Drivers, Fuel Top Fleet Concerns

Drivers, Fuel Top Fleet Concerns

Driver shortage and fuel are top concern for fleet execs

The driver shortage and high fuel costs are the top two concerns of fleet managers, according to a survey conducted by First Fleet, a truck leasing company that specializes in asset management for large private fleets.

In the survey, 77% of the respondents said driver shortages are a critical issue in trucking. Vehicle spec’ing adjustments were made with fuel efficiency in mind said 61% of those surveyed, and 59% used utilization strategies such as increasing loads per truck for fuel savings.

The respondents were 32 fleet executives of First Fleet customers from Fortune 500-level companies. Combined, they control an estimated 30,000 trucks.

First Fleet noted that executives are utilizing a variety of strategies to combat high fuel costs. To mitigate negative fuel impacts, a respondent from Tropicana is consolidating fuel purchases, an executive from LKQ Corp. is studying shutoff valves for idling over a set time span, and a respondent from Chemcentral Corp. utilizes driver training.

First Fleet senior vp Hal Booth told Fleet Owner that the firm is conducting a study involving three fleets to determine the strategies that most effectively cut fuel costs. The study is expected to be complete by the fall of next year, Booth said, and the results will be used to benefit First Fleet customers.

The survey also indicated that pre-buying to avoid nagging fuel efficiency doubts associated with 2007 model trucks will occur among private fleets. According to the survey, 93% of the trucking executives said they would replace nearly a quarter of their fleet within the next year, while 72% plan to replace half of their fleet in two or more years.

Half of the respondents said their companies are using some kind of logistics or wireless communications device on board their trucks to increase productivity. An additional 37% also plan to install these devices within a year. Telematics are used predominantly (81%) to monitor driving patterns, and equipment specs to develop fuel-saving, equipment maintenance and specification strategies. Only 13% said they used telematics mainly for truck location and security purposes.

First Fleet is also investigating if there are ways it could help their customers address the driver shortage issue, Booth said.

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