Drivers have a significant impact on the overall fuel consumption of the trucks they drive. Some say as much as 30 percent.
So developing a culture of fuel efficiency, as one fleet executive called it during our recent Trucking Efficiency Workshop in Indianapolis, is an important step for your fleet. And it starts at the top of the organization. For success, fleet owners and top managers must make a commitment to fuel efficiency and then spread that message throughout their entire organization.
As early as the recruiting and hiring process, potential drivers need to hear about their expected role in the fuel economy equation. It’s essential that drivers get trained on the role speeding, idling, hard braking and maintenance play in a fuel efficient fleet.
Talk with drivers and show them how driving 65 mph rather than 75 mph saves a full 1 mpg in fuel costs due to decreased air resistance. That can be over $10,000 in fuel per truck per year! Drivers can also be educated about the impact idling has on fuel economy. While it is impossible to eliminate all idling, drivers can be shown that pre-cooling or pre-warming their vehicles prior to shutting off the main engine improves the efficiency of their idle-reduction devices like APUs, fuel fired heated and battery HVAC systems.
A good way to get driver buy in is to give them an active role in your fuel improvement efforts. Improperly inflated tires have a direct impact on fuel economy. Our Tire Pressure Systems Confidence Report found that a tire that is underinflated by 10 psi results in a 0.5-1.0% degradation of fuel economy. Tire pressure monitoring systems alert drivers when tire air pressure is low prompting them to add air until tires reach their proper inflation pressure.
Set up incentive programs that reward drivers for their efforts at increasing fuel economy. Telematics devices on today’s trucks allow you to monitor things like time spent idling, use of cruise control, number of hard braking events, time in top gear, etc. Some fleets are using incentive programs that pay drivers on a per mile basis if fuel economy goals are reached each month. Other fleets award prizes to drivers who demonstrate fuel efficiency improvements.
Deep down, we all want to be involved in helping our organization be successful. Actively engaging drivers in your fuel economy efforts and/or rewarding them for their efforts to help you achieve your goals will help you spread the culture of fuel efficiency throughout your organization. And that’s good for all of us.