Some 939 people were killed in red light running crashes in 2017 — a 10-year high and a 28% increase over the 731 lost lives in 2012, according to a data analysis conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The data indicates a steady increase in red light running fatalities over approximately the last six years. 

For example, 2013 saw 739 people killed due to motorists who failed to halt at a red light. In 2014 it was 761 fatalities, followed by 831 in 2015, and 874 in 2016.

The fatality figures include road users of many kinds — red light running drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists.

The data shows that nearly half (46%) of people killed in red light running collisions were passengers of the red light runner or individuals in other vehicles. In addition, over 5% of those who lost their lives were pedestrians or cyclists.

Just over 35% of those killed were the drivers who ran the red light.

Every day, more than two people are killed on the nation’s roads by impatient and reckless drivers blowing through red lights, notes the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

In fact, 28% of fatalities that happen at signalized intersections are due to a driver running a red light.

Yet research shows drivers are astutely aware of the dangers of red light running. For example, the AAA Foundation’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index found that 85% of drivers view red light running as very dangerous, however nearly one in three say they ran through a red light within the past 30 days when they could have safely stopped.

In addition, more than two in five drivers say it is unlikely police will stop them for blowing through a red light.

On the positive side, some deterrents are working. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that when properly implemented, red light cameras reduced the fatal red light running crash rate of large cities by 21% and the rate of all types of crashes at signalized intersections by 14%.

Source: Automotive Fleet

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Amazon’s plan to run on 100% renewable energy by 2030 will include 100,000 battery-electric delivery vans, which the e-commerce giant will purchase from Rivian Automotive Inc.

CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled plans to buy 100,000 electric vans from Rivian that will be custom-built for Prime deliveries. This deal follows a $700 million investment in Rivian by Amazon earlier this year. The first Rivian vehicles would arrive in 2021. 

“We’re done being in the middle of the herd on this issue — we’ve decided to use our size and scale to make a difference,” Bezos said. “If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon — which delivers more than 10 billion items a year — can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can. I’ve been talking with other CEOs of global companies, and I’m finding a lot of interest in joining the pledge. Large companies signing The Climate Pledge will send an important signal to the market that it’s time to invest in the products and services the signatories will need to meet their commitments.”

With this plan, Bezos said Amazon would reach 80% renewable energy use by 2024 and 100% by 2030, up from 40% today. 

The electric Rivian Prime vans will be assembled at a 2.6-million-square-foot manufacturing plant, previously owned by Mitsubishi, in Normal, IL.

The Amazon order is a big contract for Rivian, which is aiming to launch its R1T plug-in pickup and R1S sport utility vehicle late next year. Those Rivian vehicles are projected to offer a range of more than 400 miles per charge, and have a base price between $68,000 and $72,500, the company said in February. The R1T pickup can tow 11,000 lbs., and go from zero to 60 mph in 3 about seconds, company officials said.

Financial terms of Amazon’s van deal were not released. 

“Bold steps by big companies will make a huge difference in the development of new technologies and industries to support a low carbon economy,” said Christiana Figueres, the United Nations’ former climate change chief and founding partner of Global Optimism. “With this step, Amazon also helps many other companies to accelerate their own decarbonization. If Amazon can set ambitious goals like this and make significant changes at their scale, we think many more companies should be able to do the same and will accept the challenge.”

Amazon Employees for Climate Change has been pressuring Amazon this year to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and detail how it’s preparing to deal with business disruptions caused by climate change. Inside Amazon’s annual meeting in May, an employee speaking on behalf of the group asked for the opportunity to share her concerns with Bezos directly but was denied. Shareholders later voted down their proposal for Amazon to disclose a comprehensive climate change plan. 

The employee group on Thursday called Amazon’s pledge “a huge win.” 

“We’re thrilled at what workers [have] been able to achieve in less than a year,” the group said in a statement. “But we know it’s not enough.”

Amazon has already launched 15 utility-scale wind and solar renewable energy projects that will generate over 1,300 MW of renewable capacity and deliver more than 3.8 million MWh of clean energy annually — enough to power 368,000 U.S. homes. Amazon has also installed more than 50 solar rooftops on fulfillment centers and sort centers around the globe that generate 98 MW of renewable capacity and deliver 130,000 MWh of clean energy annually.

Source: Fleet Owner

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Fleet management companies often view their relationship with the corporations they serve through a hierarchical lens that begins with the fleet managers who hire them. Other stakeholders — such as procurement executives, human relations directors, and ultimately drivers — often play a less-direct role in any dialogue.

That may be changing at LeasePlan USA, the Alpharetta, Ga.-based fleet management company that’s been rethinking this connection point.

Since he joined LeasePlan in 2018, Felipe Smolka has been looking at ways to innovate how the company designs and thinks about the hundreds of thousands of daily drivers they manage. As the EVP of digital transformation, Smolka has led the company’s initiative in this area.

Smolka, who spoke with Automotive Fleet in August at company headquarters, has been bringing fleet drivers front and center to this design thinking process. Design thinking is the strategic, cognitive, and practical approach brought to bear on a corporate process. Author John E. Arnold coined the term in his 1959 book, “Creative Engineering.”

LeasePlan’s goal is to enrich the user experience and deliver meaningful exchanges that can result in lower risky behavior and a higher return on the asset for their customers.

“As we talk about innovation, do we know who we serve,” Smolka asked rhetorically. “We truly have a good sense of the different driver personas when we’re trying to solve things. It’s no disrespect to the fleet managers out there.”

This year, LeasePlan and Smolka have been charging ahead. New CEO Matt Dyer, who transferred from LeasePlan UK and started work on Jan. 1, quickly embraced the approach and initiative.

Smolka and his team revamped the MyLeasePlan mobile app in February, by rolling out a version that added an intelligent virtual assistant called Elle that it claims is the first of its kind in the market. The voice recognition technology allows drivers to access vehicle- and fleet-related information in real time.

Elle can direct drivers to a service location for a flat tire, help them locate nearby fuel stations, and answer other daily operational questions. Training Elle will never end as the company looks for more ways to add value to their drivers, Smolka said.

“This technology has a lot of potential in the future,” Smolka said. “Within the mobile app, drivers can exchange with a virtual assistant to get answers and get the chatbot to take actions too. We can deliver this at a very low cost, given the available artificial intelligence capabilities in the marketplace. The level of richness that we bring, combined with our data, is one of our company’s differentiators.”

When communicating with the drivers through other channels, LeasePlan aims to personalize the messaging using various technology platforms. Omnichannel messages sent to drivers greet them with their first name and provide content that is relevant and timely.

Some insurance and telematics companies have been experimenting with real-time messages to fleet drivers in recent years to address risky driver behavior with immediate coaching. The messaging can be tied to gamification strategies and driver scorecards to improve expected behavior.

“We are at a time where comprehensive gamification is possible for our drivers,” Smolka said. “Our big data can and will benefit each and every client.”

As one example, if a driver is running a vehicle with severely underinflated tires, LeasePlan will be able to determine exactly how much that’s costing in terms of needless fuel used and additional wear on the stressed tire.

“If you just look deeper at the folks who are doing the riskiest driving or the most inefficient driving and work on that small group of people, you can have a big impact,” Smolka said. “We’re working hard to create a better connection with our user base that will be more impactful when it really matters.”

As LeasePlan takes a data-driven approach that’s underpinned with new technology, the fleet management company expects to be able to provide fleet managers with even greater granular-level data points about operating costs, Smolka said.

Source: Fleet Forward

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As Hurricane Dorian begins crawling up the East coast, automakers are doing their part to help. GM announced today that they will offer free OnStar Crisis Assist services to all owners of properly equipped Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles who live in the impacted regions. The connected car platform can help those fleeing disasters with real-time directions, free calls, routing to shelter, food and water, providing an in-vehicle WiFi hot spot, booking hotel rooms and more.

If you own a GM vehicle that is a 2006 model or newer, it’s likely it has OnStar hardware installed. Car owners who no longer pay for OnStar can still access the service for free during the hurricane. Advisors will be available to assist 24/7.

GM isn’t the only automaker providing natural disaster support. Tesla is helping those impacted by Hurricane Dorian by offering free Supercharging, enabling Powerwall’s “storm watch” feature and enabling more range on some vehicles. Electrek noted that owners of a Powerwall — Tesla’s lithium ion battery — who were in Dorian’s path noticed that storm watch mode had been activated. The special emergency mode automatically charges the Powerwall at full capacity so it can provide backup power.

The Category 3 hurricane is expected to get close to Florida’s east coast by Tuesday evening and last through Wednesday. And local government and emergency services appear to be taking it seriously. “Hurricane Dorian is the strongest storm to ever threaten the state of Florida on the east coast,” said Jared Moskowitz, director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management. “No matter what path this storm takes, our state will be impacted.”

Source: engadget, OnStar

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Spec’ing a vehicle can be a misleading task. It’s something fleet managers are probably already aware of, and may already believe they can do well. But, under-spec’ed and over-spec’ed trucks often come with their disadvantages, including unnecessary costs and loss of productivity.

“The wrong vehicle will not meet our customer’s needs. Productivity will suffer, drivers will be unhappy, and our customer and their customers will not be served. Proper vehicle specifications are the key to greater productivity,” explained Art Trahan, sr. manager national account technical support for Ryder Fleet Management Solutions.

Changing times

It’s news to no one that fleet management is evolving. The job of fleet manager has grown and evolved to include more and more responsibility, and the auto industry has evolved and grown in similar ways. This is why even fleets should remember to revisit their specs on a regular basis.

“Today, trucks are becoming very application-specific due to programming demands. Yesterday’s truck is not equal to today’s truck, and the application’s productivity may not be the same as the tool has changed. Productivity is affected by safety, fuel economy, longevity, uptime, and reliability. Evaluation and inclusion of these points allow for the optimization of productivity. Including anti-collision systems and stability control can affect productivity through the avoidance of an incident,” noted John Felder, product marketing manager, Volvo Trucks North America. 

Felder pointed to trucks that may require power take-off (PTO), a technology that continues to evolve to become more efficient.

“The spec’ing of the truck with the PTO in mind can allow for improved fuel economy, longevity, uptime, and reliability. And this is accomplished through the selection and optimization of the hardware and software components targeted for the application,” he explained.

Jake Hebenstrait, senior account manager – truck product specialist for Merchants Fleet Management, pointed to the healthcare industry, where fleets change as equipment needs change.

“Because of the constant advancements in technology, companies who provide bedside imaging services have been able to scale down the equipment used to provide their mobile clinical care service. Due to this, larger vans that were historically used to transport the imaging equipment are no longer needed, and the same job function can often be accomplished with smaller vehicles that are easier to use, creating an opportunity to increase overall production and output,” explained Hebenstrait.

Look past up-front costs

Fleet managers may often feel pressure to choose the most affordable option, either to meet budget constraints or to avoid the requirements of a larger truck, like a CDL driver.

“It’s a short-sighted strategy as, in the long run, vehicles that are not optimally configured face increased maintenance costs, longer downtimes, shorter life­spans, and increased liability. On the flip side is over-spec’ing. Although this is, of course, inadvisable due to increased capital cost, over-spec’ing doesn’t come back to haunt you the same way that under-spec’ing might.”

Wayne Reynolds, manager, upfit design and consultation, LeasePlan USA.

Hebenstrait from Merchants explained that under-spec’ing might also be a symptom of the growing role of fleet management. “As fleet managers begin to wear multiple hats and have various responsibilities outside of managing just the vehicle fleet, their focus and attention’s pulled away from the needs of their stakeholder — the vehicle’s end-user,” he explained. “Combined with a company’s push for increased profit margins, an inevitable situation can develop where fleets begin to get by with bare-minimum vehicle requirements, leading to assets that are less able to accomplish multiple tasks. The result is a less productive employee.” 

Needs may vary

The best way to spec a vehicle that meets fleet needs is to learn the operator’s day-to-day needs.

“If a client believes that their vehicles will be spending a significant amount of time off-road — a truck on a remote building site for example — then productivity would be improved by spec’ing the vehicles properly to be able to handle that kind of work. Likewise for a tradesman that needs to carry sheets of ply — if his van or truck isn’t wide enough between the wheel wells, he likely won’t be able to carry as much or be as cost-effective as he could have been.”

Wayne Reynolds, manager, upfit design and consultation, LeasePlan USA.

It would also be beneficial to know the types of routes that this vehicle will run during its working life.

“In rural areas, a larger truck allows for larger loads with fewer trips back to the terminal and a more effective delivery route. In an urban setting, a cabover truck rather than a full-chassis cab will help you access tighter delivery areas with greater ease. Similarly, in some scenarios, curtain side boxes may allow for faster, more effective loading/unloading rather than rear-entry options that may require other product to be offloaded (and then reloaded) to access what is being delivered, adding additional time to routes,” said Ted Davis, vice president of North American supply chain for ARI.

And don’t forget what sets your company apart from competitors — it may also mean a more specialized vehicle.

“Even companies in the same industry will have some type of unique differentiator in their business model. The vehicles that serve a company’s business requirement should not be thought of any differently, as these assets are an extension of their image, culture, and ability to provide a service,” said Hebenstrait from Merchants.

Fleet managers should get all stakeholders involved to ensure all fleet needs and business needs are met. When speaking to operators, the goal is to understand their job and the equipment needed to accomplish that job.
“Some of the questions asked during the needs assessment center around the need for special equipment such as a liftgate, refrigeration unit, side doors, and body configuration,” said Trahan from Ryder Fleet Management.
With this understanding, you can distinguish between needs and wants.

“It is important for each fleet to take a good look at what they really need for specs,” said Brandon Grenier, manager of truck consultation for Donlen. “We recently worked with a customer that was using Class 6 trucks for deliveries. While it was what they have always done, it was a lot more truck than they needed. By making one spec change, the customer was able to move to a Class 4 truck to accomplish their daily requirements, and save some money in the process.”

Don’t forget the big picture

Getting to know how the truck will be used in detail and planning accordingly is key, but fleet managers should remember the big picture, too, especially when fleet assets aren’t all kept in one place, noted Davis from ARI. 

“When you allow your various divisions to dictate individual spec configurations, you inherently reduce standardization and efficiency. Varying specifications and erratic replacement cycles lead to inconsistencies that drive costs higher and result in operational struggles that ripple throughout your entire organization,” Davis explained. “By having a comprehensive, holistic understanding of your business and the role fleet plays in supporting your key objectives, you can begin to tailor your specification strategy to focus on how fleet enables your employees to see more clients, conduct more efficient service repairs, or add one more stop to their route each day.”

Plan, Plan, Plan

However, none of this guidance matters if vehicles are not cycled out regularly. 

“No client wants to be left in the lurch without a vehicle, but when it does happen, there is an immediate need for a vehicle to fill the void or risk extensive downtime. This results in buying what is available rather than what you want or need. The outcome often ends up being an expensive, improperly spec’ed vehicle from existing dealer stock. If you plan ahead of time and understand the lifecycle of your vehicles, you’ll be better positioned to transition to a new unit when the time comes.”

Wayne Reynolds, manager, upfit design and consultation, LeasePlan USA.

A truck ordered last-minute may be less effective than a carefully spec’ed one, and may come along with a higher price tag.

“The absence of an effective, proactive cycling strategy often results in a significant number of units being purchased from dealer stock (rather than factory ordered), driving acquisition costs higher and delaying the acquisition process which hampers efficiency,” Davis from ARI explained. 

Source: Work Truck

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