• 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!

    Photo courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

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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.

    Photo courtesy of Cliff Cooper and re-used under the Creative Commons license.
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  • According to a new report by AAA, traffic crashes are responsible for an annual societal cost of $299.5 billion, more than three times the $97.7 billion cost of traffic congestion.  

    AAA's report found that crashes cost each person in the US $1,522 annually. The figure is based on the Federal Highway Administration's comprehensive costs for traffic fatalities and injuries that assign a dollar value to a variety of components, including medical and emergency services, lost earnings and household production, property damage, and lost quality of life, among other things.

    "This report further underscores the importance of a long-term, multi-year federal transportation bill that will provide the necessary and sustained investments that lead to better and safer roads for all Americans," Jim Lardear, director of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic told Automotive Fleet. Lardear also said funding is needed for safety improvements like guide rails, reflective pavement markers, and improved signs and signals.

    "Almost 33,000 people – 635 per week – die on U.S. roadways each year and that's unacceptable," said Lardear. "While the decline in traffic fatalities in recent years signifies a positive trend, our work is far from over. Continued progress will require active and focused leadership, improved communication and collaboration, and an investment in data collection and evaluation to make sure we're addressing the nation's most serious safety challenges."

    Do your part for safety by making sure your drivers are well-educated on the rules of the road and have the most up-to-date safety measures available to them. You’ll not only save money, you’ll save lives.

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  • Some analysts are saying that gasoline prices could rise to record highs in 2012,  as a combination of growing global demand and rising U.S. fuel exports drive the price of crude oil up.

    "We are at the highest fuel prices ever for this time of year, even though they have dropped a bit in recent weeks," Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service told the Los Angeles Times. "I think we will see prices in 2012 that will break … records."

    "We started high on gasoline prices this year and we stayed high, and we are going to go higher next year," said fuel price specialist Bob van der Valk. "We could be as high as $4.50 a gallon in California by Easter. The rest of the country will be above $4 a gallon by then."

    The primary reason for the stubbornly high prices is growing demand in Latin and South America, which has also driven U.S. refiners to make more diesel and reduce gasoline production, Kloza said.

    Van der Valk added, "Gasoline is being exported to Mexico and diesel is going to Chile, and it's all keeping U.S. refineries huffing and puffing."

    It looks like next year could be a tough time for fleets as fuel prices continue to rise. Make sure your business is ready by examining your fuel management strategy!

    (Tags: Fuel Prices, Demand, 2012)

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  • In what may be good news for some fleets and inconvenient for others, gasoline prices are expected to fall in the next several weeks. However, the price of diesel is rapidly rising due to a constricted supply.

    Retail gasoline is already dropping in price due to lower demand. But experts expect diesel prices to rise, as supplies for ultra-low sulphur diesel have shrunk. Wholesale diesel prices are rising rapidly and those fleets will likely see higher prices very soon.

    If your fleet is using diesel, make sure to take a look at your fuel management practices to be ready for this bump in prices and the associated financial burden. For more information on our fleet fuel management solutions designed to make managing your fuel easy, visit our homepage at www.FleetCardsUSA.com.

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  • With flu season approaching and our recent look at drugged driving policies, this week’s Automotive Fleet safety tip is all about how medication side effects can affect their ability to drive safely. Here are a few medications that can greatly affect driving ability:

    • Taking sedating antidepressants even 10 hours before driving is equal to driving drunk.
    • Antihistamines, which block allergic reactions, slow down reaction time and impair coordination.
    • Common prescription drugs (including medications to treat allergies, pain, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, ulcers, depression, anxiety disorders, and insomnia) can cause drowsiness, affect vision and other skills that can be serious hazards on the road.
    • Over-the-counter drugs such as cold and cough medicines, antihistamines, drugs to prevent nausea or motion sickness, pain relievers, decongestants and diuretics can cause drowsiness or dizziness that can impair a driver's skills and reflexes.
    • Drivers should ask their physician and pharmacist all they can about their medication's side effects, and what drugs are usually safe to combine -- especially behind the wheel.

    It’s important to make sure your drivers know the risks of taking medications and driving. For more tips on what drugs to avoid and how to use the others responsibly, click here.

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  • For fleets looking to see whether alternative fuels are right for their budget or just deciding on new vehicles, a powerful new online tool should make the choice a little bit easier.

    The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has released new vehicle cost calculator on its website and a related widget that allows users to compare emissions and the lifetime operating costs of different conventional vehicles and alternative fuel methods.

    The calculator allows users to enter information for existing vehicles or for a “custom vehicle,” where they can input their own vehicle data, and compare that with either other existing vehicles or custom vehicles. Along with data about driving habits, the program gives users the cost-per-mile for operating the vehicle, annual fuel used, annual electricity used (for EVs), a combined annual cost for using electricity and fuel (for plug-in hybrids, for example), and annual CO2 emissions.

    The report also shows a graph that charts the annual cost of ownership by year, including fuel, tires, maintenance, registration, license fees, insurance, and a loan payment.

    You can try out the cost calculator for yourself by clicking here.

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  • State highway safety group the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has announced that it plans to strengthen its drugged driving policy. The new policy aims to make drugged driving a national priority and ask states to address the issue.

    The announcement was made at a drugged driving summit in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 14 organized by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

    A 2007 survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that 33 percent of all drivers with known drug-test results who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2009 tested positive for drugs (both illegal and over-the counter and prescription medications). Another recent NHTSA report indicated drug use reported by states among fatally injured drivers increased from 13 percent in 2005 to 18 percent in 2008.

    “As with drunk driving, a strong national-state partnership is necessary to make progress,” said Barbara Harsha, GHSA’s executive director.

    The new GHSA policy encourages states, among other things, to amend statues to provide separate and distinct sanctions for alcohol and drug-impaired driving as well as improve testing protocols.

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  • Looking for new vehicles? It looks like buying foreign may still be your best bet for long-term reliability.

    Recent consumer data collected by Consumer Reports and reported in The New York Times shows that Japanese automakers continue to produce the most reliable passenger vehicles on the market in the eyes of buyers and drivers.

     

    The top 9 most reliable brands listed this year were Scion, Lexus, Acura, Mazda, Honda, Toyota, Infiniti, Subaru and Nissan. Of the 91 Japanese models for which Consumer Reports had sufficient data, 96 percent received ratings of Average or Much Better than Average in predicted reliability.

     

    As for American cars, Ford dropped 10 spots from last year, from its 10th place ranking to No. 20 out of 28 brands. Jeep moved up seven spots to No. 13, displacing Ford as the most reliable domestic brand. Chrysler and Dodge moved up 12 and 3 spots, respectively. A bright spot for G.M. was the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, which received a predicted reliability rating of Much Better Than Average.

     

    Regarded as a whole, Detroit models still had a reliability problem, the editors said. Of the 97 domestic models and versions for which Consumer Reports had sufficient data, just 64 percent rated Average or Much Better Than Average, compared with 96 percent for Japanese models.

     

    The survey results are available to subscribers at the Consumer Reports Web site.

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