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Idling law: is global legislation needed?

by Eleonora Malacarne on May 21, 2019 8:59:00 AM

Idling law: is global legislation needed?

If you are serious about saving fuel and cutting your operating costs, you must have at least considered how your fleet drivers can avoid idling on the roads. Despite it looking like a trivial strategy at first glance, the upside is it is actually something very positive to achieve at literally zero cost. You can do something as simple as communicating to your drivers the necessity of avoiding idling or draft an ad-hoc idling policy, and, if they fully commit to the proposals, you will see the results for yourself soon enough.

But what may very well be on the horizon is the prospect of an idling law, or, in other words, because of environmental concerns and emissions targets at a European and global level, idling may soon be sanctioned by police and local authorities with costly financial penalties. The UK environment secretary Michael Gove recently said he supported calls from some councils to introduce stronger measures to tackle idling engines, which can cause even more pollution than a moving car. The government, as a consequence, is evaluating proposals to give more power to police and local authorities to impose penalties on drivers who idle. As is stands, the only penalties in force are a £20 or £80 fine, which is triggered only if drivers ignore their initial warning and idle for an additional minute.

As Fleet News revealed, attitudes toward idling seems to vary according to county in the UK: the Westminster Council leader thinks authorities need to send a strong message in the event of persistent idling, and considers a successful deterrent for company vehicles caught idling ought to be somewhere in the region of a four-figure fine. Camden Council warned a total of 400 drivers for idling, but issued no fines despite enforcement officers invested with the power to do so in March last year. Eighteen local authorities in London have allegedly noted idling incidents and have engaged with drivers in order to ask them to switch their engine off when stationary. Islington council have also been taking anti-idling action, too, stating that 80% of drivers asked to switch off their engine actually did so if requested to in a friendly way.

Environment secretary Michael Gove told The Times that instant fines for repeated offenders should be considered a viable solution to the problem and this involves increasing the power of enforcement for local authorities so long as it is applied correctly.

This action taken by the Government is certainly going to have an impact and help ensure drivers turn off their engine when it is not necessary to keep them running, such as when parked, for example. Some of the fines proposed for repeat offenders, of around £1000, will become a major concern for companies and couriers.

If you haven’t looked into eliminating idling yet, you probably need to start. Not only because it is likely to become a legal requirement fairly soon, but for the sake of the environment and for the difference it can make to your fuel bills. If you don’t know where to start or do not have an effective and coherent strategy, contact us and we will show you how idling can become one less headache.

 

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Topics: Fleet Costs, Fleet Management, News, Stats & Facts

29% of fleet managers don’t know how many drivers they employ

by Eleonora Malacarne on May 16, 2019 9:01:00 AM

29% of fleet managers don’t know how many drivers they employ

Driving for Better Business—a UK initiative to assist employers in the commercial and public sector minimise the risks associated with work-related driving, reduce costs and keep up-to-date with current legislation—have shared some results directly from its online risk assessment database.

The data shared focussed on what you might expect to be a straightforward question for fleet operators to answer: “Do you know how many drivers you have?” Despite the question seeming simple enough, only 71% answered, “yes”, but that left 29%, almost a third, who didn’t know.

To be fair, answering this question is easier if a specific company vehicle is assigned to a single driver, which might be the case for some fleets. Though in other instances the same vehicle is used for multiple shifts and many drivers have access to the same van, for example. In companies using the so-called grey fleets or with staff utilising their own cars, the answer is anything but simple.

This apparently easy-to-answer question is a very important one. If companies do not know the number of drivers with exactitude, they cannot demonstrate that drivers are managed efficiently or are familiar with fleet policy, and not all of the drivers’ licences will have probably been checked, meaning companies are ultimately not 100% sure that their drivers are eligible to do the job.

When asked how many have checked licences directly with the DVLA, the answer was, again, 71% —probably roughly the same 71% that were confident how many drivers are in their employ. As most will know, checking licences highlights a number of potential issues, including the eligibility of drivers to drive different types of vehicles as well as any potential health problems.

It might surprise people to learn that only half (50%) of those answering bother to check any medical issues that could compromise driving ability, which would indicate that most of the checks are cursory and focussed primarily on penalty points.

Still less, just over a third of companies (38%), carry out any formal assessment of driver competency prior to engaging them in work-related driving, with 14% looking to do so at some point. This is quite astonishing if we were to consider this statistic applied to staff who were expected to operate machinery in a factory environment or operate in an industry involving a degree of risk—in other words, why should operating commercially on public highways, in whatever capacity, be considered less hazardous than the aforementioned activities.

 

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Topics: Fleet Management, fleet compliance

Road Safety Week 2019: #speakup is the hashtag of the 5th edition

by Eleonora Malacarne on May 14, 2019 9:04:00 AM

Road Safety Week 2019 speakup is the hashtag of the 5th edition

The United Nations Global Road Safety Week initiative took place last week from May 6th to May 12th for the fifth consecutive year. The Road Safety Week has been an opportunity for the fleet industry and fleet operators to encourage all drivers and riders to consider the risks they face and pose on their daily journeys, and to find ways of reducing those risks.

The main point of interest in the latest Road Safety Week event was the hashtag #speakup. Road users have been encouraged to follow a four-step process, focussing first of all on assessing their journeys in order to find out which part of them they consider particularly unsafe; then in the second step they would take note of their road safety demands referring to the assessment of their journeys, and the third step would consist in presenting their concerns to the relevant decision makers in order to implement a practical solution. As a fourth step, the committee of the Road Safety Week 2019 encouraged participants to showcase their work and commitment towards the cause.

Road Safety Week 2019 speakup is the hashtag of the 5th edition_2

Among the subjects highlighted during the Road Safety Week were speed management, the need for leadership on road safety, improvements in the design of infrastructure, vehicle safety standard regulations, enforcement of traffic laws and the development of emergency care systems post-crash.

A survey conducted by Venson in the UK and published by Fleet News during the Road Safety Week showed that four fifths of the respondents (81%) believe that all reckless drivers —regardless of their offence—should lose their licence and be made to retake their tests.

According to the results of the research, strong leadership and actions from the government are what’s required (exactly what the road safety week has been focussing on this year): 81% of those interviewed called for an immediate licence ban, 80% appealed for the introduction of harsher fines and 74% said they would like to see the maximum penalty increased for careless driving that resulted in a fatality.

Among the other results, 25% of respondents defined driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (including prescription medication) as the most reckless driving offence. Second was speeding (24%), while distracted driving, such as using a mobile phone or eating at the wheel, was third at 12%.

 

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Topics: Road Safety, fleet safety

N for No: why is disagreement the latest chapter in our A-Z of fleet management series?

by Eleonora Malacarne on May 9, 2019 9:01:00 AM

N for No: why is disagreement the latest chapter in our A-Z of fleet management series?

The latest chapter in our A-Z of fleet management series starts with something that definitely does not only apply to business, drivers and vehicles, but virtually to anything. Why then have we decided to associate the word “No” with fleet management? In this field just like any other, saying “No” might be seen as one of the most difficult things to do, especially if you are directing a fleet and need to cope with many different demands and requirements at any given time—but in the end it ultimately comes down to the outcome of fleet operations, how safely it is done and how much you can capitalize on your resources to bring projects to a successful conclusion while saving on your budget.

Saying “no” is defined as disagreeing or not accepting something and this is generally seen as the opposite of positive action. It is something that could cause individuals with low self-confidence to become anxious if pressed to say the opposite of what they really feel in a situation. In some cases this might be valid for the fleet industry, but when we talk about saying “no” we really want to focus on a list of practices that fleet managers need to avoid if they want to achieve a productive outcome.

What then should fleet managers say “no” to?

#1 Making impulsive decisions. When you have budget or time constraints or feel pressure from senior management or stakeholders, it is easy to feel rushed into making a particular decision even though in most cases it doesn’t lead to a great outcome. It is definitely better to have enough fact-based material upon which to make a sound decision, especially when it comes to your vehicles, their performance, the costs they generate and the way they are driven.

#2 Skipping important tasks for lack of time. We all know the same old story of always feeling pressed for time; while we can surely prioritise tasks depending on importance, we cannot simply skip some because they take time, as it might seriously compromise your safety or affect the legal status of your fleet. There might be faster and easier ways of doing things that allow your fleet to stay safe and meet legal requirements.

#3 Getting distracted. Fleet managers can easily get distracted by the amount of tasks they need to deal with, especially if they do not have the technological tools available to process them and help focus on the important things or on the real causes of a problem such as excessive fleet cost, for example. There are surely ways in which you can focus on what is really necessary and also decide how to delegate the less important things.

#4 Wasting time on useless operations. Quite the opposite of #2 but often confused with it, as tasks that are seen as time-consuming are often adjudged useless. But here we are actually talking about operations that are not necessary or can be done in a different, quicker way. If you spend a lot of time planning routes but do not have the tools to help you do it, then you need to look into doing it in a more modern and faster way to save time which can be devoted to other priorities.

#5 Being passive. Some things are just logical, aren’t they, as a matter of fact? Vehicles have so many sources of costs. First and foremost, vehicles need fuel to work. Yes, this is obviously not a revelation, but who said nothing at all can be done about it? You will be surprised how many potential savings might be hidden in your fleet budget that can be returned to the bank balance–just stop being passive when it comes to these issues and take positive action—we are always on hand to help you out.

 

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Topics: Fleet Management

Vehicle safety technologies: 30 new items to be mandatory in newly manufactured vehicles

by Eleonora Malacarne on May 7, 2019 9:04:00 AM

Vehicle safety technologies: 30 new items to be mandatory in newly manufactured vehicles

Starting from 16 April 2019, new rules governing advanced vehicle safety are to be incorporated into the technology of manufactured vehicles as a legal requirement for the EU market. The rules need to be given the go-ahead from the EU Council in order to come into effect from May 2022 for new models and May 2024 for those models already in use.

The new vehicles will be fitted with roughly 30 life-saving technologies. Some examples are listed below:

  • Intelligent speed assistance to make a driver aware when exceeding the speed limit
  • Driver drowsiness and attention warning
  • Advanced driver distraction warning to help keep attention on the traffic situation
  • Emergency stop signal in the form of a light, signalling road users behind the vehicle that the driver is braking suddenly
  • Reversing detection system to avoid collisions with people and objects behind the vehicle, with the help of a camera or a monitor
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system warning the driver when a loss of pressure occurs
  • Alcohol interlock installation facilitation allowing aftermarket alcohol interlock devices to be fitted
  • Event data recorder to register relevant data shortly before, during, and immediately after a road accident

There will be some safety innovations for passenger cars and LCVs which will be obliged to adopt some of the safety features that are already in place for buses and lorries such as an emergency braking system and an emergency lane-keeping system.

As for buses and trucks, the new safety features earmarked for them are quite sophisticated: direct vision features, for example, enable the driver to more easily spot vulnerable road users; there are also systems to help detect pedestrians and cyclists in close proximity to the vehicle.

The statistical projections behind this dramatic overhaul of vehicle safety are quite compelling: the new technology could prevent more than 25,000 fatalities and 140,000 serious injuries leading up to 2038. One statistic is especially convincing: human error accounts for 95% of all road traffic accidents.

The EU has made public an infographic highlighting the statistical breakdown of road fatalities by country:

Vehicle safety technologies: 30 new items to be mandatory in newly manufactured vehicles

It clearly demonstrates that thousands of people are killed or severely injured every year on EU highways. But it also demonstrates that from 2001-2007 technological safety advances and social attitudes reduced road fatalities by 57.5%. Unfortunately, the figures also indicate that this pronounced reduction in road deaths is slowing. Sadly, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania did not have a good road safety record in 2017, while Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK were the safest countries for that year.



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Topics: Road Safety, fleet safety

Fuel prices on the rise in March and April: what are the causes?

by Eleonora Malacarne on May 2, 2019 9:03:00 AM

Fuel prices on the rise in March and April: what are the causes?

Fuel prices have been on the rise leading up to Easter in both the UK and Ireland.

Fuel price data shared by the AA for UK consumers revealed that over the Easter period, the cost of fuel at the pumps reached a five-year seasonal high. Average UK retail petrol prices were 125.41p per litre, up 5.41p from last year, while diesel was 131.97ppl, up 1.65ppl in a month.

Regarding Ireland, while prices at the pumps dropped 1.4% between February and March 2018, they rose 1% in the same period this year and drivers faced higher prices at the pumps last month and Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rate of inflation was up 2% last month.

According to experts, CPI inflation is expected to be at or above the 2% target in all but two of the remaining months this year and is seen as one of the causes of the rise. Other global events that might have impacted fuel prices include the civil war in Libya and sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, but also better weather conditions in UK and Ireland may have stimulated the trading conditions of fuel and hence increased demand. Any sharp slowdown in demand that might have happened in March has changed in April, after the latest Brexit deadline was extended until October—reassuring consumers as to concerns about a Brexit summer cut-off and therefore encouraging them to spend (including on fuel).

With fuel prices on the rise, the onus is on fleet managers to find ways to spend less money on fuel and have the right fuel purchasing policy. With fuel being the lifeblood of any fleet, a number of possible saving opportunities are already available, like the optimisation of fleet journeys, training for safer and more efficient driving techniques which are focussed on anticipating hazards and reducing unnecessary fuel consumption.

 

 

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Topics: Fleet Costs, fuel prices, fuel management, onboarding

International Worker’s Memorial Day 2019: safety in the workplace and on the road

by Eleonora Malacarne on Apr 30, 2019 9:06:00 AM

Memorial_Day_Logo

Last Sunday was Worker’s Memorial Day for 2019: Workers’ Memorial Day is an international occasion that is commemorated on the 28th of April every year. All over the world workers and their representatives hold events, demonstrations and a whole host of other activities to commemorate the day.

According to the TUC (Trades Union Congress), “Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don’t die of mystery ailments, or in tragic ‘accidents’. They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn’t that important a priority. Workers’ Memorial Day (WMD) commemorates those workers.”

This is why a special day is set aside in the calendar year (April 28th is the anniversary of the date the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 went into effect), so that everybody concerned with health and safety at work—trade unions, employer groups and individual organisations across the world—can remember all those souls who were injured or have died in work related incidents.

With driving being one of the riskiest work activities, the event has taken on particular importance for drivers and fleets. It represents an opportunity to, in the words of the commemoration’s motto, “Remember the dead: fight for the living” and unions have been asked to not only reflect upon all those killed at work but also consider how to ensure such tragedies are not repeated. That can best be done by building strong trade union organisations, and campaigning for stricter enforcement with higher penalties for breaches of health & safety laws. Events have been organised in Ireland bearing the slogan, “Remembering the past for a safe and healthy future!” and also in the UK to tackle workers’ health and safety.

“Work is to earn a living,” said Esther Lynch, ETUC Confederal Secretary, “not cause death”. On work-related road deaths and suicides, Lynch added, “We know that a large proportion of road deaths are work-related, and with the digital economy there is an increase of people delivering goods by road. We need those platforms who create the conditions to be responsible and take actions to protect workers and prevent work-related road deaths.”

 

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Topics: fleet safety, Health and Safety at work, onboarding

Sustainable procurement policy: how to strengthen sustainable fleet management

by Eleonora Malacarne on Apr 25, 2019 9:05:00 AM

Sustainable procurement policy: how to strengthen sustainable fleet management

Having a sustainable procurement and fleet policy (and adhering to it) is a safe bet for any type of organization. The progress of vehicle technology, of the different systems we use to communicate and the development of fleet management all offer the opportunity to run sustainable and responsible fleets that operate in a cleaner way nowadays, with improved use of vehicles and a consequent reduction of congestion, emissions and fuel.

Committing to sustainability is also a fantastic chance to publicise your wish to take environmental responsibilities seriously, by helping to tackle air quality and climate change, and this consequently enhances your reputation. For companies belonging to the public sector it can even be seen as an imperative, as detailed in the European Criteria for Green Public Procurement Criteria.

Before working on a draft for a sustainable procurement and fleet policy, companies should consider goals, do some research and establish appropriate actions to ensure their sustainability targets can be converted into reality and help minimise the impact on the global environment and reduce traffic—ultimately for the benefit of their business, but also in order to spend more wisely on resources.

What then are some of the points that need to be considered in a sustainable procurement and fleet policy?

Here we detail some of them:

#1 – Consider actions aimed at reducing fuel consumption. There are different strategies to consider in order to reach this goal, like replacing vehicles with more efficient substitutes, looking into alternative fuels, reducing idling, reducing mileage, improving driver habits, adopting planning tools able to set a goal for fuel consumption reduction.

#2 – Working on rightsizing. Determine whether every unit is necessary to the fleet. Are there any gas guzzlers that you could reasonably replace with more efficient models? Make a plan for rightsizing the fleet imminently and down the line

#3 - Set purchasing rules. Think about purchasing rules that favour efficient vehicles, technologies that improve operational performance, cost savings and fair social policies.

#4 – Create an incentive program for greener driving. Measure driver performance on the basis of sustainability, low fuel consumption and efficiency targets, plan proper training in order to improve in these areas and encourage drivers to follow the example of the best performers.

#5 - Use telematics as a fleet intelligence tool. Telematics and fleet management solutions can help identify ways for fleets to take measures which reduce spend, fuel consumption and emissions.

 

 

 

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Topics: Fleet Management, fleet management sustainability

7 common challenges related to the decision-making process in fleets

by Eleonora Malacarne on Apr 23, 2019 9:01:00 AM

7 common challenges related to the decision-making process in fleets

Making effective decisions is vital in any business. Every business comes with a set of challenges related to this particular aspect, and the same goes for fleets. Having a sound decision-making process means solving problems by examining different solutions and deciding on the way to go, though very often the way is not necessarily smooth and there are often pitfalls. With this post we would like to explore the main ones faced by those of you holding management-executive positions in fleets—what then are the key challenges when it comes to the fleet decision-making processes?

#1 – Information overload. Having a lot of information is often viewed as beneficial, but if that information is not collated properly or only available via a multitude of methods, processing it all can become overwhelming. You should be accustomed to accessing the kind of user-friendly data that is key to your decision-making options, or you might feel misguided and confused.

#2 – Not having enough information. Of course extremes are never good: not having enough information to support your decision is not good either; and you should definitely be up to speed with all the relevant information in order to come up with the best solution for any issue.

#3 – Misidentifying the problem. In many cases, the issues surrounding your decision will be obvious. However, there will be times when the decision is complex and you aren’t sure where the main issue lies, as the actual cause may be elusive. Being able to conduct thorough research, receive useful data and speak with internal experts could be ways to mitigate this situation.

#4 – Overconfidence in the outcome. We are not by any way devaluing the importance of positive thinking, but rather that you should identify realistic, viable, achievable options rather than ones that are overly optimistic and unrealistic.

#5 – Impulsiveness. Stress, time constraints or any other circumstance such as the pressure to decide upon a course of action can compromise the desired results if decisions are taken too quickly. You might inadvertently skip important data or forget about the impact of some action or other on the team.

#6 – Opinions and objectivity. It is natural to involve other people in the decision-making process, but you need to avoid falling for something similar to the halo effect (preconceived ideas and prejudices based solely upon appearances). Try and be coolly objective in your decision-making—compliance, safety and the business should be the priority—that’s something you can only achieve with objective data.

#7 – Not a one-off. If you make a decision, you will have to follow-up on it to understand if it has really been the correct one; it could be a way to improve your decision-making process and set a useful precedent if you have to take a similar step in the future.

 

Having an objective source of fleet data, as provided by any of our fleet management systems, can really help in overcoming the kind of challenges that all those who manage vehicles experience at some point—do let us know if you want to learn more.

 

 

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Topics: Fleet Management

A-Z series: M is for Maintenance—a key element of fleet management

by Eleonora Malacarne on Apr 18, 2019 9:03:00 AM

A-Z series: M is for Maintenance—a key element of fleet management

If you are reading this, you are probably more than aware just how essential vehicles are to your business—hence why M is for Maintenance in our A-Z of fleet management—and chances are a business could not function without them or at the very least some of your daily tasks would be impossible to complete. That’s why keeping your vehicles in sound running order through proper maintenance regimes ensures you have an efficient and healthy business. Not only are well-kept vehicles required to pass regular inspections, but they also help keep employees confident in their equipment. The alternative is an unreliable fleet that lets customers down, costs you money in repairs and alienates staff—something you hopefully want to avoid like the plague!

 

What is fleet maintenance?

Fleet maintenance is the process of keeping your vehicles operating in a good enough condition so that they are safe, reliable and can stay on the road longer. Developing a preventative maintenance program is an integral part of managing a fleet and helps businesses reduce operating costs and improve vehicle inspection outcomes, among other benefits.  

 

What types of maintenance do we know?

In general, maintenance has two approaches: reactive and proactive. While reactive maintenance focuses on repairing an asset once failure occurs, proactive maintenance, on the other hand, focuses on avoiding repairs and asset failure through preventive strategies that anticipate possible issues (in some cases following recommendations from the manufacturer and establishing a routine series of checks) and predictive methods (complementary strategies based on a database of maintenance checks for those specific vehicles). Both reactive and proactive maintenance might seem to have advantages, but reactive maintenance, relating to minimal preparation, is not necessarily conducive to a positive outcome: downtime is often inconsistent and unpredictable; it is associated with inefficient use of labour and/or higher costs deriving from mechanical issues that could have been tackled more easily and cheaply earlier on or maybe avoided altogether.

Is it better to have a maintenance department or to outsource?

There is actually no answer to suit all types of fleet and business. Small fleets might through necessity have to rely on an external maintenance provider due to their size and available resources, while bigger fleets might find it better to have a structured maintenance department in-house. But nothing is written in black on white. The important thing is fleets are aware of the maintenance needed and of the responsibilities of providers or upon themselves in case they decide to outsource.

 

Which technological solutions can boost fleet maintenance?

Fleet maintenance today is no longer something relegated to a spreadsheet. The more modern fleet management software comes with an entire maintenance section, which has at least three very practical features:

  • Scheduling—a maintenance calendar with alerts for servicing events and regular maintenance to be carried out;
  • Vendors contacts—a system that records all of the relevant data of your maintenance providers and serves as a database;
  • Vehicle checks—a real game changer if you manage a fleet, as you can so easily plan for vehicle inspection checks to be carried out by your driving staff via an app that stores all the relevant data for compliance and auditing purposes.

 

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Topics: Fleet Management, fleet maintenance

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