• Whether you’re spending time with family over the next few days, preparing for the holiday business rush or just taking a couple of well-deserved days off, we hope that your Thanksgiving is as wonderful as it can be.

    As for us, we’re thankful for all of you that have read the blog and continue to be valued friends and partners. Thank you for your support, and we will continue to bring you the latest from the fleet industry and the world of automotive events as soon as we’re done eating!

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  • With the Thanksgiving travel crunch coming, take a moment to look at this week’s Automotive Fleet Safety Tip, which give you some tips for driving in the snow. Keep these in mind as you drive for business or personal reasons over the holidays and keep them in mind all winter!

     

    Streets and highways covered with snow, snowpack or ice are extremely hazardous. Overpasses, bridges, shaded areas and snow-packed portions of the road can be icy even when other pavement is not. If you begin to skid, let up on the accelerator and turn the front wheels in the direction of the skid. Here are a few simple precautions that you can follow:

    • Make sure your tires have good tread for adequate traction. In winter, chains or snow tires are certainly preferable. However, remember that even chains and snow tires will slip on slick pavement.
    • Make sure your brakes are in good condition and properly adjusted so that the braking power of each wheel is uniform.
    • Anti-Lock Brakes -- Apply the brakes with hard, firm pressure from the start of the skid and maintain this pressure until you have stopped. You may feel or hear vibrations and/or pulsations. This is normal.
    • No Anti-Lock Brakes -- Threshold breaking: Apply the brakes just hard enough to not lock the wheels, release and apply the brakes the same way again.
    • Keep the windows clear by making certain the defrosters and windshield wipers are working properly. Use a good window scraper to remove all ice, snow and frost even if you are just traveling a short distance. Fogging or condensation of moisture on the inside of the windshield can quickly be removed by opening the side vent windows.
    • Be alert for snowplows and sanding trucks. They use flashing yellow and blue lights as a warning for you to use extreme caution when approaching or passing them.
    • Maintain an extra large space between you and the car ahead.
    • Start gradually by using a low gear and accelerating gently.
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  • We talk a lot here about the benefits of adopting efficiency-boosting technology, but here’s a little reminder that there are two sides to every coin, courtesy of The Detroit News:

    A new study has concluded that hybrid vehicle owners are 25 percent less likely to be injured in a crash than their conventional counterparts. However, this does not make these the safest vehicles on the road: hybrids are 20 percent more likely to be in a crash with a pedestrian because they can be harder to hear.

    The Virginia-based Highway Loss Data Institute said the fact that hybrids are 10 percent heavier than traditionally powered vehicles is a big factor. Other factors, such as how, when and by whom hybrids are driven, also may contribute to the findings. Hybrid injury odds were 25-27 percent lower for collision claims.

    But the study found that hybrids may be as much as 20 percent more likely to be in a crash with a pedestrian.

    "When hybrids operate in electric-only mode, pedestrians can't hear them approaching," said Matt Moore, HLDI vice president and an author of the report, "so they might step out into the roadway without checking first to see what's coming."

    The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to ensure that electric and hybrid car manufacturers add noises that alert the blind and other pedestrians to the presence of these vehicles.

    "For years customers wanted quieter cars, but now we face the challenge of keeping visually impaired pedestrians safe among quieter cars… now DOT is working to establish a sound standard to provide audible cues for pedestrians," said Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

    So if you’re adopting hybrid vehicles as a part of your fleet strategy, make sure you’re extra careful wherever people are around. Keeping your drivers and the people around them safe should be your top priority.

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  • A proposal currently underway to raise freeway speed limits in Great Britain has generated a lot of argument over whether raising the maximum allowed speed would be more dangerous for motorists than it is worth. US speed limits have remained fairly stable recently but in some cases have begun to inch their way up; some businesses see this as a good thing, but the risks just may outweigh the rewards.

    Increased speed limits are supported by freight companies because of the overall reduction in trip times they generate. While it is true that the time of the trip may be faster, there are some problems that make the change in schedule far less beneficial.

    First, vehicles begin to lose fuel efficiency as they cross a certain speed threshold (about 60 miles per hour). After that, more energy is required to overcome wind resistance and the vehicle’s fuel efficiency dips exponentially. In addition, higher speed limits are the number one contributor to the increased fatality rate of freeway accidents. While it is true that a lower percentage of accidents happen on highways than on other roads, the higher speeds involved make them far more dangerous.

    These factors combined make raising speed limits a pretty low-benefit scenario for everyone, but being safe on the roads doesn’t have to be made into law. Make sure your drivers know the appropriate speed along their routes and encourage safe driving behavior instead of shorter deadlines!

    (Tags: Speed Limit, Safety, Statistics, News)

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  • With distracted driving such a focus in legislation and more and more cell phone bans taking effect, it is important to know what is acceptable behavior and what is not.

    Many drivers find it acceptable to make a call or view a text message when their vehicle is not in motion, such as at a stop light. However, a California court recently ruled to uphold a fine against a Richmond driver who was caught using his phone at a traffic light.

    Current cell bans generally ban the use of devices while the vehicle is in motion, which the defendant claims does not apply to a stopped vehicle. But Justice James Lambden feels that momentary stops to not apply.

    The law was intended to cover "persons driving on our public roadways, who, like (Nelson), may pause momentarily while doing so in order to comply with the rules of the road," said Justice Lambden, noting that allowing drivers to use their phones in stop-and-go traffic could still pose a threat to pedestrians and other motorists.

    Until the laws are made clearer, incidents like these will be left up to offenders vs. the courts. Do you think cell phone use while stopped is an acceptable policy? Leave us a comment below and let us know.

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  • As the economy continues to be a pressing issue for many commercial fleets, businesses are doing everything they can to save money on their operating expenses. Since the price of new tires began steadily rising, more and more customers are looking to retreaded tires as a cheaper alternative:

    “I can tell you that retreaders are just booming,” Marvin Bozarth, president of Bozarth Tire Industry Consultants, Shelbyville, Ky., and senior technical consultant to the Tire Industry Association told Light & Medium Truck.

    “A truck tire that may have cost $275 a few years ago may now sell up to $400 a piece,” Bozarth said. “That is a big, difficult hike for smaller operations.” About half of all commercial tires currently in use are retreaded.

    Despite the demand for these refurbished tires, it is important to remember that they are not always the right choice, as wear and tear still makes tires unrecoverable later on.

     “If it’s a light-duty commercial vehicle tire, our position is that if it’s been used on a dual rear wheel drive, we will retread it once,” said Scott Perry, group director of vehicle supply management for Ryder System, Miami. “If the tire has been on a vehicle with a single axle on either side, we’ll stay with buying original tires,” he added.

    If your fleet is looking to cut costs, retreaded tires can be part of the solution. Just make sure you’re not sacrificing quality or safety.

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  • A poll conducted by Consumer Reports in late October showed that an overwhelming majority of American consumers would support higher fuel-economy standards and would be willing to pay a premium for high-efficiency vehicles. Take a look at some of the figures from the study and see if you feel the same way about your fleet vehicles:

    -93 percent of respondents supported an overall increase in fuel efficiency.

    -77 percent agreed that automakers should produce more fuel-efficient vehicles and that the government should increase and enforce efficiency standards.

    -81 percent of respondents said they were willing to pay more for a fuel-efficient vehicle if it would lower their operating costs.

    -79 percent said the price of gasoline was their biggest concern moving forward.

    -56 percent said they would consider alternative-power vehicles like hybrids or electric cars as their next vehicle.

    -89 percent said new lower costs were their primary motivation for considering these vehicles.

    -80 percent agreed that consumers should receive incentives in the form of rebates or tax credits to buy fuel-efficient or alternative-fuel vehicles.

    -80 percent agreed that fuel-economy standards should require automakers to increase the overall fleet average to the White House’s proposed 55 miles per gallon by 2025.

    Remember, better fuel efficiency is just one way to save on fuel. Managing your purchasing and avoiding unnecessary expense should be a large part of your fueling strategy.

    (Tags: Fuel Efficiency, Study, Statistics)
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  • A new study by DriveCam shows that two of the most common causes of collisions by fleet drivers are drivers failing to maintain reasonable space around their vehicle and following too closely.

     

    Drivers with companies in the distribution market involved in a collision were 4.68 times more likely to maintain less than a 1 second following distance. They were 2.93 times more likely to maintain less than 2 seconds of following distance. In addition, drivers involved in one or more collisions are 6.41 times more likely to fail to keep sufficient space around their vehicle.

    Take a moment to review some basic rules of the road and help to avoid costly accidents:

    • Always leave at least 4 seconds of distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you
    • Check blind spots before any lane changes
    • Engage turn signals 2-3 seconds before making turns or lane shifts
    • Do not spend time driving directly next to another vehicle; this reduces the chance to turn to avoid a collision

    Simply paying greater attention to your surroundings can help to prevent accidents. Take care and keep your mind on your business, not repairs!

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  • We’ve talked about drowsy driving on the blog before, but take a look at some rather shocking new data from a recent study!

    The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s 2011 safety culture survey shows that almost 32 percent of drivers admitted to driving when they were so tired that they had difficulty keeping their eyes open in the past month.

    This result is somewhat surprising, considering that 96 percent of drivers responded that drowsy driving is an unacceptable behavior.

    A previous study by the AAA Foundation found that one of every six deadly crashes and one in eight crashes causing serious injury involved a drowsy driver.

     

    "Although the vast majority of drivers recognize the serious threat of drowsy driving, a ‘Do as I Say, Not as I Do’ attitude exists when getting behind the wheel. Drowsy driving kills, just as sure as drunk, drugged and distracted driving does," said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. "Drivers have a tendency to underestimate the impact being tired has on their driving ability, which puts themselves and others at risk."
    "What's so alarming is that over half of these drivers reported having fallen asleep while driving on high‐speed roads," said Jake Nelson, AAA's director of traffic safety advocacy and research. "These data underscore the importance of educating drivers about the dangers of drowsy driving."

     

    AAA offers some tips to help deal with fatigue and driving:

     

    • Get plenty of sleep (at least seven hours) the night before a long trip.
    • Stop driving if you become sleepy; someone who is tired could fall asleep at any time – fatigue impacts reaction time, judgment and vision, causing people who are very sleepy to behave in similar ways to those who are drunk.
    • Travel at times when you are normally awake, and stay overnight rather than driving straight through.
    • Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles.
    • Drink a caffeinated beverage. Since it takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to enter the bloodstream, find a safe place to take a 20 to 30-minute nap while you’re waiting for the caffeine to take effect.
    • Travel with a passenger who can take over if necessary.
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  • This week’s fleet safety tip from Automotive Fleet and the Tennessee Department of Safety is about the visibility restrictions of large vehicles. These vehicles have different blind spots and clearance than most cars and trucks, and should be treated accordingly. Make sure your drivers know what to do with these tips:

    Many motorists falsely assume that drivers of trucks and buses can see the road better because they sit twice as high as the driver of a small vehicle. While trucks and buses do enjoy a better forward view and have bigger mirrors, they have serious blind spots into which a small vehicle can disappear from view.
    The “No-Zone” represents danger areas around trucks and buses where crashes are more likely to occur.

    1. The area approximately up to 20 feet directly in front of a large vehicle is considered a No-Zone. When small vehicles cut in too soon after passing or changing lanes, then abruptly slow down, trucks and buses are forced to compensate with very little room or time to spare.

    2. Unlike small vehicles, trucks and buses have deep blind spots directly behind them. Avoid following too closely in this No-Zone. If you stay in the rear blind spot of a large vehicle, you increase the possibility of a traffic crash. The driver of the bus or truck cannot see your vehicle and your view of the traffic ahead will be severely reduced.

    3. Large vehicles have much larger blind spots on both sides than cars do. When you drive in these blind spots for any length of time, the vehicle's driver cannot see you. When passing, even if the vehicle's driver knows you are there, remaining alongside a large vehicle too long makes it impossible for the driver to take evasive action if an obstacle appears in the roadway ahead.

    4. Truck and bus drivers often cannot see vehicles directly behind or beside them when they are attempting to safely negotiate a right turn. If you cut in between the truck or bus and the curb or shoulder to the right, this maneuver greatly increases the possibility of a crash in this "right turn squeeze."

    If your fleet utilizes any large trucks like the ones mentioned in these tips, make sure that your drivers are aware of their vehicles’ limitations and are trained to drive safely and do their part to avoid these costly accidents.

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