Fleet Management 2012
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    February 2016:
    Fleet Costs for PEV Recharging

     With the rapid proliferation of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), it is inevitable that fleets of all types will face the challenges of adding PEV charging equipment. Whether the fleet is a small corporation with just a few PEVs, or a municipality with hundreds of PEVs and the likely mandate to provide charging stations for citizens of the community, vehicle recharging is a daunting, expensive and multi-faceted task that is certain to grow in scope in the years ahead.

    Such challenges demand a great deal of specialized learning and planning, and most fleet managers may wonder how to begin meeting the task at hand. A very good starting point is to turn to the research and case studies published by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technology Office (VTO). This agency has assembled a number of guides focused on consumer as well as commercial PEV recharging challenges. Specifically, the guide entitled “Costs Associated With Non-Residential Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment” is perfectly suited for fleet managers seeking a starting point in understanding charging system costs and installation guidelines geared toward commercial and public sector fleet operations.

    The guide can be downloaded from www.afdc.energy.gov. Additionally, an earlier summary of facts and issues related to consumer and small commercial PEV recharging infrastructure can be found in the June 2012 issue of Fleet Management.

    This short article can only scratch the surface of fleet and commercial PEV recharging equipment, formally known as . . .
    (excerpts from the February issue)

    Table of Contents

    January 2016:
    Fleet AFV Acquisition Trends

    The percentage of fleets operating alternative fuel vehicles has never been greater, and many recently surveyed fleet managers say they are expanding their AFV programs in reaction to wider AFV availability and growing environmental awareness.

    Still, the biggest obstacle to even higher AFV adoption rates among fleets remains vehicle size. Most fleet managers say their toughest AFV challenge is finding vehicles that have enough space and power to meet commercial needs.

    In Fleet Research Quarterly’s 2015 year-end report, an important chapter on alternative fuel vehicles addresses AFV acquisition trends among U.S. and Canadian fleets. Here are a few excerpts that capture the essence of the Q4/2015 industry study.

    Carmakers have yet to offer a satisfactory range of AFVs, in terms of vehicle size and innovative AFV technologies. For now, carmakers are taking a shotgun approach to AFV development, favoring electrics one day and biofuels the next, dabbling with hydrogen while clinging to the traditional internal combustion engine.

    Carmakers have demonstrated their ability to produce subcompact and compact passenger cars with exceptionally clean emissions and impressive fuel economy. But the reality among the fleet world is that less than 2% of all fleet vehicles fall into the compact car category. Instead, 31% of all fleet vehicles are . . .
    (excerpts from the January issue)

    Table of Contents

    December 2015:
    Focus on Safety: Older Drivers

    Advanced automotive technologies and safe driving habits can help older motorists remain behind the wheel longer into their lives, according to two new studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. These findings are important because a record 36 million adults ages 65 and older drive in the United States, and this number is expected to increase substantially over the next decade.

    Recent Foundation research has found that seniors who give up driving are almost two times more likely to experience depression and nearly five times as likely to enter a long-term care facility (see last month’s Fleet Management).

    “Permanently giving up the keys can have severe consequences for the health and mental well-being of older adults,” said Peter Kissinger, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s President and CEO. “New technologies and a focus on safe driving can help seniors remain behind the wheel for years to come.”

    The researchers examined 16 advanced vehicle technologies and determined that six of these can provide high value for older adults by potentially reducing crashes and improving the ease and comfort of driving . . .

                                           (excerpts from the December issue)

    Table of Contents

    November 2015:
    Autonomous Vehicles Could Trigger Big Changes in Insurance

    A decline in accident frequency due to safer vehicles and the adoption of autonomous vehicles could shrink the U.S. personal auto insurance sector by 60% within 25 years, according to consulting firm KPMG.

    The new research report, titled “Marketplace of Change: Automobile Insurance in the Era of Autonomous Vehicles,” can be found at: www.kpmg.com.

    KPMG’s insurance practice estimates an 80% potential reduction in accident frequency by 2040. This will result in a potentially drastic reduction in loss costs and premiums, though KPMG estimates that accident expense could increase from almost $14,000 currently to roughly $35,000 in 2040.

    “Autonomous vehicles are poised to completely transform the auto insurance industry, and underlying market forces, including technology enablement, consumer adoption, and regulatory permission, are already aligning to enable mass change,” said Jerry Albright, principal in KPMG’s Actuarial and Insurance Risk practice. “The risk profile of vehicles is changing daily, and the subsequent drop in industry loss costs would reduce the size of the auto insurance market, trigger consolidation in the personal lines space, attract new competitors, and force dramatic operational changes within carriers”  . . .

                                           (excerpts from the November issue)

    Table of Contents

    October 2015:
    2015 Fleet Manager Salary Survey
    Latest data reflect continued weakness in national average wages

    Editor’s Note: Fleet Management’s annual Fleet Manager Salary Survey is a key, copyrighted benefit available to paid subscribers. For this reason we are not posting FM’s October 2015 data as a “free sample” of our industry reporting and analysis.

    As in the past, a complimentary print copy of this year’s report is available via first-class mail with a few clicks. Thank you.

                                           (excerpts from the October issue)

    Table of Contents

    September 2015:
    Fleet Repair Shop Survey 2015: Pay, Workload, PM Intervals

    Most fleet vehicle repair technicians saw their weekly pay drop during our latest 12-month survey period. Wages fell in three out of four technician skill levels analyzed for this report.

    Surprisingly, weekly pay increased by 3.9% among Grade 1 mechanics, who are primarily responsible for simple tasks like changing oil and tires. But among higher-skilled workers, weekly pay fell by 0.7% to 5.5%, depending on their skill rating. Grade 3 mechanics, who comprise the bulk of most fleet shop technicians, saw their pay plummet by 5.5%, on average. Grade 4 mechanics, who tackle highly complex work like transmission and engine overhauls, are currently earning 3% less than one year ago.

    Though the year-over-year percentage declines are high, the net dollar change in pay often amounts to just a few dollars per day. Still, most workers justifiably expect their pay to increase over time, and when pay stagnates or declines it can have a significant negative effect on employee morale and worker turnover rates.

    However, this year’s reported decline in technician pay requires some perspective. For the current survey period fleet technician pay slipped 2.1%, taking into account all pay grades and skill levels. This compares to a 6.3% increase last year, on top of a record-setting surge of 24% in 2013. Prior to that, technician pay fell a substantial 10.2% in 2012 and also dropped 2.6% in 2011. In retrospect, 2013 was a reset year . . .

                                       (excerpts from the September issue)

    Table of Contents

    July 2015:
    Hybrid Vehicle Reliability and Residual Values

    Only three percent of surveyed fleet managers believe hybrid vehicles are less reliable than comparable gas-powered models. That’s the highest reliability rating ever recorded for hybrids and just one of the latest findings from a recent survey of U.S. and Canadian fleets.

    According to the survey, prepared by Fleet Research Quarterly, 40% of surveyed fleet administrators have found hybrid EVs to be more reliable than conventionally powered vehicles, and another 57% say there is no difference in reliability between  hybrids and other vehicle powertrains.

    In the same survey, a large majority of fleet managers reported that hybrid EV maintenance expenses are less than, or equal to, similar vehicles powered solely by gas or diesel. Just 14% of the surveyed managers say hybrids are more costly to maintain.

    Yet even in light of their upbeat assessment of hybrid reliability and repair costs, surveyed fleet managers remain extremely reluctant to pack their fleets with HEVs, and they have good reasons for steering clear of the so-called hybrid revolution. . . .

                                           (excerpts from the July issue)

    Table of Contents

    June 2015:
    More Drivers Use Marijuana, But Link to Crashes is Murky

    There are fewer alcohol-impaired drivers on U.S. roads than ever before, but the proportion of drivers testing positive for marijuana and other illegal drugs is on the rise, according to results of the latest National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers. At the same time, an in-depth federal study found no link between marijuana use and driver crash risk after controlling for driver demographic factors and alcohol use.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in February released results of the 2013-14 roadside survey, a nationally representative survey of nighttime weekend drivers. The voluntary, anonymous survey includes data collected from more than 9,000 drivers at a representative sample of 300 roadside sites nationwide. This was the second time that the survey collected information about driver use of illegal and legal drugs in addition to alcohol. Both saliva and blood samples were used to detect drugs, including cannabinoids, stimulants, sedatives, antidepressants and narcotic analgesics. For marijuana, samples were screened for THC and its active metabolite, 11-OH-THC.

    The survey found a large increase in the proportion of weekend nighttime drivers testing positive for marijuana or other illegal drugs compared with the 2007 survey, which was the first one to screen for drug use. About one in five nighttime drivers tested positive for at least one legal or illegal drug, NHTSA reports. Marijuana showed the greatest increase in prevalence . . .
                                           (excerpts from the June issue)

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    May 2015:
    A Digital Dilemma: Cellphone Use by Employees While Driving
    Written cellphone rules are a critical defense for all employers

    In today’s technology dependent culture, the use of mobile devices without regard to time or place is a growing phenomenon. Certainly, the digital age has changed the way a large majority of employers conduct business with unmistakable benefits. However, a savvy employer knows that benefits rarely come without some element of risk, and risk reduction is of paramount importance when it comes to sound business management. Achieving a healthy balance between reaping the benefits of technological advancements while curtailing their use to reduce potential liability is not an easy task, but it is absolutely essential. Preparation is the most prudent course of action for today’s employer.

    One of the more hot-button issues affecting society right now, both inside and outside the sphere of employee-employer relations, is the use of mobile devices while driving. The vast majority of states have enacted laws prohibiting the use of handheld devices while driving. Numerous studies have confirmed the dangers of distracted driving, and juries have little sympathy for individuals who ignore the warnings. Yet, people still do it, often within the scope of employment. Employers beware, if an injury results and it’s determined that your employee was “acting within the scope of his or her employment,” a phrase which has been interpreted broadly, there may be costly consequences.

    While having a published cellphone policy may not provide a complete shield for an employer, it can provide a viable defense in certain circumstances. The policy should be in writing and . . .

    (excerpts from the May issue)

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    April 2015:
    Comparing Distracting Behaviors at Red Lights and Roundabouts
    IIHS study quantifies common types of driver distractions

    Drivers engage in distracting behaviors in all types of traffic situations, but the most demanding activities are more likely to be seen at red lights than during more challenging driving, according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

    IIHS researchers observed nearly 17,000 drivers on four roads in Northern Virginia during 2013-14. On each road, observations were made at different times of day on a straightaway, in a roundabout and at a signalized intersection. The locations on a given road were in close proximity to one another, allowing the researchers to observe a similar group of drivers in varying traffic situations.

    Nearly a quarter of all the drivers were observed doing something in addition to driving. The most common secondary behavior, seen among 5% of drivers, was holding, but not using, a cellphone. The next-most common behavior, at 4%, was talking on a hand-held phone.

    When it comes to specific roadway situations, the rates of any secondary behavior were 30% among drivers stopped at traffic lights, 24% on straightaways, 23% of drivers in moving vehicles at intersections and 21% in roundabouts. Eating or drinking was the most commonly observed activity among drivers waiting for the light to change, with nearly 6% seen doing it. That compares with . . .
    (excerpts from the April issue)

    Table of Contents

    March 2015:
    Fewer Drunk Drivers, More Drugs
    Fleets require diligent screening to identify high-risk drivers

    Two years ago our front-page headline asked, “Are Any of Your Fleet Drivers Stoned?” It was a rhetorical question since it was – and is – highly unlikely any large fleet is drug-free.

    Still, the article led a number of fleet managers to realize they didn’t know the answer, nor did they have any process in place for finding out. So they took steps to implement the article’s key recommendation:

    The first line of defense for fleet managers should be to establish and follow a rigorous screening of potential drivers at the very beginning of the hiring process. Requiring pre-employment drug testing and DMV checks is a given for all conscientious fleets. Interviews, criminal background checks and reference checks also can assist in identifying at-risk drivers.

    It is equally important to establish a program of follow-up screening to ensure that drug-free drivers stay that way year after year.

    According to a pair of groundbreaking studies released by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the use of marijuana and prescription drugs is increasingly prominent on the highways, creating new road safety concerns. The surprise isn’t that . . .
    (excerpts from the March issue)

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    February 2015:
    Written Policy is Crucial in Reducing Fleet Cellphone Liability
    Fleets held to a higher safety standard than non-business drivers

    Fleet vehicle drivers and their employers are in general agreement that distracted driving is dangerous, and the number one component of distracted driving is cellphone use. Certainly today’s new vehicles offer plenty of distraction, from sensational infotainment systems to colorful dashboard displays. Add a few more distractions to the mix, like GPS, Starbucks and old standards like applying makeup and reading, and it’s a wonder there aren’t a million car wrecks every day.

    Reducing or eliminating driver distraction is the focus of every vehicle risk specialist, including fleet managers. It is a challenge that seems achievable on the surface because the vast majority of drivers recognize the perils of distraction and condemn other drivers who succumb to distraction. But when it comes to their own personal behavior, drivers who should know better still continue to engage in distracting behaviors.

    Our focus is fleet, where a collision caused by a distracted fleet driver can lead to enormous financial losses. The consequences of a vehicle accident, particularly when injury or death are involved, are no less important to commercial fleets than they are to your next door neighbor, but the ramifications of a commercial fleet incident are usually far more severe from a financial point of view. That’s because commercial entities like fleet departments are held to a higher safety standard. Courts and juries expect fleets (and their parent organizations) to know better when it comes to . . .
    (excerpts from the February issue)

    Table of Contents

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