Facebook     LinkedIn     Twitter     Google Plus     Jobs     RSS

Fuel Management

January 2012, Business Fleet - Feature

Efficient Driving Equals Fleet Savings

We all know that idling and running the air conditioner can negatively affect a vehicle’s fuel economy, but a new study backs those claims with hard numbers.

by Joanne M. Tucker - Also by this author

SHARING TOOLS        | Print Subscribe
Photo: ©istockphoto.com/MCCAIG
Photo: ©istockphoto.com/MCCAIG

Ignoring fuel-savings strategies such as vehicle maintenance, driver training and route selection can reduce a vehicle’s cumulative fuel efficiency by about 45%, according to a study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).

Without any such strategies in place, the study found that a vehicle that should obtain 36 mpg will end up earning less than 20 (see table below). Fortunately, each of these factors are within a fleet manager’s and driver’s control.

Source: UMRTI 2011 study
Source: UMRTI 2011 study

The table shows how much efficient driving and other strategic fleet decisions can impact a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. This 36-mpg vehicle — one of the most efficient internal-combustion engine models in the U.S. at the time of the study — ends up getting only 19.8 mpg after calculating in excessive idling, route selection and other factors.

UMTRI’s analysts call these efficient driving strategies “eco-driving.” They break down the various factors that affect fuel efficiency by looking at three areas: operational decisions such as aggressive driving, tactical decisions like route selection, and strategic decisions such as vehicle maintenance.

Operational Decisions: Driving Behavior
Idling, low and high speeds, cruise control, air conditioning and aggressive driving all play a negative role on a vehicle’s fuel economy. Depending on engine size, idling uses a quarter- to a half-gallon of fuel per hour. While people are often under the impression that it’s better to idle for a minute or two rather than restart the vehicle, “it only takes a few seconds worth of fuel to restart your engine,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Utilizing cruise control at highway speeds can improve fuel consumption by about 7%. Speed in general is like “an inverted U-shaped function” in terms of fuel efficiency, in which the lowest and highest speeds are the least ideal. For example, the study points out that a 2007 Honda Accord experienced its best fuel economy in a natural setting at 61 mph. Driving 30 mph below or above that speed resulted in at least a 30% decrease in fuel efficiency.

Your Comment

Please note that comments may be moderated. 
Leave this field empty:
Your Name:  
Your Email:  



Popular Tags:

Article News

Popular Stories

Fleet Job Finder

Save time and money. Search for fleet jobs. Advance your career. Access our career coaching services

Job Seekers

  Post your resume & manage your job search.


  Post jobs & search top quality resumes.

Featured Jobs

Fuel Saving Strategies Survey

View our 2008 survey to benchmark your fleet's fuel and green strategies with other fleets.

Fuel Calculator

A managed fuel program can help you save time and money and gain control over the way you fuel your vehicles. Determine your potential savings by using our fuel calculator.
Launch Fuel Calculator 

Fuel Prices

U.S. Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Prices.

Launch Fuel Prices