The average UK price of diesel at the pump has risen by 50.6p per litre compared to the same time last year*. Unleaded petrol is only slightly behind, with an increase of 42.3p per litre. And prices continue to climb.
It is more important than ever to improve vehicle fuel consumption. Driving economically can help decrease fleet costs. And there are many other benefits to LGV, HGV and PCV drivers and businesses.
Why is there a need to drive with greater fuel efficiency?
Newer vehicles are more fuel-efficient by design. Telematics systems can help better monitor fuel usage. However, road traffic is increasing, and vehicles are travelling more miles.
As well as navigating fuel price increases, fleet operators are also trying to reduce emissions. The UK has strict goals to reach net-zero emissions targets by 2050.
Fuel accounts for over 25% of the total cost of operating a large goods vehicle. According to the Official DVSA Guide to Driving Goods Vehicles, reducing fuel consumption by 1,000 litres a year will:
- Save thousands of pounds for the operator
- Save 2.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year
It is clear why using the vehicle to improve fuel consumption is important. The driver is the person best placed to impact fuel efficiency.
Ways that drivers can help reduce fuel costs
The benefits of driving a vehicle sympathetically and economically are interlinked. Practising eco-driving techniques can have a positive impact on fuel use. It can also reduce running and maintenance costs.
Five key things for LGV, HGV and PCV drivers to avoid
- Harsh braking – harsh use of the brakes contributes to increased fuel costs. It also results in greater maintenance needs.
- Incorrect gearbox use – the same can be said for incorrect use or overuse of the gearbox.
- Revving the engine unnecessarily – this causes more wear on the vehicle. It uses more fuel than necessary and increases maintenance costs.
- Idling – unnecessary idling is the largest contributing factor in fleet fuel wastage. Telematics can provide data on this so that interventions can be put in place.
- Driving faster than necessary – This can sometimes simply be a result of bad habits. According to research by Logistics UK, a reduction in speed from 56 mph to 50 mph can lower fuel consumption by 5%.
Where environmental benefits meet cost savings
Driving with greater fuel efficiency helps reduce emissions. However, it also impacts fuel prices. The rarer a fossil fuel resource becomes, the more expensive it is.
Cutting down the amount of fuel used helps offset price increases. In turn, delivering a financial benefit to fleet operators.
Preparation is key
Central to driver and fuel efficiency is vehicle preparation.
Drivers should check:
- Is the vehicle properly prepared for the day ahead?
- For example, has the daily vehicle check been completed effectively? Otherwise, this could cause breakdowns or damage.
- Is there anything that might cause a safety issue or could delay progress?
- Drivers should check the weather before setting off. Being aware of road closures or traffic also helps. Using sat-nav, traffic reports, and other resources can help avoid traffic jams. This can help reduce fuel use (as well as undue stress).
- Is the route plan efficient?
- Some drivers may be involved in route planning. Others may follow a route provided. Regardless, they should consider if it is efficient. And be prepared if the route needs to change. Tools to use include computer vehicle routing and scheduling (CVRS) systems, PDAs, and laptops, sat-navs, and truck road atlases.
- Has the vehicle been loaded in such a way that it can be unloaded efficiently?
- Constantly having to move loads to gain access, or for safety purposes, can make the working day more inefficient.
Unexpected benefits of economic driving
Economic driving does not only reduce costs and emissions. There are other important benefits.
- Health – Driving more economically reduces the particular matter and black carbon emitted from vehicles. These substances are linked with heart and lung issues, cancers, and early death. This benefits drivers, and everyone else.
- Stress – Drivers may also experience mental health benefits. Driving more economically and more sympathetically may reduce stress levels.
- Safety – The chances of being involved in an accident have risen dramatically. The calmer, more deliberate approach of economic driving encourages effective observation, anticipation, and forward planning. It also avoids harsh braking and (of course) driving over the speed limit. This driving style results in fewer road accidents.
Using Driver CPC for better fuel efficiency
The benefits of driving economically are far-reaching. They include financial benefits alongside health and safety improvements.
One way to help educate LGV, HGV and PCV drivers on their responsibility to drive economically is through Driver CPC Periodic Training.
Members of the RTITB Driver CPC Consortium have access to the module “Using the Vehicle to Improve Fuel Consumption” which covers:
- Why Drive Economically? And Planning for Efficiency
- Aerodynamics / Retardation
- Telematics and Fuel Efficiency
- Torque and Engine Power
It is an ideal way for Instructors to show drivers how to help reduce costs and improve safety. And it demonstrates how their safe and fuel-efficient driving has wider social and environmental benefits.
With the RTITB Driver CPC Portal, Instructors have access to everything they need to build a course. Presentations, discussions, and videos can be used to meet the needs of the drivers they are training. And the employer’s objectives.
Request a free 30-day trial of the portal now.
Or for more information, call our Driver CPC team on +44 (0) 1952 520200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.