As an HGV driver or indeed, as a fleet operator, there are few factors more important than the fuel efficiency of your vehicle(s).
Representing a significant chunk of your overall expenditure (upwards of 40-45% in some cases) it’s no wonder that trying to achieve maximum efficiency from your trucks is an ongoing quest across the industry. This is the reason that you’ll see the big vehicle manufacturers placing high priority on emphasising their own particular credentials when it comes to fuel efficiency – with each new model of truck striving to be more economical and ‘green’ than the previous (or its competition).
But did you also know that our own behaviours, driving habits and maintenance programmes can actually have a massive role in improving the day to day running costs and fuel efficiency of our vehicles?
In fact, simple adjustments to the way we operate our HGVs when on the road or in our own workshops can scythe huge chunks off our fuel costs with some businesses even reporting up to 20% savings just by improved driving standards in their training.
Maintaining your awareness of what’s happening on the road around you is a fundamental part of good driving practice and a key factor when it comes to having some control over your fuel efficiency.
Whatever the traffic situations you need to stay alert and aware of everything else on the road, both in front, to the side and behind you. By doing so you can better anticipate and react to things that happen beyond your control. Not only is this a safe way of driving – anticipation and awareness will make you a significantly safer driver – but it also has positive implications on your fuel consumption.
Basically, if you’re anticipation is not sharp enough you can find yourself having to take more severe action – such as applying more pressure on the brakes – which can mean fluctuations in speed from rapid deceleration followed by using up energy to get back up to speed thereafter. Such dramatic fluctuations puts added pressure on the engine and the vehicle in general causing you to use considerably more fuel.
Watch Your Speed
Speed is another factor which can have implications on your vehicle’s fuel consumption and it can really pay to ensure that you are driving at a speed for optimum efficiency. Whilst UK HGV vehicles will be limited to 56mph it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be driving at that speed.
Indeed, studies have shown that if you were to drive at an average speed of 50mph on the motorway you could reduce your fuel output by up to 20% – a not insignificant amount, you’ll agree.
Speed control can indeed be linked to anticipation as well – if you’re aware enough in your driving to avoid the need for constant slowing down and speeding up then you have greater chance of maintaining a more constant speed and reducing the fuel consumed when applying greater energy through gear changes and acceleration.
Effective Route Planning
Ok, so we know that sometimes there’s just no way to change the route you need to take, we understand that. However, wherever possible, effective route planning – either through your overall logistics set-up or personally – is another tactic to improve fuel wastage levels. Common sense will (should) dictate that your route should avoid unnecessary doubling back on yourself or any routes that will take you out of the way your heading. However, there are other factors to consider when it comes to efficiently managing your route. For instance, you could try to ensure that as much of your journey is taken via motorways (or at the least, main A roads) rather than country or B roads. Motorway driving is a much more fuel efficient way of driving and can help with your overall cost controls.