Time is money and when it comes to the amount of time Americans waste sitting in traffic each year, the total cost is significant – $166 billion.

Texas A&M Transportation Institute recently published its 2019 Urban Mobility report and the picture it paints is of an urban gridlock issue that has only been getting worse each year since 1982, the first year with official data on the subject.

In its report, TTI also lists ways that congestion can be addressed. The group advocates for more of everything, roads, transit, squeezing as much efficiency out of the existing system as possible, reducing demand through telework, better balancing demand and roadway capacity by adjusting work hours, and smarter land use. But TTI also admitted that there is no silver bullet when fixing the nationwide problem.

“No single approach will ever solve this complex problem,” says Tim Lomax, a report author and Regents Fellow at TTI. “We know what works. What the country needs is a robust, information-powered conversation at the local, state and national levels about what steps should be taken. We have many strategies; we have to figure out the right solution for each problem and a way to pay for them.”

Part of the problem is actually the result of a good thing, more Americans are working and driving to work. From 2016-2017, the U.S. added 1.9 million jobs, according to TTI, and with unemployment near all-time lows, more Americans are joining the workforce every month.

Since 1982, the nation’s workforce has grown almost nonstop by just over 50% to the current total of 153 million. The average number of hours per commuter lost to traffic delay has nearly tripled in that time, climbing to 54 hours a year per person. And the annual cost of those delays has nearly doubled to its current rate of $1,010 per person, per year.

“Simply put, travel demand is growing faster than the system’s ability to absorb that demand. Once considered a problem exclusive to big cities, roadway gridlock now afflicts urban areas of all sizes and consumes far more of each day, making rush hour a long-outdated reference,” said David Schrank, a TTI senior research scientist and report author.

Part of that total is due to the inefficient fuel mileage of driving in gridlock traffic. The amount of fuel wasted in stalled traffic has more than tripled since 1982, to 3.3 billion gallons a year.

TTI said that the average freeway traveler has to allow almost twice the expected trip duration to ensure dependable arrival for time-sensitive events such as medical appointments, day-care pickup and airline flights. Instead of the 20 minutes needed in light traffic, it’s best to plan a 34-minute trip, according to TTI.

Of course commuters are not the only ones using our roads with time sensitive appointments. The problem affects manufactures, carriers and shippers and those delays are also passed on to the consumer.  While commercial trucks make up only 7% of road traffic, they account for 12% of congestion cost, according to TTI.

“Those minutes don’t sound like much, but they add up quickly over a year,” said Schrank “Eventually, we’re talking billions of wasted hours, and the cost of delay at that scale is just enormous.”

The 2019 Urban Mobility Report, which examines conditions in 494 urban areas in every state and Puerto Rico, is available online.

Source: Work Truck Online

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Labor Day weekend is often regarded as the “last weekend of summer”, with millions taking to the highway for one final summer getaway. Tragically, this particular holiday has become associated with drunk driving – over the 2017 Labor Day holiday period 44 percent of traffic fatalities involved drivers who had been drinking.

To help ensure the 2019 Labor Day holiday is a time for celebration, eDriving is sharing the following road safety tips for you and your loved ones:

Perform vehicle checks before setting up (brakes, lights, tires, fluid levels) and pack a breakdown kit that includes a flashlight, charged phone, jumper cables, first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, emergency flares, non-perishable food and plenty of water– plus any additional emergency items required by law in your state.

Plan your route in advance, allowing for regular rest stops in safe places; at least 15 minutes for every two hours of driving and more frequently if you feel tired. Even if you are using GPS it’s recommended that you familiarize yourself with the planned route before setting off to avoid confusion while driving.

Ensure the whole family buckles up. Children should seated in correctly-fitted car or booster seats – and pets should be properly restrained too.

Look out for others. Traffic can be heavy over the holiday period – and some road users might be unfamiliar with the roads on which they are traveling. Be prepared for vehicles stopping or turning unexpectedly. Be particularly cautious when traveling close to trucks – don’t let yourself be caught up in truck drivers’ blind spots and don’t cut in front of heavy trucks. It takes them a lot longer to stop! Learn more about driving defensively.

Remember that maximum speed limits are not “target” speeds; they’re maximum limits in good conditions. Traffic, weather and environmental conditions impact on suitable speeds. Learn more.

A three-second following distance is for good conditions. Increase it if traveling in wet weather or when visibility is poor. Be aware of your “escape route” when driving and when stopped at intersections. Learn more.

Aim for a “distraction-free zone” in your vehicle. Pack quiet toys/ tablets/ DVD players with headsets to help keep children entertained during long trips. Set up GPS before setting off and put your phone away or on silent – or give it to a family member to be your “designated texter”.

If you’re drinking, don’t drive. If you’re driving, don’t drink. It’s that simple. Don’t forget the morning after effect of drinking alcohol too – and remember that other drivers don’t always follow the rules. Be prepared for the actions of others and remember that driving defensively is the best way of keeping you and your loved ones safe this Labor Day Holiday.

Here are some sobering Labor Day statistics:

  • During the 2017 Labor Day holiday period (6 p.m. September 1– 5:59 a.m. September 5), there were 376 crash fatalities nationwide. Forty-four percent of those fatalities involved drivers who had been drinking (.01+ BAC). More than one-third (36%) of the fatalities involved drivers who were drunk (.08+ BAC), and more than one-fourth (26%) involved drivers who were driving with a BAC almost twice the legal limit (.15+ BAC).
  • It is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher in all 50 states and the District of Columbia—no exceptions.
  • Despite the fact that it’s illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher, in 2017 one person was killed every 48 minutes by a drunk driver on our nation’s roads.

Source: eDriving

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General Motors has been offering the Chevrolet Malibu since the early 1960s, and the midsize sedan has been a staple of commercial fleets for decades. So, it should be easy to identify five benefits of the vehicle for fleets.

We turned to LeasePlan USA for help in this latest installment of our “5 Fleet Features” web series.

The 2019 Malibu, which is now in its ninth generation, offers a choice of three powertrains, including a gasoline-electric hybrid. GM began offering the Malibu as a 1964 trim grade of its (at the time) new Chevelle geared to families.

The second-generation Malibu in 1968 moved to a slightly longer wheelbase for sedans. After Chevrolet discontinued the Chevelle following the 1977 model year, the Malibu continued as a smaller midsize model. Chevrolet began offering a police package in 1978.

GM discontinued the Malibu after the 1983 model year and brought back a fifth-generation model in 1997 as a front-wheel drive sedan that was named Car of the Year by Motor Trend.

The current model is available in six trims – including L, LS, RS, LT, Hybrid, and Premier. The base L retails for $22,965. Fleets typically order the LS trim with the 1FL fleet package. The sedan is a staple in sales fleets for pharmaceutical, manufacturing, or food service companies.

“It’s been a traditional fleet vehicle, one of those strong and steady vehicles that has held up well, that’s been very popular because it’s comfortable and fuel efficient,” said Becky Langmandel, LeasePlan USA’s vice president of analytics, consulting, and transformation.

“It has the capacity to carry four passengers in addition to the driver in a comfortable setting,” Langmandel said. “It also has a nice cargo space in the trunk to carry some supplies.” The 2019 Malibu offers 15.7 cubic feet of trunk space.

Favorable TCO vs. Compact SUVs

Despite the public’s nearly insatiable appetite for SUVs, sedans like the Malibu still represent a value proposition for fleet managers who must consider total cost of ownership over the approximately three years of an open-ended TRAC lease.

A comparable SUV is likely to retain more of its value for fleets, but it could cost $2,000 or more in up-front capital. You can recoup more with an SUV, but you will also tie up more of the company’s funds.

A 2019 Chevrolet Equinox would retail for at least $23,800 not including commercial incentives.

Fleets tend to drive the Malibu about 20,000 miles per year, Langmandel said.

Good fuel economy

The Malibu delivers solid EPA-rated fuel economy that gives the sedan an edge over a comparable compact SUV. The front-wheel-drive Malibu delivers 3 to 4 miles per gallon more than the front-wheel-drive 2019 Chevrolet Equinox on the highway, in the city, and in combined driving.

When equipped with the 1.5-liter four-cylinder with a six-speed automatic, the Malibu returns 26 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

That fuel savings could equate to 3 to 4 cents per mile, Langmandel said.

“The Malibu is going to save me fuel, and that’s the reason I choose it,” she said.

Chevrolet has discontinued the Malibu Hybrid, which sold for about a $5,000 premium over the gasoline model when comparing entry-priced models. The 2019 Malibu Hybrid will be the last model year. It returned significantly higher fuel economy ratings of 49 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway, but drew low interest, according to General Motors.

Lower preventive maintenance costs

The Malibu would likely deliver lower preventive maintenance costs for items such a tires and oil intervals.

The cost of a replacement Malibu tire would be about $20 less than a comparable SUV tire. The Malibu also requires about 1 quart of oil less than an Equinox.

“We do see that the Malibu does have lower maintenance costs than SUVs,” Langmandel said.

One item that may be a factor for longer-term users could be the continuously variable transmission that Chevrolet added to the Malibu for the 2019 model that replaced a six- or nine-speed automatic.

Commercial fleets rarely hold a vehicle to a point that it needs a transmission replacement, but a CVT replacement typically costs between $3,000 and $5,000.

Comfortable interior that helps employee retention

Because the Malibu has a lower starting price, fleet managers can “dress it up a bit,” Langmandel said, by adding comfort options such as leather seats or a moonroof.

These options can improve an already comfortable and solid package and can improve the morale of the employees who are driving it, she said.

The Malibu has ample trunk space and leg room that’s not much less than an SUV.

“It’s very comparable on leg room both in the front and rear of the vehicle,” Langmandel said. “So, it’s actually a longer vehicle in terms of cargo capacity.”

Available safety technology

The Malibu has captured the highest crash-test score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, even though it missed a Top Safety Pick from a leading insurance safety institute.

While some driver-assistance technology isn’t available on the lower trim models, the Malibu offers automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control as optional equipment.

The safety tech is causing some fleets to upgrade to the Premier and other higher trims, Langmandel said.

“We have a lot of fleets that will not order a vehicle without certain safety features,” she said. “If you’re looking at the SUV versus the sedan, you’re going to have to add the safety options to the sedan. Perhaps you can add more safety options and still be at that lower price point.”

Source: Fleet Financials

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A recent study has found a link between fleets that invest in advanced safety technologies and emphasize safety culture and greatly improved safety performance outcomes.

The study, conducted by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence, working with property casualty insurance provider Travelers, found that six out of nine carriers reported that building a strong safety culture and adopting at least one new advanced safety technology had contributed to improved safety outcomes.

The report focused on several trucking companies who were classified as high risk by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and had managed to change course and experience significantly improved safety outcomes. These fleets had reduced both the number and severity of crashes and improved safety scores. Interviewers asked these carriers about their safety improvement strategies in order to identify best practices that other high-risk fleets can implement.

By developing a well-rounded safety culture, a majority of the fleets had seen a substantial reduction in FMCSA reportable crashes. One of the interviewed fleets that listed safety culture as its top strategy reported a 75.6% reduction in preventable crashes, according to the study.

The fleet had noticed a trend of increases crash rates back in 2011 and was falling below its own internal safety goals. To reverse the trend, the carrier hired a new directory of safety to overhaul its safety programs. The fleet made other important changes, including implementing better driver training, changing hiring policies and building a strong safety culture.

Other examples from interviewed fleets included maintaining an open door policy for drivers to discuss safety-related issues with management, sharing carrier-wide indicators with managers and drivers and informing drivers of the carrier’s safety culture during orientation.

Another key change the interviewed fleets made was adopting at least one advanced safety technology. One of the fleets in the study reported a 56% decrease in preventable, rear-end collision after equipping its trucks with automatic emergency braking systems. Some fleet s adopted video-based safety monitoring systems, lane departure warnings, blind spot detection and stability control systems.

Of all the strategies that carriers discussed, the majority could be characterized as pre-crash countermeasures. Examples included proactive actions taken by carriers that focused on the management culture and leadership buy-in on safety, showing the value of a top-down approach to safety.

As many as 69 strategies were discussed in the study, reinforcing the fact that there was no single fix safety improvement. Every carrier reported making multiple, comprehensive adjustments that required each to change management practices, implement new technologies, improve training, and affect hiring, scheduling and maintenance procedures.

“Our findings were largely consistent in terms of the countermeasures the nine carriers viewed as influential factors in their improved safety records,” said Matthew Camden, the project’s principal investigator and senior research associate for VTTI’s Center for Truck and Bus Safety. “Overall, the carriers attributed their success not to one ‘single fix’ solution but rather the fact that they adopted a comprehensive approach to safety culture and practices within their companies, specifically the adoption of advanced safety technologies.”

Full report available here: Virginia Tech

Source: Automotive Fleet

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Chevron hasn’t been just resting on its laurels since it re-engineered its Delo 400 product line in 2016 to meet the new API CK-4 and FA-4 heavy-duty engine oil specifications, and it’s highlighting a new customer-driven focus with the Delo Traveling Technology Lab.

Since the new oil standards were launched in late 2016, the industry has seen a lot of growth – and a lot of challenges, said James Booth, commercial sector manager, in a conference call. Economic growth and a strong labor market mean more freight but also shortages in drivers and skilled technicians. Truck operators are faced with regulatory changes in the forms of electronic logs and changing emissions requirements.

In this environment, Booth said, “what we hear in feedback from maintenance managers, operations managers, is the need for suppliers to help partner in terms of the application of technology” to help them solve their problems.

Booth said Chevron’s new customer-focused campaign “Engineered with Purpose,” is re-affirming its commitment to moving customers’ business forward through application of the most advanced technology. “We’ve really taken a leap in the last six to 12 months in pushing a customer-focused culture within our organization, in terms of the conversations we have with our customers, as well as the products and content and information we deliver.”

That push revolves around two areas: products and information.

Protection beyond API standards

“It can be easy to get into the cycle of, a new industry specification comes up, you need to meet it, and then you’re waiting for the request from the industry to update the next specification,” Booth said. “We really didn’t sit on our laurels in this instance. We looked to see what else is in the pipeline in terms of [truck] hardware and technology, to make sure we are fully protecting and enabling the use of that hardware in the future.”

Chevron’s goal is to not only exceed API requirements, but also to solve customer issues not currently being addressed in the market. For instance, Booth said, just this year, Chevron has launched a number of products, including:

  • Greatest number of heavy-duty engine oil products with API SN Plus, protecting both heavy-duty vehicles and modern gasoline pick-up truck engines
  • Delo 400 XSP-FA 5W-30
  • Delo ELC Advanced Coolants, which the company said solve recent issues with nitrited coolants and new aluminum radiators.

By the end of the year, Booth said, Chevron will be introducing a “major breakthrough in oil technology” engineered to solve aftertreatment issues brought to light by its OEM partners and customers.

Delo traveling technology lab

Chevron also unveiled a new take on its mobile education center, the Delo Traveling Technology Lab, with interactive technologies, including virtual (VR) and augmented (AR) reality exhibits.

As Booth said, in addition to products, the other piece of Chevron’s customer focus is knowledge sharing. “The relationship doesn’t finish at that transaction. It goes into how the end user can extract the most value out of it, and it’s helping with the training requirements for technicians, it’s thinking about how they may change their maintenance scheduling, and it’s also bringing forward information on what’s down the road and helping be better prepared for that. One area that we see a great way to deliver information is through the mobile exhibit.”

The Delo Truck, of course, is nothing new. Since its launch in 1999, this mobile educational center has traveled nearly three-quarters of a million miles in the United States and Canada, visiting thousands of people in the process.

Following 15 months of work with top agencies, Chevron’s Delo Traveling Technology Lab includes 11 exhibits, including state-of-the-art VR and AR equipment to allow customers an interactive experience to learn more about Chevron’s offerings from engine maintenance to proper lubrication practices. Some of the exhibits, Booth said, are “Delo-agnostic,” applying to engine and lubrication technology in a broader fashion.

Chevron is using virtual reality in this new rolling educational exhibit. For instance, a virtual engine fly-through gives users the opportunity to pause at various locations through the engine to understand what detrimental processes or conditions the lubricant can experience and why the specific formulation is important.

“The user has the option to be able to continue through in a passive manner, or can take control and act like a lubricant trying to prevent wear or contaminants and reacting with other molecules,” Booth said. “It’s an experience that’s really trying to drive that [message of] why a lubricant technology matters.”

Source: Work Truck Online

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