Improving fleet driving behaviour to contribute towards positive environmental, financial, societal outcomes in the short term
By Sivi Moodley, CEO Macrocomm Group
Improving driver behaviour can contribute significantly to reducing fuel costs, improving road safety while decreasing carbon dioxide emissions associated with fleet operations. This has been evidenced by several papers that have researched the broader impact of good driving practices on fleet operations. Behaviours including less frequent acceleration, smoother braking, efficient gear shifting techniques, reduced idling as well as over-revving and following the speed limit have been shown to lead to much more positive environmental, social and financial outcomes for fleet operators.
A recent study published by the Australasian Transport Research Forum: “Fleet Fuel Efficiency – A Win-Win Opportunity (PB Ternz)”, provides some key insights into the positive outcomes based on reducing aggressive driving behaviour. The study selected several fleet operators, and the following interventions were implemented with the drivers:
- Driver training included an initial assessment drive, a theory session and an instructional drive.
- Fuel use, gear changes and driver performance data were recorded (as they show the driver what they can achieve by driving more fuel efficiently, and how).
- A fuel-efficient driver training package, which included a theory session followed by an instructional drive.
- An information toolkit that was developed by the Ministry of Transport, which included written advice, CD copies of material from the UK Freight Best Practice and the Canadian Fleetsmart programmes.
- Short instructional videos (this toolkit was presented to drivers and managers onsite).
The key conclusions of the study were that if half of the heavy vehicle fleets, with more than 10 employees, and half of the light vehicle fleets, with more than 20 employees, reduced their fuel use by 10%, there would be:
- A reduction in diesel and petrol purchases of approximately $75million p/a;
- A substantial increase in heavy vehicle operator profitability;
- A relatively minor increase in travel time;
- A reduction in CO2 emissions of approximately 175 000 tonnes p/a; and
- A reduction in crashes by over 50% by those who made the commitment to save fuel and improve safety.
Macrocomm has developed a new Fleet Fuel Saving Application that focuses on improving the driver’s self-awareness of their driving behaviour and providing them with tips and guidance on how to improve their driving behaviour and efficiency. The Fleet Fuel Saving Application integrates easily with all the leading vehicle tracking applications in South Africa and does not require any additional hardware installation. The application provides drivers with detailed post-trip analysis and recommendations on how driving behaviour can be improved. This will go a long way in way in changing behaviour towards reaching the positive outcomes for fleet operators and society as well.
The potential savings on fuel costs – as a result of improved driver behaviour – will have a significant impact on the bottom line of fleet operators. The Office for Energy Efficiency (Canada) found that the difference in fuel consumption between a good and a poor driver can be as much as 35%. In addition to improved profitability for fleet operators, this can also translate to lower price points for goods at the tills for consumers, which go a long way in these challenging times.
With the increased focus on emission reductions, an immediate 10% fuel saving through fuel efficiency has become a low-hanging fruit, which can be leveraged towards meeting organisational carbon targets and environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals (while producing economic benefits at the same time).
Speed, associated with aggressive driving, was another interesting point in the research study report. A reduction in an average speed of 8km/h can result in a fuel saving of 10% to 15%, but more importantly, have a much more significant impact on safety since a reduction of speed (by 5%) was shown to result in a reduction in fatalities of up to 20%.
With the appropriate levels of motivation to drive more responsibly and efficiently, significant savings could be achieved. One of the trial participants improved consumption by 18% on a distance travelled basis and has been able to halve the number of safety-related incidents. This was achieved by taking a holistic approach that included improvements in company management, driver behaviour, education and improved route planning.
Macrocomm’s range of solutions to fleet extend beyond driver behaviour intervention solutions, and also includes solutions such as fleet route optimisation applications, predictive fleet maintenance and fleet security. This is in line with their vision of providing a holistic approach for fleet operators and their stakeholders, enabling them to meet their financial and ESG objectives in a sustainable manner.