I was awed last week at the National Private Truck Council during the Driver Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. One of the inductees — Leon Turner who drivers for Batesville Logistics — has been driving for 38 years and has accumulated 5.03 million accident-free miles. Let me say that again: more than 5 million miles of driving a truck without an accident.
Other inductees — William Brawley of Unifi Manufacturing, Stephen Edwards of Sherwin-Williams and Mark Hannon of Upstate Niagara Cooperative — had 3.2 million, 3 million and 2.1 million miles respectively of driving with no accidents. That’s a lot of miles.
What struck me about these four gentlemen is that in one way or another they all cited patience as part of the reason for their success. They used words like awareness, keeping calm, not being in a hurry and paying attention to other drivers.
I took that to mean that they are more concerned with getting their deliveries made safely than saving a few minutes.
I think there is a lesson here for those of you delivering our goods every day and for those us who drive any vehicle, so that is ALL of US. Patience can be applied to OUR efforts in much the same way these Hall of Fame inductees applied patience to safety. Driving more carefully and slowly — in other words being patient — will not only be safer, but result in fuel savings.
Slowing down only one mile per hour will improve your fuel economy by one-tenth of a mile per gallon. I know you’re thinking that doesn’t sound like much, but it is about $750 a year.
And remember not everything you do to improve fuel economy will save you 5% or more. Every little bit helps. So slowing down even a little adds to your overall fuel savings.
The added bonus of slowing down, is that you’ll most likely be seeing more accident-free miles and that the stress of driving a tractor trailer will be much less. I’ve been told many times by drivers that when they slowed down they tended to stay in the right lane for much of the day and not having to pass slower traffic was much more comfortable and that at the end of their long day, they were not nearly as tired. A better quality of life as well.
I think the idea of patience can be useful throughout your fuel efficiency efforts. Practicing patience with drivers who are struggling with some of the new technologies you have invested in to improve your fuel efficiency. Take the extra time to make sure they get comfortable with it and are using it properly.
And be patient with yourself too as you take time to study all the available technologies and practices that are currently available for improving fuel economy. It may take a bit of time to find the right combination of things that work best for your fleet, but I promise it will be worth it in the fuel efficiency gains you ultimately achieve.