Top 10 Things to Know About Parking Lot Collisions

                    It may not be surprising, but parking lot collisions are among the most  common fleet-related  accidents.

July 2013, Automotive Fleet

With 20 percent of fleet accidents occuring while parked or during parking, fleet managers must make drivers aware of potential hazards.
With 20 percent of fleet accidents occuring while parked or during parking, fleet managers must make drivers aware ofpotential hazards.

Dings and dents may not seem all that scary or stressful in the context of highway collisions and incidents. But, the fact is, collisions in parking lots are among the most common accidents fleets experience and can cost a company more time and money than fleet managers may realize.

Below are the top 10 things to know about fleet-related parking lot accidents.

1-Parking lot accidents are the most common way fleet vehicles are damaged, according to research conducted by PHH Arval. In 2012, around 20 percent of fleet accidents occurred while parked or during parking. Basic defensive driving can help minimize collisions in these situations.

2-Parking lot dings may not cause many physical injuries for the parties involved, but they do create a loss of time and, more important, expsnese that can add up in the long run. The minutes spent filing insurance claims and the hours lost on out-of-service vehicles can impact the company’s bottom line.

3-Even though parking lot accidents are common, they can be avoided if drivers are easy on the accelerator pedal and drive slowly. Beth Stamer, director, global, health safety and environment at Eli Lilly said the pharmaceutical company trains drivers to remain calm and be observant when they enter a parking lot or structure.

“We instruct our employees to drive slowly in parking lots and to think before choosing a parking space,” Stamer said. “Sometimes, a parking spot a little farther out in the parking lot is better than trying to squeeze a vehicle into a parking spot close to the [building] door.” Drivers must also pay attention to all vehicles, obstacles, and pedestrians surrounding their vehicle.

4-At home base, decorate company parking lots with helpful signs reminding employees to buckle up and drive safely. Maintaining the company lot is a way to help “practice what you preach” to drivers. Keep pavement clear of debris and ice or snow. It can help remind drivers that the company cares about their safety.

5-Stamer advised drivers that, whenever possible, “Employees should ‘pull through’ to the opposite space so they can drive forward out of the space instead of backing out when leaving,” she said. This reduces time spent backing up; however, ensure that driver’s are aware of vehicles pulling into the same spot headfirst.

6-Telematics systems are changing the way fleets operate, even affecting parking lot movements. According to a telematics study, its product’s best attribute has been in modifying driver behavior, say their customers. This can help drivers be held accountable for navigating lots more carefully.

7-A few tips can help drivers navigate lots more safely. When it’s windy, drivers must use care so the door doesn’t hit the vehicle next to theirs when they exit the vehicle. When deciding on a new vehicle for the fleet, test its safety features thoroughly, such as checking its blind spots, which can contribute to a parking lot or traffic collision.

8-Once a fleet vehicle has been selected, it is likely there are still places behind the truck or van the driver can’t see using mirrors. Many companies sell backup camera systems drivers can use to make sure nothing is behind their vehicle. It can help fleets avoid small collisions, such as a bumper ding or major tragedies if someone happens to be hidden from the driver’s view.

9-Ensure drivers are aware of the proper use and way to adjust side- and rear-view mirrors. Drivers need to know they must use their mirrors for every move they make. Double-checking blind spots before putting a foot on the accelerator may take a few extra seconds, but it will help productivity in the long term.

10-It isn’t just collisions that can make parking lots dangerous. When drivers exit their vehicle, they should be wary of unknown individuals around and strangers in nearby cars. Drivers should always lock vehicles and keep any valuables out of sight. This may seem like an easy idea to enforce, but when it isn’t their property, drivers get lazy and forget to act smartly. Parking in a well-lit area is one of the best ways to avoid issues.


5 Winter Driving Mistakes to Avoid

December 2013, Automotive Fleet – Feature

                    by William Van Tassel

Photo via
Photo via

No matter if you grew up in the blistering cold of Western New York winters or on the sunny coast of Southern California, driving in snow, sleet, and ice can be dangerous to even for the most experienced fleet driver. Automotive Fleet reached out to one of the experts at AAA, William Van Tassel, Ph.D., to find out the top five winter driving mistakes to keep in mind when traveling down the highways, byways, country roads, and city streets during this wintery season.

Mistake No. 1: Not Adjusting Speed to Conditions

The speed limit is just a start; drivers need to adjust their speed to match their immediate driving conditions. The three factors that should always be considered are visibility, traffic, and traction.

Solution: If visibility is minimized or if the road is wet, snowy, or icy, you should slow down significantly. This will give you more time to respond to any incident, and help prevent a loss-of-traction situation.

Mistake No. 2: Doing More Than One Thing at a Time

Even in clear, dry conditions, it is easy to overload the one tire that ends up being asked to do the most when a driver attempts to do more than one thing at a time, such as steer and brake. In slick conditions, the risk of losing traction is increased greatly when a driver attempts to force the vehicle to do two or more things at once.

Solution: Do one thing at a time — brake, then steer/turn, then accelerate. This will help prevent demanding too much of the tire that takes the brunt of the traction requirements, thereby reducing the chance of a loss-of-traction situation.

Mistake No. 3: Not Looking Far Enough Ahead

Too many drivers only look just ahead of their own vehicles, often missing out on detecting something down the road to which they will need to respond, such as by steering or adjusting their speed.

Solution: Get those eyes up and moving. Work on looking further ahead, and also predicting what other drivers might do that could create trouble. Detecting potential problems ahead as early as possible can make the difference between a collision and a near miss.

Mistake No. 4: Not Maintaining Enough Space

Most drivers fail to maintain enough space between their vehicle and  other vehicles around them. Frequently, drivers position themselves too closely to the vehicle ahead. But, maintaining “open” space to the sides is also critical — you may need to move into that space quickly. If you don’t have that space, you’ll be without an effective option to prevent a crash.

Solution: Back off a bit and lift up on the accelerator to keep an open space to at least one side of the vehicle. Space is your best friend out on the road — to the front, sides, and rear. It’s hard to collide with something if you have plenty of space around the vehicle.

Mistake No. 5: Not Giving the Road Your Full Attention

Driving in poor weather requires complete concentration so that you can constantly adjust your speed and position, and detect any potential trouble as early as possible, such as your tires losing traction, or another vehicle pulling out into your path. If you add other tasks to driving, such as using a cell phone, your risk increases dramatically.

Solution: Stay focused on driving. Get there, and then get busy with non-driving activities. Common sense precautions include programming navigation systems and adjusting music selections before driving, and, of course, powering down the cell phone

What to Do (And Not to Do) After a Highway Breakdown

What to Do (And Not to Do) After a Highway Breakdown

Fleets can pass along the safety tips in this article to their drivers so they are prepared in the event of a breakdown.

All highway breakdowns are not created equal.

The procedure for what do in the event of a vehicle breakdown has a lot to do with where the vehicle is being driven at the time it sputters to a stop. Metropolitan-area freeways and rural highways each bring different problems and require markedly different solutions to a vehicle breakdown.

Regardless of the setting, however, it’s important to remember to use the vehicle’s hazard lights and pull onto the shoulder (if it can be done safely to avoid becoming a road hazard to other drivers) to get out of the way of other passing vehicles flying by at high speeds.

Once the driver has cleared the road and is safely on the shoulder, he or she can make the vehicle more visible by turning on the vehicle’s dome light and leaving the headlights on, in addition to the vehicle hazard lights. All vehicles should be equipped with an emergency kit. Put reflective triangles behind the vehicle if it can be done safely.

A copy of the fleet’s safety and accident policy should be stored in the glovebox and reviewed when an incident occurs. Once the policy has been quickly studied, several questions should be asked: Is it safe to exit the vehicle? Is the neighborhood/stretch of road safe or should caution be exercised? The answers to these questions, or the obvious nature of the breakdown, will determine what to do next.

It is recommended to only exit the vehicle if it’s a residential or rural/low traffic area. In high-trafficked metropolitan areas, stay in the car until assistance can be rendered by a tow truck driver or law enforcement personnel. Exiting or standing around a stranded vehicle greatly increases the risk of injury or death. Staying safe is much more important than staying on schedule.

If the car is beyond repair, it’s best to wait for a professional. After calling a tow truck directly or the fleet manager or fleet management company (if required by policy), the driver should wait patiently for official help to arrive.

Never accept unofficial assistance in the wake of a breakdown.

The National Safety Council recommends the following:

  • Do not try to flag down other vehicles, i.e., don’t solicit the help of passing motorists.
  • Raise the vehicle’s hood and tie something white to the radio antenna or hang it out the window so police officers or tow truck operators will know help is needed.
  • Don’t stand behind or next to the vehicle.

5 Freeway Breakdown Tips

If a driver is stranded due to a vehicle breakdown on a freeway, here are five tips to be sure they remember:

  1. Pull over and out of traffic if possible. Even if all of the emergency lights are activated, some highway drivers do not pay close attention and could rear-end the disabled fleet vehicle, causing further damage or injury.
  2. The driver shouldn’t attempt to fix the vehicle, even if it appears it’s going to be a quick or easy fix. Wait for professional help to arrive.
  3. Only exit the vehicle if it is necessary or safe to do so. If possible, raise the vehicle hood to alert passing authorities that the vehicle is disabled and help is needed.
  4. Patience is a virtue in breakdown situations. Particularly in heavily trafficked metropolitan areas, highways are regularly patrolled by police and tow truck operators — help will arrive soon.
  5. Lastly, make sure to keep a copy of the fleet’s roadside assistance or accident policy in the vehicle at all times.

Toyota Previews 11th Generation 2014 Corolla in San Diego


This week, Toyota showed its updated Corolla in San Diego, Calif. The 11th generation of compact sedan features a number of styling updates, including new exterior styling, a larger more horizontal cabin design, longer wheelbase, and improved seating.

According to Mary LeGallet, small car product manager for Toyota, told Automotive Fleet that the LE is the most common Corrolla model purchased by commercial fleet customers.

Under the hood, the all-new 2014 Corolla will feature a choice from a pair of engines, the 2ZR-FE 1.8L VVT-i 4-cylinder and the 2ZR-FAE 1.8L VVT-i 4-cylinder, will be offered with three transmissions, including the new 6-speed manual and an all-new CVT. The 1.8L DOHC 4 cylinder engine will produce an estimated 132 hp and 128 lb.-ft. of torque, which will be available as standard on all models except the LE Eco. The LE Eco will feature a 1.8L engine with the valvematic system paired to the new CVT, producing 140 hp and achieving 42 mpg on the highway. All grades with the new CVT without the valvematic technology will see an increase of at least 3 mpg over the previous generation, according to Toyota.

The 2014-MY Corolla will be available in four models: L, LE, LE Eco, and Corolla S. The LE, LE Eco, and S will also be available with two trim levels.

New for the 2014-MY Corolla will be the updated Entune system, which will feature an array of new apps, including Facebook Places. The updated system is also being rolled out in other new Toyota products, including the Sequoia and Tundra.

The 2014-MY Corolla is expected to be available beginning in September and will be assembled in production plants in Mississippi and Canada.

By Chris Wolski

The 2014 Toyota Corolla LE. Photo courtesy Toyota.ating. 


Fleet Safety Tip of the Week: Jumpstarting a Vehicle’s Dead Batter

 Jumper cables are a must-have in any fleet vehicle’s emergency kit. But because drivers use them infrequently, it’s easy to forget all the precautions and steps in the jumpstarting process – and their exact order – when the need for a jumpstart suddenly arises.

So here’s a list of steps, offered by Ford, which you can pass along to your drivers as a friendly reminder.

  • Do not disconnect the disabled battery – this could damage the vehicle’s electrical system.
  • Do not let the assisting (booster) vehicle and the disabled vehicle touch. Park the boosting vehicle next to the vehicle with the dead battery.
  • Turn off the ignition of both vehicles, set their parking brakes on and set them in P (Park).
  • Turn off all lights, electronic devices and any other items that can drain power (it’s a good idea to remove any portable items plugged into your cigarette lighter/outlets as well).
  • Remove any terminal covers and excessive corrosion from the battery terminals before connecting the cables.
  • Clamp the red positive (+) cable onto the disabled vehicle’s red positive (+) battery terminal.
  • Next, connect the other end of the red positive cable to the booster vehicle’s red positive battery terminal.
  • Now connect the black negative clamp to the booster vehicle’s black negative (-) terminal.
  • Connect the other end of the black negative cable to a large, unpainted metal surface within the engine area of the dead vehicle, away from the battery and the carburetor/fuel injection system. Make sure cables are clear of any possible moving parts.
  • After a final check, start the booster vehicle. Then start the disabled vehicle. Allow them both to run connected for about three minutes.
  • Without turning off the jumpstarted vehicle’s engine, disconnect the cables in the reverse order that they were attached and close the hoods.
  • Allow the jumpstarted vehicle’s engine to run for several minutes.