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10 Commercial Fleet Management Trends to Watch in 2021 Brian Dziuk | Feb 17, 2021 10:00:00 AM

Commercial fleet management trends for 2021 are expected to head start new innovations for improving asset tracking, operational efficiency, driver safety – even the types of vehicles fleet drivers operate.  Here are just a few of the innovations fleet managers can expect to see this year and in the years ahead.

1. Adoption of Electric Fleet Vehicles

With the auto industry and people now embracing electric vehicles (EVs), it’s only a matter of time before some fleets begin using electric cars and trucks. This won’t happen overnight, but it’s coming; for example, California Governor Gavin Newson signed an executive order that all new cars and trucks sold in the state must be emission-free by 2035

One of the biggest concerns for fleet management companies is the cost of phasing out old vehicles and bringing in new electric vehicles. Most experts forecast that EVs will be priced competitively with gasoline-powered cars in the next few years. And while there will still be an upfront cost, the amount of money saved on fuel will eventually make up for it. According to AAA, in January 2021, national fuel prices averaged $2.40 per gallon. Meanwhile, the national average cost of electricity was just $0.14 kWh. That kind of savings will quickly add up.

2. Advancements in Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles (AV) are another technology that is becoming a reality. Experts say we’re still decades from wide-spread usage of AVs, but they’re still on many fleet managers’ radars. Why? AV technology can benefit fleets greatly by increasing driving hours. Is a driver getting tired? No problem, he can let the system take over for a while.

Without the need for lengthy sleep stops, profitability and productivity can skyrocket. With bills like the SELF Drive Act passing, which advocated for the  testing and deployment of AVs, they may be arriving sooner than experts predict. 

3. Increase in Remote Fleet Management

When COVID struck in early 2020, all but essential employees went into lockdown to help stop the spread of the disease. While fleet managers are used to their team being spread across cities and the country, remote work was still relatively new to them. Today, even with much of the country “back in business,” a number of fleet management companies are opting to continue managing their fleet remotely to save money. 

With the right software, remote fleet management can be an effective (and cost-effective) way to manage drivers. To be successful with remote fleet management, software needs to provide real-time visibility across operations to monitor tasks and productivity, and offer ways to keep in constant contact with their team.

4. Improved Safety & Sanitation 

While the COVID-19 pandemic will hopefully soon just be a memory, scientists predict that more pandemics are coming. The one positive here is that the coronavirus has brought awareness to the importance of health and safety protocols for fleets, so they will be better prepared for the next one. 

If your fleet hasn’t implemented safety protocols, simple measures such as adding sanitization measures on vehicle inspections and ensuring drivers have personal protection equipment (PPE) can help keep drivers, passengers, and customers safe, mitigating risks and avoiding exposure.\

5. Expansion of 5G Technology

5G technology will be rolling out in 2021, and it’s poised to have a massively positive impact on fleet management. These next-gen networks will greatly improve the speed of data transfer and response times, lowering costs and boosting connectivity. Just looks at some of these 5G benefits:

  • More Efficient Routing. Fleet managers will be able to quickly alert drivers to emergency road conditions and re-route them through their fleet management software with no delays or downtime. Artificial intelligence (AI) will also be on hand to help out.
  • More Responsive Networks. This will improve fleet-wide communication between drivers, managers, and customers. 
  • Improved Sensors. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors will improve safety by keeping drivers in their lanes, helping them avoid collisions, and automatically calling 911 should an accident occur.
  • Improved Vehicle Maintenance. 5G will be able to provide faster transmission between vehicle parts and software for real-time diagnostics.
  • Real-time V2V Applications. These apps have the potential to significantly reduce the number of – and severity of – crashes. Every fleet vehicle will be able to share data on routes, speeds, and traffic, making every truck responsive to its surroundings.

6. Improved Driving Monitoring with Dash-Cams
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2018 alone, there were 2,841 vehicular fatalities due to distracted driving. These distractions cover more than just cell phone usage — they also include:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Personal grooming
  • Watching videos
  • Conversing with passengers

Commercial fleet management has an enormous responsibility to increase the safety and efficiency of drivers to avoid serious incidents. A distracted driver can put a business’ reputation on the line and cost them billions in insurance and legal costs.

One way that companies and government agencies are trying to fight distracted driving is through the use of dashboard cameras. Using dash cams are a valuable tool towards maintaining driver accountability so that fleet assets and other drivers are left safe on the roads. Rastrac offers a large selection of fleet tracking devices for commercial and law enforcement vehicles — and will be including dash cams that track in-cab and out-of-cab activities in 2019.

7. Greater Use of Solar Powered Fleet Tracking Devices

Engineers are constantly developing new technologies that run on solar power, and fleet tracking devices are no different. Solar powered fleet tracking devices offer many benefits, especially in terms of ROI.

Lithium batteries provide a continuous recharge throughout the day, reducing the need for replacement batteries while maximizing the life of the device itself. It also helps in lowering fleet maintenance checks for fleet managers. Another great advantage of solar powered fleet tracking is that it is excellent at tracking offshore rigs and assets traveling overseas. Live data reports that can pinpoint location with geofencing can ensure the safety of a ship’s cargo and the crewmen.

8. More Fleet Data and Analytics

Fleet tracking allows for complete transparency concerning the conditions of commercial fleet vehicles and driver behaviors. Fleet managers highly benefit from this cost-effective strategy with the countless streams of data fleet management software provides.

Along with monitoring driver performance and providing route optimization, commercial fleet management software offers data and analytics on lane departures and whether a seatbelt is used; it also gives predictive maintenance analysis on areas of fleet vehicles that need attention.

9. Integrations with Other Software Platforms (Through APIs)

A commercial fleet management trend that is expected to heavily improve software performance is using application programming interfaces (APIs) to integrate other software platforms with the fleet management software. The ability to use an API key to connect databases from outside sources not only expands the functionality of a fleet tracking device, but offers deeper data analysis capabilities in reviewing the performance of your fleet vehicle and driver.

The range of software platforms that can integrate with fleet management software greatly extends the involvement fleet managers have in daily fleet operations. A fleet manager can find themselves able to do a variety of tasks such as:

  • Transmitting messages directly to a driver’s device
  • Reviewing daily fuel expenditures through their fuel card
  • Tracking a driver’s hours by punching in and out directly from their vehicle

10. Security For Fleet Management

A stolen commercial fleet vehicle can be a severe loss in both worker productivity and company funds. Installing a fleet tracking device in your fleet vehicle is the best way to reduce the risk of auto theft.

Rastrac offers versatile fleet management capabilities that allow you to upload your own maps. With our geofencing tool, you can be alerted either by text or email whenever a vehicle enters or leaves specific areas. This documented data also gives law enforcement details that can help them locate your fleet vehicle in the event that it is stolen.

A rather overlooked feature of Rastrac’s fleet tracking devices is the starter disable function, which allows a fleet manager to disable the starter for a programmed period of time and then enable the starter at a programmed end time. It won’t stop the engine if it is already running, but the next time the ignition is turned, the vehicle will not start.

Get Started with Rastrac Today!

These latest commercial fleet management trends are proving to be a huge step forward in fleet management. Rastrac’s diverse selection of fleet tracking and monitoring devices can fit any of your fleet management needs. Our continued dedication to evolve and adapt with fleet technology is to ensure our customers have the most relevant commercial fleet software updates and upgrades. If you’re looking to invest in quality fleet management software, contact our representatives for more information!

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