Government Fleets: Challenges, Solutions, and Trends in 2022, Part I
Public Accountability, Reducing Risk and Liability
The key difference between commercial and government fleets is accountability to the public. Government agencies must consistently demonstrate to the public that their tax dollars are being spent wisely. That scrutiny necessitates utilization of innovative tracking tools to help better improve operational efficiency and help eliminate unnecessary spending.
Government entities must also ensure not only the safety of their employees but the well-being of the public as well. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver error causes 94% of all vehicle collisions. Along with the physical and psychological consequences accidents cause to all parties, they can also have far-reaching financial liability for a government organization if their drivers are found to be the negligent party.
To help reduce risk and liability, government organizations are turning to GPS tracking tools and video telematics solutions like dash cameras to help solve the challenges that come along with managing a fleet of vehicles. Tracking and telematics provide government fleets critical data on fuel use and excessive idling; overall fleet and individual vehicle usage rates; maintenance management schedules and more, to reduce expensive repairs. Along with displaying accountability to constituents, GPS tracking and telematics address fleet inefficiencies to reduce unnecessary expenses and repairs and help make room in the budget for other important initiatives.
GPS tracking and telematics can also enhance accountability by not only establishing and reinforcing driver safety guidelines, but also by providing clear evidence in problematic situations. With the prevalence of smart phones, any road incident can go viral. It is now simple to report violations, real or fictitious, and too many are eager to catch public fleet drivers doing something “wrong.” Whether that is a government vehicle idling or alleged speeding incidents or accidents, government fleets need to protect themselves with hard data. Telematics can prove where vehicles were and how fast they were going, and in-cab cameras provide additional details that can be a huge asset in exonerating drivers.
Considering adding video telematics to your fleet, but aren’t sure how to get started? David Pope, our resident government fleet expert, shares his thoughts on Fleet Tech That Works:
Updating Driver Policies & Eliminating Misconceptions
While most fleets have an extensive driver policy manual, too many do not address telematics and in-cab cameras. For government fleets, adding these tools into the policies can be a battle, as both unions and human resources professionals can have misconceptions of the technology and their purpose.
Fears that these tools will be used for disciplinary measures are unfortunate because it slows adoption in public fleets. In reality, the combination of video telematics and GPS tracking is a great way to reward and protect drivers. In fact, early adopters have told us that the advent of video telematics has been a life-changing—and saving—technology for employees behind the wheel, as well as the public.
When it comes to introducing video telematics in government fleet operations, transparency is crucial to clearing up misconceptions. In the implementation and decision-making process, fleet managers and leaders must clearly state their reasoning and solicit greater driver buy-in upfront. The fact is that the best video telematics systems promote positive driver behavior and provide recognition of the employees that are doing a great job staying safe on the road.
It’s no secret that getting employees on board with telematics is no easy feat, but it can be done. David Pope shares his advice:
Maximizing Purchasing Power
You’d think governments always get the best deals on equipment…but government fleet managers know that is not the case. When government fleets submit an RFP, some suppliers don’t even bother to bid because they know the margins won’t be a good fit. In those cases, the agency is stuck with whoever submits bids. Furthermore, sometimes, government organizations aren’t allowed to consider value and quality, and some laws require use of the lowest bidder.
There are, however, ways fleets can stretch their buying power. Some government agencies band together in multi-agency co-op arrangements. As a collective, they can make taxpayer resources go further. For example, a company bidding for seven fleets might be more motivated to cut a better deal than they would for just one fleet.
With cooperative contracting, the pricing structure is also more advantageous to the buyer. The pricing is available in accordance with the obligation of the seller as a participating vendor, there is a shorter time frame to deployment, better pricing, and the backing of a known entity makes a cooperative purchasing option a winning combination for government agencies.
Cooperative purchasing arrangements also streamline the RFP process, which takes a lot of labor and are extremely time-consuming…often taking weeks or months to complete. Through cooperative purchasing contracts, government organizations can perform greater advance diligence, interview potential vendors, participate in product demos with vendors, or even conduct pilots long before the writing of the document stage. They already know that the participating vendors have been vetted and approved through a cooperative contract and are potential viable candidates to provide them with product, so it helps them select the best vendor. It just makes it that much easier on them.
Stay tuned next week when we cover trends that public sector fleets can anticipate as 2022 unfolds.
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