Everyone associated with commercial driving or fleet management is aware that soaring fuel costs eat up a big chunk of profits, accounting for as much as one third of all operational costs. For that reason, fleet managers are always considering ways to conserve on fuel, but they sometimes overlook one of the biggest areas of potential waste, which is inadequate education of drivers. There are a number of ways that fleet drivers can contribute to fuel conservation simply by eliminating bad habits and adopting some good ones, as the eight recommendations below bear out.

Minimize shifting

By being totally aware of traffic situations up ahead, fleet drivers can slow down rather than go through more gear changes than necessary, or even be forced come to a complete stop. It’s much more efficient to slow down and keep the truck moving, rather than to start away from a complete halt.

Observe speed limits

High-speed driving significantly lowers fuel economy for vehicles, and according to one study on the subject, there is a 7% reduction in fuel economy for every 5 miles per hour a truck is driven above 65 mph.

Take advantage of momentum

A fleet truck will build up considerable momentum on a flat, open road, and this momentum can be used to advantage when climbing over inclines, to save on gas usage. There’s also a fuel savings when heavy braking can be avoided, because you can let the truck roll to a stop instead.

Engage the clutch wisely

This mostly involves reducing the number of gear changes made to the greatest extent possible, and even skipping gears when appropriate. For most modern trucks, double clutching is no longer necessary because gearboxes have been redesigned, so double clutching now can actually damage the gearbox, and results in a waste of fuel.

Make use of cruise control

Not all fleet trucks have cruise control of course, but for those which do, it can be a big fuel savings especially on long trips. Maintaining a steady, economical highway speed can contribute in a big way toward conserving fuel.

Reduce idling

A truck which is idling for an hour uses approximately a gallon of fuel, and that can quickly add up. When the engine doesn’t really need to be running, it should be turned off to avoid fuel consumption.

Tire inflation

Before every trip, make sure tires are inflated to the right pressure level. This not only extends the operating life of the tires and lessens the chance of accidents, but it also contributes to fuel conservation.

Position air deflectors to best advantage

Trucks with roof-mounted air deflectors should always have them positioned for optimum deflection of air over the trailer’s highest point. This improves the vehicle’s aerodynamic profile, and creates less resistance as the truck moves forward. Another related tip is to keep the load situated as low as possible in the trailer to improve aerodynamics.

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