Top tips to drive down fuel costs

Friday, March 20, 2015 - 11:42
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Driving style can cost and save you big

Sergio Barata from Telogis talks to FleetPoint regarding tips fleets can implement to drive down their fuel costs

Fuel efficiency is the silent killer of a fleet’s bottom line. Stats suggest it accounts for about 30% of a fleet’s total operating costs – a huge sum in many cases – so it’s vital to reduce fuel burn in every way possible.

Fleet managers use strategies like deploying hybrid-powered vehicles and implementing fleet management software, both of which can be used to great effect. But they sometimes overlook one tactic that is essentially free to implement – driver education.

A well-informed driver can reduce fuel by focusing on his or her driving behaviours and understanding the bigger picture – that less fuel improves job security by making the firm more profitable. With that in mind, here are our top tips for drivers that can be used as part of a driver education program to minimise fuel use, and save on the bottom line.

No need for speed

Speeding is a nightmare for fleet managers. It causes stress to an engine, increased accident risk and speeding fines, and of course it also decreases the fuel economy of a vehicle. One study reports that every 5 mph driven over 65 mph represents a 7% decrease in fuel economy – this means significant savings can be made by drivers that stick to the speed limit. Mobile platforms can support drivers in this as they tap into real-time traffic data and can alert drivers if they deviate from the speed limit, while GPS fleet tracking can record and report on fluctuation in speed to help manage driver behaviour.

Clutch smart

Older trucks with crash gearboxes required double-clutching. But for most modern vehicles it’s unnecessary, potentially damaging to the gearbox, and wastes fuel. Clutching intelligently also means minimising the number of gear changes you make, skipping gears where possible. Remember, with every gear you change up, fuel economy is improved by almost 30% each time.

Don’t overfill and underinflate

If a tank is filled to the brim it can easily overflow when the fuel is heated, either by the sun or fuel returned by the engine. This is not only dangerous to other road users, but also wasteful. And what’s one of the simplest but most common fuel wasters? Failing to keep tyres at the correct pressure. Getting this right helps improve fuel economy, improves the life of the tyre and reduces the chance of an accident.

Watch your downtime

An idling truck consumes about a gallon of fuel every hour – that can quickly add up. Pause to check if you really do need your engine running and if you don’t? Turn it off. And if you’re stopping for the night, park your vehicle so that you will not have to do a lot of manoeuvring in the morning with a cold engine, as this can use a lot of fuel.

It’s in the game

Fleet managers can reward economical driving by measuring fuel use across an entire team and working out which drivers contribute most to fuel efficiency. It can actually becomes a fun challenge to see who the most fuel-frugal driver is. In fact, there are platforms that use leader boards to help fleet managers inspire mobile workers to drive efficiently and safely using positive reinforcement and team spirit. And of course, a bit of friendly competition.

Sergio Barata is General Manager EMEA for Telogis – the premium provider of Location-Based-Services to enterprises across the globe.

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