Driver behaviour is key to improved fuel efficiency

Combining technology with mindful driver behaviour and other strategies such as described here can generate considerable savings on your fuel account.

The recent fuel price increases and rumours about the upcoming price increase being almost R3 per litre not only have motorists frustrated but also panicked about whether it will even be possible to fill their tanks next month. The fuel price crisis also has a major impact on the trucking industry that many motorists may not realise affects them as well: the cost of consumer goods is soaring.

The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, said the trucking industry is the backbone of society. “Most industries rely on trucks to receive their stock, and when the price jumps as drastically as what it has done recently, a portion of this is inevitably passed down to the consumer. Trucking operators also need to absorb some of the cost, placing even more pressure on operations.

“As prices continue to rise and uncertainty remains about the future, fleet operators must find ways to reduce their fuel costs as much as possible. Fuel use represents up to 39% of a fleet’s cost-per-mile (imperial system stats) according to the American Transportation Research Institute. MasterDrive compiled a list of tips in a two-part series to assist with this, which includes both changes to driving behaviour and technology that can assist.”

Driver behaviour:

• Good drivers: Drivers are responsible for 30% of your fuel consumption, and teaching your drivers fuel-efficient driving techniques can have a major impact. Hiring, educating and incentivising drivers to achieve the best fuel efficiency is one of the most effective ways to reduce fuel consumption.
• Plan your routes: Plenty of petrol is wasted by not making your route as efficient as possible.
• Stay on the route: Educate drivers on the importance of reducing out-of-route trips and use telematics to ensure drivers avoid this.
• Idling: Avoid idling for longer than 30 seconds.
• Slow down: By decreasing your speed by just 20km/h, you can improve your fuel consumption by up to 20%.
• Tyre management: Get drivers to regularly check tyre pressure and be aware when tyres need general maintenance. It can make a huge difference to fuel consumption.
• Lighten the load: Encourage drivers to remove any unnecessary items from their vehicles after a trip. As a rule of thumb, each unnecessary item increases consumption by 1%.

• Be proactive: Ideally, it’s too late to react to rising fuel costs after it happens. Understand how your fleet operates so you already know which fuel-saving strategies work best for your organisation.
• Be selective when purchasing: In a demonstration in the USA, it was found that a truck with specifications that focus on fuel efficiency makes a significant difference to consumption. In future purchases, fuel consumption and technology implemented by manufacturers to reduce it should be an important deciding factor in your selection.
• Maintenance: Regular maintenance, as with light motor vehicles, plays a major role in reducing fuel consumption. Clean filters, trucks and trailers in alignment and low viscosity lubricants make a difference to fuel consumption.

• Tyre pressure: Consider tyre pressure inflation systems or automatic inflation on trailer tires.
• Speed limiters: These devices can take the decision to speed out of your drivers’ hands altogether and force them to drive at speeds that reduce fuel consumption.
• Do not idle: Use engine settings to automatically turn the engine off after a specified time. Particularly, if drivers stay in their cabs overnight, ensure they have what they need to be comfortable without having to turn on the vehicle.
• Do not be hasty: Tyres that have less tread tend to get 6% better fuel efficiency. This is not to say that you should have bald tyres, but ensure you run the full life of your tyres before replacing them.
• Aerodynamics: wind resistance accounts for 65% of fuel consumption, and by altering the aerodynamic profile of your truck, you can slash this consumption by 12%. There are various means by which you can do this, and even technology to assist depending on the load.
• Cruise control: Reducing variances in pedal pressure while driving can actually result in 1-3% savings, whereas adaptive cruise control can save 5%.
• Protect your diesel: Unfortunately, theft of diesel is a real challenge and anti-siphoning technology is a must-have

If your organisation implemented these driving techniques, there is more you can do that could substantially reduce your fuel spend. “This involves technology that you can install into your vehicles to assist in reducing some of the largest consumers of fuel, which we will reveal in the next part of this series,” said Herbert.

Source: MotorPics

Matthys Ferreira

Served in SAPS for 22 years - specialised in forensic and crime scene investigation and forensic photography. A stint in photographic sales and management followed. Been the motoring editor at Lowveld Media since 2007. "A petrol head I am not but I am good at what I do".
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