Driving behaviors can significantly impact fuel consumption. Unnecessary idling, indirect routes, and aggressive driving burn excess fuel, as well as put more wear and tear on your vehicles.
Fuel is one of the biggest—and most unpredictable—fleet expenses. When the price of gas and diesel rises, your profit margin shrinks.
While you can’t control the oil and gas market, fleet managers can work to minimize their impact. GPS fleet tracking services can help decrease your fuel consumption by monitoring driving behavior, analyzing your fuel spend, and reducing wasteful spending.
Simply improving driving behaviors can save up to a gallon of gas per vehicle per day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) website FuelEconomy.Gov. That pays off quickly when you consider the size of your fleet, helping to quickly secure your return on investment in a fleet and fuel management platform like NexTraq.
The Basics of Safer Driving
The first step to saving fuel with safe driving habits is to know what your drivers are doing when they’re behind wheel. That starts with the ABCs of driving: accelerating, braking, and cornering. “Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) can lower your gas mileage by roughly 15% to 30% percent,” according to FuelEconomy.Gov.
Driver Safety Scorecard from NexTraq®—a MICHELIN® group company—gives fleet managers the data they need to reward good drivers, and coach those who need help. With this information, you can teach driving practices that will improve your fuel economy, encourage driver accountability, and lengthen the lifespan of your vehicles.
For example, in certain circumstances, idling is an acceptable and unavoidable behavior. This includes waiting at a traffic light, running equipment via power take-off, and operating machinery like cement trucks. However, when your drivers start the engine to warm up or cool off the cabin before their route or keep it running between deliveries, it is excessive idling—and it costs your company money.
According to the Argonne National Laboratory, idling personal and commercial vehicles in the U.S. consume 6 billion gallons of fuel annually at a cost of $20 billion. Additionally, the DOE estimates “idling can use a quarter to a half-gallon of fuel per hour.”
Idling also puts undue wear and tear on the vehicles that “… can increase maintenance costs by almost $2,000 per year and shorten the life of the engine,” according to the American Trucking Association. And in certain states excessive idling is illegal, leaving businesses vulnerable to being ticketed and paying unnecessary fees.
Trucking company V-Line, Inc. used NexTraq to eliminate excessive idling, reduce fuel spending, and extend the life of their vehicles. “Before implementing a fleet tracking solution, we didn’t have a way to monitor our fleet’s fuel usage,” said Alisia Valdovines, Office Secretary at V-Line Inc. “With NexTraq, we can see how much fuel is being used, helping us curb wasteful fuel practices among our drivers. Our stop times and idle times have improved 100 percent.”
Driver Tracking and Reporting
Good information leads to insights that help you improve your fleet management operations. Fleet tracking and reporting are key to helping you optimize your fleet operations. Customers use these insights to learn what’s working well and what’s not.
NexTraq offers a comprehensive fuel card integration and fuel management solution, with access to over 40 in-depth reports. That means you can improve efficiencies, reduce fuel waste, hold drivers accountable for fuel purchases—and improve fuel purchasing behaviors.
You can quickly generate reports on the fly, set up alerts, and get the reports you need delivered directly to your inbox. You can specify reports per vehicle, group, or your entire fleet. Some of our most popular reports include:
- Idle Report: Identify who’s idling too much, then use this information to coach drivers to change their driving behaviors so they can reduce wear and tear on vehicles—not to mention help to save costs at the pump.
- Start/Stop Report: Validate payroll by making sure your team was where they were scheduled to be.
- Detailed Activity Report: Pinpoint vehicle location and vehicle status to get a comprehensive glimpse of what’s going on with your vehicles.
- Fleet Status Goals: Get reports to show what’s going well, needs a little help—or requires your immediate attention.
- Fuel Efficiency Reports: Compare expected versus actual fuel consumption at any time. IFTA reporting solutions are also available for interstate customers.
The NexTraq Start/Stop Report provided immediate benefits for Louis Turner, Operations Coordinator for Premium Electric Company. He explained, “If there is a customer dispute about the hours our technicians spend at a location, I can pull up the report and validate time spent on the job. With this data in hand, our billing and customer invoices are accurate, and we aren’t losing service revenue.”
Transportation has the biggest impact on the environment because of the pollution it creates. As sustainable initiatives are on the rise, businesses are being called upon to do their part by committing to practices that will decrease harmful emissions and cut down on their carbon footprints.
But safe driving can save companies in other ways too. More efficient routes can help companies improve sustainability by saving fuel, reducing the number of miles driven, and minimizing pollution from vehicles.
For example, by controlling and eliminating harmful idling, you are burning less fuel, which will decrease your emissions while enhancing your fuel economy. As reported by North Carolina Environmental Quality, “an idling vehicle releases harmful chemicals, gases, and particulate pollution (‘soot’) into the air, contributing to ozone, regional haze, and global climate change.”
With the NexTraq® Connect™ mobile app, you can track your drivers throughout the day and monitor when they are leaving designated areas and worksites to prevent unnecessary idling and fuel consumption. With simple one-click functionality, you also can plan the routes for your drivers to prevent them from taking longer distances between stops, running into gridlock traffic, and avoiding inconvenient delays.
Along with fuel consumption costs, vehicle maintenance is one of the most significant expenses related to operating a fleet. If your vehicles are not routinely inspected and properly cared for, they will not run as efficiently as they are capable of. This could drastically impact your sustainability practices, too.
With GPS fleet tracking technology, you can create automated alerts and smart schedules to streamline maintenance and keep your vehicles in peak condition to enhance your fuel economy. With NexTraq® Vehicle Maintenance Module, you can ensure your fleet receives the routine maintenance it needs with automated alerts that are based on diagnostic (DTC) codes, so you know immediately when there is an issue with one of your vehicles. When used with NexTraq® Vehicle Inspection, you also can improve safety and uptime for your fleet with simplified daily inspections based on DVIR requirements by the FMCSA to prioritize maintenance and repairs.
Rob Stradling, CIO of Baltimore County, described the impact of NexTraq on his organization, “The reporting functionality has been extremely beneficial. We use the Idle Report to reduce our fuel costs, but also to reduce our carbon emissions as well. Baltimore County is committed to being a green organization for our community.”
SUMMARY AND NEXT STEPS
Driver safety should be top of mind when dealing with potential issues within your fleet management operations. You can help by encouraging safe practices with safety awareness and inspection tools from NexTraq. Reducing risk and improving driver safety can make a big impact on protecting your company, your vehicles, and—most importantly—your employees.