• Congestion down in 99 of 100 major cities

    An out-of-work workforce and less discretionary income (road trips) are to blame, or thank, for your smoother commute this morning.

    The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that because of those economic factors, “millions fewer Americans are driving.” And they drove about 8 billion fewer miles in January and February alone compared to the same period last year.

    Fewer drivers also means less fender benders, commute times and bottle-necks. The same article went on to list rather dramatic drop-off numbers — congestion was down in 99 of 100 major cities known for their crawling or stalling traffic, including:

    • Atlanta (-36%)
    • Tucson, Ariz. (-57%)
    • Riverside, Calif. (-57%)
    • Colorado Springs, Colo. (-68%)
    • Dayton Beach, Fla. (-70%)

    Maybe not so surprisingly after reading that, use of public transportation is now at a 52-year high, according to a WSJ stat from the American Public Transportation Association.

    Has your fleet noticed a difference in travel times? Let us know.

    Photo copyright of Burning Image under the Creative Commons license

    • Industry News

  • Know before you go to save money by finding the lowest gas prices

    Gas prices change not only from day-to-day, but from station-to-station. The price can vary by as much as 20% within a few blocks.

    By knowing what the average price of gas is in your area, you can pass this information along to your drivers so they don’t fill up on the most expensive gas when a cheaper station is just a few blocks away. Make sure your guys have a fleet card with universal acceptance so they can take advantage of the lowest prices no matter what station they are at.Bookmark the following sites so you’ll be able to quickly and easily find the cheapest prices in your area:

    • GasBuddy.com: Find the day’s highest and lowest prices by entering your zip code or clicking on the interactive map. GasBuddy can also tell you historical prices, calculate the cost of your route and let you know if prices in your area are on the rise or falling.
    • MSNAutos.com: Each night MSN Autos analyzes gas prices from more then 90,000 gas stations nation-wide. Enter in your zip code and MSN will tell you the average price for gas in your area, as well as the area’s highs and lows. You’ll get a complete list of prices by station and fuel grade.
    • AAA: Similar to GasBuddy and MSNAutos, simply enter in your zip code and get a list of gas prices in your area.
    • GasPriceWatch.com: You can perform a basic zip code search to find the cheapest gas, but we also like how you can also search by intersection or specific station brand.

    Whichever site you use, it’s important to know what the average price is in your area and to pass it along to your drivers so they’ll know a good deal when they see one and to keep on truckin’ when prices are too high.

    Help us add to this list: which sites do you use to find the lowest gas prices?

    Photo copyright of riza under the Creative Commons license

    • Fleet Resources

  • One would think that with the fall in oil prices, an economy that has decreased the amount of travel on the road and in the air by record numbers and a real global push toward hybrid vehicles that this wouldn’t be the year that an oil company would find itself number 1 on Forbe’s list of Fortune 500 companies.

    One would think…

    However, the list, released in mid-April, has Exxon Mobil knocking Wal-Mart out of the top spot by posting a revenue of $442.85 billion dollars, with profits of $11.4 billion. Yes, billion.

    Two other oil companies, Chevron Corp. and  Conoco Philips, were listed in the top ten as were automakers General Motor and Ford Motor.

    did say that 2008 marked the worst economic performance for America’s biggest companies in the magazine’s 55-years history, with earning dropping nearly 85% from the previous year.

    The oil companies all proved they were able to generate revenue despite the downturn, but that may be in jeopardy if congress passes a cap-and-trade law that would smash their profits.

    For you and your fleet, that could mean that oil companies try and find their money in other places sooner than later…like the pump.

    Gas prices have been pretty stable the past few weeks, but with summer months on the way, that could change before you know it.

    We’ll keep you posted.

    For Forbes complete list of Fortune 500 companies, check out CNN’s Money page.

    • Industry News

  • GPS-enhanced bovines emit location, direction and, um, speed

    Fleet drivers get lost going from delivery A to delivery B all the time. People lose cars in mall parking lots daily. And who hasn’t lost their keys? But losing a cow in a pasture? Yep.

    No one ever claimed that a cow had a keen sense of direction. If anything, they indirectly roam, heads down, guided only by a blind habitual hunger and a fence line. But take away the acres of expensive fencing to contain the herd, and it’s easier than you think to come up a few head short.

    recently covered Fortune Small Business annual nod that celebrates cutting edge entrepreneurs. It seems this past year on the USDA’s 193,000-acre ranch near Las Cruces, N.M., Dean Anderson and Daniela Rus are testing an idea based on what they call “virtual fencing.” GPS-receiver headsets on each cow wrap from ear to ear and feature an accelerometer, a magnetometer tracking the cow’s speed, location and direction.

    Apparently, when the cow ventures into a pre-programmed virtual boundary, a computer-activated sound alerts the cow that it’s gone too far. Like a harmless little digital cow whisperer. But at about $600 per “Ear-A-Round,” it won’t be any time soon before they’re commercially available. And no word if it comes programmed with that charming British accent.

    Read the entire story here.

    • Industry News

  • If you work for or own a small business, this Wall Street Journal article might be of interest to you.

    The article profiles companies that have used the struggling economy as an opportunity to diversify the services they offer and found that doing so has not just helped them survive, but in many cases thrive.

    Smaller companies are able to adjust faster than larger businesses and whether it’s finding new markets, or increasing profits with existing clients the general consensus is that there is still money in the marketplace if you know your business well enough to find it.

    From a personal trainer who turned his one-on-one sessions into smaller group training, to the landscape service that shifted its focus to environmental awareness, the article provides great examples that could help you generate some idea for your own business.

    Photo copyright of jurveston under the Creative Commons License

    • Small Business Help Tips

  • R.I.P. Pontiac

    Apr 27, 2009

    GM Slashing 23,000 Jobs, Entire Brand

    To avoid bankruptcy, General Motors confirmed today that it will cut 23,000 U.S. factory jobs as well as its 83-year-old Pontiac line by next year, according to CNNMoney.com.

    The move will take GM down from 47 factories to 34 by the end of next year,
    to allow for a government mandated restructuring and much-needed focus on its core brands: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.

    The article quoted Kevin Smith, editorial director for Edmunds.com as saying, “There was a time, a long way back now, when you knew exactly what Pontiac stood for. Pontiac’s lack of focus as a brand may finally have brought its demise. That’s just death in a marketplace where there’s so much competition and so much quality,” he said.

    Once hailed as GM’s “Excitement Division,” the brand with long-gone glorified models — like the
    60’s Tempest GTO and late 60’s and 70’s Firebird Trans Am — added decades of gas-guzzling muscle, machismo and, yes, mustaches to America’s roads.

    Now with GM backed into a corner and ready to
    slash 40% of its dealer network, a proposed $27 billion bondholder debt-for-stock swap on a table, and no clear hero to save the day or the industry, one has to wonder: What would The Bandit do? And could he do it in a Buick?

    • Industry News

  • Breaker, breaker, one-nine, we got ourselves a convoy this week. We’re running 3 letters down the alphabet highway, so get out of the way for cb lingo from letters I-J-& K.


    Ice Box – Refrigerated trailer.

    In a short – Real soon

    In the mud – Noise or other signals on the channel

    In the Pokey with Smokey – Arrested

    Invitations -Traffic citations, tickets


    Jack – CB term for brother or friend

    Jack Rabbit – Police of any kind

    Jewelry – Lights on a rig

    John Law – Cop

    Juke Joint – Small, inexpensive eating or drinking place


    Keep ‘em Between the Ditches – Have a safe trip

    Keep the bugs off your glass and the trouble off your… – CB Sign-off

    Keep your eyes and ears open and your black stack smokin’ – Be alert and make good time

    Keep your noise between the ditches and smokey out of your britches – Drive carefully, lookout for speedtraps

    Keep your rubber down and your metal up – Drive carefully and have a good trip

    Kiddie car – School bus

    Knuckle Buster – Fight

    Kojak with a Kodak – Cop with radar

    Check back with us next week for L-M, or you can get a dictionary full of terms from the book, Woody’s World of CB.

    10-4 from Hot anta

    • Fleet Resources

  • Low interest rates, easing of credit helps

    You are never going to get a better price on a vehicle than you are right now, AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson told CNNMoney.com.

    And people are buying it.

    reports that “AutoNation, the country’s largest car dealer chain, posted a profit for the first quarter of 2009 despite a 43% decline in new vehicle sales, and said it expects to see improved sales in the second half of the year.”

    This coming off 2008, a year when a staggering 900 auto dealerships went out of business. To put it in perspective, a typical “good” year might see 75 to 90 dealers fold up.

    The article also stated that AutoNation cut its debt by about $500 million during the quarter and $1.25 billion since Q1 last year.

    AutoNation has 239 dealerships across the country under various names. It sounds like now’s a great time to stop by one of them and take Mr. Jackson up on that offer.

    • Industry News

  • With your drivers on the road throughout the day, the chances are more than likely that at one point they will come across a drunk driver, or someone who has fallen ill and is unable to control their vehicle.

    This month’s edition of Business Driver provides some helpful tips that you can share with your drivers as a reminder of the dangers they may face on the road at any given time.

    First of all, signs of an impaired driver range from obvious to situations that are harder to identify. Watch for drivers who are weaving, crossing the center line, taking wide turns, driving 10 miles per hour below the speed limit, following other cars too closely, braking without warning, driving without headlights on at night or stopping inconsistently.

    If you or one of you drivers is confronted with this situation, it is important to remember to let the police do their job. While you can help by reporting a driver you feel is putting other people on the road in danger, don’t try to be a hero. The most important thing to do is ensure your own safety first.

    Stay far behind the vehicle that is driving erratically and be ready for the unexpected to happen. Make sure that you and any passengers in your vehicle are wearing seatbelts. Pull over to the side of the road and call 911 or *SP, which will put you in contact with state police and give the authorities the location, direction of travel, a description of the car and the driver’s actions.

    It may seem like it would be just as easy to avoid the problem and get past it as quickly as possible, but alerting authorities could truly save lives.

    To read more about defending yourself and your drivers on the road and some of the steps automakers are taking to ensure better safety options in their vehicles, check out the extensive article on driving distractions here.

    Photo copyright of woodleywonderworks and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

    • Fleet Resources

  • The National Safety Council recently released a kit that helps companies create internal policies that encourage safe driving and since early March of this year have sold more than 200 of them to companies across the country.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims that 80 percent of all collisions are the result of driver inattention and one of the main causes of distraction is cell phone use.

    The cost in life, lost work time due to injury and in terms of dollars, has forced companies to take a closer look driving habits of employees, as well as other drivers on the road. The NSC’s kit called the Distracted Driving Resource Kit helps employers educate drivers on the risks of using cell phones and other hand held devices while driving.

    The kit helps companies implement policies using a realistic timeline and is made available on CD and includes: A “call to action” for a distracted driving policy, an informational article on the risks associated with distracted driving, the top ten reasons for a no-cell driving policy, posters for the workplace, tips for distraction-free driving, a training program on distracted driving and Distracted Driving Safety pamphlets.

    The Distracted Driving Resource Kit costs $39.95 for NSC members and $49.95 for non-members. More information is available at www.nsc.org/product.
    • Fleet Resources