What Is Vehicle Fleet Management?

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Introduction 

If you operate commercial vehicles daily, you need to manage your fleet effectively. Vehicle fleet management can be quite challenging. Fleet managers are expected to manage key areas of fleet operations such as vehicle acquisition, regulatory compliance, vehicle maintenance, and fuel management. Luckily, we’ve compiled five tips to help you navigate the process of managing a fleet of any size. 

What Is Vehicle Fleet Management 

Vehicle fleet management is the process of overseeing all fleet maintenance and fleet operations to help increase the business’s efficiency and minimize risks. Any business that uses commercial vehicles daily should employ some form of fleet management.

Fleet managers are hired to be in charge of all facets of fleet activities. This includes: 

  • managing drivers
  • vehicle maintenance
  • negotiating with suppliers
  • route planning
  • asset utilization
  • managing fuel costs
  • overseeing fuel consumption
  • decreasing waste
  • boosting company productivity 

In addition, fleet managers and operators use vehicle fleet management software to help run their operations more efficiently and remain compliant with the ELD mandate. 

Tips on Vehicle Fleet Management 

Vehicle fleet management isn’t easy. There’s a lot of pressure on fleet managers to improve the performance of drivers and their fleet. Although it may sound difficult, following these tips and incorporating fleet telematics tools will help fleet managers excel in their role. 

1. Ensure Driver Safety with Vehicle Tracking Systems 

Reducing the number of accidents will help with the costs of hefty repairs and insurance bills. It can be challenging for fleet managers to keep drivers safe since they are hundreds of miles away from their drivers. 

Fleet managers should utilize vehicle tracking systems and dash cams that provide real-time visibility and incorporate this data into driver training. With vehicle tracking systems, fleet managers can monitor when sharp turns occur, when hard braking happens, view acceleration rates and vehicle speeds in certain areas. This helps you train your drivers to improve poor driving habits and pinpoint areas of concern. As a result of better driving behavior, your fleet will experience lower fuel costs, fewer accidents, and increased longevity due to less wear and tear. 

2. Create Great Workplace Conditions to Retain Drivers 

Driver shortages are becoming an increasing issue in the trucking industry. One survey found that about 57 percent of truck drivers leave their carriers after only six months on the job. You can create a better work environment by earning the trust of your drivers, building a strong mentorship program, actively seeking feedback, and investing in better equipment. 

Ensuring your drivers are happy helps to improve their performance as well. Create an open environment, where fleet managers regularly meet with drivers to discuss performance, share expectations, and voice any concerns. Also, design a more customized mentorship program that suits each driver’s needs. Fleet managers can pair experienced truckers with newer employees to improve drivers’ ability to deal with daily challenges. 

3. Reduce Operating Costs 

Expenses can easily rack-up if you aren’t vigilant and meticulous about spending. Control your budget by keeping track of all vehicle fleet management expenses. Look for potential savings in all departments including fuel, staff, maintenance, vehicle, and other necessary costs. Identify alternative ways to cut down on costs, such as monitoring and encouraging better driving habits from your drivers. Avoiding speeding, excessive idling, and hard braking, as well as removing unnecessary bulk from the trunk of a vehicle can significantly reduce fuel costs. 

Also, consider the operational cost of your vehicles. You may need to switch to alternative fuel types, such as compressed natural gas, or downgrade to more economical models to lower expenses. Even fleet maintenance plays a role in costs. Ensuring that all vehicles have properly inflated tires will lower fuel costs. Keeping tires inflated to the appropriate pressure can improve gas mileage for vehicles by an estimated average of 0.6 percent and up to 3 percent. Under-inflated tires can hurt gas mileage by about 0.2 percent every one psi drop

4. Only Record Relevant Information 

Recording data helps you monitor and measure the performance of your fleet. However, recording everything can lead to an overwhelming amount of data. Information is a helpful tool for managing a safe fleet operation, improving efficiency, ensuring greater accountability, setting objectives, and benchmarking against past performance. The problem is that more information requires greater administration time and resources to manage it. Save time and human labor by only collecting information that is essential to make informed decisions regarding your fleet management’s core functions. This data can be found in the following categories: 

  • Fuel: The fuel transactions; includes fuel type, cost, date, and quantity. 
  • Utilization: The distance that vehicles have traveled; the odometer readings, dates, and times. 
  • Maintenance: The services completed; labor, costs, parts, and services scheduled. 
  • Procurement: The lease or purchase contract details of every vehicle. 
  • Compliance: Compliance documentation, requirements, and dates of compliance events. 
  • Accidents: The driver, liability to the company, cost, and damage. 

The best way to handle fleet data is with a telematics program that provides custom reporting on the above data points. This allows you to tailor the information you receive to only those reports that really make a difference for your unique fleet.

5. Make Vehicle Maintenance Management Accessible and Easy

Drivers tend to neglect or forget about vehicle maintenance. It’s important to make scheduling, reporting, and conducting inspections as convenient as possible. File folders, handwritten notes, and whiteboards are easily neglected. Setting up a cloud-based telematics software with automated service reminders and mobile accessibility will help make scheduling vehicle maintenance easy. 

It’s important to prioritize preventative maintenance. This includes tasks such as vehicle inspections, oil changes, and tire rotation. Proper maintenance routines will significantly reduce untimely repairs and breakdowns. Having a successful fleet maintenance program ensures customer satisfaction, reduced downtime, and improved productivity. 

Conclusion 

Proper vehicle fleet management practices are an essential piece of operating a commercial fleet business. If you’re looking for ways to cut costs, improve productivity, and boost your company’s bottom line, begin by implementing smart technology such as Azuga Fleet. Azuga will help save you hundreds of dollars each year and simplify the process of managing a fleet. 

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What is the Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax?

The vehicle miles traveled tax is known by multiple names: the mileage tax, road usage charging (RUC), distance-based user fees (DBUF), vehicle miles traveled tax (VMTT), or mileage-based user fees (MBUF). It is simply a tax based on how many miles a driver travels. It is an excellent option to replace the gas tax as a means to fund the Highway Trust Fund. This fund is how our nation pays for maintaining and building infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, and tunnels.  

Why Do We Need the Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax?

The gas tax is an antiquated way of funding our infrastructure and has been inadequate for over a decade. It has not kept up with inflation in the last 25 years, causing it to drop in value by over 40%. In the last quarter-century, traffic has only increased as the population has grown. The wear and tear on our infrastructure worsens, but our ability to maintain it can’t keep up. 

Furthermore, electric and fuel-efficient cars pay very little, if any, gas tax. They still use the roads and contribute to their degradation, but the drivers do not help pay for their upkeep. While electric and fuel-efficient vehicles are better for the environment, it is still important that these drivers pay their fair share of taxes for the roads. 

How Would We Implement the Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax? 

This tax is already in place in Oregon and Utah on an opt-in basis. Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, California, Delaware, and Pennsylvania have researched road usage charging programs in their states with success. Oregon’s fully functioning road usage charging program, OReGO, is the leading example of how to implement a mileage tax nationwide. 

OReGO uses Azuga Insight to automatically track driver miles and collect revenue without any staff needed or driver intervention. Drivers simply install hardware into their OBD port and set up a wallet online. As they drive, Azuga Insight tracks their miles and removes funds automatically from the wallet. 

Participation in OReGO is optional, but drivers have the incentive of not having to pay increased registration fees based on mpg rating. Drivers who opt-in have to meet these vehicle requirements: 

  • Light-duty
  • 20 miles-per-gallon or better rating
  • Registered to an Oregon resident

OReGO has been implemented smoothly and is easy to sustain. 

Benefits of the Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax

Safer

Roads in poor condition cause 14,000 highway fatalities annually. It’s necessary for communities everywhere to obtain the funding to repair and maintain their roads. Streets all over the country are aging rapidly, and more funding in the Highway Trust Fund would help us stay on top of maintenance before more fatalities happen. 

Fairer

Most drivers will pay the same as they are currently paying under the gas tax, but all drivers will be paying instead of just some. This means that electric vehicles and fuel-efficient vehicles will contribute their fair share as well. Everyone pays for what they use, so drivers who don’t drive very much won’t have to worry about paying very much.

More Funding

Experts believe that implementing a vehicle miles traveled tax across the US would increase the Highway Trust Fund by $340 million. This would fund improvements to existing infrastructure, along with new infrastructure for areas that have grown in the past 25 years. 

Conclusion

The vehicle miles traveled tax is the most likely solution to the issue of our country’s crumbling infrastructure. It may be a long time before it is implemented across the nation, but as states pick it up, it is important to know what it is and how it will affect you. To keep up with the latest updates regarding the vehicle miles traveled tax, follow Azuga Insight’s blog.

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What is Fleet Data?

Tracking fleet data is vitally important to running a fleet in any industry. Any kind of data can be tracked, from where vehicles are, to what assets a company has on hand, to the safety of drivers and vehicles. All of this information is important for fleet managers to know to make their fleet effective and productive. What is fleet data, and how can it help fleets be more effective?

Fleet Data for Vehicle Maintenance

Keeping up with vehicle maintenance is one of the best ways to keep vehicles on the road for the long haul. With how much time fleets spend driving, wear and tear on a vehicle is inevitable, but fleet managers can reduce this by harnessing telematics and maintenance alerts. Telematics can tell managers when a vehicle has engine trouble or when a driver is being rough on the brakes or idling too much. Managers can also set up maintenance alerts so they do not have to try and remember when each vehicle needs routine maintenance. Preventative maintenance is crucial to a vehicle’s longevity and will help it stay on the road for years to come. 

Fleet Data for Safety

Any fleet’s top priority is safety. Drivers and vehicles are integral to a fleet business’s entire operation, and ensuring that they do their jobs safely is a huge part of a fleet manager’s job. Luckily fleet data can track driver behavior and determine if drivers are behaving safely behind the wheel. Telematics can track actions such as hard braking, rapid acceleration, distracted driving, and speeding. When drivers display any of these behaviors, they will receive an alert. If the behaviors continue, the system will alert the fleet manager, who can then choose to get in touch with the driver. Accidents can cost thousands of dollars, and days of lost time for businesses, so avoiding them is crucial for companies to succeed. 

Fleet Data for Asset Tracking

Asset tracking is terrific for preventing theft, but it is also ideal for fleet managers to keep track of what they have on hand in their warehouse. Often, assets and equipment sit unused in a warehouse, taking up space that something practical could be occupying. With asset data, fleet managers can determine what assets the fleet does not use and get rid of them, making room for something that will be more beneficial for the company. Furthermore, knowing what’s on hand prevents double-purchasing, which saves the company money as well. 

Conclusion

Tracking fleet data is essential for keeping a fleet productive and effective. It is all part of a fleet manager’s job. Luckily, Azuga has many tools to help with tracking fleet data. Reach out to the experts at Azuga today to find out how to get started gathering data today so that you can do the best for your fleet.


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Record of Duty Status

Each driver is required by the law to record a driver’s duty of status every 24 hours, using the structures stipulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). A record of duty status (RODS) can also be referred to as a driver’s log. It allows drivers to record details such as date, vehicle number, totals driving hours, the total number of miles driven within 24 hours, carrier’s name, a 24-hour period starting time, address, driver’s certification/signature, and remarks. 

Records can be maintained using an electronic logging device (ELD), using an FMCSA approved automatic on-board recording gadget, or even manually on a grid. Logs must be validated at all times by indicating each change in a duty status.

Exemptions to Record of Duty Status

A RODS is mandatory as part of Hours of Service (HOS) rules, which applies to commercial vehicles (CMVs). However, a few cases of short-haul carriers are exempt from maintaining records of duty status. 

Company policies may be different, but the FMCSA only expects drivers to record time and location after every stop.

Since the introduction of the ELD mandate, several motor carriers are leaning toward electronic logging devices to maintain their records of duty status automatically. Companies were given until December 16, 2019 to update automatic on-board recording devices to the latest ones, meaning there were also some exemptions to the ELD Rule.

Exemptions to RODS regulations include the following:

  • Drivers driving within a radius of 150 air-miles
  • Drivers of CMVs driving within a radius of 150 air-miles, who do not need a CDL, and at the same time operate within a radius of 150 air-miles of their daily reporting locations.

For drivers to qualify for the exemption, they must meet all the requirements stated by the regulations. Failure to meet even one of the requirements means all HOS rules apply.

Electronic Logging Devices

A driver must produce ELD records when requested by a safety official, either immediately, or within the permissible time if the motor carrier operates from more than one terminal or office. A motor carrier is supposed to retain a back-up copy of all ELD records for at least six months.

Only carriers or drivers falling under the exempted categories may use other recording methods, which may include automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) to maintain driver record of duty status.

Submitting and Retaining Driver Record of Duty Status Paper Logs

Being exempted from the ELD rule does not mean you are automatically exempted from the HOS regulations. A driver is required to submit original paper log sheets to their respective carriers within 13 days after the completion of their trips. The driver retains a copy of all RODS for the previous seven days, which must be produced on request for inspection at the time they are on duty. Drivers must also sign all hard copies of RODS.

Electronic HOS Regulations

The idea behind mandating the ELD rules was to provide accurate, consistent, and accessible methods of logging driver hours of service, and simultaneously create a safer working environment. The new measures were intended to ensure drivers took necessary breaks and rested appropriately, and to ensure they remained alert while driving. Making the switch from manual processes like logbooks to electronic hours of service tools makes it easier for businesses to keep up with the FMCSA requirements.

However, the implementation of electronic logging devices does not change the fleet manager’s responsibility to track off duty or driving hours. What it does require is that you make use of a log tracking device and software system.

Who Should Comply with ELD HOS Logging?

The HOS rules apply to drivers operating CMVs such as school buses and semi-trucks. For a vehicle to be classified as a CMV, it must fulfil the following:

  • Weigh above 10,000 pounds
  • Have a combined weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 pounds
  • Be used for transporting 16 or more persons, including the driver, or nine or more passengers for commercial transport purposes
  • Transport goods classified as hazardous and require placards

If a vehicle meets the qualifications above, it is required by the law to comply with HOS regulations and to maintain decent hours of service log. 

Common Hours of Service Violations - And How to Fix Them

Besides ordinary traffic violations and unsafe driving, it is common among drivers to fail to comply with HOS regulations. Hours of Service compliance counts as one of the core basics of CSA, and maintaining a low score is often a result of piling frustrations.

The ability to fix problems associated with hours of service is the most crucial way to keep safety scores in check, and helps in controlling the frequency of roadside inspections.

Below are the most common violations of Hours of Service and how you can fix them.

Clerical Form Errors

When entering data manually, issues like mathematical errors, poor handwriting, the omission of essential information, and many other mistakes, may arise. These are issues that can be minimized by implementing an electronic system that automatically fills in the required data when it is needed. Tired drivers can easily leave out essential data, which could be deemed a violation of the hours of service regulations.

Not Updating Statuses

The driver record of duty status graph shown on a log must always be up to date, showing each detail of changes. Forgetting, or simply failing to update duty status is common among drivers and leads to severe roadside inspections. It is mostly due to drivers failing on their mandate to remain vigilant by changing statuses.

It is easy to fix this recurring problem with the simple touch of a screen. All drivers have to do is to indicate the time their shifts start, and to change their status to off-duty when shifts end. Electronic logbooks are designed to detect when a vehicle is stationary or in motion, and gives accurate data at all times.

No Records of Duty Status

Failing to properly maintain your RODS and not maintaining logs for seven days is a violation that can lead to hefty fines. Drivers of companies running smaller vehicles may not be aware of what is required of them, but they must check with the relevant authorities. Inspectors ask for records of the previous seven days. Therefore, drivers must not misplace any record whatsoever.

Partner with Azuga for FMCSA Compliance

Azuga works with you to deliver customized solutions for fleets and drivers. It doesn’t matter the size of your fleet, Azuga offers the right products and technology to duly maintain drivers’ records of duty status and keep you compliant with the hours of service regulations.

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