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October 9, 2020 11:30 AM, EDT

A Lesson in Idling

child in car seatThe precious cargo: Mikale and his "blankie." (Michael Freeze/Transport Topics)

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In the article, “Telematics Strengthens Communication Between Driver and Dispatch,” Travis Hunt, business development manager for Ford Commercial Solutions, described that a fleet van idling for up to 10 minutes equates to nearly 30 cents of wasted fuel. I was startled to learn that when Hunt presented it to me. It was not because of the accumulation of time and money multiplied by the amount of vehicles in a fleet, but the realization that the specific wasted cost was my fault.

Let me explain.

I was presented the opportunity to drive the 2020 Ford Transit for a week. During that time, I mimicked (sort of) a last-mile delivery driver. No, it wasn’t the 1,000 deliveries divvied up to tens of cargo vans from dispatch. It was one primary route — my mother-in-law’s house — and the cargo, albeit precious, was my 3-year-old son, Mikale.

Michael Freeze

Freeze

Since I’m not a delivery man, the cargo van fit me perfectly. “[The Ford Transit] is for the less highly trained professional who usually drives in a mobile car, SUV environment,” said Ray Eyles, chief engineer of the Ford Transit. “You don’t know how big the vehicle actually is behind you. It’s real easy to drive and handle.”

As part of this loan, Hunt monitored my every moment via Ford telematics: every hard brake, route and extra acceleration past the speed limit. He caught everything, even when I tried to test the seat belt prompt while driving through my neighborhood.

Surely, I don’t condone the disregard of our traffic laws and I am ashamed of even admitting them. However, my most egregious offense came the morning Mikale forgot his favorite blanket or as he calls it, his “blankie.” As I dropped him off at his grandmother’s, I was returning back to my home office for the workday only to be greeted by an urgent text. Once I was learned of my great sin, I entered my driveway, keys still in the ignition, and went on a mission to find this blanket to cool my son’s — and mother-in-law’s — nerves. As any father would understand, it happened to be the longest 10 minutes of my life.

As Hunt gave me the rundown of my time in the Ford Transit at the end of that week, I realized how those 10 minutes are critical. For me, it was about satisfying my child’s need, and in the long term, it’s just a simple story of parenthood.

For a fleet driver, it’s an event that could happen numerous time throughout a delivery route, and in the long term, it’s costing fleet companies thousands of dollars in waste. It’s myriad simple actions that pile up and if not tracked and handled accordingly will slowly eat your business’ bottom line.

Telematics has been a major catalyst in curbing those costs and educating drivers and dispatchers on how to work more efficiently while still performing last-mile delivery. I definitely appreciated the lesson.

By the way, Mikale and his blankie are back together … for now.

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