What is Vehicle Idling?

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What is vehicle idling and why is it so important for fleet managers to keep track of it? When your driver decides to take the wrong route and gets stuck in traffic, they are forced to put the vehicle in idling mode. That means the engine is running, but the vehicle is not moving. While there is nothing you can do when you are stuck in traffic other than idling the vehicle, it does not mean that it is not causing any harm.

In addition to the impact of vehicle idling on your fleet maintenance, it can also take a toll on the productivity and financial health of your business in general. 

Idling also contributes to pollution. Vehicle idling is prohibited in most countries because of the harm it causes to the environment. Idling in vehicles results in over 6 billion gallons of fuel going to waste every year. In Australia, vehicle idling contributes to over 20% of the total greenhouse gas emissions annually. 

How Long Can You Leave Your Vehicle Idling?

The question most drivers ask is how long they can leave their vehicles idling when parked. The answer depends on the condition of your car—specifically whether it has some broken components or not. Some factors that might impact how long your vehicle can idle include:

  • Vehicle condition: Your vehicle stops idling as soon as something breaks in the system. Leaving your vehicle idling for long periods of time exerts stress on the vehicle components, especially the thermostat and fan belt. If the car system is not well maintained and some replacement parts used on the vehicle are defective, your car won't idle for long before stopping. 
  •  Amount of gas: If the vehicle runs out of gas, it must stop idling immediately to cool down and maintain the optimal temperature. Idling can cause heating in the car engine and damage your vehicle in the long run. 
  • Battery charge: When you leave your vehicle idling for a long time, the battery is drained, and you have to recharge it again to start the engine. It is advisable to disconnect the battery if you want to leave your car in an idling state for a while.

When you are stuck in a jam, or you are waiting for traffic lights, you are allowed to idle the car for up to a minute. Sometimes the jam looks crazy, and you may have to stop your engine. It's actually dangerous to leave your vehicle idling in traffic or parking for a long time. 

What Happens When You Leave Your Vehicle Idling for Too Long?

There are many issues associated with vehicle idling that go beyond environmental pollution. Here are some problems that vehicle idling might cause that you should be aware of:

1. Increases Fuel Costs 

Every business with a large fleet is always looking for ways to cut the cost of fueling their cars. However, when drivers leave their vehicles idling on the road and parked for long periods of time, it can significantly increase fuel costs.

Your vehicle consumes fuel even when it's not moving. With the increasing fuel prices, you cannot afford to waste gas by leaving your vehicle idling. If you depend on your fleet of vehicles to move raw materials and deliver finished goods to clients, you should focus more on reducing vehicle idling.  

You can track your drivers' behavior by installing fleet tracking applications on your vehicles. Azuga offers the best fleet management system, which you can use to limit vehicle idling and other driving misconduct.

2. Pollutes the Air 

When you avoid excessive vehicle idling, you are everyone around you a big favor. Why? When you leave your car idling for too long, it releases fossil fuel emissions into the air. These emissions make it unbearable to breathe and can cause respiratory infections like asthma, lung disease, and heart conditions.

Air pollution from vehicle idling contributes a lot to premature deaths in developed countries. Naturally, you wouldn’t want your business to contribute to that if you don’t have to.

3. Shortens your Engine Lifespan 

Leaving your vehicle idling is not good for your engine. It may seem like you're saving on fuel by leaving your car idling for a few minutes, but when you think of the damage it causes to your engine, it makes sense to avoid it when you can.

Your vehicle does not operate at proper temperature when it's idling. The fuel does not fully combust, which can cause damage to the fan belts, thermostat, and engine exhaust system. When fuel is not fully combusted, it leaves some residue behind that can damage the exhaust system over time and cost you a lot to repair the engine system.

Turning your vehicle on and off when stuck in traffic may look stressful, but it has the potential to save you a lot of money. Although it could potentially cause some damage to your car battery, the cost is bearable when compared to how much you'll spend if your engine goes. 

4. Puts You at Risk of Theft 

When you leave your vehicle idling in the parking spot, you are exposing it to theft. Anyone passing by can get into your car and drive off in it.


It gets worse if your vehicle does not have the best fleet tracking device installed on it. If you are not likely to stop leaving your vehicles idling, you should install a fleet tracking system from Azuga inside the vehicle to keep it safe. 

Final Thoughts 

Vehicle idling affects your fleet in many ways. Besides increasing your fuel expenses, it also damages your engine, which can shorten your fleet lifespan. If your drivers are fond of vehicle idling, you can track their behavior by installing an Azuga fleet safety and tracking app on your vehicle. You can also educate your drivers on the dangers of vehicle idling to improve your fleet efficiency. Any dedicated team will be happy to help you make changes that help your business improve.

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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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