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Our in-house editorial team works diligently to provide you with the most relevant topics and breaking news in the world of fleet management.
 

How the ELD Mandate Affects Owner-Operators

10/09/2015 by Parth Raval

It’s no secret that opinion surrounding the federal government’s electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is heavily divided. While some businesses have embraced the plethora of information that ELDs can provide, others are vehemently opposed to this added level of regulation. Owner-operated fleets in particular are likely to view this mandate as an encumbrance, as ELDs place more control over how drivers use their time. It is easy to understand why these fleets are opposed to ELDs. Owner-operated fleets are independent businesses that may view the mandate, along with all federal regulations in general, as governmental interference.

It is important to remember that businesses will have two years to comply with the federal mandate. It will not be an overnight change and businesses will not be found to be in violation starting October 30th. There will be time to adjust to the new rule. Once ELDs have been implemented, owner-operators can decide how involved they want to be with the generated data. They can elect to simply record their hours of service as they would on paper logs. They can also integrate their ELDs into a larger fleet management system. There is the freedom to choose within ELD technology.

A larger point surrounding ELDs is the question of encroaching on driver’s territory. Drivers who have been working for decades are comfortable with how they do their job. They do not need a computer to assist them – this is the pervading thought in anti-mandate arguments. In the end, however, the purpose of the ELD mandate is not to cancel out a driver’s experience and common sense on the road. It is to make it easier for drivers to record their hours of service and businesses to see how to allocate their resources. Owner-operated fleets can decide how much or little data they want to incorporate in their operations. The choice is still theirs. 

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The Deep Business Data of ELDs

10/02/2015 by Parth Raval

The approaching electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has generated a large amount of buzz in the transportation industry. Most of the conversation revolves around the short-term impact of the mandate – how to pick an ELD, what it takes to install the devices, and how to train drivers in their use. Perhaps even more important than this is the mandate’s long-term impact. ELDs put a great deal of data at a business’ fingertips. The data generated from ELDs can be applied to matters beyond federal compliance. Businesses need to know how to use this information in a smart and effective fashion if they want to take full advantage of ELDs.

ELDs put driver workhour information in a digital format. Once that information is recorded, businesses can analyze that data to determine which drivers routinely risk violating Hours of Service (HOS) compliance and other federal regulations In addition, companies can use ELD data to generate reports concerning employee use of time, job completion and route scheduling.

This is the long-term effect ELDs can have on businesses – a portal to better, stronger data regarding driver behavior. With ELDs installed in vehicles, fleet managers have access to an unvarnished account of how drivers spend their hours. This in turn can lead to more efficient deliveries, more satisfied customers and a more smoothly run business. 

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ELDs Can Recover Your Lost Hours

09/25/2015 by Parth Raval

The heart of fleet management is efficiency. Untimely delivery schedules can result in unhappy customers, dissatisfied drivers and lost revenue – if your business can identify places where time is lost, measures can be taken to circumvent those issues.

For drivers, a significant amount of time can be devoted to compliance. Federal compliance rules can be complex and take a good deal of energy to properly satisfy.  Completing Hours of Service (HOS) logs in particular occupy a good chunk of the workday. Traditional logs entail lengthy paperwork, lost driving time, and allocating funds to faxing and storage. Electronic logging devices (ELDs), which the federal government is set to mandate on October 30th, significantly cut down on the amount of time a driver needs to spend properly completing HOS logs. By electronically storing all logs, companies can stay safely compliant at a fraction of the risk associated with paper logs. These risks include incorrectly entering information, improperly sending and storing the logs, and being found in federal violation.

Of course, the introduction of new technology can be daunting. Change can be hard and companies may be hesitant to install a new system. Teletrac’s ELD system has been described as simple to use, essential and hassle-free by some of the most trusted names on the road. The system combines HOS and driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) to create an easy compliance tool drivers and managers can quickly access. With a full integration with Teletrac’s Fleet Director platform, this ELD option gives businesses a complete view of their fleet. ELD experts at Teletrac are ready to walk you through the FMCSA mandate to see if Teletrac’s system is right for you. 

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How Technology Is Influencing FMCSA Compliance

09/23/2015 by Sid Nair

New technology is continuing to transform the trucking industry. From collision mitigation, to autonomous vehicles, the transportation landscape is undergoing a transformation in safety awareness and data collection. According to panel discussions at this year’s Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference in Dallas, Texas, safety technologies such as telematics systems are becoming prominent fixtures in commercial vehicles.

Moreover, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has further developed the industry’s safety standards by mandating the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) in order for fleets to stay federally compliant within Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations.

Telematics provider Teletrac has been helping carriers save on costly violations, calm safety concerns and help companies strengthen their competitive edge with an hours-of-service (HOS) solution. The solution offers a wealth of data, improved communication, and an easy integration with other Fleet Director components. It also offers an ELD feature that has been helping carriers eliminate paper forms and submissions for an easy, safe and hassle-free process. Although the publication of the ELD mandate from the Department of Transportation (DOT) has been pushed back to October 30th of this year, some businesses have already adopted the technology in their fleet in preparation for the two years following the final rule. Check out what they have to say here about their ELD experience.

Teletrac also offers data analysis packages that further help fleets stay compliant. Teletrac’s Driver Safety Analytics feature collects information on how well drivers actually drive—recording events such as speeding, harsh braking, and stop sign violations. The fleet manager can then easily view which drivers are the most safety-conscious, and which drivers are most prone to problems. The information can be used to plan additional driver training and offer incentives for improved performance. The result is a safer, more conscientious driver pool.

Even after the FMCSA publishes its Final Rule next month, carriers will have two years to comply. As useful as telematics systems are, those that incorporate federally compliant features is key to substantially expanding a business’ reach. With more information gathered from ELDs and Driver Safety Analytics, carriers can experience improved driver performance, which in turn allows room for less wear and tear on vehicles, a reduction in fuel consumption, and a dramatic reduction in accident-related costs.

We could be looking at a world where motor vehicle accidents are largely a thing of the past.

*About the author: Sid Nair is a member of Teletrac's marketing team. He is the Senior Director of Marketing and Product Management, and serves as an expert in GPS tracking software and hardware for the transportation sector around the globe. 

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Telematics- Balancing Work And Quality Of Life Over The Road

09/17/2015 by Sarah Barbod

Driving a truck can be lonely, and at times stressful, especially for drivers who have routes that take them away from home for weeks or even months at a time. For over the road and long haul drivers, the truck cab becomes a kind of home, a small space filled with a bed, make shift kitchen, and touching mementos of home. Vice.com recently published a photo series showcasing the lives of truck drivers with displays of their in-cab sleeper berths that include keepsakes from their homes, such as a picture colored by a drivers’ granddaughter, photos of loved ones, and religious items adorning the walls. Some drivers only really need to leave the truck for restroom breaks, to buy groceries, or eat out at a restaurant. But living in the small, cramped, and sometimes isolated, in-cab space can take its toll over time.

Truckers must cope with the physical challenges of their job that involves being on the road for long periods of time and maintaining a seated position for their work day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed the high rates of obesity among long-haul truck drivers and all of the added health issues associated with the disease.

It is no surprise that annual driver turnover for some carriers is approaching 100%. In addition to challenging health, work, and travel conditions, drivers experience concerns over pay scales, benefits, and work-related stress. 

Carriers can do several things to make their drivers’ jobs easier and more rewarding. Beginning with salary, carriers can improve their competitive advantage either by increasing base pay or by offering financial incentives for safe and efficient driving. Just as important, carriers can use available technology to address the specific stressors that bother truckers on the road. For example, GPS navigation and routing helps drivers stay on route and even avoid traffic congestion. Telematics systems improve communication with dispatch and lets drivers call ahead if they have to stop somewhere due to weather or unsafe road conditions.

Perhaps most importantly, carriers can ensure that drivers get the rest they need and that their schedules give them as much home time as possible. Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations are designed specifically to protect drivers from over-work and fatigued driving. HOS solutions within telematics services ensure that drivers remain compliant and well-rested.

Better working conditions will certainly help improve the quality of life for drivers while they are on the road. And with an integrated HOS solution in the trucks’ telematics system, drivers can work a healthy schedule that can prevent fatigued and dangerous driving. By utilizing a telematics system, overall improved communication, route efficiency, safe driving behavior, and HOS compliance translates to a healthier support system for a drivers’ career and personal life.

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Meeting the Challenge of Short-Haul Trucking

09/11/2015 by Parth Raval

The trucking industry can be divided into two basic groups – short-haul and long-haul. The trials of long-haul truckers are frequently discussed in the transportation industry. The demands placed on short-haul truckers, however, are often overlooked. Short-haul truckers, technically defined as employed drivers who travel and work within a 150-mile radius, face unique difficulties that should be equally important to fleet managers. Recognition of these difficulties can help fleet managers circumvent basic issues that impede the short-haul business.

One of the most difficult tasks that short-haul drivers face is backing up their vehicle’s trailer, a process called blind-siding. Having to complete multiple deliveries in a single day, short-haul drivers need to maneuver their trucks into loading docks multiple times. Blind-siding is a time-consuming process that requires careful use of the truck’s mirrors, stops and starts, and, sometimes, a spotter. With efficient routing, however, blind-siding need not throw off the timeline of a day’s deliveries – dispatchers can incorporate this time into their schedules to ensure jobs are still completed in a timely manner.

Short-haul drivers also need to contend more often with traffic and road construction. City streets and highways are more likely to have road work that necessitates re-routing to ensure a timely delivery. Dispatchers to need to ensure drivers have access to the most updated, efficient routes possible. With GPS fleet tracking, dispatchers can save these routes and send them to drivers to follow should the need arise.

Finally, short-haul truckers often have a more demanding schedule to adhere to. With more frequent pickups and deliveries, even a slight delay can have a domino effect on the rest of their delivery schedule. Short-haul drivers and dispatchers need to work together to ensure that schedules are as tight as possible and that delays are made up as quickly as possible.

Fleet management software can help short-haul dispatchers deliver loads, make up for lost time, and re-route for unexpected occurrences. With the live mapping and two-way communication features provided by this software, fleet managers find fewer surprises on the road and drivers have access to the best routing for their day’s work. 

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FMCSA to Issue ELD Mandate for Commercial Carriers

08/31/2015 by Parth Raval

The FMCSA's final rule regarding electronic logging devices (ELDs) will have wide-reaching consequences across all industries. ELDs are tablet computers installed inside commercial motor vehicles and allow drivers to record all Hours of Service (HOS) and driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR) information. The FMCSA’s rule will require commercial vehicles to carry these devices in an effort to reduce compliance issues and improve road safety. It is a wide-sweeping mandate that will affect businesses across the nation.

How to know if your business qualifies.

Any company that is currently required to track HOS and DVIR information will need to use ELDs. Typically, these companies use commercial vehicles that satisfy any one of these criteria.

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more people, including the driver, without compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more people, including the driver, with compensation.
  • Transports hazardous materials.

If any vehicles in your business are used for interstate commerce and satisfy any one of the bulleted criteria, the FMCSA ELD mandate applies to you.

How ELDs will affect your business.

ELDs eliminate manual paperwork for HOS and DVIR logs and the burdensome task of completing these records. This greatly reduces the potential for human error and failed federal audits. ELDs also allow fleet managers to see their drivers’ HOS and DVIR statuses directly on their computers, leading to better job planning and maintenance scheduling. It is important to remember that the mandate’s rules apply regardless of the nature of your business – whether you’re an independent carrier, a towing company, a chemical transporter, or a company fleet, the mandate can affect your business.

How to introduce ELDs into your fleet.

ELDs can be included as part of a larger fleet management system. These systems can measure federal compliance, vehicle performance, and driver behavior to satisfy not only government regulations but company requirements and financial goals as well. As a tool, ELDs provide substantial savings to an organization. As Teletrac customer A.N. Webber attests, "The solution has eliminated all of our violations because the HOS logs are instantly and automatically updated." 

Click here to speak to one of our ELD experts.

 

 

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Trucking Through the Ages

08/21/2015 by Parth Raval

America’s contributions to 20th century popular culture notably included comic books and jazz music. The long-haul truck driver may be added to that list. Over-the-road transportation is a cornerstone of the American economy and the men and women who drive the vehicles are important players in American popular culture. The depiction of the truck driver throughout the 20th century reveals an evolution in how the public has thought of the truck driver, from a modern-day cowboy to a technologically-connected employee.

The first major media depiction of truck drivers was the 1940 film They Drive by Night. Humphrey Bogart stars at Paul Fabrini, an independent truck driver who struggles to make ends. The film was a critical and commercial success, but the pop culture heyday of truck drivers was yet to come. The 1950s and 1960s saw the expansion of interstate highways, and with them the use of long-haul commercial trucks. Long-haul truck drivers were seen as a “knights of the highway,” often stopping to help stranded motorists. This befitted the economic prosperity of the times – these years witnessed a growing materialism in American culture, and trucks were the carriers of the material.

This, however, was not meant to last. American society as a whole changed dramatically as the country entered the Vietnam War. The confusion, anxiety, and frustration experienced by many Americans was translated into films like White Line Fever and Smokey and the Bandit. The joyful overtones of both films belied a deeper trouble – truck drivers, according to the screen, were reckless and acted without constraint. The films of the following decades took a darker turn, depicting truck drivers as dangerous loners. The “knights of the highway” days were long gone.

In the 2000s, the Internet emerged as one of the business world’s greatest tools. The expansion of Internet-connected devices affected every pocket of American commerce – truck drivers included. Drivers have adjusted to this change in the tide in a variety of ways, most notably the use of a tablet computer as part of their company’s fleet management system. The Internet has brought with it a proliferation of different viewpoints as well. This has changed the stereotypical physical image of a truck driver that held steady through the preceding decades. Today, it is understood that both men and women can be truck drivers, that many truck drivers have college degrees and that many pursue driving as a serious career. With these new technologically advanced fleets leading the way, truck driving is poised to remain at the center of both American commerce and the popular eye.

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Federal Government Continues Its Partnership with Fleet Management Solutions

08/19/2015 by Parth Raval

The General Services Administration (GSA) has extended its contract with Fleet Management Solutions (FMS®), a division of Teletrac®, for a further five years - the result of hard work on both sides. The GSA handles procurement for the federal government, providing product support, transportation, and office space for all branches. FMS’s inclusion on the GSA’s Schedule 84 indicates the government’s continued trust in FMS software.

“We have had the pleasure of working with many government agencies at home and overseas, including state embassies,” said Shelley Lynch-Holmes, Vice President of Emerging Markets at FMS. “In addition to offering GPS tracking and telematics for vehicles and heavy equipment, we are adding systems that meet mandates for lowering fuel consumption, decreasing carbon emissions, measuring utilization, optimizing fleet size, automating mandatory reporting, and integrating into legacy software. FMS understands each agency and user has different requirements. We take pride in being nimble enough to meet these individual needs.”

The systems FMS is including in its schedule are designed to improve use and on-road performance. With FMS systems, government agencies will be able to use reports, alerts, Hours of Service (HOS) software, and two-way messaging to better manage their fleets. FMS’s portfolio has been enhanced to include cellular and satellite products with a plethora of peripherals.  “We also anticipate the addition of container and trailer tracking, personal tracking devices, key fobs for driver identification, and much more,” added Ms. Lynch-Holmes.

FMS serves a wide range of vehicles and assets worldwide, including NGO, construction, and mining assets. They specialize in tracking assets in remote parts of the world, where information infrastructure is limited or non-existent, with no limitation in their support of domestic fleets.

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Digital Fleets

08/10/2015 by Parth Raval

An increasing number of transportation businesses are relying on GPS tracking software. There are multiple benefits fleet data can provide an organization – tighter delivery schedules, clearer driver-dispatcher communication, and less frequent vehicle maintenance, just to name a few. The trucking industry’s growing reliance on automated data streams is reflected in business operations as a whole. More and more, operations departments across all fleet industries are using digital reporting to gain insight into their assets, changing how these departments are managed and incorporated into a business’s larger strategy.

The Harvard Business Review defines “operations” as “what gives an organization the power to act.” Fleet data maximizes this ability – managers can reduce miles driven outside of assigned routes, the number of compliance issues during a hectic season, and the amount of money spent on unneeded maintenance. GPS tracking software has transformed how these aims are met, bringing with it a wealth of data that is valuable to all departments in a company. A finance department, for example, may be interested in a decrease in expenses, while upper management may pay attention to the number of new drivers hired on the basis of a deployed platform. GPS tracking software also improves day-to-day operations – dispatchers can relay job information directly to drivers and monitor their safety in real time. As regular users of this software, operations employees may see their role in the company be reevaluated. They become the gatekeepers of the data within their organization, providing the company at large with the information it needs in this new model.

Businesses that use fleet management software often report how important their platform becomes in day-to-day work. Operations departments can set up efficient routes, talk to drivers, and give customers up-to-date delivery times. These benefits are seen universally across businesses using fleet management technology. With product features such as live mapping and two-way communication, operations employees can improve delivery schedules and customer satisfaction. Businesses should take care to remember, however, that a successful organization depends on accurate communication, clearly defined objective, and strong leadership, which no software can ever replace. A balance between change and tradition is necessary for any business to prosper.

 

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How to Drive in Dangerous Conditions

07/31/2015 by Parth Raval

Road conditions can change dramatically at a moment’s notice.  In dangerous situations, drivers and dispatchers should be prepared to alter routes, change job schedules, and in serious situations, abandon vehicles. A recent disaster in the Cajon Pass in California highlighted this need for contingency plans, which can be supported by vehicle tracking software. Vehicles on the 15 freeway, which runs through the Pass, were trapped in a traffic jam when a wildfire jumped the road. When law enforcement and firefighters were delayed by road conditions, drivers were forced to abandon their vehicles for safety. 20 vehicles were destroyed by the fire, with property damage still being determined.

Disasters such as wildfires can be difficult, if not impossible, to avoid in real time. There are situations, however, that businesses can plan for in advance. A collapsed bridge on the I-10 between California and Arizona created massive delays as dispatchers rerouted trucks on interstate delivery jobs. Both the Cajon Pass fire and the I-10 bridge collapse illustrate the need for transportation companies to have established plans in case of disaster. These plans should keep drivers safe, assets secure, and ensure a smooth resumption of business.

In case of a natural disaster, transportation drivers should follow all instructions and directions given by law enforcement. Those equipped with telematics can also use the software to stay safe. Teletrac’s fleet management software, Fleet Director, offers a two-way communication feature that enables drivers and dispatchers to keep each other updated in an emergency situation. Fleet Director’s live mapping and routing features allow dispatchers to reroute drivers in case of road obstruction and dangers, mitigating the risk to both drivers and vehicles. In a dangerous situation, there is no substitute to a driver’s skill and experience on the road. Teletrac can help drivers stay safe when skill and experience are pushed to the limit. 

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Event Data Recorders May Become Mandatory

07/29/2015 by Parth Raval

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling for a rule that would require all commercial vehicles to be installed with event data recorders (EDRs).  This push was instigated by a vehicle crash that killed ten people – a truck crossed the highway median and struck both a passenger car and a motor coach, killing ten and injuring 37. According to the NTSB’s investigation, the probable cause of the crash was the driver’s inability to maintain control of the vehicle due to unresponsiveness for reasons that could not be established from available information. With no other leads, data from an EDR could assist investigators in determining the root cause of the accident.

EDRs are already widely used by companies that have deployed telematics software in their business. An EDR, or a black box, is a computer that is hardwired to the vehicle’s engine. Based on the type of EDR and configuration, vehicle owners are able to examine a large amount of data surrounding their vehicles, including speeding events, harsh breaking, sharp cornering, and other safety violations. In the world of fleet management, EDRs are often one component of a comprehensive analytical software suite that gives managers a deep view into driver and vehicle behavior. EDRs can even generate safety reports that replay unsafe driving instances, giving fleet managers an unparalleled view of dangerous driving behavior so that they can take corrective action. Should the NTSB’s push for mandated EDRs prove successful, businesses will need to choose the device that best suits their fleet’s needs.  Without the right software to manage the incoming data, EDRs can be overwhelming.

Teletrac’s EDR unit, the Prism TM470, makes it easy for fleet managers to make data-backed decisions. All information from vehicles connected to the Prism TM470 unit feeds directly into Fleet Director, the company’s fleet management software. From here, fleet managers can generate safety reports and watch replays of unsafe driving, identifying risky behavior before it escalates to collisions. From the hardware unit to the software interface, Teletrac’s system is designed to promote road safety.  The information generated from EDR units can give businesses crucial insight into the events that led up to a collision. Should the NTSB’s proposed rule become a law, businesses across the nation will be able to investigate crashes and take steps to prevent them reoccurring.

 

 

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