• A recent study found that companies with fleets using GPS systems have seen reductions in idle times, daily usage and fuel costs.

    According to an article posted on automotive-fleet.com, the study showed organizations are installing GPS’s in company vehicles because it not only enables them to be more efficient with cost, but the system is also helping to improve customer service satisfaction rates.

    On average participants reported a 25% reduction in idle times, 32% increase in fleet utilization, 22% decrease in fuel costs, 31-percent drop in daily mileage and a 23% boost in workforce productivity.

    To read the full story and find out more about the study, click here.

    Photo courtesy of Jimmy Joe under the Creative Commons License

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • Dozing off at the wheel is a serious danger.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers who fall asleep at the wheel cause over 100,000 traffic accidents every year. This spring, Chinese police in the Chongqing region came up with a new way to combat the problem and keep drivers from falling asleep at the wheel: by feeding them raw chili peppers.

    As the most heavily populated country on Earth, China’s streets are already overcrowded and have a low rate of traffic safety obedience, making them some of the most dangerous streets in the world.  And just like everywhere else, sleepy drivers make a large contribution to the problem.

    Police began distributing the peppers to drivers at service stations in China in accordance with a belief that people are drowsier in the spring.  While this may seem a strange alternative to your favorite energy beverage, authorities say that the spicy cure really helps drivers who may be feeling drowsy.  Chinese commercial van driver Chen Jun agrees: “It’s really good to have some hot peppers when you are tired from driving. They make you alert.”

    While Americans may prefer a few cups of coffee to a peppery pick-me-up, there is still no substitute for a good night’s sleep before taking to the highway.  But who knows, maybe we’ll see some fancy chipotle energy shots coming to our favorite rest stops in the future.  For information on how to combat drowsy driving with your drivers, check out the National Sleep Foundation’s tips behind the link.

    Photo courtesy of ian_ransley under the Creative Commons License
    Categories
    • Industry News


  • The California Department of Insurance has introduced a bill this week to begin offering pay-by-the-mile auto insurance policies to California drivers.  Under the new program, drivers would be able to select an insurance payment plan based on the number of miles they drive per month. A significant amount of money would be saved on insurance for, say, a vehicle that only makes occasional trips to a supplier a short distance away and spends most of its time sitting in a parking lot. For fleet owners, this system provides a way to keep themselves insured without overpaying for insurance on a vehicle they may very rarely use.

    In addition to payment plans based on paying for a set number of miles per month, the proposed system also allows for mile-by-mile vehicle tracking at an even lower rate.  The miles traveled by a vehicle would be checked by odometer inspections at various locations that are convenient to the driver’s routine, such as their local mechanic or emission center.  Vehicle mileage could also be monitored by GPS devices, but don’t fear Big Brother just yet; GPS could be used to monitor a car’s mileage without relaying the vehicle’s location to the insurance company.  With some drivers already hesitant to adopt GPS tracking for other purposes, this privacy clause offers reassurance that they retain the trust of their employers.

    The legislation to create this system will be voted on in the next several months, and could become law shortly in the state of California.  If California has any success with it, the same system could be on its way to other states across the country later this year.
    Categories
    • Industry News


  • Two different cases of company vehicles being stolen were reported this week.  The vehicles were used as getaway cars in Nebraska and Mississippi.

    The vehicle recovered in Lexington, Nebraska had been stolen from a construction company in New York and was identified as stolen during a traffic stop.  It seems that the man driving the car had good reason to be so far away, as he was identified as one of the New York Parole Division’s most wanted men.  He and his female companion were arrested.  In Petal, Mississippi, a drug company’s vehicle was stolen after robbers stole prescription drugs from the employees.  The keys were given to the fleeing criminals by employees.  The vehicle was found abandoned in a nearby field and taken to impound.  This is not the first time criminals have targeted drug companies; since May two trucks full of pharmaceuticals have been stolen in Georgia.

    Nothing is a bigger waste of money than losing a car…let this be a reminder to keep a close watch over company vehicles! For information on vehicle security, see tips here.
    Categories
    • Industry News


  • The harsh economic climate has hit the auto industry hard with sales drastically down, and it seems that consumers aren’t helping.

    A recent study conducted by AutoPacific found that 72 percent of the general public plans not to buy a new car in the next year, and 59 percent of new car buyers intended to keep their car for at least four years.  Last year, that number was 45 percent.

    So what does this mean for the commercial fleet?  A fleet owner may want to jump at the chance to haggle with desperate automotive sellers for a good price on new fleet vehicles.  But unless keeping up with new vehicle trends is of great importance to your fleet, the most affordable way to keep your fleet in top condition is to follow a strict maintenance routine.  Regular maintenance can double the useful life of your vehicles and keep them from suffering costly breakdowns and spending time in repair shops.  Even something as simple as making sure tire pressure or oil and coolant levels are correct can extend the life of your vehicles.  The less money you spend replacing your fleet vehicles prematurely, the more money you will have to invest in your business.

    With credit becoming harder to come by every day, weathering the economic storm with your current vehicles is a smart choice.  However, if you do wish to replace some of your fleet, you can make it more economically viable by investing in more fuel efficient cars: lighter models, vehicles with smaller engine sizes, and hybrids. This will save you money over time in fuel costs and even help the environment!

    Whether you decide to keep your current vehicles or replace them, remember that the most important thing is for your fleet to remain efficient and on the road, doing their job and making you money.  For more information on keeping your fleet as efficient as possible, check out FleetCards USA’s tips for improving fuel efficiency.

    Photo courtesy of Beth and Christian under the Creative Commons License

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • The Office You Drive

    Jul 09, 2009

    Ford creates high-tech suite for productivity behind the wheel

    If your fleet vehicle is your full-time office, you’re well aware things like cup holders, wooden seat beads and arm rests haven’t advanced much in more than 30 years. But these latest amenities more than make up for the auto industry’s shortfalls in functionality.
    msnbc.com jumped into the driver seat to demonstrate how Ford is rolling out its latest technologies, or “Work Solutions,” just for the modern day mobile commercial customer.
    To meet the demands of today’s all-day drivers, Ford teamed up with innovators DeWalt, Garmin, Master Lock, Microlise, Sprint, Magnetti-Marelli and Microsoft to create workforce enhancements such as:
    An in-dash, touchscreen, theft-proof computer for Internet access, hands-free phone calls, navigation and even printing invoices and checking inventories
    A smart “Crew Chief” program records maintenance, performance oil pressure, tire pressure, check engine lights, and productivity sensors for things like how much time is spent idling
    Something called “Cable Lock” to ensure the valuable gear in the bed of your pick-up doesn’t grow feet when you’re not looking
    “Ford Work Solutions takes productivity to a new level by bringing the office to the job site in an integrated, seamless way … with a strong network of industry-leading partners,” said John Felice, Ford’s general marketing manager, according to the article.
    The features are now available in all new Ford’s F-150 light-duty pickups, Super Duty pickups and the 2010 Transit Connect commercial minivan.

    If your fleet vehicle is your full-time office, you’re well aware things like cup holders, wooden seat beads and arm rests haven’t advanced much in more than 30 years. But these latest amenities more than make up for the auto industry’s shortfalls in functionality.MSNBC.com jumped into the driver seat to demonstrate how Ford is rolling out its latest technologies, or “Work Solutions,” just for the modern day mobile commercial customer.

    To meet the demands of today’s all-day drivers, Ford teamed up with innovators DeWalt, Garmin, Master Lock, Microlise, Sprint, Magnetti-Marelli and Microsoft to create workforce enhancements such as:

    An in-dash, touchscreen, theft-proof computer for Internet access, hands-free phone calls, navigation and even printing invoices and checking inventories

    A smart “Crew Chief” program records maintenance, performance oil pressure, tire pressure, check engine lights, and productivity sensors for things like how much time is spent idling

    Something called “Cable Lock” to ensure the valuable gear in the bed of your pick-up doesn’t grow feet when you’re not looking

    “Ford Work Solutions takes productivity to a new level by bringing the office to the job site in an integrated, seamless way … with a strong network of industry-leading partners,” said John Felice, Ford’s general marketing manager, according to the article.

    The features are now available in all new Ford’s F-150 light-duty pickups, Super Duty pickups and the 2010 Transit Connect commercial minivan.

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • Dealing with Road Rage

    Jul 09, 2009
    Road rage is a term that we’re all familiar with, but as a problem on our highways, it’s one that is not going away.

    As a fleet manager, teaching your drivers how to deal with road rage, especially during these hot summer months, can help your team avoid incidents that in the past have led to some pretty terrifying conclusions.

    One of the most important rules of the road when it comes to dealing with aggressive drivers is to know that you can’t control any driver’s behavior but your own. It is not being cut off by another driver, or having someone tailgating behind your vehicle that causes road rage as much as how you react that will determine what happens next.

    Remind your drivers that they should try to keep their cool and not react as aggressively as the other driver.  Doing so might actually defuse any potential further incidents.

    Venting might seem as gratifying as other actions when you’re in the heat of the moment, but encourage your fleet drivers to talk about the driving experience – it is proven to relieve stress and help cut down on a drivers road rage.

    In an article posted at dmv.org, the question is asked, “What if you are the aggressive driver?” The article recommends that you challenge your drivers to analyze their driving styles to find out if they are susceptible to road rage and supply a list of examples that are characteristics of aggressive drivers:

    * Tailgating

    * Using their horn

    * Flashing their headlights

    * Changing lanes quickly and often

    * Gesturing to other drivers

    * Talking on their cell phone

    There are thousands of drivers on the road every day and dmv.org points out that road rage can be triggered by drivers who are driving under the speed limit, skipping turn signals, slowing down early for exits, accelerating unevenly, and hogging lanes.

    Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but remind your fleet drivers that they are sharing the road with other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists and in the end everyone is trying to get from here to there, no matter where they may be headed, safe and sound.

    It’s better to keep a watchful eye on the road than to be ready for a confrontation when another driver makes one wrong move on the road.

    For a free analysis of your driving style, check out RoadRagers.com and for the complete article on road rage, click here.

    Photo courtesy of yummic00kies under the Creative Commons License

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • If you’re looking for ways to save at the pump this summer, and you already have a fleet card, this promotion may interest you.

    Suzuki just announced its ‘Free Gas for Summer’ sales event that offers car buyers three months of free gasoline with the purchase a new 2009 Suzuki SX4 Sedan or 2009 SX4 Crossover. Plus, to get you in one today, they’ll throw in $2,000 in customer cash on all 2009 SX4 models with manual transmission.

    “Suzuki recognizes the economic challenges facing Americans and thought this promotion was a great way to provide relief for car buyers,” said Koichi Suzuki, executive vice president, American Suzuki Automotive Operations.

    It should be noted, Suzuki’s four-door SX4 Sedan was recently named as one of the “Top 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000″ by Kelley Blue Book.

    The Suzuki “Free Gas for Summer” sales program kicked off July 1 and runs through Aug. 31.

    If you drive one off the lot let us know how it goes.

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • For many small business owners, the question of whether to buy or lease vehicles is a serious one. While the right answer depends on a number of factors — size of your fleet, working mileage, existing overhead, etc. — looking at the benefits of both, as laid out by Business Knowledge Source, is good place to start. (But check with your accountant, too.)

    The benefits of leasing
    • Could mean a smaller cash payout upfront, or lower monthly payment, so you can put your money back in your business.
    • A larger tax deduction on a leased vehicle.
    • Deduct monthly lease payments as rental expenses on your taxes.
    • Many leases cover maintenance costs.
    • With an open-end lease, you can buy the car at a lower cost when the lease is up.
    • Pay the sales tax over time and claim a business deduction. (As opposed to buying and having to pay sales tax immediately upon purchase.)

    The benefits of buying

    • Makes sense if for heavy use vehicles. Most leases have a 10,000 or 12,000-mile annual limits then you start paying per mile.
    • It can be difficult to terminate the lease early should you no longer need it.
    • New tax credits for buyers of clean-fuel-burning cars and trucks.
    • It’s your car and you can put a million miles on it without worry.
    • Sell or trade in on your terms, not the dealer’s.

    Have you had better success with one over the other? Obviously, the best choice is the one that fits your business.

    Photo copyright of emilio labrador under the Creative Commons License

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • Last week, AT&T released its voice-guided turn-by-turn GPS iPhone app, AT&T Navigator, specifically for the iPhone 3GS and earlier iPhone models with the OS 3.0 software update.

    In addition to being able to display daily gas prices and one-touch rerouting, some fleet-friendly features include:

    Voice and On-Screen Turn-By-Turn Directions: Real-time voice and visual guidance, including street names, automatic re-routes, ETA, total mileage updates and multiple route options.

    Speech Recognition: Touch and talk capability for instant turn-by-turn directions to destination.

    Traffic Alerts: Real-time route monitoring and proactive searches every five minutes for traffic congestion or incident.

    3D Maps: Full-color 3D moving maps provide details on current location, plus streets and interstates within driving distance.

    Business Listings: One-touch access to more than 10 million business listings from YELLOWPAGES.COM. Plus, access to business ratings, phone numbers and one-touch dialing.

    In-Route Customization: Find convenient rest stops for gas, food and other needs along their current route – saving both time and mileage.

    The app is yours for $9.99 a month from Apple’s App Store on iPhone and iPod touch.

    So what do you think:  a helpful high-tech tool that creates fleet efficiencies? Or another driver distraction?

    Categories
    • Industry News