How fast should your drivers be driving their trucks? Your drivers may be tempted to drive as fast as they safely can in order to get to their destinations as quickly as possible. They may argue that it is better for you financially because they can make more runs if they drive faster. Some may even argue that driving faster is safer, because driving faster keeps your truck away from other traffic, even though higher speeds require quick reaction times and can lead to greater injury in an accident.
However, when it comes to your trucking fuel efficiency, slower driving wins out. According to TruckingInfo.com, each mile-per-hour over 60 leads to a .14 mile-per-gallon drop in fuel efficiency. That means going just 70 mph could cost you almost a mile and a half per gallon. That may not seem like much, but given the price of diesel fuel and the amount your truck probably travels each day, it can add up fast — especially when you have a whole fleet of trucks.
Fuel efficiency may not be a top priority for your truck drivers. But if you manage the finances for your trucking company, you know how important it is to save money on fuel. For many trucking companies, fuel is the number-one expense, so you need to increase your fuel economy whenever you can. So how can you get your drivers to drive more slowly and be more fuel-efficient?
Truck Driver Fuel Savings Tips
Your initial instinct may be to set the ECM on each truck to limit the maximum speed to around 65 mph. This can be a good, fuel-saving idea, but it’s important that you communicate with your drivers before you do this. For one, you don’t want your drivers to get confused over why they cannot exceed a certain speed limit. You don’t want them to think there is something wrong with the truck or that they have done something incorrectly.
More importantly, you want to create a culture in your company that focuses on trucking fuel efficiency as a matter of course. You want your drivers to want to consistently take fuel-saving measures when behind the wheels of your trucks. What are some good ways to do this?
1. Monitor Fuel Efficiency
Keep track of the average MPG for each truck and each driver. Be sure to post the results somewhere everyone can see it.
2. Talk to Your Drivers
Once your drivers know their speed is being limited and their fuel efficiency is being monitored, explain why. Make sure they understand how important it is to maintain a speed of between 55 mph and 65 mph and how significantly that can impact the company’s bottom line. Also, be sure to publicly praise drivers for delivering good fuel economy. Many studies show that across all industries, the more employees feel engaged and responsible for the company’s success, the better they perform.
3. Provide On-Board Fuel Economy Monitoring for Your Drivers
Your trucks’ dashboards have speedometers, odometers and a lot of other gauges, but they probably don’t have a MPG meter. Fortunately, we live in the digital age with online apps you can download to a digital device and mount on your truck to get an accurate MPG reading delivered in clear form at all times to the driver. This allows your drivers to be continuously aware of their fuel economy and adjust their driving accordingly.
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4. Keep Score
Gamification is extremely popular in today’s culture. Make a game of good fuel-efficiency practices by creating a chart listing all of your drivers, their average fuel economy, and any other useful statistics or behaviors you want to promote. Make a game of it by offering a substantial prize for the driver with the best stats at the end of the month or the year.
Offer training, either with a live instructor or a video, on how to adhere to good driving practices in order to enjoy the best fuel economy, minimize wear on the vehicle, and stay safe. Creating a culture in which you expect your drivers to be great, but want to offer them ways they can be even better, could yield tremendous results when it comes to the quality of your drivers.
6. Plan Ahead
Calculate the slowest reasonable average speed your driver can maintain and still get to the destination on time, based on the time of departure and the distance to travel, as well as any road conditions or other factors. The more you and your drivers know what to expect, the easier it will be to maintain fuel-saving speeds.
Additional Fuel Economy Tips for Your Commercial Truck Fleet
Driving more slowly is a great way to save on fuel with your trucks, but it’s far from the only way. For example, wheels that are properly balanced for low rolling resistance can have a markedly beneficial effect on fuel economy – and balancing all wheel positions multiplies your benefits. Products like IMI’s EQUAL FLEXX internal wheel-end balancing solution with Dual Force active balancing technology can provide your trucks with 15 percent better performance, promote better fuel economy, and result in less tire wear and a smoother ride.
To maximize your fleet’s success, you need to take every advantage you can. If you’d like to learn more about IMI and how we can help improve your truck fuel efficiency, call 800-233-7086 for more information or contact IMI online today.