Regardless of fleet size, the price of diesel is always an important topic for transportation carriers and their overall operations costs.
About 40% of truck operation costs typically come from fuel. For many months, prices were falling, tempting some people to ease up on fuel efficiency measures.
Now, diesel fuel prices are rising again currently at $2.883 nationally, higher than it has been in two months, according to the American Automobile Association’s (AAA) Fuel Gauge Report. Yet, the price is still lower than it was this same time of year, last year. No one knows how long the current trend will continue or how high prices will rise until the next dip. But it is a good bet that over the long haul, fuel prices will gradually rise again.
With so many uncertainties, changing fuel prices are not the only reason to improve fuel efficiency—using less diesel is an important part of lowering greenhouse gas emissions and toxic air pollutants, improving your fleet’s carbon footprint.
Investing in newer, more fuel efficient trucks is one important way. But not every company can afford to replace their vehicles. Maintaining existing vehicles properly with consistent maintenance checks can ensure vehicles stay in top shape with a longer engine life and advanced monitoring of fuel usage.
But fuel use is not solely dependent upon a vehicle’s mechanic status. The overall operation of the vehicle in conjunction with driving behavior can curb fuel waste.
With a cost-effective telematics solution that monitors fuel consumption and other inefficiencies, a trucking company can simplify dispatch and scheduling, even make it easier for drivers to choose the most efficient route in real-time if they encounter traffic jams or road construction. Driving fewer miles in turn reduces the use of fuel.
Additionally, a telematics solution detects and records speeding events, abrupt acceleration, harsh braking and unnecessary idle times—all flagged instances of poor driver behavior that can help fleet managers identify which drivers operate vehicles inappropriately, or exceptionally well. These traced and recorded events can be implemented in training systems fleet managers can utilize with their drivers. With safe and efficient driving, carriers can reward good driving behavior by simply multiplying each driver’s per mile rate with a figure that reflects his or her skill. That not only puts more money in the pockets of the best drivers, it also gives employees more of a feeling of control over their own compensation.
Taken together, these approaches will bring down fuel costs for any company, even if the price of diesel continues to fluctuate.