Tennessee officials find clever way to save money on Highway Patrol's black-and-cream cruisers

Tennessee officials find clever way to save money on Highway Patrol's black-and-cream cruisers

May 11th, 2016 by Andy Sher in Politics State

NASHVILLE — State officials figure they can save nearly $300,000 a year on Tennessee's distinctive black-and-cream colored Highway Patrol vehicles.

And no, they're not doing away with the decades-old color scheme.

They're simply getting rid of the paint.

The same effect can be achieved by applying adhesive vinyl instead of the cream-colored paint now used to paint the black patrol cars, according to officials with the Departments of General Services and Safety and Homeland Security.

Cost savings are projected to be at least $1,910 on each marked Tennessee Highway Patrol vehicle, said Bob Williams, General Services' assistant commissioner for vehicles and asset management.

"This is money that can be used for vital programs and services for all Tennesseans rather than on administrative costs of government," Williams said today in a news release.

Adhesive vinyl has for years been used to place advertisements and logos on motor vehicles, officials said. More recently, advances in technology have allowed whole-car wraps to begin replace painting for entire cars.

Col. Tracy Trott of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said that "with the savings of the wrapping the cars, General Services is planning to replace THP cruisers sooner."

That's important "as we try to lower our vehicle trade-in mileage and serve the public with new and safe equipment for our troopers," Trott said.

Williams said with THP vehicles making up about a quarter of state's entire motor fleet, officials began exploring the cost of the vinyl wraps in a search for cost savings.

Tennessee purchases its THP vehicles in black and applies the cream paint to create a two-tone color scheme. It costs $2,300 per vehicle. 

When a vehicle reaches the end of its service life, the THP markings are covered by painting the entire vehicle white, at an additional cost of $350, before the vehicle is sold as surplus property.

Compare that to the cost of a vinyl wrap, Williams said, noting that is just $740, representing a $1,910 savings over painting and repairing a THP cruiser.

With the state purchasing 150 new cruisers this year, that will create a savings of $286,500 in the first year alone, officials said.