Motor carriers have many fixed expenses, from lease payments to licenses. The cost of doing business in the trucking industry comes at a high price when you factor in everything from training to maintenance and you will find few ways to influence those standard expenses. However, you can make a difference in spending with driving behaviours that contribute to greater fuel efficiency.
Fleet owners and asset-based freight brokers have the ability to track fuel efficiency and many other measures while trucks are on the road. They have observed significant differences in fuel usage among drivers, up to a 30 percent difference between drivers with the highest miles per gallon and drivers with the lowest miles per gallon. Here are five truck driving habits that can bring big savings in fuel bills.
- Communicate with your drivers about their fuel efficiency. Let them know you are monitoring fuel usage on every trip and be as quick to praise a driver with better than average miles per gallon as you are to call a driver’s attention to lower than average rates.
- Train drivers to use cruise control appropriately. Consistent use of cruise control can increase fuel efficiency up to 6%. It works great on flat, open roads and can keep you from hitting the throttle hard to pull up a hill, even if it takes a little longer to climb. However, it may not be good for fuel economy in heavy traffic because those conditions require more braking and that hurts your miles per gallon.
- Guide drivers to avoid rush hour times wherever possible. You can’t always decide when to go through big cities with their busy beltways. Yet when you do have some control over timing, wait for traffic to return to normal levels before you get into an urban area or leave it. You’ll save gas without so much stopping and starting and sitting in your truck idling.
- Have your drivers limit warm-up and cool-down times. The old ideas about lengthy times to get the engine warmed up or cooled down have been replaced with shorter time periods. Five minutes is often sufficient, but consult your truck’s manual or talk to a trusted mechanic to find the optimum minimum times.
- Ensure that your drivers understand how they affect fleet efficiency. Conduct fuel efficiency training sessions on a regular basis. Show how driving habits can make or break a fleet’s profitability with efficient fuel usage or wasting fuel. Driving training is more than rules and regulations; it should include a focus on empowering drivers to help a company’s bottom line.
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