SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – Financial services provider United Services Automobile Association (USAA) reduced its costs significantly over the last two years, by 14 percent in 2009 and 2010. According to workforce mobility company Runzheimer, USAA operates its fleet 28-percent more efficiently than the median. Automotive Fleet spoke with Mark Still, VP Employee Support Services, about the company’s efforts to reduce costs, specifically fuel costs and a safety program.

The 22,000-employee company operates 800 Smartway Designated sedans, 100 minivans, and 50 light-duty trucks in 48 states and has transitioned to models with better fuel economy during the last few years.

“Three years ago we began a fleet equipment transition, moving from the six-cylinder Ford Taurus to the four-cylinder Ford Fusion for our core fleet vehicle,” Still said. “That transition is now complete. In addition, we replaced 11 gas-powered security vehicles with Ford Escape hybrids to minimize fuel burned while idling, and added seven neighborhood electric vehicles to our fleet, replacing gas-powered vehicles used for delivery services and building maintenance.”

Beyond changing vehicle types, the company also conducts a number of safety programs to reduce the number of collision incidents experienced by company drivers.

“USAA uses several tools to help ensure our drivers remain an engaged partner in managing fleet costs,” Still said. “The first is our focus on safety. Drivers with good driving records can compete for a share of about $40,000 we give away each year as part of our safe driver program. This recognition, along with supervisor drive-alongs, mandatory on-line driver safety courses, quarterly safety newsletters, and a robust safety policy all lead to remarkably low overall crash rates – below four crashes per million miles – and an even more remarkable at fault crash rate of less than one per million miles.”

Beyond reducing its fuel usage, the company also has a sustainability program in place that tracks company progress in reducing its environmental impact.

“In the emissions area, we track reductions for both our vehicle fleet and our employee’s participation in commute reduction programs (carpool, vanpool, cycling, walking, mass transit, and telecommute),” Still said. “We have reduced the amount of emissions from our fleet operation by 1,898 tons over the past two years (2009 and 2010).”

USAA was recognized by employee mobility and relocation company Runzheimer International for its efforts to improve its fleet operations. The company was one of Runzheimer's 2010 Mobile Workforce Best Practices winners.

By Greg Basich

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet