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.

Fleet safety is always a top priority for commercial truck fleets, and one of the biggest challenges is what to do with the large volume of data generated from the CSA scores provided by the Department of Transportation. 
While I was being trained as a Six Sigma black belt, I learned: “IF YOU CAN MEASURE IT, YOU CAN MANAGE IT.” My goal is to help you manage through what may seem a daunting project. The ultimate purpose of tackling this project is that, when you manage your CSA scores properly and can track fleet safety improvements, it can assist in your company’s success and growth.
If you’re fortunate enough to have an in-house safety department that includes analytical gurus who can decipher the data, congratulations! More likely, you obtain a printout and try your best to find out where to start on improving your scores.
Try this suggestion and improve your excel spreadsheet knowledge along with your CSA scores.
  • Go to the CSA website and print off your CSA scores:
  • Individual citations can be obtained by clicking on the Violation Summary tab
  • Open up an Excel spreadsheet and create or name cells based on your score defects
  • Then enter the general defect (such as “Failure to Yield” or “Unlawfully Parking” into the appropriate cells
  • Click on what type of graph you would like to see (Pareto chart/bar graph) recommended
  • There are a few other functions you can add by right clicking your mouse, including Count of Defect 
  • Cut and copy the graph onto a Word or PowerPoint document
  • Post this document in the drivers lounge or attach with paychecks
  • You will need to review actual reports for driver counseling opportunities
  • Update this report monthly, showing improvements
  • You could even consider adding a rewards program for achieving certain milestones 

If you need any assistance in compiling this data, I will be glad to work with you. Managing your CSA scores by enlisting the help of your drivers will put you on a good path to greater truck fleet safety.

For more information about your CSA scores and why they’re so important, see one of my previous blogs, called “Do you know your CSA scores?”
It’s that time of year when fleet managers are finalizing their vehicle selectors for the fall buy. How do you feel about your replacement strategy – is it on track? Does it need tweaking? Are you optimizing your fleet vehicles?
It is so important to get it right, because determining when to replace your fleet vehicles is a critical decision that can strongly impact their life cycle costs. 
To help you determine whether you’ve got an effective vehicle replacement strategy in place, get your copy of our tip sheet with the points you need to know: 
We take a look at 5 basic cost categories, their impact on your vehicle replacement strategy, and some recommendations on  how to move forward:
  • Depreciation
  • Maintenance
  • Interest
  • Driver productivity
  • Fuel economy 
If your goal is to replace your fleet vehicles at the optimal time to achieve greater productivity and lower costs, we hope this tip sheet provides useful information. Let us know what you think!

I recently had fun recording a video about my favorite topic: Fleet telematics! We’ve uploaded it to our YouTube channel and I encourage you to go take a look:

View video: “What value does a telematics solution provide?

In the video, I talk about the 4 key ways that telematics technology is helping fleet managers improve the performance of their fleets. I’m excited that more and more fleets are adopting this technology every day – it enables them to solve challenges and achieve goals they never thought possible before.

Let me know what you think!

My series of articles in Fleet Management Weekly continues with a discussion of how you manage your material handling equipment.  The most common ways to handle your fleet assets is to partner with a select manufacturer or to allow warehouse managers to oversee the equipment at each location. 
In the article, I talk about a different method – one that is proving to be very effective for a number of companies that operate material handling equipment. “Brand independent” management – which means not being aligned with a specific manufacturer or brand – is worth taking a look at if you’re interested in increasing visibility into your overall equipment spend, enhancing consistency in policies and capabilities, reducing equipment maintenance costs and more. I point out four reasons to consider this method of organizing and operating your fleet assets:
Let me know what you think!
Here are the other articles in my Fleet Management Weekly series of article about fleet equipment. I hope you find them useful:
Fleet, Risk, Safety, HR and other managers will all be on hand for the 2015 Fleet Safety Conference July 13-15 in Schaumburg, Illinois. 
Element Fleet Management will be there, too! We're a proud sponsor, and our fleet risk and safety experts, including representatives from Center for Transportation Safety, will be in the Expo talking about best practices that are working for our clients. If you’re attending the Fleet Safety Conference, stop by for a chat and some good tips on how you can reduce your fleet’s accident rate.
The educational sessions will provide valuable information and insights, as well. Make sure you check this one out on Tuesday, July 14, from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.:
Terry Horrocks, Manager, Fleet Risk & Safety, Element Fleet Management, will moderate a panel discussing “How to use fleet data to reduce risk and increase safety.” What fleet data is most important to capture, how do you obtain it, and how can you use it to your greatest advantage?  
Fleet risk and safety have long been top priorities for fleet managers, and it’s great to have the opportunity to focus on it exclusively for a couple days. We look forward to seeing you there to share information that will help you meet your risk challenges!
Are you like most fleet managers – always under pressure to reduce fleet costs? The push to lower Total Cost of Ownership is a constant in the fleet management world – so our Strategic Consulting team has developed a tip sheet that provides some valuable ideas to help you:
You’ll see there are three main areas to focus your energies in reducing fleet costs:
  1. Financial alternatives, such as fleet leasing arrangements
  2. Asset management, such as vehicle selector, fleet incentives and replacement policies
  3. Policy and operations, such as personal use, maintenance and fuel purchases and more
 Our tip sheet has a lot more details and ideas you can use in your strategic planning. Let me know what you think.

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!
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