A recent study revealed that government fleets may be bigger, and spend more money on fuel, than is actually necessary.
The government study that used telematics as its data source, focused on state-owned vehicles in North Carolina, found that over ten percent of the vehicles were rarely ever used. The study also uncovered that the vehicles that are being utilized, often speed or are left to idle for ten minutes at a time or more. The vehicles in the study spent 18% of their running time not going anywhere.
The data was provided by a small, representative sample of the state’s fleet, not every single state-owned vehicle. The study design ensures that the results are applicable to the fleet as a whole. Whether the results are also applicable to other states is not clear, although it’s reasonable to suspect North Carolina is not unique in its fleet vehicle behavior.
The study suggests two distinct issues, both of which could be addressed through a telematics service.
The first issue involves the unused or under-used vehicles. Government agencies and private companies often invest in too many vehicles, either because they treat vehicle access as a mark of prestige or because different departments acquire vehicles independently and nobody checks for redundancy. A related problem is that organizations often invest in too much vehicle—cars or trucks that are bigger or more expensive than really necessary. Besides the purchase prices, such fleet bloat increases maintenance costs dramatically.
Fixing fleet bloat is called “right-sizing” and it is a great way to reduce expenses painlessly. Telematics makes it easier to track how often each vehicle is used so the organization can identify which ones it really doesn’t need.
The other issue is the speeding and the idling, which come down simply to driver behavior. Both activities waste gas, which causes pollution and wastes money. Speeding raises the specter of speeding tickets, which is not something a government agency needs. If a car is idling because the driver has left it running while working elsewhere, that is a security problem.
Telematics makes it easier for fleet managers to instill good driving behavior—and to catch and deal with incautious drivers. Since these services record and transmit what the vehicle is doing in real time, a supervisor can see who is speeding or excessively idling. Later, he or she can ask the driver about it, find out whether there were extenuating circumstances, and discuss better options for next time. Or, if necessary, the supervisor can discipline the bad driver appropriately.
According to studies such as the one in North Carolina, investing in the services could save state vehicle fleets millions of dollars a year.