Among the ever-increasing challenges of modern fleet management, citations often don’t push the needle. Long interstate travel routes, common to over-the-road (OTR) trucking, produce a complex tangle of toll charges from multiple authorities and providers. Service and government fleets typically operate shorter, urban-centered routes with greater exposure to a variety of traffic citations.
Until recently, payment platform services aimed at simplifying these types of challenges and saving customers money have been focused primarily on tolls, leaving service fleet managers to simply view citation charges as part of the cost of doing business. Yet a powerful type of platform exists that can help change that perception.
OTR drivers, having less exposure to traffic citations and more incentive to avoid them, are prone to self-manage citations as they arise. But as e-commerce has exploded and the need for business services has fanned out from centralized offices with dedicated staff into individual homes, service fleets have become more prevalent and taken on greater importance to the economy. The volume of citations generally associated with these types of fleets presents a clear use case for a payment platform that can help reduce costs and provide fleet managers with a clearer picture of which vehicles are receiving citations. This can also guide decisions about where to direct training resources, provide insights into improving safety scores and ultimately have a positive impact on the bottom line.
Here's a closer look.
Citations are issued for two basic types of violations — moving, for offenses like speeding or running red lights, and non-moving, for infractions such as parking tickets. Both types are pitfalls for all classes of vehicles in heavily trafficked urban centers, especially as the growing deployment of technology like red light cameras has increased the ability to enforce them. Currently in the U.S., 16 states use photo enforcement to monitor speeding, and 22 states do the same for red light infractions.
Certain factors leave service fleets more exposed to citations than others. The industry is characterized by high turnover, resulting in drivers that may receive significantly less training than those working in the OTR space. There are also the logistical challenges of making multiple deliveries per day, a core task tied to drivers’ paychecks in a way that effectively incentivizes them to cut corners as they adapt to changing routes and urban congestion.
The responsibility of handling citations often falls to overburdened back-office workers — yet they must be addressed quickly to avoid escalation into additional fines, visits to traffic court and, in the case of moving violations, even the threat of jail time. While the repetition of handling citations can create efficiencies for administrative staff, the manual processing of tickets can lead to a lack of context about where citations are coming from. As a result, fewer drivers are held accountable.
The growing problem of citations for service fleets requires a solution that balances rapid processing and resolution with visibility that directs managers to address the underlying issue. Data-driven payment platforms are used to fulfill similar types of needs for many OTR fleets, but their focus has historically been on toll management.
Bestpass, a leading toll management and payment platform provider, has taken a forward-looking approach by expanding its trusted toll platform to enable the management of citations. This update has expanded the company’s ability to fully manage a single aspect of recurring vehicle expenses into a more comprehensive, whole-vehicle approach that includes everything from speeding violations to parking tickets.
Their citation payment service works similarly to violation payment service. Fleets can upload citations to a portal, where they get processed and paid from a customer account. Identification of vehicles producing citations are also assigned to a database and summarized on monthly account statements.
This method of processing and reporting offers fleet managers a better understanding of fleet dynamics, providing greater visibility into true total vehicle costs. Perhaps most importantly, it can counter the tendency to view citations as static overhead costs and help managers reassess the way they account for expenditures. The costs associated with citations, incidentally, can often be much higher than anyone at a company realizes.
For fleets with multiple transportation hubs, this service offers consolidation into a single account and point of contact — a benefit that may have been impossible with a manual approach carried out by disparate offices spread throughout a region, or even the entire country. It’s also possible to use the platform to manage both tolls and citations, which supports the needs of fleets with mixed-use vehicles. One fleet manager described the Bestpass service this way:
“It’s simple to use — we upload the citation to the same portal that we access for toll information. We can get a status update on the citation and assign citations to a vehicle to help identify driver training opportunities. All charges appear on our regular monthly Bestpass statement.”
The platform’s ability to associate vehicles with citations can reveal intelligence about which routes have higher risks such as speeding traps, helping fleet managers to make informed choices about alternate routes. The service can also reveal hidden insights into which drivers have the greatest training needs.
While moving violation records can be considered an indicator of safety deficiencies in drivers, the greater visibility afforded by the platform can also reveal more about underlying causes. This can act as a guide for offering targeted training in the most efficient and proactive manner. Perhaps most importantly, safety training can also lead to increased driver accountability, while addressing the root of the problem.
In addition, this approach is liable to positively impact a fleet’s safety score, decreasing the likelihood of routine traffic stops and opening opportunities previously out of reach — such as weigh station bypasses that avoid time-consuming inspections.
When considering the rising importance of service fleets and the persistent need to minimize costs while simultaneously maximizing safety, it seems clear that the time is ripe for a disruptive service designed to address the cyclical nature of the issue. The value of Bestpass’ citation payment service is further underscored by its status as an extension of an established toll management platform with proven results.
Not sure which Bestpass plan is right for you? Our tolling specialists are here to help. They can identify the right transponder strategy to save you the most money and time.