Why Unsafe Drivers Are Often the Biggest Fuel Offenders

Why Unsafe Drivers Are Often the Biggest Fuel Offenders

Fleet operators with fleet fuel management systems may be learning how much fuel their vehicles burn, but these stand-alone programs may not be revealing why.

“When looking for fuel efficiency, you need to look beyond miles per gallon (MPG) metrics,” said German Parra, director of product management for Lytx. “You need to be able to separate driver behavior from other factors such as weather, the driver’s route or vehicle performance. That way you can determine the root cause of excessive fuel consumption – is it the vehicle, the environment, the driver or all of the above?”

Fuel management systems that only track MPG will give you a list of the most and least fuel-efficient vehicles, but they don’t take into account driver behavior. An aggressive driver – one who consistently exhibits hard braking or rapid accelerations -- in an efficient vehicle could be overlooked simply because he isn’t rising to the top as the greatest fuel guzzler.

When it comes to fuel consumption, there are a lot of factors at play. Stop-and-go traffic or idling at long stoplights can drive up consumption. A vehicle might be in need of maintenance or its tires could be underinflated.

Parra recalls one Lytx client who leveraged data from the company’s video telematics program to identify an aggressive driver who was also incurring higher than average operating costs.

According to Parra, “the company was using the Lytx DriveCam program with the fuel management enhancement. Using our analytics, they could see a direct correlation between the driver’s excessive fuel consumption and his aggressive style of driving.”

This discovery prompted the client to review the driver’s vehicle maintenance records. It turns out, he also had the highest repair costs across all of the vehicles he had driven. By looking at the complete picture, they were able to see that driver’s behavior was costing them much more than just fuel. Traditional fuel management systems would not have yielded that kind of insight.

While fleet safety solutions and fuel management systems can provide tremendous insight into driver behavior and the costs associated with unsafe driving, Parra says that there is one aspect of a complete fleet safety solution that operators can’t ignore.

“You won’t achieve anything without coaching,” he said. “No matter what kind of program you’re implementing, you have to coach, track and establish a workflow that allows you to help each driver to improve performance.”

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