According to the benchmark survey, 71% of transportation fleets have implemented blind spot mirrors as advanced safety features, while 66% have implemented front and rear disc brakes. The survey also showed that 11% of transportation fleets estimated that they have saved more than $1 million in crash avoidance by upgrading to newer trucks with advanced safety features. These types of safety technologies have led to safer roads for drivers, passengers and other motorists, and have lowered accident costs. This is especially important since trucking fatalities recently reached the highest level in the past 30 years, with the average cost of each heavy-duty truck crash reaching $17.5 million.
As fleets begin to realize these benefits, additional statistics prove new safety technology aided in roadway safety, reduced accidents and improved Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) scores. Sixty-one percent of respondents have implemented forward-facing cameras, and 53% have implemented lane departure warning systems. While forward-facing cameras may not specifically prevent an accident from happening, this technology is helping to lower the overall costs involved in accidents and litigation. A University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study found that car drivers were assigned contributing factors in 81% of crashes involving large trucks vs. 27% for professional drivers. Forward-facing cameras help offer evidence that protects truck drivers in these instances.
The bottom line continues to drive many upgrade decisions, and fleet executives are paying closer attention to the costs associated with servicing an aging vehicle. Fifty-five percent of fleets said escalating maintenance and repair costs (M&R) and 47.3% of fleets said improved fuel economy are leading motivating factors for upgrading to newer trucks. This is consistent with the last few years when M&R (40%) and fuel (36.7%) were also top motivating factors. Other factors included driver retention and improved corporate image.
“There remains a distinct correlation between aging trucks resulting in higher service and repair costs as well as reduced fuel economy,” John Flynn, CEO of Fleet Advantage, said. “This survey tells us that many fleets see these as critical areas in not only operating their fleets, but also the impact they have on an organization’s bottom line.”
Fleets continue to procure trucks in a variety of ways, including unbundled leasing, financing of new equipment as well as used vehicles, but only 8% are entering into a full-service lease agreement for their trucks.
While there have been more news headlines discussing electric and hydrogen fuel cell Class 8 trucks, 30% of respondents said they do not see these widely in service for another 10 years (a year ago, 36% said they would not be widely used for another 10 years). Another 62% pointed to the same time frame for autonomous trucks. In fact, only 3% of survey respondents believe autonomous trucks will be widely used by fleets within the next three years.
Despite all the advanced technology included in new trucks, the survey showed that roughly 50% of fleets utilize 2017 and older models (some fleets have as many as 3,000 trucks older than 2017 models). Fleet Advantage launched a new Sale-Leaseback program designed to infuse cash and flexibility into transportation fleets. The company developed this program to help fleet organizations substitute for lost revenues during the current COVID-19 pandemic while giving them an opportunity to upgrade into newer trucks.
“These latest trends are an indication that more fleets are in need of innovative, flexible and reliable programs that can help them replace their aging trucks with newer units,” Flynn said.
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