The Element Fleet blog is written by various fleet experts we've invited to participate. They offer their opinions and comments on issues related to fleet management, maintenance, telematics, trucks, vehicle accident management, driver safety and more. You also have the opportunity to respond or ask questions. So go ahead and join the conversation.

Just a note: The opinions of the writers don’t necessarily reflect the position of Element Fleet Management on these subjects.

As we look forward to celebrating Canada Day and the Fourth of July this week by firing up the barbeque and holding parties for family and friends, keep in mind that summer celebrations are the second worst time of the year for drunken driving accidents (New Year is first).

Almost 11,000 traffic deaths each year involve a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. Before your drink and drive, please remember this:

  • The legal limit of alcohol concentration for drivers in all the United States and Canada is .08
  • Alcohol retards a judgment and causes loss of coordination
  • Alcohol impairs vision and prevents concentration
  • Alcohol promotes a false sense of confidence in one’s abilities

Almost 50% of children 14 and under who are killed in alcohol-related crashes are passengers in vehicles driven by drunken drivers. These findings contradict a widely held perception that kids are usually killed by drunken drivers who hit the cars they are in. The cost of drinking and driving is too high a price to pay.

State and local law enforcement agencies will be working to reduce alcohol-related traffic deaths with promotions to raise public awareness of the dangers of impaired driving.

If you see an impaired driver, pull over to a safe place, stop and call 911 to report it.

If you decide to drink, please designate a driver prior to attending holiday celebrations.

All your friends at Element Fleet Management and Center for Transportation Safety hope you have a safe holiday!

We have had an amazing week here in Toronto as we welcomed nearly 200 of our fleet management clients to our annual Ride & Drive. But that wasn’t all – we also hosted our annual Pharma Symposium for fleet managers in the pharmaceutical industry. I thought I’d share a few of the highlights from these back-to-back events:

Element Fleet Ride & Drive

Element Fleet Management Ride & Drive Event
This is the largest Ride & Drive of its kind in Canada, and we moved the venue to the Toronto Congress Centre to accommodate the numbers. We showcased over 175 vehicles from the motor companies, upfitters and specialty suppliers – and our clients had a blast taking them out for a spin and getting a first-hand look at vehicles they might consider for their selectors.
The event also featured Chris O’Neill, Business Lead from Google, who shared some fascinating insights into how Google is all about doing things that have not been done before. We learned about the beginning of the Moonshot laboratory, where employees are charged with thinking of what we can do to create a significant change (i.e., the self-driven car, drones to deliver parcels where areas aren’t accessible because of disasters). We heard that incremental improvements are part of every business – but what sets us apart is the ability to think big. He encouraged fleet managers in the audience to look at what has not been done before and work to make it a reality. Very exciting stuff!
Element Fleet Management Employees at Ride & Drive

Pharma Symposium

Our Pharma clients had a chance to network with other fleet professionals in their specialized industry, discussing best practices for pharmaceutical fleets. We had some great discussions about vehicle selectors, driver safety, remarketing and other topics. I had one client tell me, “This event is all about learning and sharing – and as a result, it’s leading me to recalibrate my company’s fleet and driver programs.” 
Thanks to everyone who attended these Element events. We enjoyed it as much as you did!
It sounds simple, but it’s effective. Following this ONE simple rule will keep you out of trouble most of the time, and you will experience less stress in your driving life, because you’ll have time to make course corrections or adjust your speed in a professional, relaxed manner. 
Here’s what it means in practical terms: Look ahead a distance that the truck will travel in 12-15 seconds. At lower speeds, it’s the distance of about 1 block. At highway speeds, it’s about a quarter of a mile. 
Following are some more details about what it means to always look ahead as far as you can see:
Look down your path of future travel and let nothing important escape your attention.
  • Look for stopped or slow moving traffic in the distance.
  • Watch for road hazards such as stalled or wrecked vehicles in the travel lanes or on the shoulder. 
  • Be aware of upcoming work zones, where lanes may be shifted or redirected 
  • Watch for police giving someone a ticket, attending to a stalled vehicle or chasing someone down the highway.
  • At night, drive slowly enough to stop within the distance of your headlights. Driving any faster is referred to as “over driving” the headlights, which is potentially dangerous.
Watch for unusual activity 
  • Keep an eye out for debris in the roadway like alligators (tire tread thrown off by trucks) or wooden boards or other trash. 
  • Notice any pedestrians walking along the side of the road or kids on the overpass with glass bottles or rocks who may be looking for a thrill as they target your large vehicle.
Take note of vehicles approaching the roadway that you may intercept.
  • Be careful of reckless or unobservant drivers who may pull out suddenly in front of you at a crossroads. Be prepared to take evasive action if necessary.
Watch for police
  • When police are on the highway, they are there for a reason – and it often causes havoc with traffic flow. If you are looking far into the distance you can usually spot the warning signs of slowing traffic and flashing brake lights far in advance. 
I hope you’re getting value out of my series of articles on truck safety. If you missed any and would like to refer back, here they are:
On June 8-9, nearly 40 of our clients met with us in Houston for our Fleet Forum, a learning and networking conference for fleet managers. The event’s theme this year focused on change management. Here are some of the highlights:
Our keynote speaker, Bruce Wilkinson, spoke on “Give Change a Chance: Where There’s Change, There’s Opportunity.” He made some great points about the fact that you can’t predict change – but you can prepare for it. Keys to success include self-motivated, professional management, as well as team leadership. It’s important to become comfortable being uncomfortable in order to take advantage of change, and create an atmosphere of education, recognition and inclusivity to empower solutions-based input from all involved.  
After the speakers and presentations, we had an afternoon of interactive workshops which all included a “change” component. 
The first was “Managing Your Fleet Through Change,” which discussed ways to take your fleet successfully through a merger, acquisition, spin-off, new leadership, uptick/downturn in the market or revision to the fleet budget. 
Another workshop focused on strategic tips to reduce fleet costs, and the third dealt with some of the changes in our culture that are creating controversies that impact fleet – including legalization of marijuana in some states, driverless cars, right-to-carry laws and more. 
All of the participants felt the workshops were so compelling they could have gone on much longer, and we got great feedback on the overall event. Many thanks to all who attended!
June is National Safety Month – and fleet safety is something every company strives for. As part of my series in Fleet Management Weekly, I provide some important tips for safe use of material handling equipment.
Read the article here:
I hope the recommendations are helpful to you. Another recommendation: If appropriate, send this link to the person or people at your company who handle equipment like forklifts and pallet trucks. It could help them increase the safety of their operations.
And if you missed any of the previous articles on material handling equipment, here they are:
In a recent article in Work Truck Magazine, I provided some insights into some of the trends we’re seeing in fleet truck and van upfitting. These include:
  • The increasing importance of safety and productivity in van and truck upfitting. Fleet managers are giving increased consideration as to whether an upfit will be ergonomically safe for the driver over the service life of the vehicle.
    They’re also increasingly focused on how upfits can be designed to enhance productivity. In our Truck Excellence team, we look at what clients are doing with their trucks. Are they climbing in and out of them numerous times a day? Do they have particular needs for servicing their own clients? At the Red Cross, for instance, the people driving the vehicles are not professional drivers – they’re nurses, aid workers, etc. These workers have a dual role. As companies push to meet their bottom lines, they’re considering alternatives to get the job done. They want the upfitting to accommodate that and make it safe, comfortable, and productive for the driver. 
  • Customized re-designs of interior packages. Clients turn to us and say, “What can we do to redesign?” We look at what they’re hauling, their requirements or the vehicle itself (how much room for payload, etc.), what hours they operate, whether there’s an option in terms of the body’s material, and make recommendations. For the Red Cross, for example, we wanted to get out of being classified as a DOT vehicle and into a lighter GVWR, but haul the same product.” 
  • Increase specification of LED Lighting. One very specific upfitting trend we’ve noticed is a growing interest in LED lighting. It takes less energy and provides better lumen, more of a maintenance-free operation, and lasts longer. 
Read the whole article for more trends and insights into truck and van upfitting. 
I’ve been working with our Business Development and sales teams to introduce a new event for fleet professionals in the western region – and we’re excited to invite you to attend: 
2015 Element Fleet Forum
June 8 – June 9
Houston, Texas
It’s a great opportunity to learn, network and capture new ideas for enhancing fleet performance. There is no cost to register. Monday night is a networking reception, and then we have presentations, speakers and interactive workshops on Tuesday, June 9.
Our theme will be Change Management – from updating you on marketplace changes, to helping you manage through internal business change, to transforming the way you think about change. 
We’re excited to have noted motivational and training expert Bruce Wilkinson as our keynote speaker. He’ll discuss the topic,  “Give Change a Chance:  Where There's Change There's Opportunity.”
Whenever we do interactive workshops at any of our events, they are almost always the most popular segments. So we’ve chosen three interactive workshops designed to send you home with expanded knowledge and new ideas for your fleet. It’s going to be a great time for learning, sharing and networking.
Visit our Fleet Forum website for more information the Element Fleet Forum – and then register today!
We’d love to see you in Houston!
As our Material Handling Equipment team talks with fleet managers and operations managers about what concerns them most, one topic that comes up consistently is safe operation of forklifts. That’s why I decided to write about it in my latest article for Fleet Management Weekly, 
If you use forklifts in your company, you know that many of the problems arise from lack of proper operator training. OSHA regulations stipulate what that training should consist of – and I encourage you to read the article to find out more.
For a quick tutorial on various aspects of material handling equipment, feel free to check out these other blogs:
And let me know if there’s a particular topic you’d like me to cover. 
Heads up to all truck fleets: International Roadcheck, scheduled for June 2-4, is an annual three-day event when tens of thousands of commercial motor vehicle inspections are conducted throughout North America. Designed to improve the safety of the vehicle, driver and cargo, the Roadcheck initiative means about 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial and federal inspectors perform roadside inspections during a 72-hour period. This boils down to about 17 trucks or buses inspected every minute!
What are they looking for?
The first thing these inspectors look for is the brake system of the truck or bus. They look for air leaks, as well as correct brake adjustment and functional brake system warning devices. 
In terms of your drivers, the inspectors will check driver’s license, log book, registration and manifest. 
For more information about what the inspectors will check, go here.  
Special emphasis in this year’s inspections: Securing cargo 
Each year, International Roadcheck places special emphasis on a category of violations. This year the focus is on the proper loading and securing of cargo. 
As this is a major safety issue, these inspections serve as a reminder to drivers that regulations require that they stop within the first several miles of a trip and recheck the tie downs and other load securing equipment, particularly for loads that are not sealed or otherwise inaccessible to the driver.
Preparing for Roadcheck 2015
We recommend that, as part of your truck strategy, you think about how your company will handle Roadcheck 2015 and take the steps to make sure your equipment, paperwork and loading procedures are in good shape to pass inspections. The Roadcheck 2015 website has many tips and ideas for helping you do this. And of course, if you partner with Element, we’ll be happy to help you prepare for this event.
We are headed to Phoenix, Arizona, for the 2015 Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Annual Conference May 3-6. This is where over more than 3,000 supply chain and procurement professionals from all over the world are expected to come together for education, research and relationship building.
Element Fleet will be there in Booth #320. Here’s what we’ve got in store:
  • Try driving a big truck using our virtual reality truck simulator – test your skills in this video game-like immersion experience!
  • Improve your fleet strategy and get personalized tips from our experts about reducing your fleet’s total cost of ownership – discover what you could be doing more effectively.
We’re looking forward to a fun and educational time at ISM talking about fleet management and truck safety. Hope to see you (or your procurement manager) there!
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