Two main areas where fleet managers can implement straightforward, sustainable practices in their fleet are driver behavior and vehicle maintenance.
A fleet’s drivers can have the greatest influence on a fleet’s overall sustainability. Daily decisions that drivers make in regard to their behavior while behind the wheel directly impact a fleet’s fuel spend which, in turn, impacts the amount of CO2 emissions driven into the atmosphere.
These are five simple messages that fleet managers can quickly and easily convey to drivers in order to steer their behavior in the right direction:
- Slow down — Fuel economy decreases by about 1.4 percent for each mile per hour over 50. Driving at 65 miles per hour rather than 55, for example, decreases fuel economy by approximately 14 percent.
- Avoid idling — Unnecessary idling wastes fuel. In fact, idling for as little as five minutes can waste up to 20 cents of fuel. Drivers should turn off their vehicles’ engines if stopping for more than 30 seconds, since restarting the engine will use less fuel than idling.
- Keep a log — Track fuel economy for future comparison. By monitoring gas mileage, along with stops and starts, urban vs. rural driving, and other factors along their route, drivers can see for themselves how their behavior and environment is impacting fuel efficiency.
- Lighten the load — It takes more fuel to move heavier objects, so remove all unnecessary items from the vehicle. On average, for each 100 pounds of needless weight, fuel efficiency is reduced by as much as two percent.
- Avoid rapid accelerations and braking — Half of the energy needed to power a car is consumed during acceleration. Drivers can improve fuel economy by as much as 10 percent by avoiding unnecessary braking. Using cruise control is one effective way to achieve fuel-efficient driving.
Fleet managers can help ensure these sustainable policies remain top-of-mind by regularly reminding drivers via newsletters, email announcements, corporate intranet messages or by implementing a recognition program that rewards green driving habits.
Keeping vehicles in good mechanical shape will also help fleets operate at optimal efficiency.
Here are four simple strategies to help fleets get the most out of their vehicles:
- Properly inflate tires — The increased surface area of the rubber in soft tires meeting the road creates ongoing drag, which results in greater demand on the engine.
- Properly align tires — Improperly aligned tires cause friction and uneven wear. Inspect suspension and chassis parts for misalignment such as bent wheels, axles, bad shocks, or broken springs.
- Keep the engine tuned — Regularly check and refresh fluid levels, especially in colder regions where winter puts additional stress on engine parts. While high-quality synthetic motor oil blends may protect the engine better than conventional oil, they don’t eliminate the need for regular oil changes.
- Keep the engine air filter clean — A clogged filter strains performance. In some cars, the filter can be easily checked by the owner; or drivers may ask a technician to check it during regular tune-ups.
Together, these small steps will help ensure your vehicles remain at peak performance levels and will inevitably help to increase fuel efficiency and reduce a fleet’s carbon footprint.