Driver safety a top concern for fleet managers

Fleet driver safety, reducing fuel consumption and lowering maintenance costs are the top priorities for fleet managers in the next 12-18 months, according to a recent PHH Arval survey.

PHH Arval shared the results last Friday to NAFA Fleet Management Association members during a presentation titled "Policy Survey Results from 100 Companies."  Policy areas such as driver eligibility, personal use, vehicle technologies, fleet safety, fuel, maintenance, replacement and resale, and vehicle selection were addressed.

"The survey provides a snapshot of how organizations are managing their fleets," said Angela Feerick, Director, Strategic Consulting for PHH Arval.  "However, it's important to note that these are benchmarks and not best practices. What's good for one fleet may not necessarily be good for another."

While the survey addressed numerous areas, below summarizes results from fleet managers' top concerns.

Driver Safety and Accidents

Driver safety is the top priority. According to the survey, 86 percent of respondent companies have a documented fleet safety/accident policy as part of their safety program, and 8 percent have no safety program at all.

Additionally, the survey found that 31 percent have driver safety kits, 25 percent have a fleet safety committee and 16 percent use in-vehicle technology to monitor driver behavior.

In terms of safety training programs, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of respondent companies have no safety training program. Others offer web-based safety training programs (56 percent) or by video/CD/DVD (33 percent).

Additionally, while not a part of the NAFA presentation, Eliot Bensel, Director of Vehicle Accident Services and Risk & Safety for PHH Arval, recently said "a good driver safety training program can significantly reduce accidents.  Despite best-in-class efforts, every fleet has incidents and accidents that do happen. Ensuring there is a defined-accident management process will help get vehicles and drivers back on the road quickly and safely."

Fuel and Maintenance

"With today's economy, we see that cutting costs is a primary objective," said Sarah Mallonga, Project Manager, Strategic Consulting for PHH Arval, who conducted the webinar. "And it's interesting to note that managers are using a proactive and low-cost method available – simply increasing awareness."

According to the survey, over the past 12-18 months, fleet managers have used communications to drivers (58 percent) in order to increase their awareness of fuel consumption behavior and decrease costs. Additionally, they are monitoring fuel purchases more closely (55 percent), have added more fuel-efficient vehicles (45 percent) and tightened fuel card controls or policies (22 percent).

Only 15 percent of survey respondents indicated no steps taken to manage fuel costs.

To control maintenance cost, 79 percent of fleet managers impose a driver's authorization limit on maintenance purchases. According to the survey, that limit is most commonly $100 per transaction.

Personal Use

Most (83 percent) of the companies that responded permit personal use of a portion of the vehicles in their fleet, while 17 percent do not permit personal use of any vehicles. According to the survey, most often it is the assigned driver (97 percent) and the driver's spouse or partner (63 percent) who is permitted to operate a fleet vehicle for personal use.

Of those companies permitting personal use, 51 percent impute the benefit as income. About a third (32 percent) apply a fixed-rate chargeback to drivers, while 10 percent apply a cents-per-mile chargeback. Fixed-rate chargebacks varied greatly among survey respondents, but a cluster fell in the range of $98 to $130 per month.

Replacement Policy

"While some fleets drive their vehicles until the wheels come off, the survey found that most companies replace their light duty vehicles by the 100,000 mile mark, and often well before," said Mallonga.

Replacement policies for sedans, SUVs or crossovers, or minivans were concentrated between 65,000 and 100,000 miles and 3 to 5 years in service. Replacement policies for pickup trucks and cargo vans were more concentrated around 90,000 to 100,000 miles, and 4 to 5 years in service. 

About the survey

The survey of more than 100 companies, which is conducted periodically by PHH Arval, was conducted in the Fall of 2011, and represents 25 industries.  It aims to look at not only aspects of fleet policy, but strategies employed, organizations' short-term outlook and fleet priorities. Respondents' fleets primarily operate sedans (35 percent), followed by pick-ups or cargo vans (29 percent), and SUVs or crossovers (18 percent).  Additionally, 75 percent of respondents indicated that their fleet is centrally managed.

For more information about the survey or to get a copy of the presentation, contact