Why should we save fuel?
Fuel efficiency is one of the most important factors in modern road transport. So, as part of your working life at Driver Hire, we feel it is essential that you know everything there is to know about being a fuel-efficient driver.
Whether you’re a vehicle manufacturer, a transport or fleet manager or a driver, everyone can play a part in saving fuel. But as a driver, yours is the most important and you have the potential to reduce fuel usage by up to 24%. There are techniques that have been shown to help you become a more economical driver and here are a few top tips that will help you do your bit for the environment.
1. Check your Vehicle
Checking your vehicle before driving it will help you save fuel. This is what to look out for:
- Bodywork – protruding panels, torn or insecure curtains & any loose bodywork.
- Tyres – damage, incorrect tyre pressures, missing valve caps.
- Fuel tank – fuel leaks from & around the tank, security of fuel cap.
- Load security & positioning – ensure load does not protrude beyond width/height of your vehicle and is sheeted if applicable.
- Aerodynamics – correctly set for the vehicle & trailer (if applicable).
- Start up – any unusual mechanical noise, excessive black or white smoke.
- Moving off – dragging brakes, steering pulling, obvious tracking issues.
2. Maintain a Good Attitude
A positive attitude and driving defensively are the hallmarks of a fuel-efficient driver. Defensive driving makes you more aware of what is going on around you. It enables you to anticipate road situations and drive with control and planning – making you safer and more fuel efficient.
3. Make Sure You’re Fit to Drive
As well as being potentially dangerous, anything that reduces your ability to drive and affects alertness also reduces your ability to drive in a fuel-efficient manner. A tired or stressed driver is neither safe nor fuel efficient.
Fatigue is very dangerous – it causes more fatal accidents than drink driving! Telltale signs include; memory lapses, micro sleeps, yawning & muscle ache. Stress can also affect the way you drive, causing lapses in concentration. You may be irritated by the actions of other drivers, thinking about other problems rather than concentrating on road conditions, your speed or how close you are to the driver in front.
4. Always Maintain Awareness
Be aware of all that’s going on around you, in any traffic situation. Use awareness, anticipation, control and planning so you are prepared for any hazard you’re likely to come across. This includes other road users, road conditions and your own actions. Being aware of potential dangers on the road allows you to plan ahead – staying safe and saving fuel.
5. Be aware of your speed
High speed has a drastic effect on fuel consumption. On average, by driving an LGV at 50mph instead of 56mph, you can reduce its fuel consumption by up to 22%. In addition, breaking the speed limit is illegal and a serious safety issue. So always be aware of your speed.
6. Use Momentum Effectively
Getting a large, heavy vehicle moving requires huge amounts of fuel. So if you can keep a vehicle moving, you’ll use less fuel. Slow down gradually when approaching traffic lights, as you may not need to stop. And, where it is safe to do so, you can use the momentum of the vehicle when going down hill rather than using the accelerator.
7. Avoid Unnecessary Braking
You should always avoid unnecessary braking. Whenever you brake, your vehicle loses road speed, which has to be regained using the accelerator. If you have one, use your exhaust brake whenever possible.
8. Utilise Cruise Control
If you have cruise control, use it – but don’t abuse it. Cruise control helps maintain a steady speed with minimal need for acceleration and braking. To ensure maximum fuel efficiency benefits from cruise control, always plan ahead on the road and be aware of what’s behind you so you can change lanes safely.
9. Use Gears & Clutch Properly
Every time you change up a gear your fuel consumption improves between 10-30%! You should never double de-clutch on a modern vehicle as it wastes energy unnecessarily and uses fuel. You should use “block changes or “skip changes” whenever possible.
10. Plan Your Routes
You may not always be able to choose the route you take. But wherever possible you should think about fuel efficiency when planning your route. For instance, using motorways and A roads is much more fuel efficient than rural B roads and urban roads.
When ticking over, an average large goods vehicle will consume fuel at a rate of 2 litres per hour. So never let your engine idle unnecessarily as it serves no purpose and only wastes fuel.
12. Be Aware of Aerodynamics
Any protrusions will cause drag which will use extra fuel. Some vehicles have built in aerodynamic attachments which you should ensure are correctly adjusted. When such aids are correctly used they can save up to 15% on fuel consumption.
13. Load Your Vehicle Properly
It is illegal to overload a vehicle. You need to be aware that both overloading and the poor positioning of a load can have a detrimental effect on fuel consumption.
14. Be Fuel Efficient Back at Base
When you return to your base you should park up so your vehicle will not require manoeuvring the next morning when the engine is cold. This way the vehicle is ready to drive off, saving fuel. You should also fill up at the end of each day rather than at the beginning. It avoids queuing at the pumps with a cold idling engine the next day! Simply ensuring your fuel cap is tightened can save fuel.
Loose fitting fuel caps are the cause of up to 30 gallons of lost fuel per vehicle per year! Accurate measurement of fuel use is essential to monitor any improvements and should be recorded. Finally: reporting vehicle faults is extremely important. A vehicle that’s mechanically efficient means it’s fuel efficient too.