Green Operations

Earth Day 2013: Strategies to Keep Fleets Driving Green

April 19, 2013

Earth Day Week 2013 kicks off on Saturday April 20. The following tips will help fleets keep driving green.

From a fleet standpoint, eco-friendly driving not only provides many environmental benefits, it can also significantly reduce your expenses and otherwise contribute to a well-run fleet. The following tips recommended by Wheels are a few simple tips to pass along to drivers to help improve the fleet's performance by reducing fuel consumption and emissions:

General Driving and Fueling Habits

Plan an optimal travel route to conserve fuel. If you are able to cut even 20 miles out of your weekly travel, you can save up to $200 a year in gas expenses.

Use the right kind of fuel. When filling up, make sure that only the type of fuel prescribed by fleet policy is used, and only use higher-octane fuels if the policy explicitly calls for them. It is also extremely important that the fuel that matches the engine type. Filling a diesel engine with gasoline (or vice-versa) even one time could damage all fuel-related components of the vehicle’s engine, void the warranty, and result in repairs costing more than $10,000.

Limit vehicle weight. For every extra 100 pounds of weight the vehicle is carrying, its fuel economy is reduced by up to 2 percent. If possible, before each trip, remove heavy items from the trunk and other storage areas of the vehicle if the items won’t be needed during the trip.

Avoid idling when possible. Idling is perhaps the biggest detriment to a vehicle's fuel efficiency, because it causes a vehicle to consume gas without gaining any distance (i.e. zero miles-per-gallon). The larger the vehicle, the more gas is wasted while idling. For certain trucks, for example, one hour of idling can use as much fuel as 30 miles of driving.

Avoid excessive speeding. For most vehicles, fuel efficiency begins to decrease significantly at speeds above 60 miles-per-hour, and continues to dip as speed increases further. Also, "flooring" the gas pedal wastes fuel and leads to drastically higher pollution rates. One second of high-powered driving can produce nearly the same volume of carbon monoxide emissions as 30 minutes of normal driving. Driving at sensible speeds not only improves gas mileage, it also reduces the risk of moving violations, accidents and injuries.

Avoid start-and-stop driving. Try to anticipate stops and let the vehicle ease into a full stop as much as possible. Start-and-stop driving increases pollution, reduces fuel economy, and wears on the brakes.

Use the air conditioning as sparingly as possible. The use of air conditioning wears on the engine, increases pollution and can cut fuel economy by anywhere from 3 percent to 10 percent in the summertime. And, while it may be difficult to avoid using the air conditioner altogether in hot weather, there are plenty of alternative measures you can take to minimize its usage. For example, when travelling on city streets, try rolling down the windows to cool off instead of turning on the air conditioning.

Use cruise control and overdrive gears when possible. Using cruise control and overdrive gears while driving on highways helps maintain a constant speed while reducing engine wear, and it may also help conserve fuel.

Vehicle Maintenance

Keep the vehicle in shape. Adhere closely to the vehicle's preventive maintenance schedule, and make sure any issues with performance are quickly resolved. Keeping a vehicle properly maintained not only improves fuel efficiency, it also reduces the risk of incurring accidents, breakdowns and more costly repairs down the road.

Pay attention to your fuel economy. If a vehicle’s fuel economy is consistently regressing without a change in driving habits, there could be a problem with your vehicle's engine or brakes. Have the vehicle checked so any maintenance issues can be corrected before they become more severe or cause a vehicle breakdown.

Keep tires properly inflated. Vehicles operating on properly inflated tires are not only much safer, they can also have nearly 6 percent better fuel efficiency than those with under-inflated tires. Tires should be inflated to the pressure recommended for your vehicle; this information is often printed inside the door frame or in your owner's manual. Tires can lose about one pound of pressure in a month, so check the air pressure regularly and always before going on a long trip or carrying heavy loads.

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