Backup cameras are among a range of factory features that improve safety in fleets.

Backup cameras are among a range of factory features that improve safety in fleets.

Photo courtesy of Ford.

The transition to the digital age has been an exciting but challenging task for those of us in the media business. Automotive Fleet has always been the "bible" of the fleet industry but now it's just one of the many pieces we use to communicate with the industry. Maintaining our websites and email newsletters is a daily chore that we now have to fit into our already full schedules. But one of the great side benefits to having a website is that we can see what the fleet market really cares about by tracking activity. It's kind of like Facebook, except we're not selling your private data to the Russians. 

One interesting thing that jumps out month after month is the never-ending appetite for safety information across all of our online properties. Fleet decision makers across the whole spectrum of industries and vehicle types are highly engaged with the topic and always looking for the latest and greatest information. It doesn't matter if you are running a pharma fleet, a public sector fleet, a Class 8 tractor fleet, or a fleet of golf carts. Our analytics show that everyone is driven to find the latest information on how to keep their drivers, customers, and company safe. 

In the olden days when we didn't have an online presence, we had to send mail or fax surveys to our readers to find out what they were interested in. Even back in those days, safety came out on top but we always suspected that was just people giving the politically correct answer. There weren't that many actual safety features or programs available so a nicely-sized fleet incentive was probably enough to overcome a desire to add anti-lock brakes or passenger side airbags.   

The game has changed though. New features are coming out at a fast and furious pace. And fleets don't have to guess anymore about the effectiveness of various OEM options. There is solid data available from NHTSA, IIHS, your FMC, or Frontal crash avoidance systems really make a difference. So do back-up cameras, blind-spot detection systems, and adaptive cruise control systems. Lane departure warning systems seem to help but the vast majority of drivers are turning it off as soon as they take delivery so the jury is still out on that one.  

It's important to note that the fleet market has always been a bit ahead of the retail market. Fleets added seatbelts, anti-lock brakes, airbags, and every other safety option before there was widespread adoption with the general public. Part of the reason for that is that fleet managers have more at stake than individual drivers. Having 1,000 trucks on the road is a much bigger responsibility than having just one.  

The biggest driver of early fleet adoption has been the fact that fleets are always thinking three to five years down the road when they make a purchase. A retail customer is thinking about right now and how do I get the lowest payment. A fleet manager is thinking about the capitalized cost but the pros are thinking just as much about the resale value down the road. Having automatic emergency braking technology might seem like a luxury item today but three or four years from now it will be ubiquitous and you probably don't want to be stuck with 1,000 vehicles lacking in a critical safety technology. I've said it before but it bears repeating, it's still better to be safe than sorry.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet

About the author
Sherb Brown

Sherb Brown


Sherb Brown is the former president of Bobit Business Media. Sherb has covered the auto industry for more than 20 years in various positions with the world's largest fleet publisher.

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