7 Major Challenges Facing Commercial Fleets, Today
Running a commercial fleet isn’t getting any easier.
As expenses increase, labor pools dry up, and government regulations make daily operations more complicated, many fleet managers have found themselves between a rock and a hard place. In order to adapt to these new challenges, both drivers and managers will need to learn new ways of doing things and leave behind old habits. Paper logs, for example, are now a thing of the past due to the recent ELD Mandate. And, stricter enforcement of HOS Rules is affecting the way that drivers make shipments and organize their schedules.
So, what are the major challenges facing today’s commercial fleets and how can they be resolved? What can fleet managers do to continue running a safe, profitable fleet without experiencing setbacks? In this article, we examine the top 7 challenges in fleet management and ways that owners can overcome them.
1. Fuel Costs
For almost every fleet, fuel is their largest variable cost. In other words, the amount of fuel used by drivers and gas prices on any given day can make a huge impact on a fleet’s profitability. Luckily, gas prices are forecast to be lower in 2019, despite a 3-year-long increase in prices. The worst part about gas prices is that they are unpredictable and can fluctuate at a moment’s notice. Take the year 2012 for example, when we saw national averages of $3.60 per gallon and residents of states like California paying an average of $4 or more. Regardless of positive forecasts, it’s uncertain when gas could go up again.
2. Not Enough Drivers
Driver shortages are nothing new in the world of transportation. Year after year, the amount of available drivers continues to shrink as the current labor pool grows older and a new generation fails to step up to take their place. For many millennials, truck driving just doesn’t fit in with the lifestyle they want to have. In a world where one can make good money working from home, there seems to be little incentive to hit the road and spend long periods of time away from family and friends.
According to the American Trucking Association, the US will be short 175,000 drivers by 2026.
3. Environmental Regulations
Anti-idling and emission reduction policies have greatly increased compliance costs over the years. And, after stacking up the costs of compliance with Federal, State, and Local authorities, many have claimed that the costs far outweigh the benefits.
4. The National Economy
Increasing credit card debt among Americans, the unsustainable growth of the stock market, and other inflationary pressures have many economists and financial analysts predicting an economic collapse in the near future. Just 11 years after the recession of 2008, the US economy is exhibiting many of the same behaviors that we swore to never repeat again. Both public and private debts continue to climb, fueled by low interest rates and access to huge amounts of credit. Even though fleet revenues may be rising along with the operating costs, we may see a market correction heading our way quickly.
5. Driver Behavior
Even with the best safety programs put in place, it’s nearly impossible to ensure that drivers will follow the rules once they’ve pulled off the lot. Texting, eating, and even watching movies while behind the wheel are just some of the dangerous behaviors that drivers participate in on a daily basis. Only with a live streaming dash camera can you monitor the behavior of your fleet drivers and correct them before it’s too late. Vehicle damage, injury or loss of life, and the lawsuits that proceed these events can result in astronomical expenses for your business.
6. Government Regulations
HOS Rules in conjunction with the ELD Mandate have really put a damper on fleet drivers’ ability to work on their own schedule and make judgment calls regarding whether or not they’re fit to drive. Paper logs, as unreliable as they may have been, did allow drivers with some wiggle room to drive a bit further to find a place to park for the night. The incredible accuracy of ELDs—combined with strict regulations from the FMCSA regarding hours of service—have resulted in drivers “racing” to complete shipments and parking on the side of the road or in unsafe conditions to comply.
7. Autonomous (Self-Driving) Vehicles
There may come a day when human drivers are no longer needed behind the wheel of a fleet vehicle, but that day is far from us. Crashes involving both Uber and Tesla’s experimental self-driving vehicles have had a negative impact on the public’s perception of autonomous vehicles. Slow progress in developing these highly sophisticated systems has also delayed the arrival of the technology on our roads. When taking into consideration the cost and impact of a fleet vehicle crash, it’s hard to see companies putting experimental AI behind the wheel anytime soon.
We may not know what the future holds regarding self-driving cars and the economy, but one thing is certain: the efficiency and safety of your fleet are key drivers of profitability. Taking inefficient routes, getting involved in accidents, and simply putting wear-and-tear on fleet vehicles are daily occurrences that increase costs and hurt your bottom line.
With fleet monitoring devices, you can greatly reduce these costs and also ensure that your drivers—and others on the road—return home safe and sound to their family and loved ones. At Safety Track, we strive to make fleets safer and more profitable for fleet managers and implement cutting-edge technology to do so.
To learn more about our 4G live streaming dash cameras, armed with GPS and G-force sensors, check out our page.