Fuel is a major expense. Because it is a variable cost, meaning it can fluctuate and be challenging to predict, trucking companies are always looking for ways to improve fuel economy to help keep costs down. Ask yourself if there are actions you can take to improve your driving skills and save fuel.
FACTORS THAT AFFECT FUEL ECONOMY
- ENVIRONMENT. Adverse weather, like snow and ice, can negatively affect fuel economy. The weather is out of the driver’s control, but how the driver reacts to adverse weather can help minimize wasteful fuel consumption.
- EQUIPMENT. Under-inflated tires affect fuel economy over time; decreased fuel economy equates to wasted gallons. In addition, using the wrong type of tire, like high-traction treads, on highway trips during summer months can negatively impact the truck’s miles per gallon (MPG) average.
- PERSONAL BEHAVIORS. Speeding wastes fuel and reduces your MPG average. Speeding also wears out equipment faster (ex. tire degradation). Aggressive driving, like speeding and drafting, are risky behaviors that each driver can control. In addition, driving in a lower gear and laboring the engine in top gear on hills increases fuel consumption.
TIPS TO IMPROVE FUEL ECONOMY
- SLOW DOWN. Reduce speed 2-3 mph below the flow of traffic, not to exceed the posted speed limit. Slowing down will not only help save fuel but also make it easier to maintain proper following distance by reducing the need to constantly slow down and speed up.
- MAINTAIN EQUIPMENT. Conduct pre-trip inspections to check for under-inflated or damaged tires. Service equipment regularly to keep the engine properly lubricated, align axles properly, and repair other issues that affect fuel economy.
- MINIMIZE IDLE TIME. Use an auxiliary power unit to run your climate controls and electrical devices when taking breaks. This can help reduce fuel consumption.
- PLAN ROUTES BETTER. When programming your GPS, look for the shortest route but also consider routes that may involve less stopping and starting, such as areas with heavy traffic congestion. Even if an alternate route is longer, it may get you to your destination faster and burn less fuel.
- REDUCE AERODYNAMIC DRAG. Do not draft other vehicles to reduce drag. This only increases the risk of a rear-end crash. Instead, use roof-mounted cab deflectors to redirect air over a trailer. Also, try to reduce trailer gap to allow air to flow freely around the vehicle, especially while at highway speeds.