are universal. It seems now is the prime time to be taking advantage of fleet management solutions — no matter what the size of your fleet. Now, more than ever before, GPS tracking and fleet management solutions are a must-have because without it, you’re leaving money on the table.
When most people think of GPS fleet management, they think of large corporations like FedEx or UPS who operate thousands of trucks across the nation. It’s easy to imagine how using a fleet GPS management system would benefit companies like this. But it’s not as intuitive to realize the huge impact that a GPS fleet management system can have on a business with just a few vehicles. When the GPS fleet tracking industry first began, systems were bulky and very expensive to install and operate, but this certainly isn’t the case today. Over the last few years, fleet management systems have evolved and are much more affordable, reliable and useful than even before. Just as the internet and smartphone technologies have exploded, so have the advancements and capabilities of the telematics industry.
In the past, a small business involved in local field services just couldn’t justify the investment in a GPS fleet management solution. But today this is not the case. The largest growth in the GPS fleet management industry is coming from local service fleets because, for the first time, they are able to experience a significant ROI. Now that GPS fleet tracking and management systems are more affordable than ever before, investing in one makes more sense than ever. First and foremost, a GPS fleet management system improves the bottom line. In light of today’s tough economic climate, small businesses need all the help they can get to increase profits. This is what’s driving the growth in the rapid increase in small business implementation. But in addition to cutting costs, fleet management systems enable better decision making and simply make life easier.
During a summit on distracted driving this week in Washington D.C., U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced new laws restricting mobile phone use and texting specifically geared for truckers. LaHood also announced that a final rule on texting while driving, which affects all commercial drivers, was now “the law of the land.” The rule, which will be effective 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register, essentially codifies current federal enforcement practices. The penalty for conviction is stiff. There is a fine of $2,750 for the truck driver and $11,000 for the carrier. The truck driver can also be disqualified.
During the rulemaking process, FMCSA modified its definition of what “texting” is and what it isn’t. OOIDA’s public comments on the issue urged FMCSA to make distinctions about texting with devices such as GPS fleet management systems, smart phones and laptops. The Association contends that many small-business truckers use phones or laptops for GPS navigation or other functions not related to typing, texting or e-mail. Therefore, those devices should not be completely banned for truck drivers.
FMCSA incorporated some of those distinctions in its final texting rule. According to FMCSA, texting does not include:
“Reading, selecting, or entering a telephone number, an extension number, or voicemail retrieval codes and commands into an electronic device for the purpose of initiating or receiving a phone call or using voice commands to initiate or receive a telephone call; inputting, selecting or reading information on a global positioning system or navigation system; or using a device capable of performing multiple functions (e.g. fleet management systems, dispatching devices, smart phones, citizens band radios, music players, etc.) for a purpose that is not otherwise prohibited in this part.”
GPS fleet tracking devices are being used by Washington County highway superintendent John Deakins Jr. to resolve several fleet management issues such as reducing vehicle misuse, improving employee productivity and improving emergency vehicle response time. “All GPS fleet tracking measures have resulted in lower county fuel expenditures and a more capable fleet, not to mention safer roads for Washington County citizens,” said John Deakins Jr., Washington County, TN, highway superintendent.” Once Deakins Jr. saw how much the GPS fleet tracking devices were able to put an end to fleet vehicle misuse, he realized the fleet management devices could also be used to improve employee productivity. (This is Part Two of a 4 Part Article.)
Before installing GPS fleet tracking devices, Deakins Jr. had heard several accounts of vehicle misuse, motivating him to research online and purchase the fleet tracking devices. For example, Deakins Jr. recalled one truck driver who was only authorized to drive his truck to and from work everyday. However, the truck driver was using the County owned fleet vehicle for personal errands – about 12 miles on average per day. While this may not sound like a lot, according to Deakins, “These trucks only average 11-12 miles per gallon. So the cost in fuel adds up quickly.”
In addition to the personal use of County fleet vehicles, Deakins Jr. acknowledged there were other issues that almost all fleets deal with, such as long lunch breaks and unauthorized time off during work hours. Thanks to the County’s GPS fleet tracking devices, Deakins Jr. can now monitor a driver’s exact location within roughly 10 – 15 feet. He also set speed limits for fleet trucks and automatically receives notification alerts each and every time a truck driver exceeds that limit.
GPS fleet tracking devices are now being used by Washington County to make huge improvements in county operations, monitor employee behavior, productivity and reduce unauthorized vehicle use. Washington County, located in the state of Tennessee, contains over 800 miles of rural highways. So tracking and managing its fleet over 24 pickup trucks 24/7 has been quite a challenge.
Why did Washington County install GPS tracking devices?
Because Washington County is so large and spread out, the County’s highway superintendent, John Deakins Jr., was struggling to manage all of the County’s mobile employees. He had received reports that employees were sometimes taking long lunches and using county vehicles after hours, which was not authorized usage of the County’s fleet vehicles. Before installing GPS tracking devices into the county’s vehicles, pinpointing the truck’s exact locations was nearly impossible. There were times when he needed to locate and dispatch the nearest vehicle and driver to a time-sensitive job. Also Deakins Jr. was concerned about speeding, optimizing routes and reducing fuel consumption due to budget constraints.
Deakins Jr. chose the best solution to solve these fleet management problems. He installed GPS fleet tracking devices into all of his vehicles. The results of installing the GPS system have been impressive. According to Deakins Jr., “We saw a lot of abuse and reports of county vehicle misuse. I went online one day and researched GPS tracking devices. When you have that much territory, it helps to have these devices.”