The Impact of Driver Behavior on Fuel Efficiency

fleet fuel managementWhen it comes to the cost of running your fleet, there are few factors that matter more than fuel.

Fleets can save on fuel by finding ways to increase fuel efficiency, and one of the ways to make fleets more efficient is to change the way drivers drive.

“The importance of driver behavior is essential,” Dale Jewell, director, North American maintenance operations for EMKAY, told Automotive Fleet magazine last year.

Jewell noting figures from the U.S. Department of Energy which says drivers can save nearly a third of their highway fuel consumption just through less aggressive driving. But that may be easier said than done, especially when working with employees who have been driving for years if not decades.

Here are a few ways to introduce change to your fleet to increase fuel efficiency.

  1. Fuel card programs

Fleets are looking to reduce fuel costs simply by spending less, through finding rebates from retailers and by implementing fleet fuel card programs.

Fuel cards can protect you against fraud or misuse, but they also offer a way to keep track of a driver’s daily route. Drivers and fleet managers can use this data to plot out better – meaning more efficient – driving strategies. Your company can also use fuel cards to keep track of maintenance costs, giving your drivers even more incentive to drive with more care.

“Fleets, large and small, should focus on a written and well-communicated fuel management policy to make sure drivers and fuel card users understand the expectations around card use and fuel conservation,” Steve Durdin of ARI told Automotive Fleet “That underlying expectation should then be accompanied by constant monitoring of mpg and cost-per-gallon performance across asset types, along with a focused effort on creating as much visibility as possible around transactions and spending trends at the driver level.”

  1. Create new policies

If your current rules aren’t working for you – or if you don’t have rules to begin with – make new ones. Set new standards requiring drivers to meet certain safe driving metrics. Fleets can also create policies that reward drivers who help save costs. They’ll be more likely to drive more efficiently if they know it can affect their year-end bonus.

  1. Provide more training

It’s important that drivers adopt new skills, but those skills can only be mastered with a lot of practice.

The implementation of driver behavior trainings to reduce speeds, idling, accident avoidance, rapid deceleration, etc., continue to gain momentum within the industry,” Jewell said in the Automotive Fleet article. “When paired with technological GPS solutions, route optimization can reduce miles driven, scheduling, speeds, and personal use.”

Remember that the industry will always be at work finding new ways to make drivers more efficient while lowering costs. By offering ongoing training, your drivers get a chance to hone their skills and communicate with other drivers, giving them more opportunity to share ideas.

And by providing continued training, you’re letting your drivers know that efficiency is a priority. You can adjust your training schedule for the seasons. For example, a refresher on driving in the snow would work better in November than May.

  1. Offer feedback in person

Training, fuel cards and new policies are all important tools. But don’t lose the human touch. Communicate the importance of efficient driving in face-to-face interactions with your drivers. Simply sending out a memo might go unnoticed. You’ll have a better chance of tutoring employees when you can meet with them personally. Some companies even choose to send along efficiency coaches on the road with less efficient drivers to point out signs of inefficient behavior.

If you’re looking to save money on your fuel costs, contact Sokolis Group. We can work with you to determine which fuel card program is right for your business. We’ll also help you set up your card to maximize its benefits and make sure that all of your discounts are properly documented, letting you spend your valuable time focused on your drivers and your fleet.