Balancing Safety and Service for a Brighter Fleet Outlook

Contributed by Sherri Mills

Safety and Service – Creating a Balanced Approach

With personal safety and the safety of others at the forefront of our minds, safety will remain in focus as we re-start our engines, and re-open our doors. As fleet management resumes a more robust pace in the days ahead, the scope of business reality and total cost of ownership (TCO) for fleets will include a balance of both safety and service.

First, as demand increases and productivity resumes, so does the efficiency required to perform at optimum levels. The essential vehicles of your fleet, and the employees that drive those vehicles, will still be your most valuable assets. Protecting them and ensuring their safety is critical.

Back to Basics

National Safety CouncilGet back to basics with measuring and monitoring the safety of your fleet. Pay close attention to harsh driving behaviors, seat belt usage, and speeding. Utilizing actionable telematics and accelerometer data, will ensure compliance, accountability. It will help your team to rally to a stronger position of recovery. Setting driver alerts for speeding will recoup lost dollars and provide peace of mind in safe driving measures.

Reducing Fuel Spend

Next, but equally important is Fuel economy. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph. For every 5 mph driven, over 50 mph, it is costing roughly an additional $0.18 per mile for gas. With monitoring and coaching, you can easily slow drivers down and capture that savings.

In addition, speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to vehicle collisions. It impacts the total cost of risk, predominantly in workers compensation claims. A report by OSHA, NHTSA, and NETS estimated that one work-related accident involving a fatality could cost an employer $500,000. Telematics’ accelerometer data provides the insights for targeted coaching to ensure the safety of your fleet and your drivers by reducing collisions.

Optimize and Right Size

Finally, consider the service component. To maintain balance within your fleet, the other side of the scale is ensuring safety on the road with proper servicing and maintenance. Time is money; not only in recovery mode, but also in building and preserving your fleet going forward. As you rebuild your fleet focus on rebuilding more efficiently than before.

Understanding asset utilization, average miles driven per day, rolling cost per mile by route and improved maintenance can make your fleet leaner and more efficient without a loss of revenue. You can rehire your best field service technicians and implement new standard for training and service. During this slow period you can review all aspects of your business and prepare a new way of doing things when our country gets past the Covid-19 challenge.

Most Costly Assets

Use the Tools to Balance Safety and Service

Telematics data provides the details you need to proactively schedule and plan for routine maintenance. Engine data alerts you to ongoing service issues and reduces down time. Planned maintenance is a standard part of vehicle ownership, but unplanned repairs due to aggressive driving and vehicle misuse are an unnecessary cost. The cost savings resulting from fewer scheduled maintenance appointments is a given. In contrast, a non-scheduled maintenance interruption can result in lost profits of between $400 to $700 per incident for a standard vehicle and thousands for a truckload of frozen seafood.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that telematics technology can help a company reduce these scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and repair incidents by as much as 14%. Managing your fleet with specific diagnostics information and daily reporting of service needs will provide better control, overall planning, and build longevity for the next phase of your operations.


Balancing Safety and Service increases Return on Investment

Proactively managing with balanced attention to safety and service gives you a competitive edge. Stay safe on the roads with telematics technology from Fleetistics, and build toward a better, stronger tomorrow.

Securing Trailer Cargo

Securing Trailer Cargo For Safety

Unsecured or poorly secured trailer cargo is fairly common on the road. We all see painting vans with a half dozen ladders on the roof, a mattress on top of the car or a carpet hanging out the back doors. Often the body rubs the wheels due to being overloaded. By all means if you want to be pulled over, attract attention to yourself by being this guy. Anyone can be pulled over for being unsafe but the more obvious you are about doing a great job securing your cargo, the less likely you are to get pulled over.


Calculating Working Load Requirements

One of the most interesting aspects of securing cargo is calculating the number of straps and the working limit of each. This is covered in the video below but the general rule of thumb is that the straps have to be rated for 50% of the load weight. For example, you have an 8,000 lbs backhoe, your straps or chains need to be rated for 4,000 lbs. You need one in the front and one in the rear. If the cargo is over 10,000 lbs, you must strap all four corners for a working load limit of 50% or higher.

One thing that I learned, and not until watching the video for the second time, is critically important. If your strap loops around the equipment, the strap rating is cut in half. Why? The video doesn’t say but it likely has to do with how the strap was tested and that angles on the equipment may cut into the strap under extreme loads.

What looks to be a smooth rounded edge may decrease the strap strength by 40% when 2,000 lbs of pressure is applied. Consequently if you have to have 4,000 lbs in straps and each strap is rated for 2,000 lbs, if you wrap around the equipment and do not use the hooks, your straps are considered to be only 50% of the listed 2,000 lbs working load. To compensate you will need four 2,000 lbs straps which are considered 1,000 lbs each to get the 4,000 total, or 50% of the 8,000 lbs.


Securing Accessories Or Implements On Your Equipment

Often times trailer cargo includes equipment with a boom, grapple, mower or other implements that attach to the equipment. Implements require a separate conversation to ensure they are also secured. There are two ways to secure an implement.

  1. Utilize a factory locking mechanism
  2. Use straps or chains

A factory locking mechanism includes a pin or spring loaded locking handle that keeps the implement in place. These generally are designed for transporting the equipment with the implement attached. As a rule of thumb, if in doubt strap it down. Additionally, if a DOT officer can easily see you have taken the extra steps to secure your load, he/she will likely opt to pull over the truck next to you that did not take great care to be safe.


Securing Trailer Cargo Checklist

  • The better it looks, the less likely you are to get stopped. If it looks good, odds are you already did a good job.
  • Straps or chains are sufficient
  • Under 10,000 lbs, 1 strap in front and 1 in the rear
  • Over 10,001 lbs, strap the 4 corners
  • Secure cargo if it will impact the vehicle handling during an emergency maneuver or routine driving
  • Leave the load rating labels on the straps
  • Teach your drivers how to calculate the needed straps or chains based on cargo weight
  • Secure to immovable components, like the frame, not a brush grill
  • When in doubt, add more straps
  • Don’t overload the axles and tire max working load

Check the rules and regulations in the state you operate in and FMCSA for complete details.


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Ford OEM Telematics Program

Ford - Geotab Partnership

Understanding Ford integrated telematics

Ford OEM Telematics Program Overview

Ford OEM Telematics leverages a GPS tracking device that comes as standard equipment on new Ford vehicles. Ford, like other OEMs are installing a telematics solution in vehicle prior to delivery. Geotab is establishing relationships with Ford and other OEMs to put the telematics data into the Geotab platform. Geotab is relying on companies like Fleetistics to implement and support fleet customers with either the OEM or Geotab GO device.

In this article we explain the pros and the cons of the OEM approach as well as the Geotab GO device approach. Fleetistics’ mission is to help customers select the best option for their fleet situation without preference or bias.


Who Is Eligible?

There are only a few requirements and if you have additional questions contact Fleetistics at


  • FIN code issued to fleet operator after account is setup
    • Purchase 5 or more Ford vehicles at once
    • Have more than 15 commercial fleet vehicles in service from any manufacturer. Vehicles on blocks do not count.
  • Vehicles purchased Q3-Q4 2019 or 2020 with pre-installed telematics

Current Fleet Vehicles

  1. Contact Fleetistics and express your interest in Ford OEM Telematics and an account manager will be assigned to walk you through the process and review the pros and cons to both approaches.
  2. Send a list of VINs and FIN to Fleetistics.
  3. Complete the Fleetistics order.
  4. Fleetistics sets up Geotab account.

New Fleet Vehicles

  1. Contact Fleetistics and express your interest in Ford OEM Telematics and an account manager will be assigned to walk you throgh the process and review the pros and cons to both approaches.
  2. Create and setup your Ford account.
  3. Send a list of VINs and FIN to Fleetistics.
  4. Complete the Fleetistics order.
  5. Fleetistics sets up Geotab account.


1. Q: What is the contract term?
A: It ranges from month-to-month to several years depending on customer selected options.

2. Q: What if I have a mixed fleet?
A: A Geotab GO device can be used on any vehicle or asset that does not have an OEM telematics device

3. Q: What about asset tracking?
A: It is not part of the program but Fleetistics can handle that with a Geotab device.

4. Q: Who will bill me for service?
A: Fleetistics handles all telematics services

5. Q: Is there a fee for the installation or GPS unit?
A: No. There is a small setup & implementation fee per vehicle.

6. Q: Who do I call if I have an issue?
A: Fleetistics 877-467-0326

7. Q: Can I see the rest of my fleet in the Geotab portal?
A: Yes. Ford data is integrated into your current Geotab portal.

8. Q: How long does the process take?
A: 1-2 weeks under normal conditions and if everyone works together.

9. Q: What other manufacturers is Geotab integrated with?
A: Currently Ford, GM, Volvo, Mac and John Deere. More are in development.

10: Q:

11. Q:

To get started with Ford OEM Telematics, go to

Select Get Started Here or email (reply in 1-2 business days) the name and email of the first account administrator to

Navigate to the Vehicles menu. Your deal should have the VIN already entered. If not, contact Fleetistics and we will look into it for you. If you create a temporary user for your Fleetistics account manager, the account mananger can go into your account and do the setup for you.

Add vehicles if necessary. If a FIN code was not available at the time of purchase you will see unverified. You must email proof of ownership to Ford Customer Service (3-7 day turnaround).

Select the vehicles you want to activate telematics service on and choose Add Consent.

Select Geotab as the telematics service provider.


Send a list of VINs which have consent to your Fleetistics account manager so they can be added to your Geotab account. If you are a new customer an account will be created and you will be contacted to schedule training. The login page can be found at

Ask your account manager about logging in with Active Directory , dash cams or tablets.


  • Service plans
  • Integration, 3rd parties
  • Accident data
  • Activation/Setup
  • AEMP 2.0
  • APIs
  • Asset tracking
  • Battery on crank
  • Battery monitoring
  • Cell carrier options
  • Check engine light
  • Driver Feedback Buzzer
  • Driver ID
  • DTC
  • ELD service
  • Electric vehicles
  • Engine Hrs
  • Fuel
  • Harsh driving
  • Installation
  • Memory Out of Coverage
  • Modular harness, IOX
  • Vehicle Manufacturer
  • Move GPS device to next vehicle
  • Odometer
  • Roadside assistance
  • Season service
  • Update rate
  • Track Resolution
  • Warranty, Lifetime


  • Base (LITE) & Pro
  • Limited
  • No
  • Yes
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • AT&T
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • Yes
  • No
  • No
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Forward, backward
  • None
  • 8 hrs
  • No
  • Ford only
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • Yes, limited
  • 30 seconds
  • 30 seconds
  • Matches vehicle



  • Base, Compliance, Pro, ProPlus
  • Yes, 200+
  • Yes
  • No with GO device
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • AT&T, VZN, T-Mo
  • Yes
  • Yes, heartbeat
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes, all directions
  • Yes, OBD port
  • Yes – J-Bus, OBD, CAT, etc.
  • 30,000+ logs (weeks)
  • Any
  • Yes
  • Virtual and Vehicle
  • Yes, ProPlus
  • Optional
  • As needed. 10 to 300 sec
  • 1 sec
  • Limited lifetime

Features listed include many optional services that require additional fees. The lists are to demonstrate the general capability and flexibility of each platform. Contact a consultant for more details. 855.300.0527

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How To Properly Connect A Trailer

Properly Connecting a Trailer


The importance of training employees to safely connect a trailer is undeniable. Still, many small service businesses use trailers and take for granted that employees know the law and how to properly connect trailers and cargo. There are several small but important things to train yours drivers to do, such as crossing the chains to avoid being put out of service. Just because you are under 10,001 lbs, it does not mean you do not have to follow State DOT and FMCSA law as a commercial entity.

Trailers pulled by pickup trucks are the dominant configuration for small and large fleet operators outside the trucking industry. Moving a piece of equipment such as a skid steer, lawn equipment or debris likely makes up 90% of the small fleet towing. In this blog we discussing the typical pickup truck and trailer using a ball hitch with a GVW of less than 10,001 lbs.

Accountability to Properly Connect a Trailer 

It is important to explain to drivers they are responsible for following the law. To hold them accountable you must train them to the standards of the law and test their comprehension. This enables you to transfer responsibility to the driver should he or she get a ticket or be placed out of service. It is also important that your insurance carrier be aware of your training program and overall safety program, including what you do with telematics.

Most important is keeping your employees and other drivers safe. Faulty connections or worn parts can lead to dangerous situations. A trailer coming off the truck at 70 mph can easily cause a rollover, serious injury and fatalities. Something as simple as the trailer tongue coupler not being all the way down and locked on the ball can lead to a major issue.

Trailer Connection Failures

In a personal situation I trusted someone else to attach the trailer to my F-250. Within a 1/4 mile the trailer came off the ball and began to slam around. Fortunately we were going slowly in a residential area and a speed bump caused the separation. The trailer began to slam around as the chains held. The chains didn’t stop the trailer from swinging left and right and slamming into the truck. At that slow speed there was only minor damage. Since then I have learned to always double check since it is my truck, my insurance and my liability as the owner and driver.

In a commercial fleet any damage will result in a lawsuit from the other party and likely one from your employee as well. This topic should be covered annually and for new hires. Get ahead of the issues and proactively train. For consistency, create and maintain a company training library where you create outlines for your staff to use to lead training. One of the best and most consistent training organization is the National Safety Council. Check out their website for good ideas and examples of how training can be documented and executed.


Trailer Connection Checklist

  • Ensure trailer connections are tight and secure
  • Look for worn chains, wires and connectors
  • Cross the chains and keep them off the road
  • Check the breakaway braking cable & secure it separate from the chain
  • Ensure the load matches the truck, ball, hitch and receiver
  • Properly inflate tires, replace worn tires, and spec the tires to the trailer max GVW
  • Check all lights and safety equipment
  • Properly secure cargo. Over secure when in doubt. Chains are not required.
  • Properly mark commercial vehicles and carry the needed paperwork
  • Carry approved triangles and a fire extinguisher
  • Ensure the driver is trained and knowledgeable in connecting a trailer


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A New Dimension to Safe Travel

Safe travel has taken on a completely new dimension as we learn more about the invisible enemy and change our day to day routines to protect ourselves and each other. Drivers have fared somewhat better than some other professions, but must be mindful of the new risks associated with every trip taken. The end goal is still to arrive home safe after every trip.

The basics are important for everyone to remember. Wash your hands often and don’t touch your face. Wearing a mask and gloves is in your best interest, and if you are driving people, especially so. Certain types of driving present more risk than others, so here are a few safe travel tips based on profession.


Safe Travel Tips for Food Delivery Pizza Delivery

Avoid handling money. If you must handle money, wear rubber gloves, change them often, and wash your hands between changes. Have as little contact as possible with customers. Step back from the door well before it is answered, or just leave the food and call the client to let them know it is there. A customer told me today that a driver had left their food outside and did not bother to even let them know.

Be mindful of the vehicle surfaces that are often touched and clean and disinfect them often. You are constantly handling things others have handled, so keep your immediate environment wiped down and think about safety prior to each trip.


Safe Travel Tips for Uber, Lyft, & Taxi Drivers

Uber This is a bit riskier than delivering things as you are in contact with many different people throughout the work day. A little more precaution may be in order both for your safety and the safety of your passengers. Keep your distance by only allowing passengers in the back seat. Be prepared to disinfect between passengers, they won’t mind waiting. Consider fashioning a barrier between the front and back seats. Get creative!

Be watchful for signs of illness and take extra care if you see them. A quick study of the guidelines published for Paramedics could be in your best interest. Know what to look for and follow your companies guidelines for when it is best to recommend trained medical transport in lieu of your services.

You may want to require or at least ask passengers to wear masks if they have them. If at all possible have tissues and hand sanitizer available for passengers. Post information in your back seat, a friendly reminder could save a life. The CDC has printable materials available in many languages on their website.


Safe Travel Tips for Truckers

Services that were once available every few miles are not so readily available these days. Be aware before starting a trip where services may and may not be available. Stay plugged into social networks for information. There was a recent article about a high school in Washington that is open for truckers to park, shower, and get fed. Only by networking with others in your profession will you find those gems.

Clean your cab often. Many surfaces in your cab get a lot of hand contact. Gear shifts, steering wheels, tablets, and radios should be regularly cleaned and disinfected. Don’ forget the door handles, inside and out. If you don’t have sanitizer, soap and warm water will do. Here is a link to a list of CDC approved disinfectants. They may not always readily available, so try to have some kind of cleaning solution on hand as well. 1/3 cup bleach to a gallon of water is a pretty safe bet in any case.

This is especially important in shared vehicles. Some great vehicle hygiene are posted on the NRSPP website.



Cleaning the Door Handle


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