It’s obvious that if a fleet driver takes a personal joyride in between jobs, he is wasting fuel. Naturally, the person in charge of fleet fuel management wants to make sure that drivers are only going to their assigned route locations and taking the most direct routes to get there. Bad driving habits can also contribute to your rising fuel costs.
As a fleet manager, you need to educate your drivers about their bad habits and then take steps to address them. In some cases, drivers may think certain behaviors are beneficial or necessary because of common misconceptions. We’ll clear those up in this blog post. Other bad habits are more obvious, but while drivers know they shouldn’t do them, they need a little push to actually follow through. This can be accomplished by company-wide education as well as the implementation of a fleet fuel management system that can help control costs.
Know what behaviors your drivers should change to reduce fleet fuel expenses
Let’s look at 5 behaviors drivers should avoid if they intend to use fuel efficiently. You may even be doing some of them yourself!
1. Idling to “warm up” a vehicle
It’s a common misconception that it’s necessary to “warm up” a vehicle before driving it in cold weather. Modern vehicles have fuel injection systems that enable them to be driven within 30 seconds of startup. Therefore, there is no good reason to warm up your car for a whole 10 minutes or so—this is simply a massive waste of fuel.
2. Idling instead of restarting
There is a similar misconception that starting up a vehicle wastes more fuel than idling. However, because the fuel injector controls how much gas the car uses upon startup, it is better to turn off your vehicle and restart it if you need to stop for several minutes. Essentially, idling is rarely ever the best choice! All it does is burn up fuel and pollute the environment.
3. Opening windows while driving at highway speeds
You may think that opening your windows rather than cranking up the air conditioner will help save fuel costs. That’s true—but only when you’re driving in city traffic. On highways, the wind drag means that your open windows are actually costing you more mileage than the AC! It’s best to use AC on the highways, even though it’s awesome to feel the wind in your hair on the open road.
4. Accelerating the car as soon as the light turns green
Sitting at a red light is frustrating, and if you’re the first one in the line of vehicles, it is oh-so-tempting to hit the gas hard as soon as that light turns green. If you’re not in heavy traffic, the road ahead will be clear, and you can just zoom right ahead. What could be better? Unfortunately, harsh acceleration seriously burns up your fuel, and the time it saves only amounts to a few seconds.
5. Tapping your brakes too much
When it comes to gas mileage, the more smoothly you drive, the better to reduce fuel. That’s why you get better mileage on the freeway when you don’t have to stop constantly. You may not realize just how much you’ve been tapping the brakes—it can be a force of habit. However, your goal should be to maintain a uniform speed rather than speeding up every chance you get. The more you brake, the more you have to accelerate, and the more gas you waste.
How to combat bad driving habits and reduce fuel costs
A fleet manager’s job is not only to make sure vehicles are operating and that drivers get from one location to another. It’s also to make sure drivers are educated about how to drive and then enforce those standards. Here’s how:
Promote a culture of fuel saving
In order for your drivers to put their best foot on the gas, it’s necessary to promote a culture of good driving habits and awareness of fleet fuel expenses. Misconceptions and habits can become deep-rooted and may be totally unconscious decisions. Spreading awareness is the first step to combatting these behaviors and enabling your fleet to make the most of your fuel budget. When drivers do not know what is expected of them, they lack the incentive to make positive changes. You should document all of your procedures, including your “best practices” for driving in a way that does not waste fuel.
Implement a fleet tracking system to monitor driving behaviors
Awareness and education efforts have a stronger impact on drivers if they are enforced. Fleet fuel management systems can help. A comprehensive fleet tracking system can use GPS to let you know where your drivers are going, and it can also track their behaviors. This means getting alerts when drivers are speeding as well as when they are accelerating harshly or idling excessively. Driver data will also give you a better idea of problems that are common in your fleet. A tracking system works as an additional incentive for your team to drive responsibly, and it provides you with reliable fleet data that drivers cannot deny.
You need to let your drivers know that you are not going to be lax in addressing their bad habits. Promoting awareness and using a fleet tracking system can both guide your efforts. Once you’ve taken actions to abolish bad driving habits, you’ll have a fleet that uses fuel efficiently and saves your company money.