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5 steps to improved fuel efficiency

Industry News

With these easy tips, you can use less gas, keep your vehicles in top shape and save some cash.

Julie Collins Bates | November 27, 2013

A few simple moves can result in serious savings for your vehicle fleet.

In a webinar hosted by inthinc Technology Solutions, a global provider of telematics, fleet management, and driver safety solutions, inthinc account development manager, Chace Merritt, provided a rundown on five steps companies can take to improve fuel efficiency.

1. Obey the speed limit.
Vehicles that honor the speed limit maintain a higher miles per gallon ratio – in fact, the most fuel efficient speed to travel is 55 miles per hour. The longer employees are on the road, the more likely they are to start speeding or stop paying close attention to their speed.

“It’s like going to the dentist,” Merritt says. “They tell you to floss more and the hygienist shows you how to floss. You do pretty well for a few weeks and then start to slack off again. The less reminding or coaching we have, the more likely we are to fall back into bad behaviors.” That’s why Merritt recommends implementing a coaching and feedback system.

2. Avoid aggressive braking and accelerating. Stop-and-go driving significantly decreases miles per gallon and creates unnecessary wear and tear on tires and engines, which can increase maintenance costs by as much as 20 percent. Merritt recommends coaching drivers to slowly accelerate and brake. As an added perk, improved fuel economy means employees make fewer stops for gas, so they have more time in the day to get work done.

3. Eliminate idling. Idling accounts for 9 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, according to Merritt. “Imagine the impact of having a fleet of 100 vehicles idling one hour a day,” Merritt says. “If everyone cut idling out, we would reduce emissions in our cities and everyone would get better fuel economy and reduce wear and tear on engines.”

Encourage employees to turn off vehicles even for short stops. Idling for only 10 seconds uses the same amount of gas as restarting a commercial vehicle, and one hour of idling is the equivalent of 80 miles of wear on an engine. Plus, Merritt cautions, leaving a company vehicle idling while employees run an errand isn’t great advertising – and may even be a liability.

4. Check vehicles regularly. Performing regular maintenance, including checking tire pressure and replacing oil (with the manufacturer-suggested grade), is worth the trouble. Underinflated tires or improper oil levels can decrease fuel economy by 1.5 percent. “It doesn’t sound like a lot,” Merritt admits, “but it adds up.”

5. Plan trips ahead of time. Mapping routes in advance can help cut down on the amount of time vehicles are out on the road. “You can design a route so you’re continually going in the most efficient way and maximizing routes back to the office,” Merritt says. Selecting the smoothest, easiest routes reduces vehicle wear and tear. And taking steps to avoid rush-hour traffic and construction zones can help minimize time spent en route.

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