PHH Arval held its 19th annual Energy Conference Nov. 10, 2011,  at the Renaissance Hotel in Houston, which is designed to bring together fleet professionals in the energy industry to address common concerns, goals, and improve business.

The conference opened with a keynote speech from George Kilroy, president and CEO of PHH Arval, who discussed how the company is committed to adding resources for its customers, and described how the heavy-truck business doubled over the last year at PHH FirstFleet.

Dina Waldman, senior business consultant for PHH Arval, spent time reviewing the recent results for the 2011 Energy Benchmarking Survey, which was broken down into questions focusing on economic impact as well as traditional policy questions.

Some of the key survey observations shared with the group included a significant improvement since the economic uncertainty of 2009.

According to the survey results, respondents experienced a return to “normal” for fleet spending in 2010 with dramatic improvements in 2011. There was also a sustained shift toward consolidating and centralizing fleet management, with data management and reporting concerns topping the list of priorities. Energy fleets are also seeing continuing signs of growth and a trend toward increased centralization, based on survey results.

Breakout sessions, covering alternative fuels, data management and reporting, and reducing fleet maintenance costs, were held throughout the afternoon, providing attendees the opportunity to participate in each session in a smaller, working group.

The event ended with a keynote address from Michael Riemer, co-founder and chief product officer for ZoomSafer, entitled, “Cell Phones and Driver Safety — Within Our Reach.”

Riemer discussed how distracted driving has become a company’s “worst nightmare,” and described the three main types of driver distractions: visual, physical, and cognitive, as well as identified the severity of this issue. He recommended fleets create a solid foundation for cell phone policies, and align such policies with organizational needs.

According to Reimer, an effective cell phone policy should contain a mission statement, definition of prohibited behaviors, employee/driver acknowledgement, and enforcement/discipline guidance and reward opportunities.