Professional drivers, get ready to share the road. Nearly 85% of Americans expect to travel this summer, according to a 2023 travel survey from The Vacationer. And 100 million people plan to take a road trip of 250 miles or more.

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Alternative fuel vehicles hold significant promise for reducing emissions, but new advancements in diesel-powered internal combustion engines are also helping fleets improve fuel economy and reach their sustainability goals.

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Federal law has required professional truck drivers to wear seat belts since 1970, and a record 86% of professional drivers use safety belts, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported. According to FMCSA, safety belt use remains one of the cheapest, easiest and most important means to protect commercial motor vehicle drivers.

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Maintenance plays a critical role in safe vehicle operations. It not only prevents mechanical failures that can lead to safety incidents but also prevents drivers from becoming stranded on the roadside.

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Drivers are required to ensure their vehicles are in top working order every day of the year by completing pre- and post-trip inspections and reporting any concerns to their management for remediation. But from Tuesday, May 16 – Thursday, May 18, 2023, drivers should take extra precautions.

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A strong maintenance program can reduce downtime, increase safety and improve fuel economy, but technician shortages, equipment demands and time constraints can make it hard to ensure equipment is getting the care it needs. Penske has several maintenance solutions – contract maintenance, on-site maintenance, mobile maintenance and managed maintenance – that can help fleets increase their maintenance capacity, so every piece of equipment is seen on schedule and repaired quickly.

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During the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA’s) upcoming International Roadcheck, which takes place May 16-18, inspectors will focus on anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and cargo securement. The 72-hour inspection and enforcement event will occur throughout North America with CVSA-certified inspectors checking commercial motor vehicles and drivers at weigh/inspection stations, designated inspection areas and along roadways.

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Thank you for visiting Kris-Way Truck Leasing, Inc., a transportation services company offering full-service leasing, commercial truck rental, contract maintenance and dedicated contract carriage.

Kris-Way Truck Leasing, Inc. was recently acquired by Penske Truck Leasing. It is anticipated this transaction will close in the second quarter of 2023. Moving forward, Kris-Way customers will benefit from the combined services both companies have to offer across a growing network.

Operating as Penske, Kris-Way will continue offering both leasing and logistics services from seven locations throughout Maine and New Hampshire. This includes the corporate office, located in South Portland, Maine and facilities in Auburn, Bangor, Saco, Portland, and Waterville, Maine, as well as Concord and Manchester, New Hampshire, which will be incorporated into Penske Truck Leasing and Penske Logistics.

For more information about Penske Truck Leasing, please click here.

To learn more about Penske Logistics, click here.

You may know the saying, “April showers bring May flowers”, but these same wet conditions also create a variety of dangerous road hazards for professional drivers. In fact, flooding is now ranked as the second deadliest weather hazard in the U.S. each year, according to the National Weather Service. (Excessive heat is currently listed as the Number 1 deadliest U.S. weather hazard).

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Increasing uptime and managing costs are critical for fleets, especially in the current operating environment. Leasing can provide several benefits to fleets, including reducing breakdowns, driving down maintenance costs and improving their fuel economy, which all impact the bottom line.

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No one wants to experience a roadside breakdown, but machinery can fail, even at the most inopportune time. When motor carriers and drivers find themselves needing emergency breakdown services, speed is critical.

Penske’s 24/7 Roadside Assistance has 12,000+ emergency providers to respond to drivers’ needs day or night. Plus, the call center is staffed by experienced, in-house Penske personnel who have detailed knowledge of trucks and understand the specific problems drivers may be experiencing.

Vehicles are repaired within a short amount of time, and if more lengthy repairs are necessary, Penske provides a rental or substitute vehicle.

Pre- and Post-Trip Inspections Are Essential

The ultimate goal is to prevent a roadside event from occurring in the first place, and drivers play an essential role in reducing over-the-road breakdowns. Thorough pre-and post-trip inspections can ensure trucks are in good working condition before they hit the highway.

Drivers should look for leaks, damage, operable lights, properly secured cargo, sagging equipment and anything else that seems out of place. Common problems drivers may find include damaged lights, cracked windshields, faded placards, and chaffed light cords and hoses. Drivers should also pay particular attention to tire pressure. If drivers have any concerns about tire pressure, they can stop at a Penske location so technicians can inspect their tires.

Additionally, when drivers fuel at a Penske location, the customer service representatives who fuel the truck also walk around the truck and check the vehicle to ensure headlights and taillights are working and mudflaps are in good condition, which can prevent issues on the road.

Timely PMs Help Drive Uptime

Penske focuses on preventive maintenance (PM) to help increase vehicle uptime and strives to have trucks go from one PM event to the next PM event without ever having to come back. Penske Truck Leasing follows a rigorous maintenance schedule for customers that includes using advanced system analytics to identify potential failures before they occur.

With dynamic preventive maintenance, technicians can adjust inspections based on failure rates and a vehicle’s history. Penske Truck Leasing captures and analyzes maintenance and vehicle data throughout its entire fleet, creating a thorough base of knowledge that allows technicians to customize maintenance.

Access Help

If a roadside breakdown occurs, help is just a call or a click away. Drivers and carriers can call 1-800-526-0798 or take advantage of digital fleet tools that offer instant visibility.

With Fleet Insight™, Penske’s secure website for fleet data, and the Fleet Insight™ mobile app, carriers can submit 24/7 roadside assistance requests and view real-time updates. They can track breakdown and repair details, see detailed charges for easy verification, identify and address recurring issues, and predict downtime more accurately.

With the Penske Driver™ app, drivers can submit and get real-time updates on roadside assistance requests and remain updated on the status of service, avoiding future phone calls. They can also use the app to check in for service at Penske locations and find rental, leasing, service, parking and fueling locations.

If drivers experience a roadside event (such as a breakdown or maintenance issue) within 40 miles of a Penske location, they can contact the location directly rather than contacting 24/7 Roadside Assistance— saving a step in the process and speeding up service. Locations are equipped with technicians and roadside assistance vehicles to serve drivers faster.

March 2023

Cargo theft continued to increase in 2022, jumping 20%, with thieves targeting parking lots and warehouses, according to the latest data from CargoNet. Plus, events that involved the theft of at least one heavy commercial vehicle, such as a semi-truck or semi-trailer, increased by 17% year-over-year.

The average value of cargo stolen in an event was $214,104, and CargoNet estimates that $223 million in cargo was stolen across all cargo theft events in 2022.

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Operational costs within trucking can vary significantly from year to year and even region to region. The American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI’s) latest report, An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking, published in late 2022, found that costs grew into double digits. The analysis is based on financial data from motor carriers of all sectors and fleet sizes. Carriers can use ATRI’s report as a benchmarking tool and glean insight into how to manage expenses.

According to the report, motor carriers’ average marginal cost per mile was $1.855 in 2021, a 12.7% increase and the highest on record. A leading contributor to this increase was fuel, which was 35.4% higher than in 2020. Fuel was followed by repair and maintenance, which was up 18.2%, and driver wages, which were up 10.8%. On a cost-per-hour basis, costs increased to $74.65.

“Though fuel saw the single largest jump in expense, nearly every other line-item cost center grew or remained constant. Even when fuel costs are removed, the marginal costs of trucking increased by 10 cents between 2020 and 2021, from $1.338 to $1.438,” the report stated.

Costs per mile varied dramatically from region to region, with the highest costs coming out of the Northeast, where the marginal cost per mile was $1.892. This was due to the Northeast region’s typically higher-than-average driver wage and toll costs. In the Midwest and Southeast, the cost per mile averaged $1.861. In the Southwest, it was $1.811, and the West's average was $1.802.

Insurance costs were highest in the Southeast, where they were almost one cent per mile higher than the national average. Several of the most litigious states in the country are located in the Southeast.

Driver wages and benefits costs both increased in 2021, with wages reaching a record high. Combined driver wage and benefits reached 81 cents per mile in 2021 for large carriers, up from 74 cents. The specific benefits offered to drivers vary from carrier to carrier. Health insurance was the most common benefit, with 93 percent of carriers offering it to drivers. Other benefits included paid vacation, dental insurance, 401(k), vision insurance, per diem and paid sick leave.

Also, the majority of carriers offered bonuses to drivers in 2021 and those amounts were also up for safety bonuses, which averaged $1,943, up from $1,597, and starting bonuses, which averaged $1,974, up from $1,662. However, retention bonuses dropped to $1,055 from $1,391 in the last report.

ATRI also found that fleets continue to work to fill backhaul or deadhead miles to increase operational efficiency. Under the pressure of rising fuel prices, carriers achieved some of the lowest deadhead mileage in years, according to the report. Private carriers decreased deadhead mileage to a five-year low of 24% in 2021.

Leases are one way for fleets to help control and manage expenses. Leases provide fixed, predictable monthly costs that fleets can use to plan in advance. Penske's experts can work with potential customers on a cost-benefit analysis to identify the real ROI of a lease based on the fleet's specific needs.

January 2021 / Updated March 2023

With Fleet Insight™, Penske customers can manage their fleet on their own time. This tool provides you with real-time visibility, saving valuable time and money. You can monitor every vehicle and move your fleet and your business forward.

Learn more about how Penske customers are using Fleet Insight to effectively manage their fleet.

“Fleet Insight is the backbone of all of our Penske fleet discussions.” – Customer Case Studies, Fleet Insight Guide

Highlights include:

  • View and customize your dashboard
  • Invoice management through improved accessibility
  • Manage roadside assistance requests and maintenance
  • Easily report mileage for timely and accurate billing
  • Gain access to all rental documents, invoices and more
  • Get insights through comparative reports

As a professional driver, you rely on your truck to operate at peak performance to keep you and those around you safe. That’s why it’s so important to conduct thorough pre-trip and post-trip inspections — and even check in on your truck and its load during your travels while at a weigh station or rest stop.

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Penske’s free app for drivers, Penske Driver™, gives them tools to remain compliant with electronic logging device (ELD) mandates and complete their daily tasks, including submitting fuel receipts, requesting roadside assistance and more.

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There were more than 3 million roadside vehicle inspections in 2022, and the most common violations found were related to tires, brake systems and lights. Many violations are easily avoidable with preventive maintenance (PM), a proactive approach, and pre and post-trip inspections.

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The trucking industry is experiencing a diesel technician shortage, which could worsen as Baby Boomers age and fewer workers enter vocational education programs.

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You’re due at your destination in an hour, but traffic has slowed to a crawl. You just got cut off — twice. You’re already feeling worn out. And now rain clouds are gathering overhead. As a truck driver, you face these types of situations all the time. The more prepared you are to handle them, the healthier you’ll be.

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