1. Avoid rush hour traffic and congestion
No one likes to be stuck in traffic, but for businesses operating a mobile workforce the issue is more than just a frustrating inconvenience. Traffic jams can hugely impact the efficiency of your business; missed delivery times resulting in poor customer relations or lost custom, added stress for drivers, and increased vehicle wear and tear, as well as increased fuel spend.
There are tools and applications available which can help drivers avoid traffic jams, such as e-route. The main function of these mapping tools are to help drivers locate the nearest fuel station which will accept their business fuel card. However, additional features also allow drivers to see real-time traffic congestion.
Avoiding congested roads is certainly preferable, but sometimes it isn’t always possible. If you do find yourself in a jam, the best thing to do is to pay attention to the traffic ahead. Stopping and starting uses a huge amount of fuel, so leave plenty of room and travel at a steady slow speed, rather than accelerating and braking which uses a lot of fuel.
2. Make your vehicle more aerodynamic
The ‘drag’, or air resistance on your vehicle can increase your fuel consumption, so the more aerodynamic your vehicle, the easier it will travel and so use less fuel. This won’t matter so much while driving through towns and cities as you don’t travel as fast, but when you are out on the open road, along highways and motorways there are things you can do to combat drag.
Simple actions like closing windows and sunroofs can help, and removing any roof attachments such as ladder-racks. If you must use roof attachments, make sure they are fitted correctly and opt for the most streamlined possible to help minimise wind resistance.
3. Ease off the accelerator
More revs equals more fuel use, as does frequent harsh braking. Adopting safer driver habits can help you avoid unnecessary acceleration, and reduce wasted fuel. If you see traffic stoppages ahead, take your foot off the accelerator and drop gears as the vehicle slows. Once things begin moving you can get back to cruising speed while the car is still moving, which uses far less petrol than stopping and then starting again.
4. Stick to the speed limit
Getting to your destination faster may save you time but it certainly doesn’t save you money. Increasing your motorway cruising speed can raise fuel consumption as much as 20%. The optimal speed for most vehicles is 50-60mph, so every time you go above that mark your vehicle becomes less efficient and is essentially wasting fuel.
Driving at a steady speed of 55 miles per hour (mph) instead of 70 mph can not only improve fuel economy, but it’s also much safer. Reducing your speed also gives you time to anticipate traffic ahead, other road users, road conditions and your own actions. Sticking to the speed limits keeps you and others safe and saves fuel.
5. Regular tyre checks
Tyres lose air naturally so it’s essential that you check your tyre pressure regularly. If tyres lack air then there is increased roll-resistance and friction with the road, so more fuel is used to provide motion.
Ensuring tyres are topped up not only prolongs the life of the tyre tread but improves the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. For the manufacturer’s recommended tyre pressure, check your vehicle handbook.
6. Route plan carefully
Efficient route planning not only improves time-efficiency, but it is also an effective way to save money on your fuel spend. If you are running a delivery company, you’ll already know the importance of optimising your routes, making sure drivers are given jobs in the same area. Careful route planning helps bypass congested routes and stop-and-start traffic, events which will be a drain on your fuel.
There are downloadable tools which can assist drivers on the road, such as e-route. E-route is a valuable tool for planning journeys, giving the ability to select a journey start and end point, highlighting all fuel sites between the two points and shows real-time traffic congestion levels. Utilising such applications can optimise efficiency and reduce fuel wastage, ultimately saving you money.
7. Avoid excessive idling
Depending on the engine size, idling just 5-10 minutes a day can waste up to 150 litres of fuel per year. In fact, idling uses more fuel than restarting your vehicle. So if you are waiting for more than 60 seconds, turn off the ignition to save on fuel, money and protect the environment.
8. Analyse driver behaviour
Some drivers may have picked up some bad habits along the way, and certain driving habits can waste a lot of fuel, such as speeding, harsh acceleration and braking, and idling. So, how can you encourage drivers to improve their performance behind the wheel? One way is to implement a telematic system into your vehicles. Telematics is a monitoring system which can provide insight into driver behaviour. The information gathered can help reduce events of speeding, rapid acceleration, optimise routes, as well as eliminating unauthorised vehicle use, all of which helps reduce the amount of fuel used.
You can also benefit from data collected through fuel card account management tools. Detailed reports show fuel usage, efficiency and fuel spend, which can help highlight any inefficiencies and allow you to take action to make improvements.
9. Make use of your gears
Driving in the incorrect gear wastes fuel. Using lower than you need or letting the engine labour in top gear on hills and corners is also wasteful.
These days many vehicles are designed to make selecting the right gear easier, with prompts to change up or down to optimise efficiency. Automatic transmissions will shift up quicker and more smoothly if you ease back slightly on the accelerator once the car gathers momentum.
For manual vehicles, change up gears as soon as the car is comfortable but without accelerating harder than necessary.
10. Opt for fuel cards as a payment option
If you regularly incur costs filling up on fuel for your business, fuel cards are not only the most convenient way to pay for your fuel, but they are also a means to help control, monitor and reduce your fuel spend.
Choose a fuel card which comes with account management software for greater visibility of all fuel transactions, no matter how many cards you have. Fuel cards give access to some of the most competitive prices on the market, plus, discounts at selected sites and brands.