Since a substantial portion of your overall fleet expenditures goes towards fuel, you might think that with lower fuel prices, your fleet fuel spending would go down. But really, a large part of this expense is controlled by your drivers. Up to about 30% of a vehicle’s fuel efficiency is influenced by driver behavior. So any fuel savings from lower fuel prices can easily be undone by drivers’ bad habits. An ongoing awareness program for your drivers, focused on safety and sustainability, should result in better driving habits that net lower fuel consumption and costs.
Driver safety and fuel efficiency go hand in hand
There is a lot in common between best practices for safe driving and those for fuel-efficient driving. It’s a fact that the safer the driving, the less fuel is consumed. Aggressive driving is the most preventable cause of low fuel efficiency – speeding, hard acceleration, and braking can lower fuel economy by 33% in highway driving.
Though fuel economy differs for different types of vehicles, it typically decreases when traveling over 55 miles per hour.
Driving safely and paying close attention to surroundings leads to more fuel-efficient driving behavior. Noticing a vehicle or a traffic light well ahead enables a driver to lay off the accelerator pedal sooner and not slam on the brakes to make an abrupt stop. This not only saves on fuel, but also general wear and tear on the vehicles.
Meeting corporate sustainability requirements
Fleets that aren’t able to use alternative-fuel vehicles need to maximize fuel efficiency in order to meet sustainability initiatives. More stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards are driving manufacturers to continually improve fuel efficiency for every class of vehicle, which helps to make improved fuel economy an attainable goal for fleet managers.
Here are some easy ways your drivers can save on fuel:
1. Safe driving
Speeding, rapid acceleration, hard braking, and weaving in and out of traffic are unsafe driving practices and, collectively, the worst culprit of wasting gas and premature wear and tear. Advise your drivers to obey the speed limit, use cruise control when on highways, and to be gentle on the accelerator.
Tires are the number-one variable in fuel economy. Having your drivers check and maintain tire pressure routinely can decrease fuel consumption and increase the life of tires. Also, proper alignment and rotating tires can improve performance and fuel economy.
3. Excessive idling
Always remember, an idling engine gets zero miles per gallon.
4. Unnecessary cargo
If your vehicles are carrying heavy tools or equipment that isn’t needed at the next job site, then you could be shaving miles off your fuel efficiency. Let your drivers know that these unnecessary materials should be left behind whenever possible.
5. Limiting A/C use
Depending on the type of vehicle, using the air conditioning system can increase fuel consumption by up to 20%. Let your drivers know that cracking a window or using the fresh air vent and fan are usually just as effective for cooling and circulating air.
When gas prices are low, drivers may feel like they don’t have to be careful about consumption. But if fleet managers can encourage safer driving habits, they’ll see drivers who are not only energy conscious, but also more fuel efficient. This ultimately leads to a fleet with a healthy bottom line. If your awareness program focuses on safety, everything else will fall into place.