Strategies for Fleet Managers to Conserve Fuel

Photo of trucks in a row.

Vehicle fleet managers can conserve fuel and maximize their efficiency through policies, technologies, equipment, and maintenance strategies. Fuel-efficient techniques for drivers are also important because every gallon of fuel saved can lead to monetary savings that affect the bottom line for fleets.

Train Drivers

Driver training programs can help fleets save fuel and money while reducing emissions, increasing driver skills, improving driver performance, and increasing driver safety. Even the most experienced drivers can benefit from training that explains how fuel economy is reduced by idling, speeding, shifting gears frequently or improperly, accelerating or braking aggressively or frequently, and taking circuitous routes. Many fleets train their drivers to adopt fuel-efficient practices.

Give Feedback

Fleet managers can monitor driver behavior with technologies such as telematics systems that provide feedback to help drivers reduce their fuel use. Drivers can receive real-time alerts, such as when they are accelerating too strongly, or they can access reports and graphs later to analyze their driving behaviors. Fleet managers also can access this information. Some fleets pair drivers with coaches who ride along and identify opportunities to save fuel, such as coasting before a red light to minimize the chance of stopping.

Provide Incentives

Fleet managers can encourage drivers to adopt efficient driving behaviors by offering incentives, such as recognition and special privileges. A municipal fleet in Florida created an employee fuel conservation incentive program that gives drivers the opportunity to realize the financial savings from their fuel economy improvements through a monetary payout based on their individual fuel savings.

Implement Policies

Public and private organizations can implement policies to set minimum fuel-efficiency targets, require methods to conserve fuel, or establish goals to reduce emissions. Fuel-efficient driver training, for example, is often required for all drivers.

Some corporate policies specify maximum driving speeds for safety. These policies can also conserve fuel because gas mileage decreases significantly at speeds above 50 miles per hour. Maximum speeds can be enforced through speed control modules.

Some fleets develop lists of equipment or set limitations on the amount of cargo carried in a vehicle. For example, to reduce fuel use, a fleet of delivery trucks might make stops during the day to reload supplies rather than carrying full loads for an entire shift. Other fleets make certain high-traffic routes off limits during specific times of the day to reduce idling.

Optimize Routes

Planning optimal routes helps maximize vehicle efficiency by reducing miles driven, stops at signals, time spent in traffic, and the number of vehicles needed for routes. Many fleets, such as UPS, use software applications and telematics to optimize their routes and avoid driving unnecessary miles. For examples of fleets optimizing their routes, see the Omnitracs’ website.

Properly Maintain Vehicles

Maintaining vehicles properly can improve fuel economy up to 40%. Drivers should be cautious about devices and additives that claim to improve fuel economy and reduce pollution, as they usually are not legitimate. Fleet managers should do their due diligence before using such additives and devices in their fleet. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency evaluates the fuel-saving benefits of various devices and maintains a list of verified technologies that provide fuel-saving benefits and or emissions reductions when used properly in their designated applications.

Use a Fleet Fuel Card

Web monitoring tools can control, track, and manage fuel and vehicle maintenance costs based on fleet fuel card transactions. Fleet managers are often able to view reports based on these transactions, which provide insight into trends, such as fill-up and maintenance frequencies, and identify potential areas for improvement. For an example, see the Wright Express Fleet Fuel Card.