Braking habits - Does your drivers' attitude cut into your bottom line?

Fuel savings up to 20% - That's what a few changes in driving styles can bring to your bottom line. You don't need magic tricks to get there: all it takes is measure driving behaviour and teaching your drivers a couple of ECO-driving techniques based on telematics data.

Fuel economy has been a pressing issue for road haulage companies for a number of reasons. Apart from thinning margins and escalating oil prices, environmental considerations, and the need for a sustainable fleet strategy give cause for concern for fleet operators. In road transport the costs of fuel consumption and maintenance remain a substantial expense to count within fleet budgets.

Curbing your fleet’s fuel consumption

Many variables impact fuel economy, such as heavy traffic, road types, local speed limits, weather conditions. Advanced telematics solutions are at hand to assist fleet operators in keeping a tab on these factors and taking action to minimize costs. Other factors with a vast influence on fuel consumption – i.e., tire pressure and cargo load – can also be efficiently managed with the proper tools and fleet management systems in place. 

There is one more element, though, that will make a significant impact on the bottom line and yet often escapes the attention it deserves: driving behavior.

The role of drivers in fuel economy

The role of drivers in fuel economy is largely recognized: there is a direct link between driving attitudes and fuel economy. Numerous tests and analyses – including Inventure’s in-house test reports – have reached the same conclusion: inefficient or harsh driving attitudes are often among the main reasons for high fuel consumption and soaring maintenance costs. The difference in terms of mpg may amount to 35% when comparing the performance of the most skilled drivers and truck operators with less than average competence, according to a study by ATA's Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC). 

Bad driving will burn your profit

Driving habits carry the potential to make a sizeable dent in fleet budget. Consequently, identifying weak points and encouraging drivers to adopt efficient practices and techniques will no doubt pay off in the short run.

Deeply ingrained as they may seem, driving habits are quite easy to change. The practical and low-cost way to make a massive difference in your fleet’s fuel efficiency metrics is teaching ECO-driving techniques to your drivers. Studies prove that even a short driver training course can improve truck fuel efficiency by 5%.

ECO-driving: economy meets ecology

ECO-driving refers to a set of energy-efficient driving techniques aimed at reducing both fuel consumption and pollution, both affected by driver behavior. The concept is nothing new: it covers techniques and principles to maximize fuel efficiency and minimizing emissions.

ECO-driving trainings involve tips on ordinary driving techniques such as

  • reducing braking energy loss by reducing excessive braking;
  • reducing dynamic and harsh accelerations;
  • driving at the lowest engine speed and using cruise control whenever possible;
  • running engines at permanent RPM;
  • avoiding unnecessary engine idle time.

It is easy to see how personal driving styles will impact your bottom line. By improving drivers’ skills and awareness, fleets will see immediate results in fuel savings.

Going greener with benefits

There is, however, more to ECO-driving than fuel efficiency. Additional benefits, such as safety and sustainability, are just as crucial in forward-thinking fleet management. As a less aggressive attitude promotes safety, fleet companies can anticipate a decrease of up to 40% of costs for accidents once their drivers complete ECO-driving training. ECO-driving styles may also significantly contribute to lower operational costs and CO2 emissions and compliance with mandatory CO2 standards.

Introducing a greener and safer driving culture sounds excellent on paper, but fleet management will need hard facts to quantify progress. When it comes to attitudes and behavior, this may look challenging at first. With advanced telematics solutions, though, even driving behavior becomes comparable and scalable.

Data-driven driving behavior

Telematics solutions provide real-time behavior analysis and unprecedented insight into personal driving styles. Monitoring behavior and providing instant feedback, telematics makes drivers’ skills measurable and suggest efficient ways to improve them. 

Setting goals and implementing changes always starts with monitoring and assessment of the current performance. Using the most suitable telematics solutions is key to get an overall picture of your fleet’s current performance before taking the next steps.

Inventure ECO-Driving is an advanced feature of FMS Gateway G2 device that connects to the CAN communication bus. Inventure FMS Gateway has built-in high precision algorithms to measure, process and evaluate driving behavior and provide detailed information on driving habits. Apart from covering the basics, such as high engine idle time, harsh acceleration and braking, or unnecessary engine load while the engine is still cold, unique features include cold engine usage and RPM analysis. These data will serve as key performance indicators for evaluation and basis for the identification of measurable objectives. 

Keeping habits under control

Once the preliminary data are in, parameters can be compared and analyzed. With Inventure ECO-Driving solution you will get an objective evaluation on the driver’s performance. Based on the conclusions, you can set goals and decide on appropriate incentives and training programs to improve attitudes and driving styles. Even a refresher course can go a long way: optimum efficiency point for modern engines, for example, may be quite different from what your drivers were taught back in the day. Monitoring drivers may also provide a sound basis to introduce performance-based pay.

Data set in motion

We are well aware that without extensive testing and hard facts, eco- driving would remain nothing but an appealing concept: a typical “nice-to-have”, a feature that sits on the list of planned implementations. With that – and the industry’s expectations of hard evidence – in mind, we have put our ECO-driving solution to the test.

We compared and analyzed driving behaviors and their immediate impact on fuel economy. Other data provided in our reports, i.e. RPM time, also speak volumes about maintenance cost projections.  

What you will see is vast differences between economical, dynamic and harsh driving patterns. The numbers are telling: using the same vehicle on the same routes and under the same circumstances (traffic, weather conditions, load, etc.), there is a staggering difference in fuel consumption between various driving styles.

Our findings underline the close link between driving techniques and fuel economy. They also provide insight into straightforward quantification and scaling techniques. A closer look at the numbers will also show that by implementing telematics solutions such as Inventure ECO- driving, fleets can reduce vehicle fuel consumption and maintenance costs up to 25%.

Interested in how to make telematics work for your fleet? Learn more about Inventure FMS Gateway that has built-in high precision algorithms to provide reliable ECO-driving information.

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