It Takes Two

It takes both drivers and technology to get better fuel economy

As a fleet manager you may wonder where to focus your fuel-economy improvement efforts. Buying technology solutions or using your resources trying to change driver behavior? The answer is both.

You can have all the technology solutions you want but if your drivers don’t use them properly or at all or if their other driving behavior is so aggressive it negates the fuel economy gains you’ve achieved through your technology investments your ROI on those investments may not be as attractive as you originally calculated.

Conversely, if you focus all of your fuel economy efforts on changing the way your drivers operate their vehicles you’ll miss out on some serious fuel saving technology.

There are a lot of commercially available technologies on the market from low rolling resistance tires to 6x2 axles to aerodynamic devices that when installed will result in significant improvements in fuel consumption.

We hear “the driver is more important argument” fairly often when it comes to electronically controlled transmissions — automated mechanical as well as fully automatic ones. Fleet managers will say, “our best drivers can get better fuel economy with a manual tranny than can be achieved through an electronically controlled one.” That maybe true…for the best drivers. But ask yourself this: how many of your drivers are your best drivers? For those that aren’t or for the many brand new drivers you have added to your operation technology can be a great equalizer. The more tools you can give them that automatically increase the truck’s fuel efficiency the better especially if your hope is to use the least amount of fuel possible.

I am not saying ignore driving training. In fact, I am a big believer in the fact that it is critical to make the driver a significant part of your fuel economy improvement efforts. He or she is the one behind the wheel every day and even with all the electronic parameters in the world the way the driver drives impacts fuel consumption. But even the most exceptional driver can only go so far without an assist from technology.

Pair the right technologies with a driver committed to driving in a fuel-efficient manner and you’ve got the perfect match for getting us to that goal of 12 mpgs.

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