Top Challenges Facing Today’s Fleet Managers

2018: A Year of Increasing Profits & Costs

According to a recent survey from Bibby Financial Services, 2018 was one of the best years in history for medium to large-sized fleets. 52% of respondents claimed to have experienced growth in the past year and one-third expected to increase revenue by 11-25% over the next two years. However, running a fleet doesn’t come without its challenges. 68% of respondents confirmed that one of their greatest struggles is keeping up with increasing costs, such as fuel, maintenance, and vehicle insurance.

Fleet ManagersIncreasing costs pose an even more significant challenge for small fleets that don’t have the same budget or resources. The majority of small fleets don’t even make it to their fifth vehicle and end up losing contracts to competitors due to prices. Larger fleets with economies of scale have a competitive advantage over smaller fleets because they’re able to deliver the same services much cheaper. This comes as bad news to both new businesses and the consumer, as the elimination of the competition results in fewer options, and eventually monopolies.

Due to the recent shortage of drivers plaguing the fleet industry, companies have had to raise rates and also make conditions more favorable to entice new drivers. This has benefited significant carriers, as they have been able to negotiate new contracts with clients and pass the cost on to the consumer. For smaller fleets, on the other hand, increasing rates can often be a death sentence. When just getting started, younger fleets generally depend on lower pricing to secure new contracts and grow their customer base. With larger fleets offering more money for the same job, worker wages and the overall cost of operation have gone up, cutting into their profits.

Small Fleets At Risk – Top Challenges

So what are the main challenges facing these smaller fleets? When asked about their top challenges as a business, fleets with less than five vehicles cited increasing costs of doing business (71%), competitors offering unsustainable prices (52%), government regulations (52%), and finding qualified drivers (51%).

One of the most significant hidden costs is the cost of replacing a driver when they leave the job. 32% of fleets had no idea how much it cost them to lose a driver, and 16% didn’t answer the question. For those that did know the cost, 14% said it cost them over $100,000, and 11% said it cost them between $20,000 and $50,000. For all respondents, regardless of fleet size, the biggest challenges were insurance (79%), fuel (78%), maintenance (67%), and vehicle purchasing/leasing (58%).

An interesting fact to note is that midsize and large fleets see small fleets as one of the top threats to their profit margins. 52% of fleet transportation companies saw new and emerging companies as a source of competition and loss of contracts. 66% felt that unsustainable prices from smaller businesses were causing them to lose contracts. Due to lower rates from these new entrants into the market, over half of customers (55%) requested a price reduction in the last year.

ConclusionTop Challenges

Both large and small fleets see each other as the greatest threat to their profitability and ability to maintain contracts with their clients. High competition between all sizes of fleets is lowering prices across the board into ranges that are unsustainable. Customers are benefiting the most from this competition between fleets, but unsustainable prices could lead to many fleets going out of business. Rising fuel, insurance, and maintenance costs plus greater wage demands from drivers could cause small businesses to go broke in an attempt to compete with larger fleets.

Regardless of the size of your fleet, if you’re looking to reduce operational costs and keep your drivers safer on the road, check out our page for more information.

Do Dash Cams Improve Fleet Safety?

ADAS and Dash Cameras Credited with Increasing Fleet Safety

Since the inception of the technology, manufacturers of ADAS systems and dash cameras have claimed that their products can reduce collisions and increase safety on the road. And many commercial fleets have begun to equip their vehicles with such systems. However, are these claims based on facts, or just empty marketing promises.

According to a panel of experts at the annual Technology & Maintenance Council by the American Trucking Association, in-vehicle camera systems and Automated Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) can reduce liability and increase safety for commercial fleets. At the event were representatives from industry leaders, such as Covenant Transport and Southeastern Freight Lines.

Rick Reinoehl, senior vice president of safety and risk management at Covenant Transport stated that his company had seen a 40% reduction in rollovers due to Electronic Stability Controls (ESC) and a 14% reduction in trucks drifting off the road after installing Lane Departure Warnings (LDW). They also reported 23% fewer accidents after installing various ADAS technologies in their fleet.

Southeastern Freight Lines reported similar results, with a 2.48 times lower accident rate for vehicles equipped with ADAS systems than those that didn’t.

However, merely installing ADAS into fleet vehicles won’t magically improve fleet safety. Driver training, stronger policies, and safety programs are all necessary to get the most benefit from the technology. At Southeastern Freight Lines, one common problem they experienced was that fleet drivers would often tamper with systems that notified them of maintenance issues. Rather than hear the alerts and audible warnings of the system, many drivers would try to disconnect them.

This led the company to put a zero-tolerance policy in place to ensure that drivers would not damage or tamper with the systems. They even had to be let some drivers go to send the message that they were serious about the new rules. One of the most effective methods of improving driver acceptance of the new systems was by sharing cases in which drivers were proven innocent by video footage.

“They become believers quickly,” said Reynolds as he spoke about fleet camera systems. “Without video, you don’t have the same level of accountability.”

Many drivers behave differently when they know they’re being monitored, but the systems aren’t designed to punish them—they’re designed to keep them safe and assist them with their work.

At the end of the day, the key to operating a safe fleet comes down to both implementing technology and training drivers. “One hundred percent of you do have a collision mitigation system on your trucks. And that collision mitigation system is your driver,” said Brian Daniels, manager of powertrain and component product marketing at Detroit.

In conclusion, technology alone isn’t enough to protect your fleet. It’s necessary to train drivers on how to use it and change their opinions regarding these new systems. Some may feel like ADAS and dash cameras are an extension of “Big Brother.” The truth is that fleet managers want to increase safety and profit margins, while reducing costs.

Dash Cams – The New Rear View Mirror?

Could Dash Cams Replace Your Rear View Mirror?

Although blind spots are a well-known source of accidents on American roads, the rear and side-view mirrors of large commercial vehicles have seen very few technological improvements over the decades. Just about every piece of safety equipment in the modern car, such as seat belts, airbags, and braking systems, have seen tremendous

advances. So, why do mirrors on today’s vehicles still function mainly the same as they did on the first mass-produced car—the Model-T?

While front-facing dash cameras have been the norm for years, many vehicle manufacturers are discovering that mounting additional video cameras on the rear and side of their vehicles can significantly improve safety and assist drivers. And not only can they be used in tandem with other ADAS systems, but they might replace the traditional mirror for good.

Global leaders in the automotive industry, such as Toyota, are planning to replace external mirrors with in-vehicle camera systems altogether. This change could reduce wind resistance and increase the aerodynamics of a vehicle. And with less drag on the car from external mirrors, fuel efficiency could rise slightly. In theory, this would help  reduce overall fuel consumption.

This, of course, has yet to be proven, but it makes a compelling argument—especially to an industry in which profit margins are strongly tied to fuel costs. It also seems that manufacturers of automotive cameras have arrived at the same conclusions as Toyota and are beginning to experiment with this technology on the commercial level.

Using fleet vehicle camera systems instead of traditional mirrors would also create the opportunity to use Augmented Reality (AR) to make drivers more aware of their surroundings. For example, a video screen could visually highlight a motorcycle passing by the vehicle and sound an alarm before the fleet driver changes lanes. Even if the driver didn’t initially see anything in their mirrors, additional overlays could notify them of passing vehicles before committing to a turn.

In-vehicle camera systems not only help drivers when changing lanes but also when backing up to park or to receive a load. Rather than rely on traditional mirrors, many drivers are learning to trust live footage on the display which provides them with a close-up view. In addition to providing better viewing angles, camera displays inside the vehicle won’t fog up or be affected by weather conditions like rain, snow, and ice.

Fleet Dash Cam

Camera systems with live streaming capabilities, in particular, have the potential to significantly enhance fleet safety programs and keep fleet managers informed of driver behavior in real time. Identifying dangerous behaviors and non-compliance with safety regulations early on could help prevent future accidents caused by unsafe driving. A live stream of video footage from multiple cameras, including a driver-facing camera, could also help managers give personalized training on the job.

In conclusion, traditional mirrors will soon become phased out and replaced by video cameras. It may take another decade before this technology becomes standard in commercial vehicles, but we’re already seeing its implementation on the level of the consumer. The arguments for increased safety and lower fuel consumption make these cameras quite appealing to commercial fleets.