Blog

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.

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!
 
The National Private Truck Council (NPTC) Education Management Conference and Exhibition starts this weekend and continues through April 28 in Cincinnati. NPTC is a trade association devoted to the interests of the private corporate trucking fleet industry and its professional practitioners. Its annual conference draws a wide cross-section of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and other organizations ranging in size from family-owned small businesses to Fortune 500 global conglomerates. 
 
As always, Element Fleet will be there! If you’re planning to attend the conference, please stop by Booth #223, where: 
  • Our Truck Excellence team, our Material Handling Equipment team, and our heavy duty truck experts will be on hand to consult with you about your fleet.
  • We’ll discuss best practices in truck fleet management that will help you be more productive at lower cost
  • We’ll have some fun giveaways and a drawing for a Bose wireless speaker – enter to win!
Hope to see you there!
 

QuoteThat quote personifies how we feel here at Element Fleet. Doing what it takes to satisfy you, our customers, is one thing – but earning your loyalty is another major level of commitment, and we re-commit to that every day.

Because April is Customer Loyalty Month, I wanted to say “Thank you” for allowing us to partner with you in achieving your organization’s success. We enjoy working with you, finding new solutions to your challenges, and delivering the proactive service that helps you be more successful.

And I’m happy to say that we have a pretty good track record for customer loyalty. We have more than 300 customers who have been with us for 15 years or more – over 150 who have been with us 30 years or more, and around 20 who have been with us an astounding 60 years or more.

If you’re a fleet manager, you care about driver safety and consider safety factors when developing your vehicle selector. Element Fleet Management’s Accident Management team recently completed a high-level analysis for a pharmaceutical client to test whether All-Wheel Drive (AWD) vs. Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) could affect the probability of getting into an accident. The following processes and assumptions were included in our analysis:

  • Element examined detailed accident management data reported during CY 2014 for a pharmaceutical client and two additional benchmark pharmaceutical clients.
  • Incidents not applicable for an AWD vs. FWD analysis were removed, such as parking, glass repairs, acts of nature, vandalism, other party faults, etc.
  • Incidents most likely applicable for an AWD vs. FWD analysis were left, such as collision with a stationary object and/or animal, skidded or slid, driver lost control of vehicle and pedestrian collision.
  • The resulting accident dataset included a total of 273 incidents with cars and light vehicles of various years, makes and models distinguished by AWD vs. FWD through model designation.

The results:


Out of 273 total incidents, 68% of the collisions occurred in a FWD vehicle and 32% of the collisions occurred in an AWD vehicle. This represents nearly a 2 to 1 ratio in favor of AWD, using collisions as the criterion.

While there may not be definitive research showing improved safety from the use of AWD vs. FWD, this analysis points out how critical it is to consider numerous factors – even factors outside the normal “safety equipment” options – when choosing your selectors.

Does your fleet have both AWD vs FWD vehicles? I’d be interested to hear about your experience in terms of accident rates.

FWD vs. AWD

My latest article in Fleet Management Weekly is all about one of the most important subjects related to material handling equipment: Fleet maintenance. 
 
It’s one thing to have a checklist of normal things to take care of, like checking batteries, cables, electric wires and spark plugs for wear and corrosion; transmission fluid for appropriate level, color and odor and hoses and hydraulic valves for leaks or breaks in the sealing.
 
But what’s really valuable is a fleet maintenance plan – and this article provides some recommendations for developing one. Read it here:
 
 
Having and sticking to a maintenance plan not only enhances safety and productivity, but reduces costs.
 
If you’d like to read some of the other blogs we’ve posted on this series of articles, you can find them here:
 
 
And if you have a topic you’d like me to cover in my series of article on material handling equipment, please let me know!
 
If you operate a commercial truck fleet, you probably know that one of the most frequent accidents in your vehicle operation is a rear end collision. In many cases these accidents are the result of “following too close,” where there was not enough stopping distance available. 
 
It’s not always the fault of the driver, as in many cases, another vehicle or motorcycle will try to slip in front of the truck without realizing the distance the truck needs to stop in.
So how much distance IS needed? Take a look at this infographic:
 
TruckStopDistance Blog
 
The data shows stopping distance for vehicles operating in perfect weather conditions. If we add inclement weather such as rain, snow or ice to the equation, the stopping distances increase. And darkness potentially increases stopping distance even more, as it affects the driver’s reaction time. So add one second for each variable.
 
Tips to reduce rear end collisions:

  1. Increase the distance between the vehicle you are driving and the vehicle in front of you. Statistics have shown that most drivers keep a 2-second distance between vehicles travelling at speed. The 4-second rule gives the driver a better chance of stopping in time to prevent a collision.

    How to determine the 4-second rule:

    Pick out an item on the side of the road, whether it’s a tree or lamp post. When you see the car in front of you go past that tree or post, count off how long it takes you to reach that same marker. Anything less than 4 seconds when travelling at speed could mean that you are following too close to the vehicle in front of you.
  2. Keep your eyes scanning ahead of you as far as possible to detect potential hazards and give yourself time to react if needed.
  3. Always know the location of each vehicle around you, including vehicles behind you.
  4. While stopped at an intersection, always make sure you can see the rear tires of the vehicle in front of you from your normal sitting position. To avoid rear ending the vehicle in front of you if it makes an unexpected stop in the intersection, look left, right and left while counting “123 go” before starting up your vehicle.
  5. If a vehicle cuts you off, stay calm and maintain the correct following distance to include slowing down if needed.
  6. Avoid conversations in your vehicle and thoughts that keep your mind off your driving.
  7. To prevent accidents – or in some cases to define who was at fault – some companies choose to install cameras in the vehicles. There are several companies that market this technology and can provide you with data that will justify the return on investment. This technology can possibly fill in the gaps of ‘who said what’ and what actually happened. However, the accident footage is not always admissible in court. 
Let me know if you have other suggestions for reducing rear end collisions!

 

We’re excited about the upcoming NAFA 2015 Institute and Expo in Orlando, Florida, April 13-17 and hope we’ll get a chance to see you there. This conference is the fleet management industry’s largest event – and Element Fleet will be there to help you enjoy it even more! Be sure to attend these education sessions and visit our booth at the Expo: 
 
The following institute sessions feature Element Fleet Management speakers:
 
  • Monday, April 13, 2:00 p.m. (International Fleet Academy)
    Charting Your Global Roadmap: An interactive workshop 
  • Tuesday, April 14, 2:00 p.m. 
    Creating Bid Proposals to Achieve Results Sooner Rather Than Never 
  • Tuesday, April 14, 3:45 p.m. 
    Fleet Finance Explained: Funding Alternatives for the Global Fleet 
  • Wednesday, April 15, 1:15 p.m. 
    Emerging Controversarial Issues and Their Impact on Your Fleet 
  • Wednesday, April 15, 1:15 p.m. 
    Turn Off the Engine! (Explore ideas & techniques to change behavior of excessive idlers) 
  • Thursday, April 16, 2:45 p.m. 
    Implementing Telematics: A Manager’s Success Story 
  • Friday, April 17, 9:00 a.m. 
    Fleet Managers Only: The FMC Executive Panel
VISIT ELEMENT IN BOOTH #1129
Follow the flip-flops on the floor to our booth. Our consulting experts will provide a quick “fleet diagnostics” to help you tune up your fleet! Expo hours are April 15 (10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.) and April 16 (10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.).
 
We look forward to seeing you there, and if you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow @elementfleet for our tweets (#NAFA2015) from the conference and show floor!
 

This morning, I had the privilege to attend the unveiling of the latest Bright Smiles, Bright Futures® van in Baltimore!

Element's 50-year client, Colgate-Palmolive, has reached children around the world with free dental screenings and oral health education through the Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program. In the United States, Colgate's fleet of mobile dental vans travels around the country to rural and urban communities, serving over 165 million children to date.

At today's festive event, the Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures® program expanded its focus on Baltimore children by officially dedicating a brand new mobile dental van, managed by Element Fleet. The van is staffed by program coordinators and local volunteer dental professionals, and it will operate six days a week through partnerships with local schools, churches and community events.

Jim Halliday, President of Element Fleet Management, spoke at today's dedication, as did Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake, Dr. Marsha Butler, Vice President of Global Oral Health and Professional Relations for Colgate, and other health and school officials. It was a great day, the kids were delighted to explore the new van, and Element Fleet is very proud to partner with Colgate in this unique and valuable community program.

At the BSBF dedication in Baltimore: (l to r) Jim Halliday of Element Fleet, Lee Wagoner of Colgate-Palmolive, and Scott Dunbar, Mary Ann Moeri and Rich Zambroski of Element Fleet.

brightSmilesBrightFuturesPic

April is distracted driving month, so what better time to focus your fleet drivers on this important topic?

"Distracted driving" is any visual, manual or cognitive distraction that has the potential to distract a driver from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing. Some of the most common distractions are talking on a mobile phone or texting while driving, adjusting the radio or temperature controls, eating or drinking, picking up objects, using an electronic device such as a GPS, applying makeup or being preoccupied with passengers.

According to numerous studies, too many drivers are still talking or texting while they drive, despite numerous laws put in place throughout North America.

Reducing your risk from distracted driving

When an employee is involved in a crash because of distracted driving, the victims have the law on their side when it comes to getting recompensed. One crucial step in protecting your fleet drivers – and your company – is to develop and implement a cell phone policy, using the following guidelines:

  • Know your risk. Understand how many crashes your company has had in the past, the number of insurance claims and your premium history. Find your organizational balance of revenue and risk management.
  • Don't make a policy in a vacuum. You need to talk to the people who will be following the policy.
  • Communicate from the top down. Executive sponsorship is required for a cell phone policy to be successful.
  • Reward and recognize. Once a policy is in place, ensure that safe drivers are rewarded for their behavior.
  • Enforce it. If you don't plan on enforcing it, don't create a policy at all.

Another important step in protecting your fleet includes training. At Center for Transportation Safety, we've found that an effective training involves use of multiple methods: classroom and online instruction, work in simulators and behind the wheel. Training should focus on a driver's behavioral attitudes, including understanding the dangers inherent in distracted driving.

Let me know your experience with cell phone policies at your company.

Fleet telematics technology is enabling fleet managers to have access to vast amounts of information that was formerly inaccessible. This data can have an enormous impact on productivity.
 
How?
 
If you already think you know, you may be surprised. Our clients who use telematics are discovering new and exciting possibilities every day. We’ve put together a short tip sheet that tells you more – you can access it here:
 
 
We have clients who say telematics technology has helped solve stubborn fleet challenges they’ve struggled with for years. I’d be interested to hear your story about using telematics – what has your experience been like?
 
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