Trucks at Work

Eco-driving comes back into focus

With the price for crude oil and thus diesel again on an upward march, more close attention is again being paid to “eco-driving” as fleets as well as individual vehicle operators seek ways to boost fuel economy.

In a bit of excellent timing, SmartDrive Systems just recently revealed the results of its Waste-Hauling Fleet Fuel Efficiency Study, which discerned that refuse fleets can reduce fuel consumption on average as much as 13.8%, saving more than $2,600 per vehicle annually, if their drivers rigorously apply “eco-driving” practices.

“With the volatility of fuel prices, reducing fuel consumption is increasingly important in controlling operating expenses for waste-hauling fleets,” noted Steve Mitgang, SmartDrive’s CEO, in a statement.

“Our study documented a significant opportunity to increase fuel efficiency through softer driving.”

[For the average car driver, Ford Motor Co. produced an “eco-driving” video several years ago that offers a variety of tips to help enhance vehicle fuel efficiency.]

Now, fuel economy is never far from the mind of any fleet operator, whether said fleet operates vehicles in urban stop-and-go driving environments (such as refuse hauling) or in over-the-road freight applications.

For example, Tennessee-based TL carrier First Fleet has embarked on a new effort to interview its top fuel-sipping drivers on camera, to elicit from them the tactics they use day in and day out to maximize fuel efficiency.

For example, watch Greg Basham – a driver based out of First Fleet’s Portland, TN, facility – in the clip below detailing how he attains 7.87 mpg.

Back at SmartDrive, Mitgang explained that the company’s refuse fleet study evaluated 193 waste-hauling trucks and drivers in multiple U.S. locations to assess the effect of driving performance on fuel consumption – along with measuring the impact of eco-driving training, using instant feedback provided by the company’s in-cab video technology to aid drivers in improving fuel economy.

Data on the drivers’ performance was collected through SmartDrive sensors and recorders, then analyzed and scorecards were provided to drivers, he said, and after the control period and training, instant feedback on driving maneuvers and idling gave drivers the ability to adjust driving performance as it occurred.

SmartDrive also tracked post-training performance, detailing substantial reductions in the number and severity of hard accelerations, hard braking and hard turns – all of which helped reduce fuel consumption.

“Within two months, the top 25% of drivers improved their fuel economy from 2.52 mpg to 2.87 mpg, or some 13.8%,” said Mitgang. “That's a real savings that any waste-hauling fleet operator would appreciate.”

And in these ever more uncertain times – especially with fuel prices on the rise – saving money simply through smarter fuel efficient driving is nothing to sniff at. 

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