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How to use truck tracking to reduce fuel costs

How to use truck tracking to reduce fuel costs

If your business relies on trucks, fuel is a big cost center. In fact, according to ATRI, fuel makes up 24 percent of operational costs:

ATRI - Fuel Costs Chart

While 24 percent is significant, it’s actually historically low. But, it’s rising quickly, with a 17.7 percent increase from 2017-2018 alone as fuel prices gradually increase from their 2016 lows.

If this trend continues, or if an unexpected shock event causes a price spike, fuel costs could become a business risk.

Why? Much of the money saved in fuel has been reallocated into fixed costs such as wages, benefits, and insurance premiums by necessity.

The good news is that fuel usage can be reduced significantly with a series of proven operational changes. In this article, we will explain how to implement them with truck tracking software.

Reduce idle time

A vehicle burns .8 gallons of fuel for every hour spent idling, and the average truck idles about 1,800 hours per year. At a diesel price of $3.10, this is an expenditure of $4,464 per vehicle.

Additionally, idling one hour per day for a year is the equivalent of 64,000 miles of engine wear.

It’s clear that idle time is a large cost-saving opportunity. Truck tracking software makes it easy to identify who is idling too much:

Vehicle Utilization Rates - Reduce Fuel Wastage

Many fleets are using this data to create incentive programs that reward drivers with a bonus for low idling rates. This creates a financial win-win as you spend less at the pump, and they take home a bigger paycheck.

Plan more efficient routes

Minimizing the number of miles driven is one of the most obvious ways to reduce fuel usage. But, planning the most efficient route isn’t always a simple task. Fleets have to account for traffic, Hours of Service availability, and specific trailer location/availability, just to name a few challenges.

Truck tracking software gives fleet managers and dispatchers the information they need to select and dispatch the best driver for any load or job.

Fleet managers can view all of their nearby drivers in real-time and view Hours of Service availability with a single click. Once the right driver has been located, you can search for and locate a specific trailer type, and dispatch your driver to it in just seconds.

Planning more efficient routes

Prevent vehicle misuse

Unfortunately, vehicle misuse happens. A driver may be using your vehicle to run personal errands or complete after-hours side jobs. Even if it’s just a few drivers doing this, those extra miles can really add up on the fuel bill.

Truck tracking software makes it easy to identify vehicle misuse with historical GPS tracking. You can see exactly where a vehicle was after working hours and even view dash cam video for additional context:

GPS Location History - Prevent Vehicle Misuse

Proactive vehicle maintenance

Truck breakdowns are often the result of small vehicle defects growing in severity over time. Even before a breakdown occurs, these vehicle defects can have a negative impact on fuel economy. By identifying small issues proactively, you can not only prevent breakdowns but save big on fuel by keeping your vehicles running at maximum efficiency.

With truck tracking software, you can attack this in two ways.

1. Use real-time fault code reporting and alerts to identify issues and ensure they’re resolved by maintenance staff at the nearest opportunity.

Vehicles - Fault Codes

2. Identify your vehicles using more fuel than usual and bring them in for preventative maintenance and fuel economy checks. Leading truck tracking solutions will allow you to filter by vehicle type for easy comparison.

Vehicle Utilization

This vehicle-level fuel efficiency data can also be used to make intelligent decisions on which vehicles should be replaced.

Maintain proper tire pressure

According to the NHTSA, for every 1 psi below the recommended tire pressure, you lose about .2 percent in fuel efficiency. They also found that vehicles with properly inflated tires were able to improve fuel efficiency by up to 3 percent. This small, essentially free change can save hundreds of dollars in fuel per vehicle a year.

With leading truck tracking software, you can create customizable Driver Vehicle Inspection Report forms that require the driver to consistently check tire pressure. You can also use messaging to send periodic reminders in times of extreme heat or cold when tire psi tends to fluctuate more.

Coach aggressive driving habits

In an interview with WorkTruckOnline.com, Jeff Brown of Dutch Maid told a fascinating story:

“I had a husband-wife team, and the wife had gone through our training, but the husband did not. He was getting 6.7 mpg, but she was getting 8.3 in the same truck,” Brown said. “That opened our eyes a lot, so we brought the husband in, and within a few months, he was getting 8.1-8.3, and that’s huge savings, especially in the course of a year. You’re talking another $5,000-8,000 per driver.” 

Additionally, a University of Michigan Transportation Institute Study found that aggressive driving can reduce fuel efficiency by 20-30 percent.

It’s clear that the manner in which a driver operates a vehicle has a big impact on fuel economy.

With truck tracking software, you can track hard braking, hard acceleration, speeding, and other driving behaviors that negatively impact fuel economy.

Many fleets are using this data to create incentive programs that reward drivers with a bonus for safe, fuel-efficient driving. This creates a financial win-win.

Start taking control of your fuel costs today

After years of low fuel costs, focusing on other priorities has been logical. But, with fuel costs rising as of late, now is the time to start getting serious about improving your fleet’s fuel efficiency.

Adopting the five operational strategies outlined in this article is a great place to start, as the impacts are proven and implementing them is fast and easy.

Ready to take a look at a leading truck tracking and fleet management solution? Request a demo or call us at 844-325-9230.


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Author


Austin Schmidt

Austin has been researching and writing about the impact of technology on transportation and supply chains since 2013. His current area of focus is helping small businesses better utilize the technology they already have to increase profits and compete.


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