• Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order on Jan. 28 ordering an immediate halt to non-emergency new car purchases and turn-in of fleet cars not essential to state business. The governor plans to cut California's 11,000-unit passenger vehicle fleet in half.

    Brown said his goal is to halve the number of the state's passenger cars, trucks, and home storage permits that allow use of fleet cars for daily commuting. The Department of General Services estimates the state previously issued approximately 4,500 home storage permits that don't serve a health or public safety function.

    "Fifty percent is a starting point. If we find more waste, we'll make more cuts," Brown stated in a release.

    Executive Order B-2-11 directs every agency to immediately review their organization's home storage permits and withdraw those that are not essential or cost-effective. The review will take into account public health and safety employees who may need a car around the clock and situations where it is more cost-effective for certain employees to have a car.

    Brown's order instructs agencies and departments to analyze the purpose, necessity, and cost-effectiveness of every fleet vehicle, and submit a plan for cutting unneeded vehicles. Non-essential vehicles must be sold or transferred within 120 days of the plan's approval. Brown will also move underutilized vehicles to new locations to improve fleet efficiency.

    According to the executive order, the state fleet has a replacement value exceeding $1.5 billion, uses more than $90 million in fuel, and incurs tens of millions of dollars in other operating expenses. It also stated that state agencies report thousands of vehicles go underutilized each year.

     

    [via Government Fleet]

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  • A group of eight automakers that includes Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG is working in Farmington Hills on technology to enable vehicles to talk to each other, to prevent crashes.

     

    Ford demonstrated the emerging technology on three Escape SUVs Tuesday, ahead of this week's Washington Auto Show.

     

    "If every car had it, it would be like another pair of eyes," said Mike Shulman, technical research leader at Ford's active safety research and advanced engineering team. "You wouldn't know it was there unless you need it."

     

    The wireless technology alerts drivers to oncoming vehicles, when other technologies such as radar are unable to pick up on their approach. It sends out the vehicle's position 10 times a second.

     

    Working with funding from the Transportation Department, the automakers' consortium plans to build 64 vehicles — eight from each — and retrofit 2,000 vehicles on the road for a study of technology next year. The test site hasn't been decided.

     

    Peter Appel of the U.S. Department of Transportation said the government "is helping to lay the groundwork for a national system where all cars, trucks, buses and trains are aware of other vehicles around them." He said connected vehicles "will significantly reduce crashes and generate enormous amounts of new data about travel — data that will make our transportation system safer, more efficient and even 'greener.'"

     

    Ford's vehicle communications technology allows cars to talk wirelessly with one another using a short-range dedicated communications network.

     

    Vehicles will warn drivers of potential dangers, particularly those not detected with radar or that are not perceived because of weather, distance, or other cars or objects impeding the driver's view.

     

    For example, drivers would be alerted if their car is on path to collide with another at a four-way intersection or when a car several vehicles ahead slams on the brakes.

     

    [via The Detroit News]

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  • According to National Safety Council estimates, 28 percent of crashes, or 1.6 million per year, can be attributed to talking on a cell phone and texting while driving. This is particularly troublesome because approximately 1.5 million drivers are using a cell phone at any given daylight moment, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

    "These are staggering statistics that have made many fleet managers sit up and take notice. However, to truly minimize risk exposure, a company must be aware of who is driving their fleet vehicles. Otherwise, they could be exposed to both liability and financial burdens," said Dan Shive, vice president of risk management services for LeasePlan USA. 

    LeasePlan's comprehensive safety and risk management program, SafePlan, can help address these concerns. SafePlan provides the ability to profile and assign a risk rating to corporate vehicle drivers, as well as any employee driving their personal vehicle for official company business. This rating system objectively identifies high-risk drivers so the company can take the necessary steps to mitigate risk and effectively reduce costs through the implementation of a safety program. 

    With a complete picture of its risk exposure, the company can add individual programs designed to enhance a company's overall safety and train the specific needs of drivers. These include: driver safety training -- proactive, remedial, online, behind-the-wheel and classroom; "800 How's My Driving?" program; vehicle safety kits; incentive rewards program; in-dash monitoring system; safety audits; and fleet policy development. 

    For more information, click here.

     

    [via Automotive Fleet]

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  • It’s important to us to stay current with the needs of today’s fleets, so today we’d like to take a moment to get some feedback from you about the issues facing your fleet.  Please take a moment to leave the answers to any of these questions in the comments below.

     

    1. How many vehicles are in your fleet?

     

    2. What sort of business do you do?

     

    3. What steps have you taken to mitigate the effects of the recent economic downturn?

     

    4. Are you concerned with the rising cost of fuel?

     

    5. Have you found any solutions that have had good results for your business?

     

    6. What is the biggest financial issue that you worry about for your fleet operations?

     

    7. How do you pay for fuel currently?

     

    8. Have you ever used a fleet fuel management solution or fleet card?

      

     

    With your feedback, we hope to be able to provide some answers that are relevant to your specific needs.

     

     

     

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  • Some California lawmakers have chosen to forego their state fleet vehicles to save money for the struggling state.  What has your fleet done to save money?

     

    Elected by angry taxpayers in a year of a massive state deficit, 18 of 31 first-year legislators have decided not to order a new car bankrolled largely by public funds.

    The penny pinching, mostly symbolic in closing a $25.4 billion budget gap, echoes the tone set by Brown in turning in his state-issued cell phone and vowing to reduce the state's vehicle fleet for workers.

    Freshmen legislators are rejecting state cars at rates far exceeding veteran colleagues: 58 percent of first-year lawmakers are driving their family cars at work, for example, compared with just 13 percent of incumbents.

    "If we're going to cut expenses, we've got to start with our own expenses," said Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, an Arroyo Grande (San Luis Obispo County) Republican who said he drives his personal car about 300 miles from his home to the Capitol each week.

    Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, R-Costa Mesa (Orange County), said in a prepared statement that sacrifice is important to restore public trust.

    "I did not get elected to the Assembly for a free car, I got elected to fix the state's problems," Mansoor said.

    Read the rest of this story at the San Francisco Chronicle.

     

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  • Ford has introduced an in-vehicle software application on the 2011 Focus that’s designed to improve drivers “eco-driving” skills and maximize vehicle fuel efficiency. The software recommends specific on-road driving behaviors that can improve fuel economy, such as smooth acceleration and deceleration, maintaining constant speeds and anticipating traffic flow, and avoiding excessive idling, among other techniques.

     

    It also generates a scorecard based on monitoring engine rpm, vehicle speed, accelerator position, clutch position, selected gear and engine temperature when the driver is shifting gears, anticipating traffic conditions by adjusting speed and distance to other vehicles and whether he or she is using a cruising speed on open roads.

     

    On the instrument cluster, EcoMode will display their scores via a “leaf” scoring system, ranging from 1-5, with 2 as the default score. Scores are cumulative, but a driver can restart the system by resetting the average fuel consumption.

     

    Ford stated that internal tests showed that drivers who used the “eco-driving” techniques suggested by EcoMode improved fuel economy by 24 percent. 

EcoMode is standard on Focus SE, SEL and Titanium models.

     

    [via Automotive Fleet]

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  • The government will soon require automakers to install larger, stronger side-curtain air bags to keep drivers and passengers from being ejected during a rollover. The final regulation unveiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Thursday will phase in starting in 2013, and cover all vehicles by 2018.

     

    "This new standard will help save lives and reduce injuries by requiring vehicles to have a safety system that keeps occupants in the vehicle in a rollover crash," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

     

    On average, 47 percent of people killed in rollovers during the last decade were completely ejected from the vehicle, which raises the likelihood of death.

    The new air bags will have to keep unbelted passengers in the vehicle even if the window is down, or destroyed in a crash.

     

    The new rules apply to vehicles 10,000 pounds or less and require automakers to prevent "the equivalent of an unbelted adult from moving more than 4 inches past the side window opening in the event of a crash."

     

    NHTSA said by 2018, the rule will save 373 traffic deaths and 476 serious injuries annually.

     

    Automakers said they were reviewing the regulation.

     

    Wade Newton of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the group representing Detroit's Big Three automakers, Toyota Motor Corp. and others, said, "We certainly agree with NHTSA's conclusion that head protecting/rollover airbags are the safest way keep people inside their vehicles when a rollover occurs.”

     

    [via The Detroit News]

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  • It looks like small business fleets may be starting to pull out of economic hardships a bit, as shown by this recent increase of fleet sales:

     

    Chevrolet sales to small businesses increased for three consecutive months, with the fourth quarter of 2010 significantly outpacing the total sales increase for the brand nationally. Dealers recorded a 36 percent increase in small business sales for the final quarter of last year, which was almost three times the increase for the industry during the same time period.  

     

    "Small businesses put off capital expenditures such as vehicle purchases in order to weather the economic storm," according to Don Johnson, GM vice president of U.S. sales operations. "With the continuing improvement in consumer spending, and improving profitability of these businesses, we're beginning to see a significant influx of small business buyers to Chevrolet showrooms."

    The increase supports findings in a National Federation of Independent Business survey which showed that small business owners' optimism reached its highest level in the fourth quarter of 2010. The study also focused attention on an increasing likelihood that small businesses will begin hiring in the near term.

     

    [via Business Fleet]

     

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  • Fleet drivers often work in urban areas with a large concentration of pedestrian traffic.  It is important to make sure your drivers are aware of pedestrian safety when working, especially with new information showing pedestrian fatalities rising.

    A report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reveals that pedestrian fatalities increased during the first six months of 2010. While the increase is small -- 0.4 percent -- it is notable because overall traffic fatalities during this period were significantly down, and this comes on the heels of four straight years of steady declines in pedestrian deaths. 

    For the first six months of 2010, pedestrian fatalities increased by seven, from 1,884 to 1,891. If the second six months of 2010 also show no significant change, this will be the first year of increase or no progress after four years of decline. Pedestrian traffic fatalities dropped from 4,892 in 2005 to 4,091 in 2009, an average decline of 200 each year.

    While the slight increase may not seem particularly alarming, it is a concern given that during this same period overall traffic fatalities declined 8 percent, according to the preliminary estimate from the NHTSA.

    "It is definitely a concern," said Troy E. Costales, GHSA's vice chairman and head of Oregon's highway safety program. "Looking at our data, we are seeing pedestrians crossing mid-block instead of at crosswalks, pedestrians walking in the roadway, and even some walking in the travel lanes of the interstate. We are familiar with aggressive drivers; we now have aggressive pedestrians." 

    Costales also pointed out that more than half of the pedestrians killed in 2010 were under the influence of intoxicants.  

     

    [via Automotive Fleet]

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  • Take this article into consideration when considering new fleet vehicles; new research has shown that crash safety ratings are not only important, but accurate.

     

    Drivers of vehicles that perform well in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's side-impact crash test are much less likely to die in a real-world left-side crash than drivers of vehicles that do poorly in the test, a new IIHS analysis found.

    After controlling for driver age and gender and vehicle type and weight, a driver of a vehicle rated "good" for driver protection in a side impact is 70 percent less likely to die in a left-side crash compared with a driver of a vehicle rated "poor," IIHS said. A driver of a vehicle rated "acceptable" is 64 percent less likely to die, and a driver of a vehicle rated "marginal" is 49 percent less likely to die.

    "This was our first look at how our ratings correlate with actual crash data since we started side tests in 2003, and the numbers confirm that these are meaningful ratings," said David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer. "Vehicles with good side ratings provide occupants with far more protection than vehicles that do poorly in our test."

    Studies of frontal crashes have shown similar results. Drivers of vehicles with "good" ratings in the institute's frontal-offset crash test are much less likely to die in frontal crashes.

    Side-impact crashes accounted for 27 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in the United States in 2009. Such crashes can be particularly deadly because the sides of vehicles have relatively little space to absorb energy and shield occupants.

    To gauge how well crash test scores predict real-world performance, IIHS looked at federal data on side crashes from 2000 to 2009. Only crashes involving IIHS-rated vehicles with standard side airbags to protect both the head and torso were included in the analysis.

    By limiting the study to vehicles with side airbags, the researchers were able to bring other factors such as structure into sharper focus. Previous research has shown the importance of side airbags, and no vehicle without head-protecting side airbags has ever earned a "good" rating from IIHS.

    [via Automotive Fleet]

     

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