Three factors driving fleets


Safety, Sustainability, and Fuel Efficiency Are Synergistic


Of all the challenges facing fleet managers (in fact even companies who don’t operate a normal fleet) there are three challenges that feature consistently high on their list. These include improving driver safety, mitigating the high cost of fuel, and complying with corporate pressures to reduce fleet’s contribution to greenhouse emissions (the company’s global carbon footprint).


The good news is that all three of these challenges are interrelated. Each represents an excellent opportunity for fleet managers to demonstrate their value to senior management by synergistically addressing all three simultaneously.


Changing driver behaviour for fleet synergy

The biggest obstacle to fuel efficiency, fleet safety, and sustainability initiatives is often company drivers themselves. By training drivers to practice safe driving techniques (defensive driving), you will also contribute to reduced fuel consumption and decreased emissions. A safe driving program allows a company to leverage constrained resources and reduce liability exposure by lowering the incidence of preventable accidents.


One best practice is to meld eco-driving and safe-driving techniques into single programs – this of course depends on the application. In many ways, safe driving and eco-driving are one and the same, with both focused on modifying driver behaviour. By making drivers safer and more fuel conscious, you will also decrease fuel consumption and the incident of preventable accidents.


Most company drivers average 30 000 kms plus per year and driver behaviour is a major influence in both the incident of a preventable accident and fuel consumption. There’s a direct correlation between safe driving and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The safer the driver, the fewer preventable accidents, the greater the fuel efficiency and the lower the GHG emissions.


How employees drive a company vehicle determines how safe they will be on the road. The same is true in terms of sustainability. How an employee drives a vehicle can improve (or decrease) fuel economy. It will also decrease (or increase) emissions. In fact, up to 30% of a vehicle’s fuel efficiency is impacted by driver behaviour. The way an employee drives makes a significant difference in the volume of GHG emissions emitted by a company vehicle. This is regardless of vehicle size or engine displacement.


Changed driver behaviour directly impacts safety-consciousness of drivers, fuel consumed, and the volume of emissions. Changing driver behaviour can result in a 5% to 30% reduction in annual fuel consumption and help reduce preventable accidents. The net result of making employees safer drivers is a reduction in GHG emissions.


To illustrate, consider that the greatest amount of GHG emissions occurs during aggressive driving. Less than a minute of high-powered driving produces the same volume of GHG as a half hour of normal driving. Speeding, rapid acceleration, and hard braking can lower fuel economy by 33% in highway driving and 5% in urban driving. Even small increases in l/100km can yield substantial savings when extrapolated across the entire fleet.


By limiting acceleration and fast braking, a driver can increase fuel economy and minimise the potential of a preventable accident. Route planning is an important component of eco-safe driving. Stop-and-go driving burns fuel more quickly, increases emissions, and, from a safety perspective, increases the probability of being involved in a rear-end collision.


By pre-planning trips to minimise stop-and-go driving, you can reduce emissions. It is important to remember the highest volume of emissions occurs when starting a cold engine. Eco-safe driving encourages combining several short trips into one. Since a catalytic converter must be heated to a certain temperature to work, fewer emissions are produced during longer trips because the engine is warmed up.


Accomplishing three goals of fleet synergy simultaneously

Driver distraction accounts for 25-30% of all fleet-related accidents. Defensive driving teaches drivers to avoid distractions and focus on driving. These driving habits likewise contribute to reduced fuel consumption and emissions. An eco-safe driving program allows a company to leverage constrained resources to simultaneously green its fleet. This is while reducing its liability exposure by lowering the incident of preventable accidents.


In addition, fleet managers are feeling pressure from other corporate departments to increase fleet driver safety. For instance, corporate risk management is becoming more influential in the types of vehicles added to fleet selectors. Some corporate risk management departments dictate that only models with NCap 5-Star ratings can be part of a fleet.


Another department with a growing influence on fleet safety is Environment, Health & Safety (EHS). This is because drivers are one of the largest sources of Workers’ Comp claims. Under OSHA regs, an employer must provide a workplace free from hazards and company vehicles are part of the workplace. Good ergonomics contributes to accident avoidance. Poor ergonomics reduces driver comfort, which increases fatigue, a key contributor to preventable accidents.


All in all, a challenging task for fleet managers but the good news is that many are indeed achieving these results and consequent fleet synergy. MasterDrive is proud to be part of that solution with its Defensive and Eco Driver training interventions.


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