In order to examine a number of private fleet-related issues, the National Private Truck Council has completed its 2008 benchmarking study of its fleet members. The survey was designed to:

  • Validate private fleet performance
  • Identify areas of improvement and opportunity
  • Identify significant trends affecting private fleets

Not surprisingly, customer service continues to be the overwhelming reason why companies operate a private truck fleet. In fact, 82% of the respondents report the primary reason for operating a private fleet is because it provides better customer service to key customers than is available using outside for-hire carriers. The customer service focus has increased steadily in each of the past three years.

Collectively, outbound movements account for nearly twice the percentage of inbound movements. Private fleets in the survey haul 61% of their company's total outbound freight while hauling 39% of their company's inbound freight. Compared to last year, private fleets have increased their share of inbound movements from 34% while seeing their share of outbound movements drop from 66%.

This year, slightly more than one-quarter of all private fleet miles run is reported as empty (28%), exactly the same as last year. When fleets that operated primarily van equipment were isolated, the empty backhaul percentage dipped slightly to 26%. In an effort to continue to improve utilization and reduce the number of empty miles, half of the respondents in the survey report having for-hire authority.

Another strategy employed by many fleets to boost operating efficiency is slip seating, the practice of assigning more than one driver to a piece of equipment. This year, 53% of the respondents report employing slip seating in at least a portion of their fleet, a slight increase over last year's 52%.

For the third consecutive year, private fleets in the survey reported improved driver turnover from the previous year — an important strategy in helping to improve performance. NPTC members report turnover of 11.4%, down slightly from the 16% and 14% levels recorded over the previous two years respectively.

Yet another effective strategy private fleets have employed to help improve their productivity is the deployment of on-board technology to track and monitor their assets, driver performance, fuel economy, safety and on-time performance.

It's one of the ways they can help document the return of the corporate investment in private fleet transportation. Technology gives them a way to understand, communicate, and improve their value. In this year's survey, the number of fleets deploying on-board technology continues to increase to 73% compared to 62% last year and 48% three years ago.

NPTC fleets in the survey continue to report an outstanding safety record whether measured by Preventable Accidents per Million Miles (total crashes resulting from errors, efficient conditions, work processes or other problems that could have been prevented multiplied by one million and divided by total miles), Non-Preventable Accidents per Million Miles (total crashes in which no errors, deficient conditions or work processes could be identified that contributed to the occurrence multiplied by one million and divided by total miles), or by DOT Recordable Accidents per Million Miles (DOT recordable crashes multiplied by one million and divided by total miles).

Compared to the 0.826 DOT reportable crashes per million miles reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, private fleets report a lower rate of 0.55 crashes, a slight improvement from last year's 0.76 crashes.

Despite the pressures confronted by private fleets, the benchmarking report contained an overwhelmingly upbeat message: Some, 68% of the respondents report that they expect their fleet to handle more freight over the next five years. In those cases, the average growth is estimated at 11%. For the 8% of respondents who indicate their fleets would contract, the average size of shrinkage is also estimated at 11%. While those fleets anticipating contraction were on average 30% smaller than the growing fleets, they nevertheless demonstrated similar performance characteristics in terms of driver turnover, slip seating and obtaining for-hire authority.

The message is clear: private fleets have responded to the dramatic challenges by delivering more value-added, integrated supply chain management and superior customer service at costs generally better than market rates.

NATIONAL SAFETY CONFERENCE

The National Private Truck Council (NPTC) will hold its sixth annual National Safety Conference September 11-12, 2008, at the Hyatt Dulles in Herndon, VA, near Dulles International Airport, just outside of Washington, D.C. Last year's safety conference came close to selling out, so you'll want to get your registration in early this year so you don't miss out on this important industry event.

This highly acclaimed conference features a unique format of presentations, discussions with key government representatives, expert panels and leading safety advocates and practitioners — all designed to provide attendees with insights into implementing strategic safety programs and lowering the cost of risk.

The program will focus on the following topics: Safety, Liability and the Private Fleet; Regulatory Update; Predictive Modeling; Driver Wellness Programs; Defensive Driving Refresher Training; Integrating Simulators into Training; and Enhancing Safety and Security. Visit NPTC's web site at www.nptc.org for more information.

WEBINAR FOCUSES ON IMPLEMENTING DRIVER PERFORMANCE TECHNOLOGY

NPTC has teamed with J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. to present a free webcast on “Driver Recognition Programs” on August 27, 2008. The webcast will feature a recent survey of NPTC members on various driver recognition programs, case studies from actual NPTC members, industry experts discussing what makes such programs succeed or fail, and more! http://www.jjkeller.com/nptcinfo

CTP CLASS OF 2009 NOW FORMING

Candidates for the Certified Transportation Professional® (CTP) program are encouraged to register now for their places in the Class of 2009. The Eligibility Application deadline is October 1, 2008.

By earning the CTP designation, you join a group of transportation professionals who have made a commitment to the private fleet industry, to an ongoing pursuit of career advancement, and to continuing enhancement of their knowledge and skills. Top management will readily identify you as a professional with the experience and knowledge to direct and administer a private fleet, traffic or transportation operation.

Since 1993, nearly 600 transportation professionals have earned the right to use the CTP® designation after their names. To learn more about the CTP® program, visit www.nptc.org, or contact Kristen Feeney at kfeeney@nptc.org or (703) 838-8841.

NPTC SAFETY COMMITTEE MEETS IN MICHIGAN

The NPTC Safety Committee Meeting convened in Marshall, MI, for its summer meeting with a visit to the Michigan Center for Decision Driving sponsored by the Michigan Center for Truck Safety at the Eaton Proving Ground. The center is a state-of-the-art facility specializing in training drivers in how to improve their defensive driving skills. During a customized skid-pad session, the Safety Committee learned about essential driver skills including using chop or shuffle steering to provide enhanced traction in evasive maneuvers on the road; special braking techniques and the like.

The group was also able to “test drive” a mobile truck simulator provided by MPRI. Using the latest digital simulation technology, the device creates life-like training scenarios that improve driving behavior and skills. Safety Committee members experienced a variety of visual environments, training scenarios and special effects, including extreme weather conditions, complete with audio and vibration systems that created accurate driving noise and feel. The Truck Driver training program includes a unique combination of state-of-the-art simulation, Computer-Based Training and classroom instruction. Drivers receive cost-effective, realistic training in a risk-free environment.

COMING EVENTS

Mark your calendars now and reserve your space at the following upcoming events:

NATIONAL SAFETY CONFERENCE
September 11-12, 2008 - Dulles, VA

CTP ELIGIBILITY APPLICATIONS DUE
October 1, 2008

CTP EXAM APPLICATION DUE
November 15, 2008

CTP EXAM PREP WORKSHOP
January 16, 2009 - Jacksonville, FL

2009 PRIVATE FLEET MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE
January 17-21, 2009 - Jacksonville, FL

2009 CTP EXAM
Saturday, February 14, 2009, at various locations across the U.S. and Canada

NPTC ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2009
May 3-5, 2009 - Nashville, TN

By Gary Petty,
President and CEO of the National Private Truck Council. His column appears monthly in Fleet Owner. The council's website is www.nptc.org.