Ways to Improve Your Fleet

Managing a trucking fleet comes with a host of challenges for owners and individuals in the industry. From evolving technology to changes in legislation from state to state, trucking fleets have more than just the day-to-day to take care of.

There is a major amount of pressure that comes with maintaining a successful and efficient fleet. A fleet manager is responsible for purchasing vehicles, driver management, record keeping, and vehicle maintenance, among other things. While this can be a grind, there are a number of things that can be done to enhance the efficiency of a fleet.

Here are some things to consider when looking for ways to improve your fleet.

1. Insurance

First, it’s always important to make sure your fleet is running under the right truck insurance coverage. Having coverage such as truck liability policy and physical damage will keep your fleet covered during the time of a claim. Truck insurance is the first step to ensuring your company, employees, finances, and daily operations are protected moving forward. Not having insurance will open you up to major financial and reputational losses that could have devastating consequences.

2. Maintenance Strategy

Fleet managers need to be sure to strategize and create plans to make sure their vehicles are running in excellent condition. Larger truck fleets carry their own in-house service centers for maintenance to be conducted on a regular basis on their premises. If your fleet is a smaller business, it is more practical to hire out a company to keep your trucks serviced. No matter who’s taking care of your trucks, it’s important to get them taken care of on a regular schedule to keep efficiency up.

3. Manage Your Drivers Effectively

Fleet managers need to be able to communicate with their drivers effectively. Communication in the trucking industry is crucial for any fleet. Truck drivers need to be able to reach out to their managers easily and the flow of information needs to remain open and efficient. One way this is being done is by installing electronic logging devices (ELD’s) that monitor driver behavior; tracking if a driver is frequently speeding or breaking excessively.

Through ELD’s and regular communication with drivers, fleet managers can keep everything running smoothly.

4. Evaluate Your Assets

Fleet managers and vehicle technicians should be aware of the status of their assets. Beyond knowing your vehicle’s conditions and current service parts inventory levels, it’s also crucial to completely have a grasp on how every vehicle is used as well as how its components work. For this, it’s important to evaluate your fleet’s assets on a regular periodic basis, which can help you make adjustments to current business demands.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Servicesis a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

Fleets: How They’re Growing, and What Operators Are Concerned About

According to statistics from Government Fleet, smaller trucking fleets are taking over the roads, beating out bigger operations when it comes to picking up business. However, with growth among smaller fleets, a mix of issues such as training needs and replacement budgeting are causing a stir. Also, in the industry as a whole, a growing driver shortage tied with a surge in e-commerce is creating a major disparity in being able to serve customers on time.

As fleets grow and business picks up, stakeholders in the industry are scrambling to find ways to be effective and stay ahead of the curve. Here are some major issues operators are concerned about:

Driver Shortage

As mentioned above, the truck driver shortage is starting to be un-ignorable. According to the American Trucking Association, the industry is short on truck drivers by an estimated 63,000 positions. And even with a pay increase of more than 15 percent in the median salary range over the past six years, the demand for getting new drivers behind the wheel hasn’t been met.

To make matters worse, companies can expect to see that shortage increase, especially with an aging workforce. The average age of a driver hovers around 50 years old, and younger drivers aren’t applying as frequently as they used to.

Deteriorating Infrastructure

In 2016, one of the major campaign topics among both major parties had to do with infrastructure spending. It is clear that the country needs to put more effort into rebuilding our roads, bridges, and highways.

Safe and reliable infrastructure is important to the industry and crucial for trucking companies to be able to operate efficiently and safely. Efforts have been discussed to pump more funds into the industry, but there has yet to be any major legislation passed.


Speaking of safety concerns, truck drivers are witnessing a sharp rise in not only accidents on the road but fatalities. In 2017, more than 37,000 people died in auto crashes, a decrease by two percent from the prior year. However, commercial trucking made up 4,761 of those deaths, marking a nine-percent increase and hitting its largest level in 29 years.

Now, major distractions on the road are starting to influence these numbers as truck drivers and commuters are becoming more and more distracted by phone use. This puts a whole new layer of importance on the need for commercial truck insurance to protect companies and their drivers from claims related to accidents and death. While not everything can be prevented, it can be protected by maintaining comprehensive commercial truck insurance coverage.

Trucking Regulations

The laws and regulations affecting the industry are constantly under review and being revised. What’s more, different states see their own regulations change, like in California, where the recently passed AB-5 bill is upending what it means to be an independent contractor.

Electronic logging requirements are also starting to shape the industry as the electronic logging devices that are being mandated have been installed to help create a safer work environment for drivers. These devices help to accurately track, manage, and share the records of duty status of drivers.

Next, drivers are starting to see drug and alcohol sobriety tests be more intensely enforced. Updates to drug and alcohol testing, while beneficial for everyone on the road, including everyday commuters, can be costly, taking up space in an operation’s budget. Trucking fleets are having to find ways to keep budgets slim or even find room by cutting services.

One service that is being weighed by operations, but is still a necessity, is commercial truck insurance. Truck liability insurance should be kept as part of an operation’s budget outline and different commercial truck insurance brokers, like Western Truck Insurance, are able to provide personalized and form-fitting commercial truck insurance to fit a company’s needs.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Servicesis a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

Truck Fleet Insurance Options

Truck Fleet Insurance Options and Payment Plans

The truck fleet operator has several alternatives in structuring their truck fleet insurance coverage and payment plans. But first we need to segment the various fleet sizes to determine what makes the most sense for your operation.

We like to break out fleet sizes as follows:

  • Group I      20 to 50 Units
  • Group II     51 to 100 Units
  • Group III    101 to 500 Units
  • Group IIII   500+ to 50 Units

Group I and II fleets

The alternatives generally involve what payment plans are available and which makes the most sense for the operation.

Generally, these fleet policies are set up on a monthly reporting form. Those are usually based on:

  • Gross Revenue
  • Mileage
  • Schedule of Vehicles

Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages.

  • Gross Revenues policy will have a premium rate (say 3%) which is applied monthly to the revenues generated for the month. This is a simple method for the operator, it allows for optimal cash flow as the premium will follow the income, and is advantageous when the fleet is growing and adding units as there is no immediate increase in the premium.

    A disadvantage to the receipts policy is that if the fleet increases their rates during the year then those increases effectively increase their premium as well. Other disadvantages exist and depend upon the nature of the operations.
  • Mileage based policies are good if the mileage being driven can be easily verified and are fairly stable. If the miles driven fluctuate widely, especially if the miles will increase during the term, then this type policy can wind up being more expensive. The key to this type of policy is to make sure the estimated mileage being used as a basis allows for a sufficient cushion to grow a bit; that is, it not be too low. Again, this type allows for growth in the number of units without an immediate increase in the premium.
  • Scheduled Vehicles reporting is really good for the smaller fleet, say less than 75, where there are only a small amount of vehicle changes. This monthly report of vehicles establishes a monthly premium per unit. It eliminates any mileage or gross revenue reporting and eliminates the potential for premium increases due to higher than expected mileage or revenue. Conversely, it also removes the possibility of adding units without increasing the immediate premium cost.

In each of the three cases above, the fleet operator has a financial incentive to manage their operations better and reduce the number and cost of claims.

Group III and IV fleets

Are usually more interested in some form of risk sharing based upon their claims results. These fleet operations can Reduce the Cost of Insurance by participating in the claims process. That can be done be either placing a liability deductible or accepting a Self Insurance Retention (SIR); which brings the fleet operator directly into the claims process. Finally, the larger fleet operator may even consider creating, or renting, what’s known as a Captive Insurance Company. In this case, the fleet actually manages its’ own insurance company and that company gains or loses on the premium cost depending upon their results. Other benefits can accrue to the Captive option.

Prepare Your Fleet for Winter Driving

Though each season of the year will task a fleet in different ways, winter is the one that sends owners scurrying to make sure each truck is ready to ride out the storms. Even semi’s that spend the majority of their miles in warmer states can be unpleasantly surprised by weather that is not common. For instance, in Atlanta, Georgia, a January storm in 2014 turned roads into sheets of ice, causing thousands of people to be stranded at work, on the roads and even at school.

Prepare for the Unexpected

The rule of thumb, when you are responsible for the safety of your drivers, the delivery of goods and the overall expenses of the fleet is to prepare for the unexpected. This means getting those vehicles ready for the winter truck driving before they are caught in the cold. Failing to do so means leaving your entire fleet vulnerable during the most damaging weather season. Taking time to make sure each vehicle in the fleet is winterized can make all the difference to your drivers, customers and especially to your bottom line.

Fleet Winterizing Checklist

Keeping a winterizing checklist on hand is a great way to make sure you do not miss any steps when making sure your vehicles are prepared for whatever winter might bring. Here are 7 checklist Items that should be performed on every fleet vehicle.

  1. Winter fuel – Diesel fuel and cold are typically not mentioned in the same sentence without some frustration. This is because diesel fuel is known to gel in very cold weather due to the hydrocarbon, Paraffin, found in the fuel. Educating drivers about the need to use a winter-blend fuel and having them add anti-gel additives when they are fueling can go a long way to ensuring the semi truck winter start, even in the cold winter weather.
  2. Battery testing–Because batteries drain more quickly in cold weather, each vehicle in the fleet should be tested to make sure the battery is strong. This should not be a one-time test, but should be done periodically throughout the winter to ensure that the battery is still able to maintain its charge level. Any battery that is more than 3 years old should be tested more frequently or replaced.
  3. Don’t forget the coolant – A truck’s cooling system is not just for the summer months. This system, containing coolant, controls the boiling and freezing points as well as offering some protection from corrosion. Checking the inhibitor levels and coolant concentration is a must before cold weather sets in. Older style coolants were known to drop in level pretty quickly, but there are newer coolants available today that can stay in the truck’s system for up to 600,000 miles.
  4. Check the engine heater – Weather the vehicles in your fleet use external, internal or coolant engine heaters, they should be checked as part of a winterization routine as well. This type of heater makes starting a diesel engine in the winter much easier, as they preheat either the coolant or the engine block. Easier starting saves wear on the engine, lowers emissions, and can even increase fuel economy, not to mention the fact that some also provide heat to your driver more quickly.
  5. What about the trailer – Drivers know that winter is as hard on the trailer as it is on the tractor. One frequent trailer problem is frozen brakes that simply refuse to release. Making sure to properly lubricate moving parts during the winter is one of the ways to make sure those brakes work properly when needed. Another way is to make sure all of the air is released from the brakes before stopping for an extended period of time.
  6. Check the electrical system for corrosion – Both tractors and trailers have a 7-terminal receptacle for the electrical trailer cable plug. These are standard throughout North America. This plug is critical as it controls all the lights, signals and antilock devices on the trailer. As such, keeping them clean is always important. It may take a bit more time and effort in the winter, as many chemicals such as magnesium chloride and salt are coming off the road. Prolonged exposure to such chemicals can corrode the contacts and cause the loss of lights, ABS equipment and power. Even more unsettling is the fact that any moisture that makes it into a plug or socket can slowly make its way into the wiring system causing expensive problems later on.
  7. Protect your drivers – Every fleet owner knows that trucks only make money when paired with good drivers. Making sure your valuable drivers have all the equipment they need for winter trucking safety. Such items include emergency flares, a tool kit, bottled water and non-perishable emergency food, waterproof gloves and a working cell phone.

Taking time to properly inspect and prepare each vehicle in your fleet can help to ensure that the wheels keep turning, no matter what mother nature surprises you with.