The business cost of bad driving is something that you can file under the category of “unnecessary expenses”. In this post, you’ll learn about the most common driving errors, how much they cost your company and what you can do to fix them.
Aside from the obvious health and life dangers, bad driving habits are also taxing on your company’s budget. Here’s how.
Poor driving habits cause an increase in fuel consumption and more strain to the fleet which has been continuously proven, most recently by Direct Line Insurance Group. The company did a study which confirmed that good driving is less costly – common knowledge often overlooked by drivers.
Each filling of the tank and each trip to the auto repair renders the car unusable for the time being. On top of that, the most common bad driving techniques such as sharp cornering, rapid acceleration and heavy braking make the car unsafe.
When your employees are out on the road, driving a car marked with your company’s colours and logo, they are brand ambassadors. The way that other drivers and pedestrians see your employees driving is part of your company’s image. Fail in being a good corporate citizen, and you’ll fail in keeping your business relevant to the public.
The immediate impact of driver behaviour on vehicle running costs is twofold – bad driving habits cost your company more in fuel and maintenance.
Driver behaviour plays a big part in how much of your company’s budget will stay at petrol stations. Did you know for example that as much as ⅓ of the cost of maintaining a car (direct download) comes from fuel consumption?
Direct Line Insurance Group’s research involved 2000 drivers and examined how their driving habits impact fuel efficiency. The results showed that “good” drivers might spend annually £500 less on fuel than “bad” drivers. Plus, drivers with proper driving habits filled at petrol stations twice less often than those who didn’t pay attention to how they are operating their vehicles. So, in addition to saving several hundred pounds a year, “good” drivers also save time – a win-win for any business with a fleet.
The most taxing behaviours on a car’s fuel tank can be summarised as “aggressive handling” of the vehicle – unnecessary idling, hard braking, sharp cornering and rapid acceleration. This is good news for you because it means that unless you have an exceptionally outdated vehicle fleet, you can quickly achieve a better MPG. To keep your fleet’s fuel consumption in check remind your drivers that going easy on the car means easy on the pocket and better performance.
Poor driving wastes fuel but also causes more wear and tear on the vehicle, leading to faster amortisation and lowering the value of your fleet. What’s more, a car that wears down faster is one that spends more time in the auto repair, which places the vehicle out of operation.
Hard braking, dragging the brakes downhill, sharp cornering and overloading the car all cause the brake pads and tyres to wear faster, making the car less safe. But replacing tyres and brake pads is relatively inexpensive compared to the result of other common poor driving habits such as riding the clutch, not engaging the right gear at the right time and flooring the gas pedal to save a few seconds. These actions lead to unnecessary load on the engine and the transmission – parts whose fix-up is complicated and costly.
These bad driving techniques are widespread among drivers, and even you might be doing them without realising it. People do them out of convenience or due to distraction. In either case, you need to instruct your employees that such actions are uneconomical and unsafe to them and those around them.
To cut down on operational costs of your fleet keep in mind the three Is – Identify, Inform, Implement.
The first step to addressing inefficient driving is identifying the problem areas. As noted above most often these include improper driving techniques that waste fuel and tax the car’s mechanics.
One thing you can do is go over the fuel receipts and auto repair reports to identify how much fuel your fleet consumes and which are the most common fix-ups.
This would also be the time to identify any “black holes” in your fleet – those are the cars that are so outdated or broken that their repair or maintenance is more costly than their replacement.
Now that you’ve identified the “leaks” in your fleet’s operations, it’s time to address the drivers. Explain to them the common causes of inefficient driving (outlined above) or even better – arrange for a driving instructor to visit the company and share some expert tips.
In talking to your employees try to not sound judgemental, as these bad driving techniques are common amongst drivers and most of them are not even aware of doing them. Remind employees that keeping costs in check and operating the fleet with care benefits the whole company.
At this stage, you can also communicate and discuss company driving policies and possibly implement an incentive system for adhering to the rules.
The implementation phase is the time when you take action. Two of the most useful things you can do to manage your fleet better is to use fleet telematics and join a fuel card program.
Telematic systems track how each of the cars in your fleet is operating, giving you plenty of information so you can identify any weak spots in time.
As of fuel cards, they are a convenient and inexpensive way to get a discount on pump prices, receive reports on fuel consumption, and electronically manage receipts, streamlining accounting and fuel VAT reclaims. Head over to compare options and find the fuel card that works best for your business.