3 Ways Fleet Managers Can Lower Their Fleet’s Carbon Footprint

Martijn Graat
Martijn Graat

There is increasing attention to sustainability. The number of electric vehicles in our streets is getting higher every day. Companies like DHL are stepping up last-mile delivery efforts with electric vehicles.

But there are more ways to increase the sustainability efforts of your company than switching to electric vehicles. Such a switch takes a big investment, not only in vehicles but also in charging infrastructure. Why not start with your existing fleet?

Verizon Connect, a telematics provider, recently did a survey together with market research agency TeamVier on the impact of commercial vehicles and driving behaviour on the environment.

For businesses with a fleet of commercial vehicles, like parcel carriers or other logistics companies that handle last-mile logistics there are different ways to lower their carbon footprint without investing in cleaner vehicles. 

Lowering Your Carbon Footprint

  1. Technological innovations, like engine upgrades or cleaner fuels
  2. Operational improvements, like optimising route planning
  3. Improving driving behaviour

Whether you upgrade engines, or optimise routes, at the end of the day there is a driver in the vehicle. As long as he isn’t aware of his impact on the environment and isn’t willing to do something about it, the impact of most changes will be suboptimal. Let’s look at one example of driver behaviour that has a relatively large impact on your carbon footprint, and on your bottom line as well, for that matter: unnecessary idling engines. 

When it Comes to the Environment, Don’t Stay Idle!

Did you know that the average commercial vehicle burns 3.42 litres of fuel per hour? Let’s say an average vehicle makes 9 stops to make pick-ups or deliveries, and each stop takes around 8 minutes. If the driver idles the vehicle, this means 72 minutes of idle time each day. Or take a parcel delivery driver that makes 120 stops a day to deliver packages. Even if he averages 30 seconds per stop his vehicles will idle for an hour total. With an average price of 1.30 euros per litre of diesel, this comes to an average idling cost of more than 100 euros per vehicle per month! 

According to the research*, 67% of drivers of commercial vehicles leave their engine idling during short stops. The reasons vary: keeping the heat or air conditioning running (23%), not thinking about it (21%) or not feeling like turning the engine off (14%), and 20% leaves it idling because they think it’s more fuel-efficient than re-starting the engine after each stop.

* the research report is in Dutch

Did you know an idling engine will burn more fuel in 10 seconds than it does when you start the engine? This means that turning off the engine is better even on very short stops.

How to Improve Driving Behavior

The research found that almost 70% of drivers of commercial vehicles already try to minimize fuel consumption. 62% of drivers do this because of environmental consciousness. 61% want to minimize costs, and 17% do so because their employers reward fuel efficiency.

Driver behaviour can be improved by ensuring that drivers are informed about their driving and the impact it has on both the environment and the bottom line of the company. When management can also analyse driver behaviour it is possible to coach drivers to improve their driving behaviour. Currently, only 21% of the owners and managers participating in the research say fuel efficiency is rewarded. 

One of the ways management can get insights into driver behaviour is through a fleet management system. Such a system records driver behaviour and enables management to analyse driving behaviour and identify potential improvements. Drivers can then be coached to improve their driving. Needless to say: a positive approach works best. Only focusing on negatives is bad for morale. Next to focusing on improvements, also applaud or reward good driving.

And for those worrying about what drivers think about management measuring driving behaviour: 84% of participants in the research think it is ok for employers to implement measures to motivate employees to improve fuel efficiency. 75% of the drivers in the research are already being monitored and 70% of them see that as a good thing. Whether they believe they have a fuel-efficient and safe driving style or want to know how they can approve, most want to actively have a more positive impact on the environment.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Verizon Connect

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