Getting behind the wheel before dawn or after sunset requires extra caution. Here are six tips to help you stay safe.

Mile for mile, driving fatalities are three times more likely at night than during the day. Here’s what you can do to stay safe.

See and be seen

Clean your vehicle’s windows inside and out frequently. Make sure the windshield wipers are working, and give the headlights, taillights, and mirrors a regular wipe-down, too.

Watch for wildlife

Deer, raccoons, and other animals often roam at night. Use your high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic, and watch the sides of the road for sudden movement. If an animal jumps in front of your car, don’t swerve. Just hit the brakes.

Light your path

Headlight lenses can get scuffed and dull after years of use. The good news: Refurbishing can double their illuminating power, and a mechanic can quickly handle the job for a fraction of the cost of new lenses.

Avoid the glare

Don’t stare at oncoming headlights. Shift your gaze to the right side of the road until the other vehicle has passed.

Drive defensively

At times when other drivers are more likely to be drowsy, distracted, or intoxicated, it’s critical to obey speed limits and give other cars a wide berth.

Stay alert

It’s easy to get dangerously sleepy during a late-night drive. Avoid driving after your usual bedtime, and take frequent breaks during long trips. Having a passenger for conversation can also help. If your eyelids suddenly feel heavy or you can’t remember the last few miles, find a safe place to pull over and get some rest.

Source: AAA

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As long as crashes happen, juries will want to know what a company has done to prevent them.

In May 2019, a jury awarded a plaintiff $15 million in a case in which a truck driver, talking on his cell phone, failed to stop for stationary traffic, critically injuring a driver who had stopped. As an expert on the case who was asked to testify on the company’s lack of an effective cell phone policy, I can say that one reason the jury was compelled to find in favor of the stopped driver was that the delivery company was taking no significant actions to prevent the crash, other than telling drivers in their welcome packet to not use their phones.

I wrote “…there appears to be no evidence that (the delivery company) took adequate steps necessary to prevent (their driver’s) behavior despite knowledge of the risks of phone use of any kind by its drivers and clear evidence available to fleet safety professionals that fleets with strict cell phone policies have fewer crashes.” The company had no training around their policy, no monitoring or enforcement related to the policy, and knew drivers were using phones while driving, perhaps because calls were made to drivers while they were on the road.

As I say in my talks on the subject, cell phones are designed by smart folks to make them enjoyable to use. What bored driver on a long haul can ignore everything the internet can bring them when it is at the tip of their fingers? And once a driver succumbs to temptation, the devices are almost impossible to ignore. A simple conversation can take a driver’s mind off of the roadway sufficiently to make them miss stopped traffic, and there are many more engaging things drivers do with their devices.

Given the allure of the phones, the only defense is a strong policy. A strong policy must completely ban the devices. That is less of a challenge in this day and age when phones can be put in drive mode allowing for music or maps. And the ability for a white-listed caller, such as a dispatcher, to have a call come through if they are willing to call twice in short succession permits a driver to know the call is important and they need to pull over to take it or call back. And managers need to make sure to follow the policy, too.

The ban must come with education and cover all employees. Drivers need to understand the risk of the behavior, with real examples of what can happen, such as the crash described above. Companies must monitor for employees who fail to follow the ban. That can be as easy as checking phone records when there is a crash, as easy as a phone-based telematics and monitoring system and as thorough as in-car camera systems.

One Fortune 100 company I have worked with saw their crashes decline by 72% below the industry average when they followed these rules. But it took time for employees to understand the rules and that the company was serious about enforcing them. When I last checked, their stock was up, and they were doing well. The only thing that was down was crashes.

As long as crashes happen, juries will want to know what a company has done to prevent them. And companies that don’t have a good answer will rightfully be seen as putting the driving public at risk and placing themselves, and their employees at risk.

By Paul Atchley, PhD, eDriving’s Brain Scientist Advisor

eDriving’s Brain Scientist Advisor Paul Atchley, PhD, is the University of South Florida’s Senior Associate Vice President and Dean of Undergraduate Studies. As a Professor of Psychology, he specializes in research in cognitive factors, including the implications of multitasking on driving.

Source: eDriving

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Trucks. We sure do love them in America. We’ve all heard passionately loyal truck owners say they would never consider switching brands. And, looking around, we can easily see the love people have for their trucks by the thousands of dollars in customizations they make to them. Deeper-sounding exhaust systems, lift kits that raise common light-duty trucks to monster-truck levels, larger wheel and tire combinations for crawling over boulders and through the deepest of mud bogs. There’s no mistaking it, American truck owners revel in driving trucks that not only get the job done with ease but look amazing doing it.

The question is, what do the current attitudes surrounding truck ownership, both passenger and commercial, mean for the receptiveness to the clean, quiet, and often elegantly designed electric trucks currently being conceptualized by new startups and legacy brands? Not to mention acceptance of worlds-apart styling like Tesla’s Cybertruck?

No doubt, the use-case benefits of electric trucks are glaringly obvious if well-executed. Despite the potential long-term benefits though, there are many challenges for electric, and the first is the mental shift necessary for truck owners to switch from the proven performance of their diesel trucks to smaller, silent, emission-free trucks that appear less capable. And that’s just for personal light-duty trucks. Commercial light-duty trucks and larger Class 8 semis pose much bigger problems for the adoption of electrified drivetrains when considering the impact higher payloads and longer distances have on battery systems and charging infrastructure.

Personal truck purists may be a hard sell

The electric truck and SUV concepts we’ve recently seen from Rivian certainly look like electric vehicles both on the outside and the inside. Then there is the polarizing design of the Tesla Cybertruck that in no way resembles anything we’ve ever seen. This might not be a good thing when attempting to maximize the adoption of new technology. It’s not easy convincing salt of the earth, hard-working diesel dually drivers that turning on the heat will now require taking their leather work gloves off so they don’t mar up the pretty touchscreen control system. Some may say it’s not really a truck if you have to be that gentle with it, and understandably so. There is work to be done, after all.

Considering the light truck market is the darling of the automotive industry with dominant annual sales numbers when compared with other vehicles in auto-maker lineups, some legacy brands are cautiously contemplating anything that may turn off their intensely brand-loyal buyers. Daimler Trucks North America CEO Roger Nielsen believes the focus at this stage shouldn’t be on rushing to market, but on acquiring knowledge and building customers’ confidence in this technology. “I don’t want to get caught in some kind of race,” Nielsen said during a media roundtable in October. “What we’re trying to do is get the most experience that we can.”

Trucks with electric powertrains certainly possess the potential to displace fossil-fuel trucks when it comes to utility. The incredible low-end torque capabilities of electric motors can make doing hard-working truck things easier without the fossil fuel costs, air pollution, and mechanical malfunctions of diesel and gas motors. Additionally, when building a vehicle from the ground-up, there is more room for adding benefits such as onboard pneumatic systems that can both run tools and adapt the suspension to varying needs. Indeed, if the Tri-Motor Cybertruck features and performance stats are legitimate, buyers will have some real reasons to overcome any qualms they may have about the styling.

Perhaps some brands will serve truck buyers who prefer a more classic truck style by finding ways to simply swap out the powertrains, leaving the rest of the truck visibly identical or only slightly modified. In fact, Ford is developing an electric version of its F-150, rumored to roll out as early as 2021. They even made a publicity video of the truck pulling a train full of fossil-fuel-powered F-150’s. That’s at least one legacy brand going the traditional-style route. If there’s one thing the legacy truck brands know, it’s how to make trucks that scratch the style itch of people who prefer a truck that looks more brawny than graceful. It will be exciting to see how they introduce EV trucks into their lineups with styling that doesn’t discourage purists from giving them a chance.

Commercial trucks are a much bigger challenge

Challenging as it may be for electric to gain acceptance in the personal light-duty truck market, the big commercial Class 8 semis that play an integral roll in our country’s economy pose even greater challenges for electric implementation, but much less due to aesthetics or perceptions of weakness. It’s a no-brainer for any fleet to switch from diesel to a powertrain made up of electric motors and batteries if it can crank out the same miles in the same amount of time. Currently, that’s the main hurdle to overcome for companies working on electric technology for commercial trucks. “The coast-to-coast Class 8 sleeper, I think, is a long way from being electrified purely as a battery-electric vehicle,” said Darren Gosbee, Vice President of Engineering at Navistar, Inc. “The battery technology, we believe, has to go through another revolution of development to be able to get to a point where the energy density of the battery is there.”

Beyond the engineering struggles with long-haul trucks, there are still infrastructure considerations that can make electrifying even a local-only fleet cost-prohibitive or too disruptive to the organization. The massive batteries of EV trucks require staggeringly large amp loads to recharge, and the electrical service necessary to deliver the amount of power needed to recharge even a few EV rigs can totally max out the electrical capabilities of the building. Upgrading existing buildings might be too costly, or worse, it may be necessary to completely move operations to facilities in an area with more adequate support from local electric utilities. This, keep in mind, is the major challenge companies are having that operate local route trucks that are back in the depot each night. For long-haul fleets, the infrastructure complications go much further.

Most obviously, the biggest challenge for OTR fleets is that there needs to be significant charging infrastructure put in place along the routes that long-haul trucks frequent. Just think about all of the trucks filling up the lots and ramps at rest areas every single night. Most idle all night long to maintain power supplies for the comforts of sleeper cab living. What if instead, they needed to charge up? That’s a real problem.

Trillium, which was acquired by Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores in 2016, is working on solutions for long-haul charging that go beyond reliance on the local electric utilities. The company, best known for its more than 200 public and private CNG fueling stations, is expanding into electrification through a partnership with EV Connect, an electric vehicle charging firm, to establish light-duty charging sites at four Love’s locations in California. Trillium’s managing director, Bill Cashmareck said the company is developing a vehicle charging system that would produce on-site power from generators, turbines, and potentially solar energy, giving customers the ability to take power-generation into their own hands and reduce or even eliminate utility charges. That concept could work at a public truck stop or even a customer’s private lot, Cashmareck said. “We think we’re coming up with some innovative solutions for the EV market if fleets choose to go that way.

It seems most of the talk about transitioning Class 8 semis to clean power is about going fully electric and not so much about developing diesel-electric hybrids. One reason is that diesel-electric hybrids still have to navigate the regulations required for diesel. “To me, a hybrid gives you the worst of both worlds,” said Martin Daum, head of Daimler’s global truck and bus division, “You still have to fulfill all the regulations on exhaust for any given diesel truck,” and then you add the challenges of introducing battery-electric technology. That said, there’s a compelling argument for having a powertrain configuration where diesel produces power for most of the trip and then switches to electric power for local deliveries in more sensitive areas where noise and pollution are a stronger concern. Johannes-Joerg Rueger, president of Bosch’s global commercial vehicles business, said in an interview at IAA, “For the last mile, being able to drive fully electric would certainly be a plus. It comes with a cost but would offer some additional options.” It seems that at least for now, the viability of hybrid powertrains in long-haul trucks is still up for debate.

While electrification for OTR fleets isn’t quite here en-masse yet, there is some near-term good news for commercial EV viability when it comes to light and medium-duty local fleets. With shorter trips, lower payloads, and trucks that are back in the local depot nightly, the light and medium-duty local commercial truck segments face far fewer challenges than the OTR Class 8 segment currently does, making them an ideal candidate for developing the technology further for their larger truck counterparts.

Peterbilt Model 220EV

One example is the new Peterbilt Model 220EV delivered to PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division in October of this year. Frito-Lay is starting off their Zero- and Near-Zero-Emission Freight Facility Project with six of the battery-electric medium-duty trucks in its Modesto, Calif. fleet. The zero-emission 220EV is powered by two battery packs for a total capacity of 148kWh, coupled with a Meritor Blue-Horizon two-speed drive eAxle. It boasts a range of more than 100 miles and only one hour needed to recharge, making it ideal for local pick-up and delivery routes.

Many more applications are in the works, too. “Peterbilt continues to lead the charge in electric commercial vehicle development. With Frito-Lay’s Model 220EV, Peterbilt will have 15 battery-electric trucks in three applications — city delivery, regional haul, and refuse — in customers’ hands running real routes and collecting real-world validation data,” said Jason Skoog, Paccar vice president and Peterbilt general manager.

This is exciting news for local delivery, refuse collection, and even tradecraft businesses with fleets, especially considering fuel consumption and maintenance costs are higher for city than highway driving, offering even greater returns on investment in electric fleets. Better yet, these companies will have even fewer barriers to adoption once localized power generation options become more prevalent in the marketplace. All this adds up to higher rates of adoption for light-duty and medium-duty electric trucks, paving the way for technological advances that will offer greater viability for electric in the Class 8 market.

One thing is for sure, and that is trucks of all sizes have an exciting new future ahead of them. Battery technology is only getting better, and the stakes for companies working on electric truck technologies are tremendous, creating huge incentives to invest in the research and development of electric truck tech. This means it’s only a matter of time until we enjoy remarkable new ways to love the trucks we drive and that drive the growth of our country.

Sources: Transport Topics, Automotive Fleet

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A driver checking the details of his next stop on his phone. Low tire pressures from an overnight drop in temperature. Front brakes with only 22% of their pad life left. Any of these items by themselves might seem relatively harmless, but the fact is they often combine with other small issues, leading to much bigger problems for fleets. In the past, the correlations between such small details were difficult to discover for fleet managers, but the total connected vehicle space will soon have a new product to finally change that.

A revolution in telematics is coming that promises to provide fleet managers and drivers under their guardianship with far more relevant and actionable data than in the past, enabling them to turn mountains of problem-causing ingredients into manageable molehills that never materialize. With these upcoming advances in telematics, fleet managers will gain a 360-degree view of overall fleet and driver behavior no matter what make and model of vehicle they drive. There will be nearly limitless possibilities for not just lowering fleet hard operational expenses, but also the reduction of soft expenses like inefficient workflows, driver habits that increase labor expenses, and factors contributing to worker fatigue.

Telematics integrations enabled by the Internet of Things

Telematics isn’t a new technology at this point, it has been providing companies with fleets the ability to better forecast maintenance by gathering basic vehicle diagnostic data over the OBD-II standard for many years now. In recent telematics advances, more data point sensors have been introduced, providing fleet managers with much deeper insight than simple wear and tear part statuses and preventative maintenance forecasts. Now it’s possible to much more accurately forecast unexpected parts failures through benchmarking data, a major improvement as unexpected part failures are the most disruptive to the bottom line of all service issues because they affect not just equipment costs but driver labor costs as well. Paying an employee to wait in a broken-down truck is like setting a pile of money on fire, not to mention the ill-will it creates with the employee who might then have to work a longer shift to complete their work. As helpful as recent advances in the telematics space has been, a more complete view generated by a total telematics system has the potential to offer exponentially better returns on investment in the technology than ever before.

Before the advent of more advanced central control systems in vehicles, the boom in the “Internet of Things” (IoT) for consumer goods resulted in sensors and data transmitters being integrated into a plethora of in-home devices that connect with some sort of central hub like a cellphone or smart speaker like Amazon’s Alexa. We now have coffee makers that automatically turn on with the press of a phone’s snooze button, doors that lock automatically when leaving the electronic borders of a home, tiny keychain tokens that track keys and can even ring to assist in location, and cars with multiple cameras placed inconspicuously that are able to scan a 360 degree perimeter even in the rain at night. Because of this boom, the costs of the components that make all of this data connectivity possible have come down dramatically along with increasingly fast supply chains for ever-more integrations. Now, these technologies are starting to stream into the fleet management world to improve the lives of fleet managers, the drivers they are responsible for, end customers, and society as a whole.

Fleet asset protection possibilities

Protecting the movable assets that travel in fleet vehicles is also possible. Take for example a telematics integration like BeWhere, which utilizes low energy beacons to automatically track movable assets to better manage tools, equipment, inventory, and other non-powered assets. Fleets that have numerous onboard high-value assets stand to realize incredible savings with systems like this by reducing inefficient tool placement in vehicles, prevention of forgetting tools at the shop or customer location, tracking of inventory, and theft prevention. Integrations such as Quik Lokate utilize wireless Bluetooth sensors with temperature, light, proximity, door open/close, and humidity options which can greatly assist in product shrinkage for fleets in the food, beverage, and technology industries where inventories are more susceptible to environmental damage.

Of course, the most crucial assets to be protected using a total telematics system are the people driving fleet vehicles and those potentially affected by accidents with fleet vehicles. Integrations like the camera-based Mobileye Collision Avoidance System warn drivers of the risk of a collision a few seconds before it happens. The system works by continuously monitoring the road ahead and analyzing for the risks of oncoming collisions, unintended lane departures, tailgating, and pedestrian and cyclist hazards. The system can differentiate between vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists, while also recognizing lane markings and speed limit signs. This all adds up to a fleet experiencing far fewer occurrences of harm to humans, damage to fleet vehicles, and even customer property damage.

Driver-centric integrations add even more value to data

The ability to measure and track nearly every asset a worker interacts with is a boon for sure,

but what may prove even more advantageous is the ability to detect driver habits that contribute to accidents and overall poor performance. The Guardian by Seeing Machines is a highly advanced real-time accident prevention technology, using sophisticated eye and face tracking software to detect driver fatigue and distraction. This device can provide immediate intervention through in-cab audio and vibration alerts to the driver. The system also provides fleet managers with daily and weekly reports along with notifications when drivers are at risk.

Additionally, the connected wearables market segment of the IoT revolution can be tapped to integrate worker biometric feedback into the data stream for even more granular data. Small biometric sensors can be easily embedded in unobtrusive wearables like wristbands. Think Fitbit, but for fleets. The implications of this are potentially massive. If companies can get a more detailed read on the true factors contributing to worker fatigue, for example, that insight alone could result in tremendous savings by leading to reduced insurance premiums, workers suffering from fewer overuse stress injuries and even better worker diet choices that help maintain steady energy levels.

Wearables can provide biometric feedback like blood glucose, blood alcohol content, and heart rate, but also can include accelerometers to measure worker movements in fine detail, such as time spent searching for tools in the work vehicle, average time waiting at suppliers or customers, or how much walking is done throughout their day. This provides a much clearer picture of the true factors leading to worker productivity loss. Perhaps stepping down out of the truck backward using a hand-grab leads to less fatigue than jumping down onto one foot first. The simplest of movements over an entire workday can at the very least add up to hours of lost productivity over time, not to mention workers’ comp claims from injuries. These devices bring to light such tiny optimizations with huge potential benefits.

The total connected vehicle – a true 360 view for fleet management

Of course, a multitude of sensors providing near-infinite amounts of data from both vehicles and workers is completely useless in raw form. What’s required is some serious computing power to crunch it into usable feedback that isn’t totally overwhelming to fleet managers and drivers alike. The new OneConnect vehicle dashboard by LeasePlan does just that. The OneConnect is a 360-degree fleet view tool that helps companies with fleets manage everything from maintenance and fuel costs to driver behavior, route mapping, and more. This central hub for processing information from an array of data sources regardless of vehicle make and model will be able to assist in finding unexpected links between data points that reveal new ways to optimize fleet costs and driver processes. Even more impactful is all of that data is aggregated and processed across a global network of many different fleets, enabling us to benchmark and implement the factors that contribute most to the bottom line. From a data science standpoint, this amount of data is far more statistically accurate, and hence, more relevant and actionable for companies in decision-making across the board.

Being able to discover connections never considered before is just one facet of new total connected vehicle telematics systems. The end customer also stands to enjoy a much higher level of customer service from companies implementing these systems. Shorter shipping times, fewer items lost in transit, less instances of forgotten tools or supplies that delay job progress, and more accurate arrival times for service appointments are merely scratching the surface of ways customers will enjoy superior levels of service. Overall, this technology enables a vastly improved experience for every stakeholder involved, from fleet manager to driver to end customer. Telematics has come a very long way already, but a sea change is approaching that will truly revolutionize fleet management in ways never before possible. Preventative maintenance planning can be entirely data-driven versus still using a discomforting amount of guesswork based on relatively unscientific tracking methods. Workers will be able to perform more consistently throughout the day instead of having as many peaks and valleys in their personal energy and performance. And most importantly, the occurrence of accidents will be drastically reduced. Millions of data points, generated by a multitude of sensors, all crunched into actionable feedback by a central hub will soon almost entirely prevent minor maintenance issues from building up to the point of problems.

Sources: Geotab, Automotive Fleet

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Alpharetta, GA. (Nov. 18, 2019) – LeasePlan USA, a global leader in fleet management and driver mobility services, today launched a unique new platform further evolving its telematics value proposition into a new frontier in fleet management. OneConnect is a new Connected Vehicle cloud platform that merges real-time raw data from vehicles on the road with proprietary LeasePlan fleet management data providing the best 360-degree view of overall fleet performance and driver behavior.

“OneConnect provides a window into never before-seen fleet insights,” said Felipe Smolka, executive vice president of transformation, who leads on strategy and innovation at LeasePlan USA. “The uniqueness of our new approach lands a fresh flavor on how to look at a fleet, as we now have the opportunity to marry all relevant data points into one single pane of glass.”

The platform aligns with existing LeasePlan innovations such as the MyLeasePlan mobile app, virtual assistant Elle and OneScore to help fleet managers take more control over driver behavior, route mapping, risk and most importantly – safety. Driver safety and efficiency mark the cornerstones of this exciting new product.

“The aim is to provide our clients with the tools they need to maintain a one-to-one connection with their drivers regardless of fleet size. OneConnect allows them to do this seamlessly and in a digital way”, said James Brand, product manager, LeasePlan. “We know risky behavior leads to higher TCO.”

Geotab, a global telematics leader, partnered with LeasePlan to provide access to high-quality data using Geotab’s open-platform API for the OneConnect platform. “Finding ways to improve road safety and efficiency has always been a top priority for Geotab,” stated Geotab CEO Neil Cawse. “Solutions such as LeasePlan’s OneConnect can enable better data-driven decision making to help businesses better manage their fleets through improved visibility into both their vehicles and drivers.”

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About LeasePlan

LeasePlan is one of the world’s leading Car-as-a-Service companies, with 1.9 million vehicles under management in over 30 countries. Our core business involves managing the entire vehicle life-cycle for our clients, taking care of everything from purchasing and maintenance to car re-marketing. With more than 50 years’ experience, we are a trusted partner for our corporate and mobility service clients. Our mission is to provide what’s next in sustainable mobility via an ‘Any car, Anytime, Anywhere’ service – so our customers can focus on what’s next for them. Find out more at www.leaseplan.com.

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