Maximizing return on investment. Lowering total cost of ownership. Controlling costs. Improving the bottom line. Whatever it’s called, it is the goal of every fleet. Many organizations use OEM specifications and industry benchmarking to plan for how much the company will spend during the life of a vehicle on oil changes, replacement tires and fuel. But maintenance and regular operating costs are not the only thing that can affect TCO.
For many fleets, unpredictable driver behavior is an unknown factor that can wreak havoc on TCO. Drivers who are lax in scheduling preventive maintenance can worsen the routine wear and tear on your vehicles. Poor driver behavior – harsh cornering, aggressive braking, and acceleration in vehicles that have full payloads – can damage a vehicle’s suspension and drive up fuel costs. Driver accidents can lead to unexpected repairs or even the replacement of a vehicle long before it might otherwise would have been needed. And, any of these situations could lead to downtime, which in turn impacts the bottom line, because if the vehicles are not on the road, your customers aren’t being serviced. Fortunately, there are ways to measure and manage driver behavior and thereby reduce how much drivers impact your TCO.
The first step is to establish a baseline of driver behavior. A comprehensive telematics solution can help communicate real-time driver behavior to the fleet team. The range of data you can collect includes excessive idling, speeding, aggressive acceleration, harsh braking, seat-belt usage, cellphone usage while driving, and more. With the data in hand, you’ll be ready for the next step.
Second, track preventable and non-preventable driver accidents. Has the driver shown the behavior and skills expected to reasonably avoid the accident? Identify drivers with multiple incidents and the average cost per incident. Then look at the data in a variety of ways, such as time of day, cost, and the type of accident (e.g., hit stationary object, hit moving vehicle).
Put the results from step one and two together. Once you have the results, don’t just keep them to yourself. Give your drivers a scorecard and let them see where they rank among their peers. Who’s protecting revenues by minimizing vehicle expenses? Who isn’t? Those with a competitive nature will want to be seen as a high-ranking performer, and those who don’t want the added stress of being a low performer will work to improve their standings.
The follow up to sharing the data with drivers is training. Safety-related training will reduce the risk of accidents, and basic vehicle operations training will address behavior that puts wear and tear on the vehicles.
The foundation for all of this is the enforcement of your company driver policy. Communicate to your drivers what the company’s expectations are for driver behavior, ensure that you have the backing of the company’s senior staff, and show them you mean business—follow through on the repercussions stated in the policy when drivers don’t comply.
Altogether, these steps will help you control the effect drivers may have on TCO and reduce overall risk as well.