Fuel Savings Strategy: Reducing Idling

Despite the fact that logic tells us all that idling gets zero miles to the gallon, I’m amazed by how any myths there still are out there about running the engine. For some reason, way too many drivers out there hang on to the old adages about vehicles – engines should be warmed up, and idling is good for the engine.  Both of these are complete myths when it comes to the modern vehicle.

Since drivers do not pay the fuel bill, they don't typically consider that utilizing the A/C or heater costs money. Other typical reasons drivers idle include parking illegally, waiting for passengers, or running the A/C or heater.In the fleet environment, this problem is even more acute, since the drivers typically do not own the vehicle or pay the fuel bill.  But fleet managers do – and they can and should take steps and reduce idling across the organization.

Rather than idling, to properly warm your vehicle's transmission, tires, suspension, steering and wheel bearings, drivers need to slowly accelerate. Making this a best practice, instead of idling, can not only save fuel, but also reduce wear and tear on the vehicle.

Another “hidden” cause of idling is inefficient dispatch procedures. Too often, drivers receive phone calls, emails or text messages with location information and have to manually input the address into their personal navigation device or use a paper map, which can take a minute or two for each order. With this, vehicles are typically left idling while they're pulled over on the side of the road.

You can combat this issue with two distinct process improvements:

1) Inform drivers that unnecessary idling, maybe more than 5 minutes, won't be tolerated

2) Dispatch jobs directly to a navigation device in the vehicle; the right solution will read the order aloud to the driver, allow them to select the 'Read', 'Accept' and 'Navigate' buttons to get the most efficient route; this process is faster, more efficient and removes the likelihood of manual entry errors.

These two process improvements can save up to 10 percent on your fuel bill.  A typical example:

·      A driver working in warm or cold conditions leaves their engine running. They idle for 5 minutes at each of their 20 stops throughout the day.

·      5 minutes x 20 stops x 22 working days x 12 months = 26,400 idling minutes per year. 1 minute = 0.5 driving miles. 

·      26,400 minutes x 0.5 miles ÷ 10MPG = 1,320 (wasted gallons of fuel) x $4/gallon = $5,280 per year