• Heavy Weight Fight

    Mar 31, 2009

    Congress spars over commercial truck size and safety

    It’s no secret Americans are generally overweight and now, according to some legislators, so are our commercial payloads.

    Fleetowner.com reports that two national legislative bills on truck capacity will be debated in U.S. Congress in the coming weeks.

    The first is aimed at, among other things, reducing the effects of heavier hauls on already burdened bridges and highways, which are put to the test daily by today’s plus-sized trucks.

    House bill H.R. 1618, titled the “Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act” (SHIPA) was introduced by March 19 by Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) with Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) as the lead minority cosponsor.

    It seeks to “freeze current truck size and weight limits for all states to those rules on the books as of June 1, 2008 – limiting truck trailer size to 53-ft long and weight limits to 80,000 lbs., unless a state allowed longer and heavier trucks to operate on its roads as of that date.”


    In the opposite corner, the “anti-SHIPA” legislation is driven by Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME), which appears to be more of an “opt-in” system for states that can confidently handle higher weight limits on commercial vehicles.

    Todd Spencer, executive VP of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (and SHIPA supporter) was quoted as saying: “Many times, a 40-ft. container can move what’s being shipped in 53-ft. containers today,” he said.


    According to Jake Jacoby, executive director of the lobbying group Americans for Safe and Efficient Transportation (ASET), commercial vehicle miles traveled will double over the next 20 years, while only 6% to 8% of the money of the president’s stimulus bill is being spent on increasing transportation capacity.

    Who will win? Until this is settled, at least the guys patching up those potholes and overpasses will burn off plenty of calories.

    Photo copyright of
    Ryan Hoist

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • In an effort to boost new car sales and consumer confidence, both Ford and GM have gotten creative with incentive programs, even for out-of-work customers. If you buy a Ford and find yourself unemployed soon afterward, Ford will make up to 12 payments of $700 or less on behalf of new car purchasers who lose their jobs.

    The program, called “Drive One,” starts Tuesday and will last through June 1. The program covers any new Ford, Lincoln or Mercury and excludes their Volvo division, which Ford is currently starting to sell.

    GM will make up to nine monthly payments of up to $500 each for new buyers who loses their job for economic reasons during the first two years of ownership under the “GM Total Confidence” plan. Buyers eligible for state unemployment benefits will also be eligible for the payment program according to GM spokesman John McDonald. The program is free for consumers and covers all U.S.-sold GM models except for the Saab division.

    Both companies are also offering additional incentives like 0% financing on select models.

    A similar program was launched in January by Hyundai. We hope nobody gets laid off and has to use the program, but it’s a nice safety net in tough times.

    Read the entire article here, and we want to know: will these incentives be enough for you to purchase new company or personal vehicles in the upcoming months?

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • Take Back Your Desk

    Mar 30, 2009
    If you are a fleet manager, there’s a good chance that your desk is gets buried in paperwork, receipts and probably a few trade magazines faster than you can say, “I know it’s here somewhere”.

    That’s not to say you don’t know where everything is, but we thought we’d share a few tips on how to get or keep things in order so nothing falls through the cracks at work.

    Of course a good fleet fuel card service should provide you with reporting features that will help cut down on the need to save every receipt and maintenance record. (If you don’t have a fleet card, click here and let us help you find the right card for your company.)

    At the same time, don’t underestimate the power of different color folders to help create a quick system that will bring sanity back to your desk.

    When labeling your folders, be very specific. Write exactly what it is you have in the folder on the folder. You don’t want to put “Misc” on a file because that’s basically moving one pile to another.

    You’ll be surprised at how quickly things get in order, without giving up the job security in you being the only one that knows what’s going on.

    Next, get rid of any office supplies that don’t work or you haven’t used in a while – from the pen that doesn’t have any ink, to the coffee mug that’s started to look like a science project to all of the trade mags, complimentary calendars, beef jerky wrappers…you get the point. Get rid of the stuff you don’t use.

    Do the same with your address book or that rolodex on your desk. Take all the names out that you haven’t used in the last year or so. If you are feeling guilty, just take all those cards and drop them all in one of those “free lunch” bowls at a local restaurant.

    Start keeping a check list of work you need to get done and goals you are trying to achieve, even if things keep coming up in your day to distract you, keeping a “to do/goals” list will help you get back on course throughout the day. Try updating the list at the end of each day so that you can add new items and even better, check a few things off.

    Another idea that might make your life easier – only work from ONE calendar. Whether it’s on your computer, phone, or the “you might be a redneck” desk calendar you got at the office holiday party, only use one. That way you can truly keep an accurate schedule of both your personal and professional life. If you’re keeping track of more than one schedule, use different colors for each person.

    Also, when you’re entering your schedule, make sure you give yourself a reminder about that event about a week out. That way you don’t send a truck out on a cross-country road trip on the day it’s due to at the mechanics for a tune up.

    These are just a few basic tips that are an easy way to quickly get things in order and make your operation more efficient at a time when efficiency is everything.

    Photo copyright of
    Visnup

    Categories
    • Small Business Help Tips


  • The president recently got a sneak peek at the world’s first plug-in hybridelectric utility truck  with a power system  developed by Eaton  Corporation and the Electric  Power Research Institute in  Pomona, Calif., according to  a press release  on www.eaton.com.

    The entire system can be  recharged by plugging it    into a standard 120- or 240-volt electrical outlet (provided you’re near one on the job), supplementing engine power and enough alternative juice to operate its traditional heavy-duty boom. And it’s estimated to boost fuel economy of up to 70%, compared to gas-only trucks.

    This is the first of five trucks based on a Ford F-550 chassis that will be provided by Eaton, EPRI and Ford to public and private utility fleets.

    Eaton’s client, Southern California Edison, commissioned the technology and operates the largest private fleet of electric vehicles in the nation, having driven more than 17 million miles on electric power.


    No word yet on plans for a plug-in presidential limo service.

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • Diesel prices continue to move at a roller coaster pace, up one moment and down the next. At this moment, they are unfortunately on the up.

    Diesel prices reached their frenzied peak at July and have steadily fallen since until this week, where the national average shot up by seven cents. A gallon of fuel will now cost you $2.09.

    Prices rose in every region except for New England, which was already at a higher then average price and remained unchanged. Those in the Gulf Coast saw the biggest leap when diesel jumped from $1.973 to $2.06, an 8.7 cent increase.

    The reason for the increase? The price of crude oil rose due to better economic news that has experts hoping will increase demand.

    While it’s good to finally hear positive news about the economy, let’s hope that we never return to the days of over $4 a gallon.

    Photo copyright
    Categories
    • Industry News


  • Note from the Editor: This is the first in a 13-part series on the Lost Art of CB Lingo. Each Friday, we’ll cover two new letters in the alphabet and their corresponding terms. Check back each Friday for new updates. 10-4!

    In this day of two-way radios, cell phones and global tracking system systems, we are in danger of losing a true American treasure – CB lingo. Over the next few weeks, check in on our dictionary of terms and phrases that will either have the drivers in your fleet admire your ability to “brush your teeth and comb your hair” (radar trap ahead), or they’ll just think you’ve gone crazy. Starting with A-B, here are some of our favorites:

    A

    ACE – Important CB’er

    AF – Audio Frequency

    All the good numbers -Best wishes.

    Alligator-Tread from the tire of an 18 wheeler on the road

    Alligator Station -All mouth and no ears. A person who likes to talk just to hear himself.

    Amigo -Friend

    Ankle biter- Small child or annoying teenager

    Antler Alley -Deer crossing

    B

    Baby Bear- Cop in training, or rookie

    Back off the hammer -Slow down

    Bean House Bull -Trucker talk exchanged at truck stops, eyeball-to-eyeball

    Bear Bait -Speeding car

    Bearmobile- Police car

    Breaker-Breaker -Same as break. Also the title of Chuck Norris’s first mainstream movie.

    Bring it back -Answer back

    Bring yourself on it- Request to move into the right lane

    Brown paper bag -Unmarked Police car

    Bubble gum machine- Flashing lights on top of car

    Bucket Mouth- Loudmouth, or someone who uses a lot of profanity.

    Bucket of bolts -Eighteen wheeler

    Check back with us from time to time as we make our way through the alphabet, or you can get a dictionary full of terms from the book Woody’s World of CB.

    10-4 Rubber Duckie

    Photo copyright of Dave Smith
    Categories
    • Fleet Resources


  • In the US, red light cameras are used in more than 400 communities and speed cameras are used in more than 40 jurisdictions.  If your drivers travels across different states, you will want to make sure they are aware of the laws in these states they travel.

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently introduced interactive maps of the United States

    that show the different state laws in an easy-to-read, illustrated format.

    Before your drivers hit the road, have them check to see if they’re going through a state that uses red light and speed cameras so they—or you—don’t get fined. These new maps will clearly show which states have these laws, and will detail what violations they record, who will be liable for the infraction and even tell you how much you will be fined for breaking the law.

    These maps aren’t intended to let you know where you can speed and where you can’t; rather, they are designed to keep safety in mind for your drivers and the others on the road.

    IIHS will be rolling out additional interactive maps in the near future, so be sure to check back here for updates.

    Click here
    to view the maps

    Categories
    • Fleet Resources


  • Pressure Points

    Mar 27, 2009

    Improve safety and save money on your fleet

    Did you know that the maintaining the right tire pressure can save you about two weeks worth of fuel a year?

    Fleet Equipment
    posted an article back in 2005 that may have even more relevance today, discussing the importance of keeping the tires on your commercial trucks properly inflated.

    While it’s sometimes easier said than done, just having your fleet drivers follow a few simple steps could help save your company a lot of money at the pump and even more when it comes to maintenance:

    1. Make sure your drivers have an accurate pressure gauge and check the tires on their truck each day.
    2. Give every tire on your truck a quick inspection prior to operation.
    3. If you’re changing a tire, make sure to use a safety cage when inflating tires after mounting.
    4. Avoid mixing tires types on your vehicle.
    5. More extensive tire repair and service should be done by trained mechanics.
    6. If a tire has been running at less than 80 percent of the recommended pressure, always dismount and inspect that tire before putting it back on the road.
    7. Driving on a flat tire dual can cause irreparable damage to both tires because of the increased load the inflated tire must carry.

    Keep this guide of handy and make it a regular practice and maybe some of those calls you get off of those “how’s my driving?” bumper stickers will just be to compliment you on how good those tires look.

    Click here
    to read the entire article.

    Categories
    • Small Business Help Tips


  • What makes a great fleet? That’s exactly what the Truckload Carriers Association and CarriersEdge looked for in their first annual Best Fleet to Drive For survey. Freemont Contract Carriers was selected as the winner in the over 100 power units category and Wannemacher Enterprises was selected as number one for fleets with under 100 power units.

    For Freemont, which operates 312 trucks, it comes from a range of programs that tend to driver needs. Freemont offered its drivers profit sharing, driver wellness programs, flexible performance rewards and access to technology that improved safety and efficiency.

    Wannemacher won top honors by educating the public and increasing industry awareness through a series of public safety videos. The videos, which aired as public service announcements on local cable stations, addressed general road safety concerns. This innovative approach helped to extend the company’s brand as well as promote the whole trucking industry as a key partner in safety.

    The Best Fleets to Drive For is an annual award open to all fleets with at least 10 vehicles. Entrants were evaluated on the range and depth of offered programs, the overall effectiveness of those programs across key metrics, and the responses of surveyed drivers.

    We want to extend our congratulations to both Freemont and Wannemacher.


    We also want to know: what do YOU think makes a fleet great?
    Categories
    • Industry News


  • Turning your fleet into a moving billboard

    Few small businesses these days have the cash flow to spend lavishly on local advertising, let alone immeasurable mass media. It turns out, the best use of your ad dollars may be capitalizing on the media you already have: your fleet.

    Let’s say two fleet vehicles pull up to a stoplight side-by-side. One has eye-catching signage advertising your business. The other is plain white. A recent report in Fleet Financials suggests 90% of drivers will notice the first vehicle’s signage, and surprisingly 75% of them will develop an impression of that company based solely on what it says and how it looks (and how the vehicle is being operated).

    It goes on to say that a single vehicle with the right signage can collect more than 8 million impressions a year.

    So what works?

    Simple sells. Bright colors. Easy-to-read fonts. Who you are. What you do. Phone number and Web site. Or try this: Hold your business card out in front of you. Now move it across your line of vision. Can you still read it? If not, consider what would make it more legible and apply the thinking to a moving billboard.

    “Everywhere I park, people will walk up and ask for a business card. I don’t bother advertising any other way,” declares Tony Gallina, president and CEO of The Green Mop, a house and office cleaning service headquartered in Arlington, Va.

    Did he invest $4,000 car wrap with neon lights and a flashy LED license plate? Nope. The article reveals Gallina’s secret to success: a couple 12×24-inch door magnets and 3×3-inch stickers for the rear window — all customized online in about 30 minutes.


    To read more, visit Fleet Financials.

    Photo copyright of
    Signarama

    Categories
    • Small Business Help Tips