Dealing with traffic congestion

May 8, 2017
Fixing traffic congestion is beyond the scope of fleet owners, but there are things you can do to help lesson the impact of that congestion on your operation.

Increasing traffic congestion is a big problem. In fact Beyond Traffic 2045, a report released by the former Secretary of Transportation, indicates that the annual cost of congestion delays and lost fuel is $160 billion.

Fixing traffic congestion is beyond the scope of fleet owners, but there are things you can do to help lesson the impact of that congestion on your operation.

It can start with something as simple as how you specify your trucks. Are you optimizing your vehicles for fuel efficiency? The right vehicle specs including aerodynamic devices, tire selection, axle configuration, transmission choice and more can have a big impact on how much fuel a truck consumes.

A big place where gains can be made is in how engine parameters are set. Optimizing engine parameters for fuel economy can result in fuel economy gains of around 0.5 mpg. That number can be higher depending on the skill level of your drivers. You can overcome a lot of bad driving behavior by setting parameters like vehicle speed limits, engine speed limits, and idling limits. For a more in-depth explanation of how electronic engine parameters can help you save fuel, check out our Confidence Report on them. One of the best things about electronic parameters is they don’t cost anything other than some time.

And you can do some other things that take time but not necessarily money. Telematics is a big enabler of route optimization which can be used to help you determine the most efficient routes for your trucks. You can even allow information from telematics to help you avoid heavily congested areas.

Beyond route optimization you can try optimizing your fleet. When was the last time you looked at things like asset utilization rate and even delved into the numbers and types of trucks, tractors and trailers you have? Do they match your current needs? If not consider reconfiguring your fleet so that the assets you have allow you to carry freight in the most cost efficient manner possible.

While you can’t do much about traffic congestion, you can make some changes that will make it hurt a little less.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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