Driving style can have an enormous impact on the amount of fuel used. According to Confused.com, running your engine at idle consumes a great amount of fuel in the long run, making it one of the most financially straining issues that fleet managers must deal with on a regular basis. For every minute spent idle, the driver could be burning between 1.077 to 2.13 ounces of fuel, which adds up to around half a gallon of fuel every hour.
Although some amount of idling is expected throughout the day, most of it is unnecessary and caused by bad driving habits or poor route management, which can lead to significant increases in operational costs. Similarly, drivers who accelerate and brake too harshly/rapidly use more fuel than those who drive smoothly.
Common Reasons For Idling
Poor Driver Behaviour
Driver behaviour is the main source of excessive idling within the fleet industry. Although idling is sometimes needed for business related affairs, many drivers also leave their engine on for long periods of time throughout the day whilst they are resting or during personal use for greater comfort; however, this should be considered unnecessary, and if addressed and rectified could save a business thousands each year.
Idling at red lights and during traffic jams is somewhat unpreventable; however, with real-time traffic updates and strategic route planning, you can help your drivers avoid congested areas or those undergoing roadworks. Whilst sometimes getting stuck in traffic is unavoidable, in most instances, these types of precautions can not only reduce idling time, but it also makes delivery times faster and therefore makes your service more reliable.
Necessary Waiting Time
When being transported, some goods such as perishables, livestock, pharmaceuticals require a temperature-controlled environment. This means that the vehicle engine must be kept running to maintain the necessary temperature levels. Loading and unloading for large shipments can take hours resulting in long periods of idling. Similarly, if a vehicle is crossing a border, it will usually have to wait in long queues and processing points. During this time, drivers may need to keep their engines running.
How to Reduce Idle Time
Fleet tracking is an incredibly useful tool that allows you to monitor your vehicles at any given time. Fleetsmart vehicle tracking provides real-time GPS updates, routing, vehicle reports and journey replay which can be used to review driver behaviour including idle time, speeding, start and stops and much more.
With data relating to driver habits and behaviour, you can take the initiative to provide drivers with extra training — lessening instances of idling, harsh braking, setting off too quickly and speeding, all of which make vehicles less fuel-efficient. According to the Energy Saving Trust, through higher productivity and increased vehicle utilisation, fuel use can fall by 15% and operating costs by 10% every year.
You can also limit idling by dedicating time to better route planning. If you know the routes your drivers usually take are often highly congested and cause them to do a lot of idling in traffic, take the time to plan a better route. With Fleetsmart’s Advanced Mapping, you can plot specific routes that avoid high congestion areas and you can even remap the route if the driver finds themselves approaching roadworks or traffic where it was not expected.
Benefits of Reducing Idling
When businesses take extra steps to reduce their emissions and increase their efficiency, it shows the public and other companies that you care about the environment. Not only does this improve your public image and make those who are environmentally conscious more likely to work with you, but it also sets a great example for others who will follow in your footsteps. Of course, there are also the benefits of much lower fuel costs and greater productivity too, so it’s a win-win all around.
Improving Route Management
Prior to driver departure, take the time to plan the most efficient route possible for them to take so you can save time and money and reduce your emissions. As mentioned earlier, Fleetsmart’s Advanced Mapping feature allows you to view specific journeys on a map, making sure drivers are taking the quickest and most efficient routes possible and avoiding wasting time and fuel on longer routes.
This tool also comes in useful when your driver is approaching an accident site or traffic jam as you can use your GPS tracking and Advanced Mapping to locate and divert them to a less busy route. This saves on fuel, idling and time that would otherwise be spent queuing in traffic. It can also help to make sure they arrive at their destination on time, making your service more reliable. With our live vehicle reports, you can also be notified if a driver has come off their designated route so you can guide them back on their way.
For more tips and advice on fleet management and vehicle tracking, why not take a look at the rest of our helpful blog articles or FAQs. If you need more information about our services here at Fleetsmart, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and one of our friendly team members will be more than happy to help answer any questions you may have.