Managing a fleet of vehicles effectively is vital. Proper fleet management means minimizing the risk of vehicular accidents and protecting your vehicle investment. Fleet management also means managing the drivers to increase productivity in order to reduce the overall costs associated with managing a fleet such as maintenance, insurance, accidents, etc.
Here are ways to effectively manage your fleet of vehicles and your drivers.
Act, Don’t React
Unfortunately, there are numerous things that could go wrong on the road. From bad roads to distracted driving, it’s inevitable that some things are going to go wrong. That’s why it’s best to get ahead of any potential problems instead of waiting for them to happen. The cost of preventive measures will always be less than the cost of cleaning up a mess.
Waiting until there’s an accident could cost your company and employees dearly. Installing a hands-free device, driver behavior monitoring app or gps dash cams may seem unnecessary, but the advantages greatly outweigh any cost. For example, the advantages of gps tracking cameras include:
- Access to the footage as evidence to exonerate your drivers in a lawsuit.
- Making sure your drivers are practicing defensive driving techniques like wearing seatbelts and paying attention to the road.
- Reduced insurance premiums because some insurance companies recognize their preventative nature and offer a discount if you state that you have one fitted in your vehicles.
Vehicle Maintenance and Safety
If your vehicles are constantly in poor condition and in the shop instead of on the road doing their job you’re losing money. Also, vehicle maintenance means the safety of your drivers and everyone else on the road. Proper scheduled and preventive maintenance is essential.
Here are some things to get checked regularly.
Tire pressure affects the control of the vehicle. It also affects fuel economy. You should regularly get tire pressures checked to make sure they’re at the recommended pressure in the manufacturer's guide.
Then, get your tires rotated and balanced. Tire rotation is important because it’ll give your vehicles a quicker steering response and a smoother ride. It also evens out the wear and tear in the tires and extends their shelf life.
There are several mechanical moving parts in car engines that create friction as they rub against each other. This constant friction produces heat which in turn can lead to a significant reduction in engine performance. This is why you should constantly get the oil levels of your vehicles checked. The oil levels can’t get too low.
Car brakes have one of the most important functions. Working brakes are how drivers avoid crashing into things and people. You should always make sure that the brakes in all your vehicles are in top working condition. Faulty brakes are caused by problems with the rotors, the brake pads, the brake fluid, and the brake pedal. The most common reasons are malfunctioning brake pads or a leak in the brake fluid.
Your drivers are the key to effective fleet management. The right drivers make all the difference between incurring a loss from constant accident coverage or profits from a job well done.
The first step is hiring the right drivers. The right driver:
- Has a valid driver’s license that has the appropriate class requirements. The right class requirement depends on whether your vehicles require truck or bus licenses.
- Should be mentally and physically capable of handling a commercial vehicle.
- Should have a high level of experience and a clean driving record.
- Should have several valid glowing references from previous employers.
- Should have passed a certified pre-employment drug and alcohol screening.
Next, even good drivers still need to undergo defensive training. Defensive driving training is training that goes beyond basic driving skills and focuses on advanced driving techniques that can be used to anticipate and mitigate potentially hazardous situations on the road. Examples of defensive driving techniques to teach your drivers include:
- Prevent distractions by eliminating things like talking on the phone, texting, grooming, or eating.
- Avoid tailgating by leaving enough distance between you and other vehicles. Use the 3 to 4 seconds rule.
- Do not depend on other drivers. Assume that other drivers are bad drivers and stay alert to react in a timely manner.
- Be aware of your surroundings by constantly checking your mirrors.
- Always wear your seatbelt.
Fuel consumption is one of the top costs of operating fleets. Knowing when, where, and how much your vehicles are fueling up each time will help your company spot trends and discrepancies so that excess can be eliminated.
A good way to manage fuel consumption is not allowing drivers to take vehicles home or any kind of personal use of the vehicle. This may very likely result in additional fuel costs. Even if instructed not to, the lack of supervision means drivers could be filling up their vehicles on the company dime, filling up their friend’s truck, or some drivers even use work vehicles for after-hours side-business. All of which costs the company.
Planning is the best way to optimize time and resources. This is why it’s essential that you plan driver routes. Route optimization is the process of finding the most cost-effective route. This doesn’t necessarily mean finding the shortest possible way to get to point B from point A.
Rather, it’s minimizing drive time for multiple stops, while still accounting for possibilities like customer time windows, vehicle capacities, driver schedules, etc. Route optimization techniques include:
- Collect data related to your routes. Data like traffic stops and other causes of delays will help you better plan for next time.
- Factor in stops. Don’t underestimate the need to plan for stops and forget them. Stops will definitely impact driving time.
- Use the right mode of transportation. Know where your vehicles can go and where they can’t in mapping out routes. For example, you can’t use a truck for delivery in the downtown area of a city.
- Consider a route optimization software. Optimizing a route can involve several complex decisions and combinations. Even if a human being is able to figure out the mammoth task of planning routes for multiple vehicles, it’ll take them several hours or even days to come up with a viable plan.
- A route optimization software, on the other hand, will perform this same complex function in a matter of seconds. When picking software look for one that has an accurate geocoder, can examine data on different levels and can help track operations on a single platform.
Managing a fleet of vehicles plus the drivers can be daunting because there are a lot of moving parts. However, it can be done effectively when the right measures are put in place.
Posted 2 weeks ago by Allen Brown