As gas prices continue to rise, fleet managers must seek ways to reduce fleet fuel consumption. From small businesses to companies with large fleets, identifying ways to maximize fuel is at the top of every list. Although often overlooked, one important way to lower fuel costs is to reduce your fleet’s idle time.
Idle time is the period of time when a vehicle’s engine is running, but not moving to its ultimate destination. Vehicles will routinely idle for short periods in congested traffic or for extended stretches when deliveries are being made. But while an engine is idling, fuel is unnecessarily consumed. In fact, it is estimated that engine idling wastes more than six billion gallons of fuel, which translates to over $20 billion each year. Fleet managers also see wear and tear on engines as a result, along with the increased risk of tickets or fines in no-idle zones. For businesses looking to reduce fleet costs, limiting long idle times is a great place to start.
Why Reduce Idle Time?
Reducing idle time saves on fuel costs, but the benefits don’t end there. An idling vehicle can consume one to one-and-one half gallons of gas per hour. According to the American Trucking Association, one hour of idling per day over the course of one year results in the equivalent of 64,000 miles in engine wear when adding up all the contributing factors. Fleet managers who reduce idle time are likely to see the following benefits:
- Decreased engine maintenance costs
- Longer engine life
- Avoiding new state and city anti-idling laws with expensive fines
- Reduced emissions of toxic air pollutants and carbon dioxide
- Reduced noise levels
- Decreased dependency on oil imports
- Reduced pollution and noise levels near truck stops and rest areas
Measuring Idle Time
Idle time can be measured as a percentage of total driving time. For example, if a 30 minute drive took an hour due to traffic, the estimated idle time is 50%. In commercial vehicles, idle time is usually measured electronically. Many trucks will record any time with less than 10% load on the engine as idle time.
This is where fleet management software is necessary. For example, Teletrac offers Fleet Director® which allows fleet managers to monitor idle time and run exception reports to see if there are drivers who have excess periods of idling. Implementing policies to reduce idle time will drive down overall fleet costs.