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Holiday Driving: Commercial Miles up 18%, Retail and Restaurants Popular Spots

By Verizon ConnectFebruary 2, 2020
Holiday season commercial driving

Commercial holiday miles driven are increasing every year. According to Verizon Connect’s analysis, truck and van drivers made 29% more stops and drove 27% further for deliveries over the Christmas holiday than the Thanksgiving holiday across the United States. The number of stops and miles driven by drivers supplying retailers and restaurants between October and December also increased by approximately 18% from 2017 to 2018.

For companies with fleets that transport products and make deliveries, this translates into more deliveries and hours on the road, all while sharing the road with more cars during peak holiday travel times. Fleet customers across all industries expect drivers to keep up with increased demand while still making deliveries on time, regardless of schedules, traffic congestion or weather issues.

Let's take a closer look at the biggest holiday increases based on our recent research, and explore how GPS fleet management technology can help both companies and drivers rise to the occasion.

Industry travels: more stops, starts and miles

According to our research, total fleet miles driven, and total stops have been steadily trending upward since 2017. The biggest yearly volume increase happens every October as stores and customers prepare for Thanksgiving, the December holidays and beyond into the new year.

In terms of specific countrywide industry impact, the greatest delivery increase during the holiday season occurs for liquor stores and women’s accessory stores. Regionally, eating places in the northeastern region have one of the highest increases related to holiday-specific volume, with the Midwest and northeast both ranking highest in overall stops and miles driven year-over-year. Overall, eating places and liquor stores experience the most consistent growth after October.

During this time of year, some industries see a more pronounced uptick than others. Here are a few of the industries where increased demand goes hand in hand with the holiday season:

  • Retail and restaurant deliveries increase time on road: Commercial trucks and vehicles are driving longer and stopping more often for deliveries in these industries during the holidays. The number of stops and miles driven by drivers supplying retailers and restaurants between October and December increased in the U.S. by an average of 18% between 2017 and 2018, as the rate of retail deliveries continues to rise.
  • Food and beverage deliveries increase driving distances: In 2018, drivers made longer journeys for food and beverage deliveries over the holiday season than ever before, with delivery distances significantly increasing to restaurants (33%) and liquor stores (58%) between the 2017 and 2018.
  • Foodies and shoppers greatly impact deliveries in two U.S. regions: The Midwest and Northeast regions lead the U.S. in holiday retail and restaurant deliveries, each accounting for nearly a third of all driver stops made during both the 2017 and 2018 holiday periods.
  • Women’s accessory and specialty stores extend demand past December: Delivery demand activity spikes at these stores at the beginning of November and remains heightened until the second quarter of the following year.
  • Women’s apparel stores add customers and volume: Stops and pickups have been increasing at these stores since the beginning of 2017, with the increase in volume attributed mainly to newly added customers.
  • Grocery stores get more goods: Grocery delivery demand and activities made a significant jump in May 2018 and have been increasing ever since, with the most volume coming from the northeast region.

How fleet tracking technology can help with holiday driving demands

Whether your fleet operates in a particular region or covers most of the country, as product demands increase, so do the number of stops your vehicles make and the number of customers you serve. Having the right tools in place to support improved fleet productivity and safety are especially critical during the holiday season and into the new year.

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Here are just some of the ways that GPS fleet tracking and its associated technologies can help your drivers and your vehicles better weather the holiday road ahead.

Improve safety with automation and smart video

Fleet management solutions automate vehicle monitoring and provide managers with data that can be used to improve accident prevention measures and other safety standards, which can help fleets:

  • Reduce speeding to help reduce the risk of accidents
  • Reduce hard braking and acceleration
  • Track seat belt compliance
  • Support drivers in emergencies with live location tracking for a more efficient response

By installing smart video technology and integrating it with a fleet management solution, managers can essentially “ride shotgun” on each trip by collecting a permanent visual record of each vehicle’s travels—including weather incidents, harsh driving occurrences, collisions and vehicle operation metrics.

Given the increased holiday traffic fleet drivers face, and the unpredictable weather conditions that can occur this time of year, integrated video can offer additional benefits:

  • In the event of an accident, determine events leading up to the incident – including driver behavior, weather conditions, the position of vehicles involved and other circumstances.
  • Help substantiate claims in the case of an accident and keep insurance premiums in check.
  • Help make the implementation of safe-driving policies more transparent and direct.

Stay on top of critical maintenance concerns

As fleets spend more hours on the road during the holiday season, keeping vehicles in the safest possible working order is crucial. Fleet tracking solutions can help organizations streamline maintenance processes, and in turn decrease expenses, by keeping tabs on:

  • Engine diagnostics: Access data to help identify issues before they potentially result in major repairs and breakdowns.
  • Engine hour tracking and driver behavior data: Get a better picture of vehicle health and detect behaviors that accelerate wear and tear such as hard cornering and rapid acceleration.
  • Service records tracking: Receive proactive reminders for routine maintenance and automatically track vehicle service and date of completion.

Boost efficiency during the times you need it the most

Fuel efficiency, cost efficiency and driving efficiency are all important for successful travels for busy, in-demand fleets over the holiday season. Fleet tracking and management tools can help your organization improve fleet productivity and:

  • Reduce total miles driven with optimized dispatching and routing, mileage trend monitoring and geofences.
  • Route optimization contributes to efficient communication and improves vehicle utilization with automatic asset tracking and automated alerts.
  • Reduce fuel-wasting behavior and fraud—one of the greatest expenses for most fleets—by tracking fuel card usage and automatically identifying suspicious transactions using smart algorithms.
  • Keep drivers ready for all conditions, such as traffic congestion or inclement weather, that can negatively affect utilization. This includes finding more efficient routes even as conditions continue to change.

Find out more about how you can get a near real-time, 360-degree view of your fleet's daily operations and make the most of every business day—especially during the holidays- see what a driver management and safety solution can do for you.


Verizon Connect

Verizon Connect Staff represents a team of professionals passionate about everything telematics. Get to hear about the latest trends, product features and industry best practices from the desk of Verizon Connect Staff.


Tags: Cost control, Data & Analytics, Routing, Vehicle Maintenance

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