Clem Driscoll president of CJ Driscoll amp Associates presented findings of his firmrsquos study The Big Fleet Survey and Market Overview Introduction during TUAutomotiversquos Connected Fleet conference in Atlanta Photo Cristina Commendatore  Fleet Owner

Clem Driscoll, president of C.J. Driscoll & Associates, presented findings of his firm’s study, The Big Fleet Survey and Market Overview Introduction, during TU-Automotive’s Connected Fleet conference in Atlanta. (Photo: Cristina Commendatore / Fleet Owner)

Fleets wait as long as possible to deploy ELDs, study finds

ATLANTA. Though the ELD mandate is just three months away, 60% of commercial fleets are still monitoring their drivers’ hours of service (HOS) with paper logs. That’s according to a recent study conducted by C.J. Driscoll & Associates that surveyed 529 U.S. fleet operators.

According to the survey, 33% are using AOBRDs, and 6% said they are using a combination of some sort of e-logs and paper logs to monitor driver hours. However, of the 20 owner-operators surveyed, not one had deployed an ELD or planned to implement one before the fourth quarter.

Over a third of respondents subject to HOS regulations who had not yet deployed ELDs said they will deploy ELDs in the fourth quarter this year or wait as long as possible based on the regulation.

 “That’s a little scary in terms of supply and demand,” noted Clem Driscoll, president of C.J. Driscoll & Associates. “The research shows that most fleets want standard configuration, especially larger fleets – very few large fleets want BYOD (bring your own device) for the very simple reason they don’t want their ELD compliance to be dependent on the drivers phone.”

Driscoll presented findings of his firm’s study, The Big Fleet Survey and Market Overview Introduction, during TU-Automotive’s Connected Fleet event here in Atlanta. The study assesses fleet operator interest in GPS fleet management systems, driver behavior management systems, and GPS-equipped handset/portable solutions for managing mobile workers. The study also details the principal motivations of fleet operators for deploying mobile resource management (MRM) solutions and the operational and financial benefits derived from these systems. The firm surveyed fleets that operate between five and 10,000 vehicles.

According to Driscoll, just over three quarters of the respondents reported their drivers use smartphones for communications, and nearly two thirds of the respondents currently or previously used a GPS fleet management system, while just over a third have never used a fleet GPS management system.

“The survey results show that penetrations of GPS fleet management systems among large fleets is significantly greater than small fleets,” Driscoll explained.

When it comes to obstacles in deploying GPS fleet management systems, the majority of the respondents that had a problem – 23% – said installation of the devices was the biggest challenge, while education and training was mentioned by 12% as an obstacle.

Overall, satisfaction with GPS systems is very high, the study noted. Only 6% of the fleets using a GPS management system were not satisfied.

“Satisfaction was very high in 2013 and it remains today,” Driscoll explained, comparing this year’s survey results to the firm’s 2013 study. “So that’s a very good sign for the industry. As long as you’ve got customers that are happy with the solutions, they’re going to keep them. They may switch the providers, but they’re not going to give up using the technology.”

When it comes to recouping their initial investment in the fleet management systems, about two-thirds, or 66%, of the respondents said they have, and about a quarter said they had not. According to Driscoll, those who said no reported they hadn’t been using the system long enough.

“Some said, ‘We didn’t get the system to try to make money with it or reduce cost, we got it for safety or for some other purpose that doesn’t relate to financial benefit,’” he added. “There were others who said, ‘We’re not taking full advantage and we know we’re not taking full advantage of the features and capabilities of the system.’”

The study also found that fleets’ use of driver-performance monitoring camera-based solutions have grown in a number of different fleet categories – mostly in public transit, school bus fleets, government truck fleets, and service fleet segments such as waste disposal.

The main reasons fleets reported they have not deployed any type of MRM system are:

  • Employment issues. One state Dept. of Transportation agency reported it hasn’t deployed cameras in an effort to respect the privacy of its employees.
  • Trust. One water utility fleet that operates 4,706 vehicles stated: “Because we trust our employees and there is no high accident rate.”
  • Regulations (referring to the ELD mandate). “It wasn’t a law before now, so that’s why we’re having to install the new ELDs,” according to a construction fleet that operates 230 vehicles.
  • Capital expense. Fleet surveyed said systems have been pushed to the wayside because the monthly fee has been an issue.

There is no indication of near-term decline in intent to purchase these types of solutions, mainly because of the ELD mandate, Driscoll said.

“Looking to the future, cutting edge technology will become increasingly important as market saturation becomes an issue,” Driscoll concluded. “Truly innovative solutions that solve problems will always find a market. Even if the market starts to decline because of penetration, they’ll still be successful.” 

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